Exploring Angkor and Angkor Wat

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We started our first morning in Cambodia by getting a tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our guide picked us up and we travelled by car to the Cambodia Land Mine Museum.

Cambodia Land Mine Museum – recommended

The Museum explained that Cambodia is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world and it tells the story of a child soldier who dedicated his life to cleaning up mines in the country.

There’s an excellent audio guide that you can stream via your phone. The audio guides provide more context than the labels and can be accessed by scanning a QR code.

We had a private tour guide, however a tuk-tuk for a cost of around $20 round-trip from the center of Siem Reap. The ride is about 45 minutes, and the drivers usually wait for visitors to finish at the museum to take them back to town. 

Banteay Srei Temple

Our first temple was the Banteay Srei temple – a 10th century temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. This was the first temple of many on our trip to South East Asia and we were fascinated by the attention to detail of the carvings in the red sandstone and the attention to detail.

It was an extremely hot March day – we’d recommend waking up early to avoid the heat.

Wikipedia has alot more information on the history. Given this was the first temple we visited, we’d suggest visiting this one as part of a trip to Siem Reap.

Lunchtime Hammocks at Soun Tunsay Restaurant – recommended

After spending most of the morning walking around temples in the heat, we needed a break. Our guide took us to the Soun Tunsay Restaurant. The restaurant via tuk-tuk was a long drive, however we were rewarded with a large canopy with hammocks overlooking rice fields. Perfect.

Sitting in the hammock at a great restaurant

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Our tour guide informed us that we were to be waking early tomorrow to watch the famous Angkor Wat sunrise. The morning sunrise was hazy but still magnificent to see, despite the hundreds of tourists. Be prepared for a busy sunrise rather than the calm tranquil setting it’s depicted to be.

Angkor Wat sunrise

As with the other temples we saw, the workmanship is very impressive. The temple has various levels with the highest level being the most sacred. Given the heat, I had chosen to wear shorts and was unable to visit the highest level. My wife was able to visit the top and reported more incredible workmanship, however I don’t feel like I missed out on the tour and preferred to keep as cool as possible.

Cycling around Angkor Temples – highly recommended

We set off early from our hotel for a day of temple exploration by bicycle. Cycling is a great way to get around the area, allowing you to control the pace of your day, and thanks to the very flat terrain the going is easy.

We cycled all around the temples and had a blast doing so – looking back, this was one of our highlights of all of South East Asia, let alone Cambodia and Angkor Wat.

Cycling through the temple complex allowed us to take cycle paths and go off road which avoided the crowds of tourists. We got to see some truly unique views of Cambodia.

Evening activities and restaurant recommendations in Siem Reap

Siem Reap was the first stop on our tour of South East Asia and we were pretty jet lagged during our time at Siem Reap.

The first couple of nights we dined at Viroth’s hotel before going further afield the next few nights.

We didn’t love any of the restaurants we tried – I’m sad to say that aside from the hotel, we just didn’t find a restaurant that hit our mood.

A cocktail bar we would recommend was a short walk from the hotel – Miss Wong Cocktail bar – recommended. https://maps.app.goo.gl/skhZ8grsAPPFCBna9?g_st=ic

A final note on the night market – we enjoyed spending a few minutes walking around the night market but didn’t see anything unique to Cambodia. The night market is set very close to a strip of bars which have a feeling of a Cancun/Magaluf student night.

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