Monday, April 20, 2015

5 Tips for Visiting Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat was easily one of the top highlights from our entire 7-month journey to Southeast Asia. This vast, never ending collection of ancient temples is fun, mesmerizing, inspiring, and educational. It's an amazing experience for people of all ages and a very worthy bucket-list adventure. 

There were a few things I learned while visiting that can help make anyone's experience more rich and enjoyable so I'd like to share my 5 tips for visiting Angkor Wat. 

[The three different outfits I wore on the three different days we visited Angkor Wat.}

1. Dress Modestly. This may be obvious to some people but you need to dress modestly while visiting the temples, meaning no exposed knees or shoulders. Prior to going, I swear I had seen photos of people exploring these temples in shorts and tank tops due to the heat. While yes, it is hot in Cambodia, these are holy temples and it is important to respect their sanctity with appropriate dress and action. Furthermore, you may be prohibited from entering certain temples if you're not dressed appropriately as many have guards monitoring this very thing. So bust out your knee-length skirts and short sleeve tees for this one and if all else fails, you can always buy some elephant pants!

[Brad bargaining with a restaurant owner while kids try to sell him magnets and flutes.]

2. You can get 50% off your meals and drinks at restaurants within the complex. One thing you'll learn quickly about Cambodia is that meals are really cheap, about $1-3 in the city of Siem Reap. Within the Angkor Wat complex, however, these prices double (at least). I was shocked when on our first day at the complex, my husband started bargaining with the restaurant owners at lunchtime. Even more shocking was how quickly they dropped their prices! At first I felt guilty about this but once I realized how low the cost of living is for these people and that they are still making a big profit when you eat at their restaurant (as opposed to one of the 20 different restaurants right next to them), the guilt quickly faded. 

3. Take time to sit at each of the temples. These are amazing man made wonders and you'll want to remember how you felt at each of the temples. When you get home, people will ask you about your time here and you want to have a good answer, so take the time you need to reflect on your thoughts and feelings at the temples. It's easy to get caught up in the rush if trying to see all the temples and going through the motions (especially if you have a tour guide with you). Avoid the temptation to squeeze in one more temple and instead, take time to wander as slowly as you'd like and think about where you are. It's one of the coolest places you'll ever be so make it last. 

[Yes, they're adorable, but don't support child labor.]

4. Don't buy anything from the young children. There will be many locals outside all the temples trying to sell you trinkets and goods. Buy as much as you want from the adults but avoid buying from children, as cute as they may be (and as low of a price as they may offer you). Interact with them, ask them how high they can count, laugh with them but don't give them any money. Parents should work. Children should play (and go to school).

5. Visit the incredible tree at Ta Som. There is a lesser known temple called Ta Som that is well worth making a visit to if for nothing else but the tree at the back entrance. Many people will tell you that Ta Prohm (the Angelina Jolie temple) is the best example of trees fighting against stone. Ta Prohm is the biggest, but the back entrance of Ta Som is the best. My favorite spot in the whole complex. 

1 comment:

Mickelle said...

Thanks for the tips! This is on our list while we're out here.