This long pathway over a moat leads to Angkor Wat
The gates to Angkor Wat open at 5:00 AM. Within minutes, tourists begin to swarm all 500 acres of the massive temple compound. Angkor Wat was built in the 12th century by the Khmer king in the capital of his empire. It was built as a Hindu temple, but later became a Buddhist temple. Still standing today in relatively well-maintained ruins, Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. It is the most important figure in Cambodia (as seen on the country’s flag), and the biggest tourist attraction in all of Southeast Asia.
The small city of Siem Reap hustles and bustles because of Angkor visitors. We made our first trip to Ankgor Wat at around 4:00 PM to catch sunset. As our tuk tuk pulled up to the temple, I felt that rare sensation of actually seeing Google stock images in real life. It’s architecture is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The old stones that make up Angkor Wat still have exceptionally intricate designs. I can’t imagine the process involved in putting this massive structure together and carving the images into stone.
Buddha protector statues line the long hallways
Unbelievable detail in these carvings
The next morning, we woke up at 4:30 AM to fulfill our 24 hour ticket by catching sunrise at Angkor Wat. What initially started as a dark silhouette slowly turned into the magnificent structure that we saw the night before.
Sunrise at Angkor Wat
Over the next five hours, our awesome tuk tuk driver drove us to the surrounding temples of Angkor Wat. Believe it or not, Angkor Wat is only one temple on the property. The other temples are smaller but maybe even more impressive.
Ta Prohm has a tree growing through it. Lara Croft Tomb Raider was filmed here.
Bayon temple is decorate with hundreds of face sculptures
Don’t remember the name of this one, but we climbed all the way to the top
You could spend days at the Angkor Wat compound and still not see everything. After my two visits, however, I was all Angkored out. I highly suggest visitors do Angkor Wat like we did. You get to see the temples during the most beautiful and least hot times of the day. More importantly, you will likely miss the massive swarms of Chinese tourists.