Friday, March 25, 2011

Tucked away beyond the small city of Siem Reap is an elaborate temple complex built around the 12th century. The most famous and well perserved of these temples is Angkor Wat. Touring the Angkor Temple Complex isn't difficult---it's the most-visited destination in Cambodia and well served by vendors and tour operators---but there are a few things to keep in mind before you go.

  1. Cost

    • You need a permit to enter the Angkor Temple Complex, unless you are Cambodian or related to a Cambodian and can prove it. A one-day permit costs $20; a three-day permit, $40 dollars; and a seven-day permit, $60 dollars. Note that in order to purchase your permit you will need to show your passport.
      Always carry the permit with you, around your neck if you can, as park officials do periodic checks. If you are caught sneaking into the Angkor Temple Complex without a permit you can be arrested.
      Also, in order to get to Angkor Wat you will have to rent a tuk-tuk (kind of like a motorized rickshaw). It is best to negotiate a flat fee for the whole day. That way you know how you are getting back to your hotel. Fees will vary depending on where your hotel is located---ask the concierge what the going rate is.

    • Overlooking the jungle at Angkor Wat
      Cambodia is in a tropical region, and the weather reflects this. June to October is hot and rainy, 80 degrees F to 95 degrees F. November to February the temperature range is similar, but the weather is hot and dry. March to May is also dry and even hotter, 85 degrees F to 100 degrees F.
      Touring Angkor requires a lot of walking or bicycling in unshaded areas; take this into consideration when planning which time of year you want to visit. No matter when you tour, wear sunscreen to protect yourself from the tropical sun.


    • Entrance to Angkor Thom
      Exploring Angkor means you will be on your feet a lot. Comfortable shoes and light-weight clothing (especially of a material that wicks away sweat) are the most practical things to wear. Bring a hat, too, to protect your head from the sun.

    Food and Drink

    • Around Angkor there are plenty of locals selling bottled water and food. A bottle of water might cost a dollar or more, unless you haggle with them, so you may want to bring your own water and snacks to save money. Carrying one bottle of water with you is wise in case you go off to explore an area where there are no vendors.

    Visiting Hours

    • Bakong, inner walls
      Angkor Wat's hours are 5 a.m. to 6 p.m., although some other temples close earlier. Notably, Banteay Srey closes at 5 p.m. and Kbal Spean closes at 3 p.m.
      Watching the sun rise or set at Angkor is a popular event that can be enjoyed at many temples.


    • Cambodian boy selling his wares
      Locals selling their wares surround each of the more famous temples. From T-shirts to scarves to bamboo trinkets, you can buy many souvenirs from them. Haggling is expected, although many times the price is so low it is not needed.
      Keep in mind many children sell souvenirs to help support their families. Also, there are landmine victims who play music for donations around the temples as well.

    Beyond Angkor Wat

    • Ta Prohm
      Fifty-four temples make up the Angkor Temple Complex. While some are easier to get to than others, many of them are worth seeing. Angkor Thom is larger than Angkor Wat
      and very close to the main entrance, with the famous Bayon temple located there.
      Banteay Srei has the most elaborate carvings of all the temples and is very much worth the 30-minute trip from Angkor Wat to see. Also, Ta Prohm, draped in banyan trees and left to the jungle, is well worth a visit.


    • Malaria is a concern in Cambodia. There are a lot of mosquitos, and although malaria has been wiped out in the area around Siem Reap, including Angkor Wat, you should wear insect repellant nonetheless.
      Do not travel off the trails in or around the Angkor Wat area. Many unexploded landmines left over from the Vietnam War still dot the fields.



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