“God is in the details.”- Mies Van Der Rohe
Being an Indian means you have had your fair share of visiting temples. And yet when I entered Angkor Wat,I was stuck by its sheer magnitude and brilliance. Angkor Wat was built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II around 1150AD when ancient Cambodia was at its peak and was initially dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu, but during the rule of King Srindravarman –who adopted Buddhism as the state religion– Angkor Wat became an important Buddhist religious center.
The most popular temples are Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Phrom. The civilization went extinct but these temples stand as a symbol of grandeur and architectural genius of Khmer Empire. As a result Angkor Wat is one of the dreamed travel destinations which implies that these temples are always packed with people. So how what are the exact hacks required to visit these temples? Good question. Here’s what to do, when visiting Angkor Wat.
- I would recommend taking multi-day pass preferably 3 day pass (62 USD) as each temple is unique in their own way and you need to spend good time at each of them. Also, combine the popular temple with lesser visited temples which will help you to combat the crowd. Buy the pass a day before post 4 pm and head to Angkor Wat for sunset.This means you can enter the temple and explore before it closes, and still have your 3 days remaining.
- I visited Angkor Wat on all three days as the temple premise is huge to be covered in matter of few hours. Sunset time is good to stroll around the temple as the tourists are leaving and you get the place for yourself. We visited the temple twice in the early morning and in the noon on different days. Early morning and afternoon is the time when there is minimum people around.
- We headed for the famous sunrise.While I haven’t been impressed by the sunrise you can get some beautiful shots of the temple with the morning light.Don’t beat yourself if you are late or miss the sunrise. Just make sure you are at Angkor Wat before 7 am.This is an apt time to explore the surroundings (sans people) and the temple as Angkor Wat opens at 7 am. Most of the tourists head for breakfast or back to the hotels for some sleep.
- Once you’re done exploring Angkor Wat you can head to one of lesser known temples or explore Bayon/Ta Phrom.Bayon and Ta Phrom open at 9 am.Since we visited Angkor Wat on all days we headed to Ta Phrom after Angkor Wat as we knew many would head to Bayon since it is closer. We were among first ones at Ta Phrom and we had the place for ourselves for good one hour before the tourists started pouring in.
- Ta Phrom is the famous ‘Tomb Raider’ temple amidst dense jungle. Huge trees welcome you and I can’t quite understand how they managed to grow above the temple. Swallowed by the humongous trees, this place is fascinating and fills you with awe.Nature always wins.
- We kept Bayon for the next day. We reached Bayon well before 9 am and looked around the temple from outside. It’s quite a view to see 49 intact towers with faces carved on them. It is huge,massive and unique from all the other temples I have seen.
Lastly, Cambodia is not just seeing Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is one among the many temples.Make sure you explore the lesser known nonetheless beautiful temples.
Checkout my list of favorite lesser know temples at Cambodia –Beautiful Ruins: Lesser known temples of Cambodia