Travel

Temple Hopping in Angkor Complex Literally Took Our Breath Away (Part 1)

Cambodia wasn’t part of our plan but my instinct was telling me otherwise. It was an impulsive decision and I did not regret it one bit, Angkor Complex was beyond remarkable. We were in euphoria while running and climbing each and every temple we went to!

We booked our short circuit temple tour from Dara, our private tuktuk driver, for a reasonable price of 20USD (8 hours). If you have read our TRAVEL GUIDE: Bangkok to/from Siem Reap by BUS, he was the one who picked us up at the bus stop and dropped us of at the hostel for free. He was very nice and polite so we decided to book the tour he offered.

As much as we’d love to watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat, our bodies were repulsing and in dire need of a solid eight hour sleep, therefore, we decided to set our pick-up time at 8AM. Dara, being a professional driver, was punctual and already in front of our hostel waiting for us 20 minutes before our call time. We left just before 8AM and we already zoomed our way to the Angkor Complex Gate.

Issuance of Angkor Pass IDs

We reached the Temple Complex Gate in probably 10 minutes from Siem Reap Town. Although there were a lot of tour buses around, the queues were short and quick.  There are 3 available passes to choose from: one-day (20USD), three-day (40USD) and seven-day ($60USD) that must be used on consecutive days. We chose the one-day pass as my flight was within the night and more economical for budget travellers like us (as well as for Dianne not to be templed out). After purchasing the ticket, they will require you to take a picture for your pass which will be ready in a few seconds, then off you go!

Bayon, Angkor Thom

Our first stop was Bayon, the main temple in Angkor Thom complex. We skipped Angkor Wat not just to save the best for last but to pass the huge crowd from Angkor Wat that would eventually go to Bayon as well. Dara gave us 30 minutes to wander around the temple. As this was our first stop, like little kids loose in the playground, we dashed through the temple and started climbing and hopping in every corner we could step on! There were so many interesting spots that we enjoyed exploring and to think this was just the beginning! We thought of maximizing our time in the temple but upon seeing elephants from a distance, we headed out to get up close with them!

 

Baphuon, Angkor Thom

Still in the Angkor Thom complex, Baphuon is another towering temple. Before you could get to the temple, you have to cross the pathway which made it appealing from a distance. From the entrance, we had to take a flight of steep stairs before we could reach to the peak.

The view was definitely magnificent and captivating as if we climbed Mt. Everest – definitely worth falling off a few feet up high and breaking something. We rewarded ourselves a quick rest while looking at the rewarding view of this temple.

There were some friendly locals around the temple who love to guess the tourists’ nationalities and I could say the were pretty much good at it as they have guessed ours correctly (even without us uttering a single word)!

Terrace of the Elephants

East Gate of Angkor Thom upon leaving the complex.

Chau Say Tevoda and Thommanon

These two small temples are across each other. We had a quick stop for probably less than 15 minutes to wander around these temples. Chau Say Tevoda reminded me of a smaller version of Bayon with wooden stairs to walk on so going around inside the temple was fast and easy. Thommanon has steep and uneven narrow stone stairs so if you’re either going up/down, be extra careful. This was hardly visited by people as some corners of the temple was somehow startling.

Ta Keo

Just when we thought we were done with towering temples, Ta Keo was another obstacle waiting to be tackled. The exhilarating sight of insanely bronze staircase (the width of a step was just millimetres longer than my hand) stirred up our energy to get to the top. As we climbed higher, the already steep stairs became more steep and more challenging than ever.

Once we were at the top, we were rewarded with the breathtaking view of the complex. As the climb drained pretty much a quarter of our energy, we decided to sit on top to rest and enjoy everything. We were watching other tourists struggle more or less than we did. I’m impressed with some of the people’s unwavering determination; even the oldies kept their strong will to reach the top under such severe heat.

There were a couple more temple-mountains that we could’ve climbed but we didn’t waste time and decided to level up the challenge by climbing a shorter but steeper staircase. Upon reaching the peak of temple, the sight was even more breathtaking and the overwhelming view of the edge from we were standing was thrilling!

It’s amazing how these ruins can represent Cambodia’s rich culture to the rest of the world. How we wish we could stay more for a couple of minutes but we had to brace the challenge of going down the temple and hop on to a new one.

Click here to read the more exhilarating Part 2!