My 2nd day in Cambodia saw me waking at 3am to set off and watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat!
Unfortunately the day we went sunrise didn’t amount to much, but the excitement of being there with my group and knowing we would see some incredible sights that day got me through!
I have heard from a few people that staying in the evening and watching the sunset can be equally as rewarding as sunrise minus the crowds.
With sunrise done and dusted we stuck to our game plan for the day to ensure we saw everything we wanted to! Rather than rushing in and starting with Angkor Wat like the crowds we went in reverse choosing to visit Angkor Thom first.
Built in the late twelfth century and being the last capital city of the Khmer Empire Angkor Thom can only be described as what was once a great city.
Angkor Thom was my favourite of the temples at Angkor and is the one which sticks with me the most. I was overwhelmed with the intricate stone work, the sheer size and the history.
When you set off for Angkor wear good walking shoes and pack plenty of water! You’ll be walking all day and climbing super steep stairs in high heat and humidity.
I’ve included the above photo to show you the difference between the original stairs and the stairs built for westerners and tourists. I can quite assure you that the stairs for Westerners were challenging enough for me!
We spent a couple of hours at Angkor Thom to really soak it all in before moving on to Ta Prohm.
You may know Ta Prohm as the “Tomb Raider Temple”.Yep, Ta Prohm featured in Tomb Raider!
Ta Prohm has been swallowed by the jungle and really should be on everyone’s list of temples to see at Angkor.
Ta Prohm was a Buddhist temple built in the twelfth century. Around 80,000 people were needed to maintain and attend to the temple ranging from officials through to dancers.
Ta Prohm is one of few temples in the Angkor region with an inscription providing information about the temple’s inhabitants.
Ta Prohm is an excellent example of how powerful nature is. You’ll want to allow a couple of hours at Ta Prohm to truly immerse yourself and explore everything there is to see!
Our final temple for the day, Angkor Wat, needs no introduction!
Angkor Wat is the biggie, the one everyone travels to see!
Angkor Wat is so incredible because it is the largest religious monument in the world on a 16 hectare site.
Angkor Wat was originally constructed as a Hindu temple dedicated to the God Vishnu for the Khmer Empire and gradually transformed to a Buddhist temple by the late twelfth century.
Angkor Wat is the best preserved temple at Angkor and is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre.
If you see monkeys while exploring Angkor always maintain a reasonable distance and don’t approach them.
Some people will offer elephant rides around Angkor. I travelled to Cambodia with Geckos Adventures, a sister company of Intrepid who have said no to elephant rides and animal tourism for a number of years now.
As tempting as it may be please avoid elephant rides on your visit.
Above all allow one or two full days to explore the wonders of Angkor.
We walked several kilometres in a day and I assure you we had definitely earned our poolside session with cocktails later that afternoon!