What images float through your mind when you think about Cambodia? Do you see images where nature meets technology, and the ancient meets the modern? If so, then you’re already on your way to understanding a tiny piece of Cambodian culture.
If you’re going to travel to Cambodia, then there are lots of places to go that are both entertaining and meaningful. The top choice for travelers is Angkor Wat in Siem Reap.
Angkor Wat is an ancient Hindu temple city complex built in the early 1100’s (1115-1150). The entire complex sits on about 500 acres of land with different temple sites spread out within the thick forest of northern Siem Reap.
Entering Angkor Wat through the stone bridge, over the Siem Reap river is akin being transported through time. The complex is far from the hustle and bustle of the city. The atmosphere is charged and you’ll feel the irrevocable sensation that you are a tiny blip in the fabric of the universe compared to this ancient place. The stone towers spiral into the sky, towering above you and everything else within hundreds of miles. Although there are hundreds of tourists from around the world admiring the structures with you, it’s quiet. You can easily hear the sounds of nature against the backdrop of the low murmur of speech.
I recommend that you take your time here. Some people prefer to visit most sites in one day, but I recommend getting a two or three day pass. There is much to see, as Angkor Wat is the world’s largest religious complex.
Angkor Wat is very hot and dry, so you’ll be tempted to wear more summer friendly clothing. It is important to keep in mind that at some sites, you cannot enter with bare shoulders and exposed thighs. Certain sites allow you to enter and stay on the ground level. If you wish to explore higher, then you’ll have to cover your shoulders. In most case, wrapping a simple scarf around your shoulders should suffice.
Bring lots of water. Although most of Angkor Wat is low-level hiking, it is a big place with little shade.
Don’t forget to live in the moment. When I traveled to Angkor Wat, I was one of several hundred tourists walking around in awe. Many of the tourists, I noticed, were so consumed by snapping photos that they missed some of the important bits. Angkor Wat was a social and religious center of the Khmer people. There is not one space in Angkor Wat that is bare of symbolism. You’ll notice the many different asparas (female spirits) carved along the walls.
If you’re travelling alone, or with three other people, then getting a Tuk Tuk ( a motorized rickshaw) is the fun and cheaper option. Tuk Tuks can be found everywhere. If you inquire about it at your hotel, the staff will undoubtedly help you. If you’re with a big group, then booking a van is the best option.R