• gautami2007

Siem Reap~ The UNESCO World heritage site of Angkor Wat Temples and much more!!!

Entrance to the Angkor Wat Temple

The Mekong Express bus from Phnom Pehn dropped us off at the bus station in the centre of Siem Reap after a 5 hours journey. We had booked an apartment for our 4 day stay at Siem Reap through AirBnb. Our hosts were kind enough to arrange a tuktuk(local rickshaw) to pick us up from the bus stand and take us to our apartment.

It was afternoon when we checked into our apartment. The sun was high and the heat was nearly unbearable. Our apartment was lovely. It was like a big cottage really. Bike enthusiasts would like to stay here as Dave(our host) has a garage where he repairs and remodels old bikes and most of the time he could be seen working on the bikes in his garage.

Since it was boiling outside, we decided not to venture out in the heat. In the evening we decided to head out. We went straight to the night market and Pub street. It was around 2kms from where we were staying. The night market is very lively and one can buy almost anything here from souvenirs to various kinds of tea to dresses to dried meat products! There is even a section where you can buy fresh meat, fish, and cockroaches , spiders and all kinds of insects imaginable! You can spend hours just browsing through hundreds of shops here. And the best part is everything is quite cheap, though you are well advised to bargain. After the night market we went to the Pub Street. And boy! It is a beer lovers’ paradise! A pitcher of beer cost anything between USD 1 to USD 2! We plonked down on one of the numerous restaurants, ordered a pizza and drank gallons of beer! Finally, after having our sixth pitcher, we decided to head back to our apartment. We were quite tipsy by then by somehow we managed to walk back to our apartment (stopping on the way to pick up bottles of water from the supermarket).

The next day, after a breakfast of pasta( which I prepared) and some coffee we hit the streets for a day of local sightseeing. We were staying at the La Pax street. We walked past the Royal residence and paid a visit to the shrine of Preah Ang Chek Preah Ang Chorm( Shrine is dedicated to two Buddha Preah Ang Chek and Preah Eng Chorm and locals throng here to pray for luck, especially newlyweds). Then we went for a walk in the Royal Independence garden. It was a lovely place to be sure! Thereafter we walked around the town a bit. It was swelteringly hot but we loved walking around and just observing the Cambodian way of life. We ducked into numerous shops on our walk and even went to a mall(Lucky Mall on Sivatha Road, to be exact) to escape the summer heat for a while! By that time we were nearly famished and decided to head back to our apartment after having lunch in a charming little café on the way. In the evening we headed straight back to the Pub Street for another evening spent drinking gallons of beer and some delicious pizza, all the while enjoying the sounds of music wafting in from one of the many performances in nearby pubs. When we were too tipsy from all the beer, we headed back to our charming apartment and called it a night!

The next day we woke up quite early as we had decided to visit the Angkor wat complex today. At sharp 7:30 am, our tuktuk driver was waiting for us in front of our apartment. The tuktuk had been arranged by our AirBnb hosts for 20 USD for the entire day of sightseeing. Before starting your tour of the entire Angkor wat complex, you have to buy Angkor wat passes that are valid for one, three or seven days. The prices for the same are as follows:

No of days

Price(in USD)

One day

37 USD

Three days

62 USD

Seven days

72 USD

We went to the Angkor Park Pass Ticketing Booth located on

More information about your Angkor-Pass

o Please ensure that your shoulders and knees are covered when purchasing the ticket. Otherwise, you may not get one.

o The one-day ticket counters are located on the right-hand side of the Angkor Ticket Centre. This is also where you will find the largest number of people.

o The counters for the 3-day tickets are in the middle and those for the 7-day tickets are on the left.

o A photo of you will be taken at the counter

o The Angkor pass is not transferable to another person.

[Note: keep the pass with you at all times as it will be checked before entrance to every temple]

[Very important: Be careful not to lose your Angkor Pass whilst you are on the Angkor site. The penalties are severe. If you lose a 1-day ticket, the penalty is $ 100. The loss of a 3-day ticket will cost you $ 200, and a 7-day ticket will cost you $ 300.]

