Angkor is an absolutely stunning place on earth
..and what can be easily underestimated is the size of it! So do record the fact: it is (1) Largest (2) religious monument in the world, so prepare properly!
Water, food, map and a lot of energy – it takes a trip there to understand the size of it!
Hire a tuk-tuk for a day
Temperatures can get harsh during the day time, while both the distance from Siem Reap to Angkor and the distancse in-between different sights of Angkor may surprise you, while Lonely Planet claim it being an easy 15 minutes bike ride left me confused. Not only you save a lot of energy and time (for 15 USD/day), but also see some rear sights based on drivers recommendations (free of charge).
Do your homework
Select the temples you want to visit upfront and bear in mind that the distance is much greater than it looks like on a pretty little map they give you. Moreover, the sights do start to look alike after you have seen one or two, so try to select as different as possible and get the most of your visit. I went for Angkor Wat – the iconic one, Ta Prohm – the tomb rider one, Angkor Thom, Thommanon and a few more (even being there it was hard to keep track of names), – all these were more than enough for a full day!
Wear proper clothing
For a hot September day I chose a short dress, that stopped me from entering an iconic tower in Angkor overseeing the forest and other temples (telling guards I can put a rain cover on didn’t get me though, “No plastic” policy, what ever that means). Same applies to guys with shorts.
Bring food & water
It is not that you cannot find any of it, but it is seriously overpriced and of questionable quality. Also the cafés are located in the middle of a parking lot, there are so many much nicer places to eat, when you have your own food!
It is an ancient maze
A huge territory, ancient buildings and tall trees do create a maze of a sort. And with thousands of tourists it is very tempting to skip the main roads and simply wonder off. Being alone is a great experience, but be aware, it might not be that easy to find your way back!
“A few pictures, two more turns and I realize – I am absolutely alone. Ancient ruins, collapsed and closed paths. All makes it difficult to maintain a feeling of direction. Tall old trees’ roots moving stones and casting dark shadows all around. I hear people, but I can’t reach them. And slowly I feel how beautiful somehow turns into creepy. Tired legs increase the pace, while curiosity does not let me turn around. What’s behind that turn, maybe the way out of this maze is also there? Countless turns and I made it out.