Angkor Wat is just one of the many temples spread across a huge area on the outskirts of the city of Siem Reep, Cambodia. Although Angkor Wat temple seems to symbolize the area, it’s Ta Prohm temple which appears responsible for its fame through its starring roll in the movie Tomb Raider with Angelina Joli.
All the temples are truly amazing and this site is one of my favorite historic sites that I’ve seen. If you do follow the tourist trail through the temples, you will find yourself distracted by the swarm of tourists snapping photos down narrow passage ways. Rounding one corner I was growled at by a Japanese man taking a photo, so I gave him some time before I walked through and was growled at again. I finally turned to him and asked him if he wanted to see a repeat of WWII (Kidding!). The good news; If you want to avoid the crowds you can simply check out some of the temples off the trail which are just as fascinating and the absence of tourists can make them far more enjoyable.
The history of the site is relatively unknown. Some say battles between then Siem’s and the Burmese led to the cities downfall. Others claim the land was stripped of all its resources making it uninhabitable. As with most ancient abandoned cites, I’m sure it’s a combination of the two. The city which had an estimated population of 1 million depended on a complex yet vulnerable water management system of canals and reservoirs and it was attacked many times throughout history.
Whatever the reason, I’m glad it was abandoned. If it wasn’t, it would look like every other modern city with a few crumbling ruins left behind. See the remains of the Bulgarian medieval city wall in the food court of a mall and you’ll know what I mean.
To see the Temples: Most hire a tuk tuk for $15 to drive them to the most popular sites for the day. Many opt to see the sunrise which means an early 4:45am departure from your hostel/ guesthouse, but it is well worth it because it’s pretty, and you can get a jump on the lazier tourists and the afternoon heat. Entry is $20 for one day or $40 for a three days pass.
I took a ton of photos here and had to learn how to make the albums below so I wouldn’t take up the whole site.