Finally, after the two and a half-hour flight from Manila, the six-hour bus travel from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Phnom Penh, and the another six-hour bus ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, we were now off to our destination, the legendary Angkor Wat Temples. I felt my excitement meter reaching the highest level. Hehe. We left the hotel early after eating breakfast. It took us 30 minutes from our hotel, The Sinh Tourist Hotel, to reach Angkor Wat. We arrived at the entrance gate by 8am and I was surprised to see lots of people at the entrance. There were already many tourist buses and vans parked at the entrance. Our tourist guide bought the tickets which was 20 USD (P900) per person for a one-day pass. The entrance fee was included in our package tour so we didn’t pay anything. We just went to the ticket booth one by one to have our picture taken. They would issue an ID at the entrance that would serve as your entry pass in the temples. A Friendly Tip: You must keep this ID with you all throughout your visit to the temples. They usually have guards who would check the ID at the entrance of each temples. You mustn’t lost this pass; otherwise, you need to buy a new one.
Angkor Wat Admission Pass:
One-day entry pass 20 USD (P900)
Three-day entry pass 40 USD (P1,800)
Seven-day entry pass 60 USD (P2,700)
We also had a local tour guide apart from our tour guide from our travel agency. He is a good tour guide and he’s very fluent in English.
Upon entering the Angkor complex, I instantly felt like I was entering a different world. The temple ruins are located amid the forest, making it appear like a lost city in the jungles. Seeing the temple ruins, made me feel like I was living in the 9th century during the reign of the Khmer empire. I knew then that this was an adventure I would never forget.
Let me give you a background information about the Angkor complex. I don’t want to overload you with historical terms so let me just give you a brief preview of the history of the Angkor based from wikipedia and other websites from the net. The Angkor was built by the Khmer civilization dated between 802 and 1220 AD. The Khmer Empire was one of the most powerful empires in the history of Southeast Asia. The Angkor served as the capital city of the Khmer Empire. Today, there are over one hundred temples in the Angkor complex, including Angkor Wat which is the most popular temple (Yup, Angkor Wat is just one of the hundred temples. The Angkor Complex is really a very large area that one day won’t be enough to visit all the temples.) The name Angkor Wat means “City Temple”; Angkor means “city” and Wat is the khmer word for “temple”. Angkor Wat is a Hindu temple and it is the most remarkable symbol of Khmer architecture. You could even see the Angkor Wat in the Cambodian flag. Today, it is considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Since we only got one day to go around the complex, we only visited the popular temples. In the morning we visited the South Gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon, The Terrace of Elephants, Phimeanakas, and the Taprohm temple that was used in the movie Tomb Raider by Angelina Jolie.
It rained a bit when we arrived at Phimeanakas but that didn’t stop me to climb the temple. We were lucky enough because our travel agency provided us with raincoats. It was a pretty difficult climb so I won’t suggest you to climb this temple if you’re afraid of heights. The stairs are really steep so you really need to hold onto the stones carefully. We saw some Hindu praying on the top of the temple.
Fortunately, it stopped raining while we were at Ta Prohm temple and God gave us a sunny day throughout the rest of the day. I find it pretty amazing how the local tour guides learn different languages. While at the Angkor complex, you could hear different languages — Japanese, Chinese, French, Vietnamese, English etc. No matter what your mother-tongue is you could choose your own tour guide. In Siem reap, tourism is really their main source of livelihood.
After having our lunch at the hotel, we came back and this time to visit the main and most popular temple, the Angkor Wat. It is the largest among all the temples and as expected, there are more people there. You could see tourist groups thriving all around the area.
We went up to the main temple of Angkor Wat but the stairs are pretty steep again and aside from that there’s a long line of people waiting to go up the tower so you need to wait. At the top, you could see a beautiful view of Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples. A Friendly Tip: Wearing shorts and sleeveless blouse are not allowed at the main temple of Angkor Wat. They are a little bit strict about clothing only in that particular area because they consider it as a sacred place. What I did was I brought an extra t-shirt and I wore it before going up to the main temple. 🙂
By 5pm, we climbed a hill to wait for the sunset at Phnom Bakheng. It is a hindu temple in the form of temple mountain. There are two ways to reach the top of the hill. One, is by riding an elephant up the hill for 20 USD (P900) and the other one, which is the option for most people, is by walking. As for my mom, she just wanted to have a picture while riding on the elephant and we paid 2 dollars (P90) for that. Actually, at this time I already felt so tired from the rigorous walking and hiking all throughout the day so I just motivated myself by thinking that I would see something beautiful up the hill. Fortunately, I didn’t get disappointed as Phnom Bakheng is really a pretty interesting place to see. We were not able to see the sunset because it was cloudy but the beautiful view up the hill and the remarkable temple mountain itself were already worth the climb.
And that’s the end of my trip to the Angkor temples, the Lost City in the jungle. Undoubtedly, it was all worth the thousand of miles that I had traveled just to see it within my own eyes. Moreover, it was all worth the pain in my legs and feet. Hehe. I felt very tired after this trip. However, since this was our last night in Siem Reap, I had to make the most out of it. After eating dinner at our hotel, we proceeded right away to Siem Reap night market for our last minute shopping. Well, some of the members of our tour group couldn’t join us anymore because of their aching legs and feet. They said they just wanted to take a rest in the hotel. My friends and I just took a local tuktuk to the night market for 2 dollars (P90). It was my first time to ride a tuktuk and I really enjoyed it!
That’s my last night in Siem Reap. Thank you Siem Reap for all the wonderful memories! 🙂