This post could’ve also been titled: my day exploring like a badass, Lara Croft style…
…or perhaps not?
The most striking thing about Angkor Wat is it’s sheer scale and the number of temples to be explored within the complex. Angkor Wat literally means City of Temples. You could spend countless days discovering them all. However, you can see the best of Angkor Wat in a single day (which is what we opted for – followed by a day by the pool, after we had exhausted ourselves).
If you only have one day, the advice our travel guide gave was to go to Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Ta Prohm. This I would definitely recommend! Each temple is very different, and they are the best on offer. We ignored the advice to get there for sunrise because we are far too lazy for that, but no regrets.
Angkor Wat is the showstopper of the bunch. It’s the biggest and with a bit of imagination its not hard to picture that this building must have been one of the most splendid in the world during its heyday.
Bayon is situated within the walled city of Angkor Thom. Come here for the giant stone heads.
Ta Prohm was the location for the Lara Croft Tomb Raider movie. One of the things I really enjoyed about the temples of Angkor Wat is that they are all in various states of repair. At Ta Prohm (if you mentally screen out the other tourists) you can imagine that you are discovering it for the first time after the site was reclaimed by the jungle. See ancient trees that have moulded themselves around even older walls.
Although this was all we planned to do, it was not all we saw; we stopped at a few other smaller temples, as we came across them. Some off them were perhaps less impressive but, unlike the main three, it was nice to have them to ourselves.
The easiest way to see the temples is to hire a tuk tuk for the day. We, however, opted to rent bikes and cycle. I’d say we were glad of our decision for about 80% of the day but the last 20% was killer – especially as it was so hot and we accidently ended up on the Grand Circuit instead of doing the far shorter route. Getting soaked in the rain on final few kilometres was actually a great relief. One bonus for cycling is that the whole area is completely flat and I would definitely do it again if I ever was to return to Angkor.
Even the rain couldn’t stop us…