Pro tip:

Buy your ticket in the evening after 5pm. From this time, onwards your ticket will be valid for the next day. On the same evening, you can also watch the sunset at Angkor Park for free. Phnom Bakheng, however, you will probably not manage, as it is very crowded there. But you can watch the sunset at the Srah Srang Lake, where it will be much more tranquil.

We wanted to see a couple of the main temples on the inner circuit and some far flung temples on the outer circuit that are visited by very few tourists. Hence, We bought a one day pass at the counter. After purchasing the passes, our tuktuk driver drove us straight to the biggest temple in the complex, The Angkor Wat! It was 8:30 am when we reached, but the place was already swarming with tourists. The entrance to the temple is through a sandstone causeway. Once you enter the temple you realize its grandeur! Its huge! Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple-mountain and the later galleried temple. It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas in Hindu mythology: within a moat more than 5 kilometres long and an outer wall 3.6 kilometres long are three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of towers. After spending a couple of hours here, we decided to go to the next temple(the tourists had become too many at this point), Angkor Thom. It’s not Just a temple though, it’s a whole city. “Angkor” means “city” and “Thom” means big – so the clue is in the name: Angkor Thom refers to what once was a great Khmer city and includes a whole host of temples and sites of historical interest. It was a fortified city. The city is surrounded by high defensive walls, 3 kilometers long on each side. To the inside of the wall is an earth embankment, which allowed the Khmer good views of approaching enemy armies.

Access to the city was through five gopura gates, one at the center of each wall, an extra one (the Victory Gate) on the road from the Royal Palace to the East Baray. The gates were built between the end of the 12thcentury and early 13th century. The gopuras consist of a central tower, 23 meters in height, flanked by two smaller towers. Crossing the moat to each of the city’s five gates is a causeway lined on either sides by stone figures holding a huge snake. The figures represent 54 Devas (a Hindu deity) on one side, 54 Asuras (demons battling the Devas) on the other side pulling a giant snake. We had entered Angkor Thom through the South Gate. The south gate of Angkor Thom is the best preserved. One of the best sites within Angkor Thom is perhaps the Temple of Bayon. Situated just to the north of Angkor Wat itself, it was once at the centre of the ancient city of Angkor Thom. It is sometimes called Jayavarman's Temple, in honour of the Khmer king who ordered its construction. It is best known for its many towers with gently smiling faces on each side. There are some 50 towers around the ruined temple, with over 200 faces showing varying degrees of erosion and wear. Each face is 4 metres high and is facing one of the cardinal directions of the compass. They all have the same serene smile, with eyes closed, representing the all-knowing state of inner peace, and perhaps even a state of Nirvana. After the bayon temple we went to see the Temple of baphuon. The Baphuon is the state temple of King Udayadityavarman II. The sandstone monument that was dedicated to Shiva is in the shape of a stepped pyramid. This temple was marked by the conspicuous absence of any tourists for reasons unknown. We, however, found the temple quite charming perhaps because it was so peaceful out here. We walked around the big city and wandered amongst the ruins of several other small temples. All these places were however completely devoid of the mad rush of crowds one gets to see at the big, famous temples. We walked around for quite a while, just looking at all the wonderful architecture of the temples and marvelling at the expertise of the people who had built it prior to the invention of modern technology!

Temple of Bayon

We paid a visit to the Phimeanakas, a Hindu temple in the Khleang style. It is in the shape of a three tier pyramid as a Hindu temple. On top of the pyramid there was a tower, while on the edge of top platform there are galleries. There is an interesting legend associated with this temple. On top of the Phimeanakas, known as “the Golden Tower” lived a spirit in the form of a nine headed snake, that is the Lord of the Khmer Kingdom. Every night the spirit appears in the form of a woman. The King has to climb to the top of the tower and sleep with the spirit. Should he fail to do this for one night, a great disaster is to strike the Kingdom. In case the spirit fails to appear, the King is about to die!

