Sunrise at Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat was somewhere I had been dying to visit forever, so earlier this year to tick it off my bucket list was a dream come true. When you longed to visit a place for so long, it never quite lives up to your expectation, but I am pleased to report it was more spectacular than I ever imagined and the sheer size of the site blew my mind.
My visit to Angkor Wat started by adhering to the unwritten rule for all archaeological sites:
Get up at ridiculous o’clock to see sunrise.
And, it was well worth sacrificing my comfy bed for; watching the sun rising over the temples and seeing the beautiful reflections on the lake of lotuses was just magical.
Angkor Wat Market
When Ian and I finally managed to drag ourselves away from Angkor Wat, we had breakfast at the nearby markets and just people watched. I found Cambodia a very refreshing change after Vietnam. I loved the people of Cambodia, they were very friendly and always smiling; I even enjoyed the cheekiness of the street vendors.
Cycling Around Angkor
I discovered the love of cycling around ancient temples at Sukhothai, so when we saw bikes for hire at Siem Reap, it was a no brainer how we were going to explore Angkor. It is approximately 7km ride to Angkor Wat, so it was a very, very early start to cycle to the ruins by sunrise. I am not a morning person, so on route there were a few cross words with Mr Doubter questioning my map skills, but we made sunrise with ample time to spare and the rest of the day’s cycling run smoothly, well almost…
Jungle Temple – Can you spot Laura?
When planning our trip around Angkor, we were very ambitious on all the ruins we were going to visit, but we didn’t take into account my lack of cycling skills and the millions of photos Ian was going to shoot. Hence, on the first day, disappointingly we didn’t make Ta Prohm and had to turn around. My Lara Croft impression was therefore postponed to the next day when we returned more leisurely by tuk tuk. For those a little puzzled, Ta Prohm is better known as the Jungle Temple and was made famous by the Tomb Raider movie. With the temple being completely entwined with trees, it is easy to see how it has got its name.
Info: You can buy a 1-day ($20 USD), 3-day ($40 USD) or 7-day ($60 USD) pass; I think you need at least 3 days to really explore Angkor. You buy your tickets at the main entrance, which first thing in the morning is pretty hectic. If you are planning on starting your visit with sunrise, I would therefore highly recommend purchasing your ticket the day before, so you can simply bypass the crowds.
There are many places around Siem Reap to hire a bike, with prices starting from $2 USD. Test drive your bike first, remembering to check the tyres, brakes and gears. It took about an hour to organise our bikes, so again do it the day before you plan on visiting Angkor for sunrise.