Angkor Wat Travel Guide: How To Avoid The Crowd & Take Amazing Photos

 
Angkor wat travel guide heelsonthego
 

Before going to Cambodia, my expectation is that it’s an ancient, historic country, neighboring Thailand and Vietnam. My first impression of Cambodia while I was on the car from the airport to the hotel was, it really feels like a blend of Thailand and Vietnam. Traffic can be chaotic with tuk-tuks, cars, and people crossing the roads at the same time. The local people are friendly and helpful. 

What I did not expect is how grand the Angkor Wat is…and how good Cambodian food could be. The grandiose of the first is stated often by media, so I expected worse. The latter never made it to the world’s best cuisine, so I expected the worst. Yet, even though I’ve been to impressive places such as the Versaille in Paris or the Acropolis in Athens, I was still blown away by the scale of the Angkor Wat. 

Since I was only at Siem Reap for 3 days this time, I wanted to see the most I could without tiring myself out, so we hired a driver through Taobao, who took us around the main Angkor area in day 1 and drove out to further areas in day 2. Honestly, after seeing temples after temples for several hours in 36 degrees Celsius, you might want to consider skipping a few so you can spend more time in the temples that are grander, in my opinion. So I’ve picked out a few that I think you definitely should check out at Siem Reap.

Also, check out the lookbook I filmed:

 

Angkor Wat


 
Angkor wat travel guide heelsonthego
 
Angkor wat travel guide heelsonthego

First of all, I did not expect Angkor to be an entire city. The ancient city of Angkor is entirely a Unesco World Heritage Site. Angkor Wat is just a small part of it, even though nowadays when people mention “Angkor Wat,” they are really referring to the city of Angkor. But I do have to say, Angkor Wat is probably the most incredible out of all the areas in Angkor. The biggest religious structure in the world, the scale of the place is unimaginable.

 
Angkor wat travel guide heelsonthego
 
Angkor wat travel guide heelsonthego

The level of details that you see at Angkor Wat is stunning. On the walls are intricate carvings depicting historical events and myths. As I stood in the middle of the temple, looking up at the sandstone blocks, I started imaging the 300,000 workers and 6,000 elephants that carried these stones across mountains and rivers. Mind-blowing.

Angkor wat travel guide heelsonthego
Angkor wat travel guide heelsonthego

#OOTD
Top & Skirt: Caroline Constas
Sandals: House of Avenues

 

Ta Prohm


Angkor wat travel guide heelsonthego
Angkor wat travel guide heelsonthego

This temple is one of the favorites amongst tourists, as you can probably deduce from the amount of crowd you would see there. People often to this as the “Tomb Raider Temple.” Since I haven’t seen the movie, I see the temple more as trees swallowing up buildings. Tree roots drape over the buildings and look like they are about to take over the ruins. 

It’s cool to see such a sight since we are all so consumed by technology these days, but nature is really so powerful that even long-standing empires can be torn apart. 

 

Bayon Temples


Angkor wat travel guide heelsonthego

Ah, the temple of Buddha faces. Again, very crowded by tourists, but it’s definitely a place you can’t miss. You feel the serenity in the slightly different expressions of the Buddha faces. 

 

Banteay Srei


Angkor wat travel guide heelsonthego

The female, red temple. The red sandstone with intricate carvings make this small temple worthy of a visit. Also, avoid coming here mid-day since there’s no shade and you will sweat, a lot.

Angkor wat travel guide heelsonthego
Angkor wat travel guide heelsonthego
 

Beng Mealea


If you like to look at ruins, then you definitely can’t miss this temple. There’s a certain charm in the vine-covered, decayed state. It would be nice to see the restored images, though! That’s one complaint that I have with the ruins in Cambodia overall. Whereas in Rome or Athens, you see the restored versions of the ruins, at Cambodia you don’t see it at all, so you really have to use your imagination to guess how glamourous it used to be. 

Angkor wat travel guide heelsonthego
Angkor wat travel guide heelsonthego

With not many tourists around, this is a photographer’s paradise. You can take many breathtaking photos here. This structure is bigger than I imagined, and beyond the walls of the temples, there are passages that take you into the middle of the temples. If you find them, go!

#OOTD
Top: J.O.A by Chriselle Lim
Scarf (used as coverup): Bought at Siem Reap market
Pants: ICY (淘口令 €y6OA0yBMCxt€)
Sneakers: Adidas
Watch: Zû Watch
Ring: Chloé

Angkor wat travel guide heelsonthego
 

Roluos Temples


 
Angkor wat travel guide heelsonthego
 
Angkor wat travel guide heelsonthego

To get to the Roluos Temples, it takes around an hour drive from the Siem Reap city center. These temples are some of the earliest permanent structures built by the Khmer empire. Due to the location and the relatively small size of these temples (compared to the Angkor Wat), not many people come to visit.  

By the time we got to this area, it was late afternoon and pouring rain. There was absolutely no one except us, which was amazing when the rain wasn’t so big.

 
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