Afterwards, we went to the Ta Phrom temple. But before that we stopped in one of the carts selling lemonade and had a couple of glasses each as we were parched from all the walking in the sun since morning and because we had not had lunch and we were starving! Angkor became more famous when the blockbuster Lara Croft: Tomb Raider were filmed there. One of the temples Ta Prohm is known even to those who have never traveled to Cambodia before: this is where the most impressive scenes were created. Ta Prohm is known for the huge trees and the massive roots growing out of its walls. Many of the walls and structures have been smothered by huge silk-cotton trees and strangler figs, which grow over, around and even through the ancient stone blocks, in some cases holding them together and, in others, causing their collapse.

Our last stop for the day was at Banteay Kdei. It literally means "A Citadel of Chambers" and is also known as "Citadel of Monks' cells". In stark contrast to the often overwhelmingly crowded and popular Angkorian ruins, Banteay Kdei is peaceful and quiet. Serving as a Buddhist temple, these ruins have been home to an active monastery at multiple time periods since their construction in the 12th century, up until the 1960s.Today, the ruins are overgrown and seemingly forgotten by the bustling Angkor tourism industry. Its solitude and mystery make it a hidden gem for explorers of the region. Tall trees cast shade over Buddhist bas-reliefs, and many hours can be spent in its meandering design.

It was nearly sunset by now. We were starved and parched by now. But it had been an amazing day. The sheer grandiose of these temples was mindboggling! We quickly went over to the Angkor thom moat to catch the sunset. The reflection here is best viewed from the South Gate of Angkor Thom where you can see not only the reflection of the setting sun over the water but also the Angkor Thom statues. However, if you want to catch sunset from a more popular point of Phnom Bakheng, you should be here at around 4 – 4.30 pm. It will take about 30 minutes to climb to the top of Phnom Bakheng to get the good view and you don’t want to be late. Although there are not as many people that come here to see the sunset as there are for the sunrise, the number of people gathering here is not few by any means!

After watching the sunset we asked our tuktuk driver to drop us off at the Pub Street. As soon as he had dropped us off at the street, we went to a pub and ordered a huge amount of food(read lots of pasta and a huge pizza) which we washed down with a large pitcher of beer. Only after we put some food in our stomachs did we feel all our exhaustion disappearing and we spent the entire evening drinking gallons of cheap beer and enjoying the vibe!

The next day we woke up late as we were exhausted from all the temple sightseeing and walking around the previous day. For breakfast I made some pasta and some coffee and we spent the entire more lazing around the apartment. We had lunch at a nearby restaurant and on the way back to the apartment we bought a few cans of beer. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the apartment drinking the beer!

In the evening we decided to go out for dinner at Bugs café. We had been dying to try out their exotic food platter since the first day here. Note, you can taste all kinds of insects and bugs in the various stalls lines in the night market, but we would advise you not to have anything from them. Mostly because of dubious hygienic conditions of these stalls and the last thing you want is an upset stomach or food poisoning in a foreign land. Head to Bugs Café on 351 Angkor Night Market Street, Steung Thmei . Bugs Cafe is the first ever insect tapas restaurant and cocktail bar in Cambodia. Crickets, scorpions, grasshoppers, ants, bees, silkworms, spiders, snake and crocodile combined with quality Khmer and western products and seasonings, will bring you a delicious and unseen taste of adventure! We highly recommend their insect platter! We even tried snake and alligators here. It was simply delicious! After dinner went to the night market to pick up loads of souvenirs for multitude of relatives back home! After that we headed back to the Pub Street once again and spent the next couple of hours drinking gallons of those deliciously cheap beers!

The next day we had a flight back to India. It was heartbreaking to leave Cambodia behind. It had been a fabulous trip. We would especially miss those evenings spent in pub Street at Siem reap drinking gallons of beer. We would also miss the friendly, smiling faces of the khmer people. But, it was time to leave and go back to our mundane everyday lives once again. But we can’t wait to be back.

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