For most people, the two things that spring to mind when thinking about Cambodia are the regions tragic recent past, and the glory of the ancient site of Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat is just one of the ancient ruins in the Angkor temple complex, but it is the most famous. Images of Angkor Wat feature on the countries national beer, and it even appears on the flag. Built in early 12th century, the temples of Angkor Wat offer remarkable insight into life during these times.
There are over a thousand temple ruins scattered over the grounds near the city of Siem Riep, and many of the temples have been restored for visitors. When planning your holiday in Cambodia, make sure you do not forget to include a visit to Angkor.
The Angkor park covers a lot of ground, and even the most basic temple viewing itinerary can contain dozens of interesting sites. To gain entry into the park, you must buy a pass. Although day passes are available, if you want to get the full Angkor experience, then I recommend buying at least a three day pass.
When you are visiting the temples, you will be spending the better part of your day outside. You will also find yourself compelled to climb hundreds upon hundreds of stairs to visit the tops of some of the temple ruins. If you have flexibility in your planning, try to avoid the hottest times of year fo your visit, as it is not uncommon for visitors who are unused to the heat to suffer from heat exhaustion or even heat stroke.
You will be doing a lot of walking and climbing, so it is imperative to make sure you drink plenty of water. There are many vendors throughout the park who sell drinking water, so it is always easy to obtain. Also, it is not a bad idea to take along some rehydration salts with you to add to your water, to make sure you are up keeping all your bodies essential salts that it needs to function.
There is nothing more sublime then watching the sun rise or set over a backdrop of ancient temple ruins. Also, by visiting at these times, you will be able to avoid the many tourists who visit via tour bus. Try to plan your visit to the temples that interest you the most at these ideal times.
One mistake that we made when we visited Angkor, was trying to do the majority of temples by foot. Even though in normal circumstances, that amount of walking would have been fine for me – in the heat of a Cambodian summer it was just too much. I ended up with heat exhaustion, and had a difficult time enjoying some of the temples we visited. So make it easy on yourself, and remember you are on holiday. By hiring a tuk tuk driver to escort you around the temples for the day, you not only help a local small business person, but you also conserve your energy for climbing up more of those temple stairs!
Have you been to Angkor? Do you have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments!