Siem Reap, Cambodia
Visiting Angkor Wat? Read my tips first to make the most of your trip.Visiting Angkor Wat is one of the very top things to do in all of Southeast Asia. The Temples of Angkor are undoubtedly one of the most incredible sights in the world and one of the most stunning places I’ve ever seen! But they are no longer a secret – these temples get pretty crowded which kind of ruins your idea of that perfect Tomb Raider or Indiana Jones moment!Angkor Wat is a magnificent sight, the crown of the once mighty Khmer Empire, the icon of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the largest religious building in the world and a sight you’d be crazy to miss and one that’s worth battling the crowds for.But there is so much more to see than just Angkor Wat, there are so many temples to explore and the complex is so enormous that it can be hard to know where to begin. If you want to avoid the crowds and make the most out of your Angkor experience a bit of forward planning is a good idea.So here are my tips to help you avoid the crowds and make the most of your visit to Angkor Wat
Far from being lost to the jungle, now the Temples of Angkor are one of the most popular spots of the Southeast Asian tourist trail and receive over 2 million visitors a year. Which means that sadly the most famous temples are pretty crowded which takes a bit away from the adventure and experience.
But there are few things you can do to avoid the worst of the crowds:
Tips: Go to Angkor Wat in the off season
The peak season for visiting Angkor Wat is in the cooler winter months of November to March which is also the most crowded time. April and May are unbearably hot but you could visit in the rainy season(June – Oct) like I did and enjoy cheaper prices, less crowds and amazingly luscious green countryside! The weather kept most of the tourist away but didn’t disrupt our sightseeing too much, it hardly ever rained in the morning and by the afternoon the rain was a refreshing respite.
Go the opposite way round
One way to avoid the crowds is simply go the other way round. Most tourists will stick to the same routes so by mixing up your route a bit, deviating off the main path or road or even just by avoiding the main entrance and going in a different direction around the same temple (most have more than one entrance) you should be able to escape some of the crowds.
Head further away to explore some of the less popular temples
There are so many temples in Angkor but most tourists will try to rush around Angkor in one day ticking off the big, famous sights like Angkor Wat, Ta Phrom (the tomb raider temple) and Bayon (with the huge faces) but there’s so much more to see and some of my favourite memories are sitting alone in the mossy green ruins of an unknown temple far from the crowds at the famous attractions.
Take your time
The Angkor Wat temples are located near to the town of Siem Reap which is well set up for tourists and has many accommodation options, restaurants, bars and other activities.
Don’t even think about spending only one day at Angkor Wat, even 3 days visiting Angkor Wat wasn’t enough for me! And don’t think that once you’ve seen one temple you’ve seen them all because there is a huge variety of styles and levels of decay that mean every temple has something different to see. Get the 3 day pass (US$40) and try to spend a week in Siem Reap if you can and split the 3 day pass across a week.
There is so much to see but temple fatigue can set in quickly. There are lots of things to do in Siem Reap so alternate your days visiting Angkor Wat with days spent relaxing in Siem Reap, having a massage or Khmer cookery class, visiting the Angkor national museum or going shopping. You can also explore the idyllic countryside by horse back, visit the bird reserve or floating villages at Tonle Sap nearby, watch a classical dance or just have a night out on pub street.
Taking your time will make visiting Angkor Wat even more amazing and enjoyable if you don’t try to cram it all in at once.