WHERE: SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA
EATING: DEEP FRIED BUGS
DRINKING: ANGKOR BEER
COMPANION: MY SISTER IN LAW
When I was younger I was fortunate enough to be able to spend some time travelling with my parents. We would often cruise the Mediterranean and as a result, I got to experience a fair amount of Europe. I had, however, never visited South East Asia.
My sister in law was planning a 10 day trip to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and I decided to jump on the bandwagon. It was all completely new to me and took me out of my comfort zone- but sometimes you need to shake it up in order to create new experiences. After a night in Bangkok and a day on a bus, we reached Siem Reap. Just 10 minutes outside of the city you will find Angkor Wat.
We were up very early and, along with the rest of the western world, queuing for our Angkor ‘Passports” before the first bird had even shown face. (US$20) I recommend you pre-arrange a guided tour as those flying solo were in the queue far longer than us. It is also the only way to get the history on the various temples.
You have to get there early for a number of reasons. Firstly, to see the sunrise and the temple reflected in the water and secondly, to avoid the midday heat. You are required to cover your shoulders and knees out of respect so by 11am you will be baking.
(advice: Either arrange to stay at a hotel with a pool or find a hotel with a pool to visit for the afternoon following your tour. Thank me later)
The Angkor Wat temple complex is the biggest religious monument in the world. It was constructed in the 12th century as a Hindu temple for the Khmer empire. It is believed that it took over 30 years to complete. Angkor Wat means ‘City which became a temple’ and given the sheer size of it, that is exactly what it is was. It has become a symbol of Cambodia- making an appearance on the national flag. It is a MAJOR tourist attraction, accounting for more than half of Cambodia’s annual Tourism. We spent half a day exploring the various temples and taking pictures.
There is a great deal of rich cultural history on the Hindu, Buddist and various ruling empires attached to each spot on the tour and having a guide that is passionate can make or break the experience. I would recommend you take 2 full days to explore all of the temples.
What’s the best time to travel to Siem Reap in Cambodia?
Here are some facts:
• The months January, October, November and December have a nice average temperature.
• On average, the temperatures are always high.
• Most rainfall (rainy season) is seen in May, June, July, August, September and October.
• Siem Reap has dry periods in January, February and December.
• On average, the warmest month is April.
• On average, the coolest month is January.
• September is the wettest month.
• January is the driest month.
Happy exploring! It is a truely unique and life changing place. Take time to reflect on the history. It is incredible!