The Angkor Wat temples are definitely one of the reasons tourists and travelers flock to Cambodia. The complex is huge and quite impressive. The complex is located about 5K from the city of Siem Reap.
Siem Reap has a lot to offer travelers and tourists alike. The city is fairly compact and transportation is relatively cheap and easy. The accommodations range from expensive and elaborate to basic and budget with everything in between. One can spend anywhere from $200 a night to $4 for a bed in a dormitory. Food prices range between $1-$6 depending on the type of dish you choose. Drinks are extremely cheap as well. Beer on draft starts at fifty cents a beer and mixed drinks are $1-$2.
History of Angkor Wat
The Khmer people, who still inhabit Cambodia, are the people responsible for the construction of the temple complex, Angkor Wat. The construction of the temple complex dates back as far as the 6th century and continues through the 13th century.
We see evidence that the religion of the people was a bit of a mixture between Hinduism and Buddhism. Towards the beginning of the empire, India had a huge influence on the Khmer civilization. Hinduism and local deities of the Khmer people found a place beside one another. In the twelfth century, Buddhism began to be more widespread among the Khmer people. Many of the temple reliefs and statues depict the interesting blend and harmony of these religions.
The Khmer people built their temples as palaces for their gods. They were not intended to be gathering places for the people to worship. The temples were shrines where the people could leave offerings, and in return receive protection and health from the gods. The temples were constructed out of brick, sandstone, and laterite. One advantage of using sandstone was that fine detail in the carvings and reliefs that it would support. The domestic architecture and palaces were made out of wood.
Contrary to some accounts the temples were not discovered by Europeans. These monuments were never forgotten by their people. In fact, Angkor Wat has always remained a place of worship for the Khmer people. In 1863 a French naturalist published information about the wonders at Angkor Wat. Once this happened, several researchers and archeologists flocked to the area. In 1992 it was added to the Unesco World Heritage Site List.
Visiting the Temple Complex
There are several options that you can take when it comes to spending your time visiting Angkor Wat. The Tuk-tuk ride from the city center should cost you between $15-$20 for the day. Some charge a premium for the sunrise tour, but you shouldn’t pay more than $5 more. Be sure to have a plan for your tuk-tuk driver and tell him where you would like to go first. Be contentious of the driving path and make follow a reasonable path and it should be no problem.
The daily entrance fee for the complex is $20. They also offer a three-day pass for $40 that you can use three days within the seven days that you bought it, and a seven-day pass is available for $60. The seven-day pass can be used over the course of a month-long period. We decided to get the three-day pass, and it worked out perfectly. We went for two days for about seven hours and a third day for about 3 hours. Timing is key for visiting the more popular temples in the complex. See Angkor Temple’s post for more details.
Tips While Visiting
- Be sure to hydrate. The temples require a lot of climbing in sometimes very hot conditions. Water is a must.
- Take is some sandwiches or snacks from Siem Reap. The food at the complex is reasonable, but it’s nice to have something you can eat inside a small shaded courtyard in one of the temples.
- Go early! We did not go in for sunrise as it was pretty busy and we wanted to stay away from the crowds.
- Go the opposite way that the tours are going. This way you are able to avoid crowds and explore the temples more freely.
- Be sure to bring a camera!