Like most of my ideas it sounded like a really good idea at the time. A seriously good idea. A day to cycle around the ancient city of Angkor Wat with my best friend and hopefully some other amazing people. Ok I’ll confess this good idea turned out to be a great idea and one of the most fantastically fabulous days of our trip around Sth East Asia.
The photos below have been chosen to show you a unique side to Angkor Wat that you may not usually see. There really aren’t a lot of words left to describe this area of the world. So we’ve decided to show you with the photos we’ve taken. We ask that you do not steal or liberate our photos. We’re sure that you understand.
Our day started with a 5am wake up to head out by private bus to the main temple Angkor Wat. We’ve briefly skipped around this little joyous activity over here. I still stand by my decision to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat. I don’t care that there was probably over 200 other people doing this too. It was worth it. So after a quick run back to the hotel and a decent breakfast it was time to get on our bikes and ride the 7km to the Angkor Wat gates.
Our trek started off at the riding around the temple of Angkor Wat to Ta Prohm aka Tom Raider temple. The beauty of this temple is acentuated with the raw beauty of the fig, banyan and kapok trees. Over the years these trees have spread their gigantic roots over stones, probing walls and terraces apart, with their branches and leaves intertwining to form a roof over the structures. One of the most famous trees in Ta Prohm is the infamous Tom Raider tree. All the guides will proudly tell you about this tree and temple. There are now even a few wooden platforms in front of the beautiful banyan trees for photo opportunities.
We then wove our way through the roads and trees to Angkor Thom, the Great City, entering through the Victory Gate. The Great City was the last capital of the Khmer Empire, built by King Jayavarman VII at the turn of the 12th to 13th centuries. Inside its walls lie Baphuon, Phimeanakas, the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King, and at the very center, the Bayon, with over 200 faces carved on its 54 towers.
We strolled along the Terrace of the Loper King, rode ancient elephants and ran for joy around the ancient ruins. Once appropriately dressed we braced ourselves and climbed up to the third level of the Central Sanctuary and the faces of Avalokitesvara.
The highlight of our day trip was a ride through the Western Gate and along the wall. When people talk about getting off the beaten track, this is what they are talking about. The wall was smooth single track, though there was easily room for two abreast for a good portion of the track. On one side we followed the soft flow of the moat, the other side was the brutal jungle always reminding us of it’s power.
After a quick bite to eat at the Restaurant in Front of Angkor Wat (no I’m not lying that was the name on the menu) it was time to walk back in and really explore Angkor Wat.
We had read a lot about people suggesting not to cycle around. There was too much to see. To much to do. It was a horrid ride. A tuk-tuk was easier. LIES these are all horrid lies. The ride out of the Angkor Wat complex is relatively flat and easy. There is a lot to see and take in. It’s not a quick ride in, out and around kinda day. It is an entirely delightful day trip. We even saw monkeys fighting over cigarettes. In all honesty one day wasn’t enough. My only suggestion is to buy a two day pass and go back. Again and again.
Tips & Tricks-
Passes are $20USD per day for non-Cambodians. No matter how many days you go. If you have a few days in Siem Reap I’d suggest buying a two day pass. You’ll be getting a pass to wear as you trek around. Yes people do check. It’s their job, don’t be rude.
Tuk-tuks- An average fee of around $15USD a day (plus tips. Don’t be cheap) for a tuk-tuk driver to take you around for the day. This option has become exceptionally popular. So much so that I almost named this post Tuk-Tuk Temples of the Angkor Kingdom.
BYO water. It’s a long physical day no matter how you get around Angkor town. Bottle water and snacks.
Dress and act appropriately. There are areas that you can’t get into without your shoulders and knees covered. This goes for ladies and men. Whilst we did have a great time we were observant that there are areas of religious significance.