Cultural Experience | Cambodia

Angkor WAT ?!

10 Things you need to know about a MUST SEE Wonder of the World

Are you itching to get to Asia? What part? Thailand? China? Singapore? Japan? Malaysia?…. the list goes on… and on… The continent is MASSIVE and the list of “must sees before you die” in Asia is too long to even begin to write. You can even find some of the Wonders of the World residing on the Asian continent, and one in particular has gained a lot of popularity recently. It  is located in Siem Reap, Cambodia & called Angkor Wat.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post about how to get to Siem Reap if you are coming from Bangkok. Otherwise, you’re on your own.. until you get there of course and I have loads of recommendations.


1. It gets seriously crowded.

At 5 am to watch sunset, you will be amazed at how many people are also willing to get up to see the spectacle. Once the sun rises, everyone will continue to stand outside the temple and watch/take pictures/ I’m not sure what else they were doing. SOO.. go in right after the sun rises. You will have the temple to yourself for a few minutes and it is truly breathtaking.

crowd at angkor wat

2. Wear appropriate clothing.

I wore a cotton maxi dress and a long sleeve button up [as nerdy as this sounds the button up was one of those sweat-wicking and sun-blocking shirts.] But, I didn’t get any bug bites or sunburn so I was a happy camper. It gets SERIOUSLY hot, but also the temples are sacred for many people and showing respect by not flaunting body parts was the way I chose to go. Furthermore, the less skin that was exposed the less likely you are to get bitten by anything that may or may not be carrying a disease. {I also wore my chaco sandals.GREAT investment}

3. You need US Dollars.

Seriously. The main form of currency used in Siem Reap is US dollars. You absolutely have to have USD at the border between Thailand and Cambodia to pay for your visa. Furthermore, when you withdraw money from the ATM in Siem Reap, it dispenses USD.

4. Angkor Wat is only one of the many temples on the grounds.

The main temple that everyone recognizes upon first look is Angkor Wat. However there are a copious amount of temples on the grounds and even ones that haven’t been officially “discovered” yet. Ta Prohm, Angkor Thom, & Banteay Srei were some of my favorites. {My favorite, Banteay Srei, pictured below.}

angkor wat path

5. Don’t plan on much sleep.

There are so many temples to see and too little time. Plan on starting each “temple filled day” at sunrise and continue past exhaustion.. It is worth it! …this topic is continued in #6 as well…

6. Visit the temples that are far off. {The tuk tuk makes for a great napping vehicle for the ride out there.}

Some of my favorite memories are drifting in and out of sleep in the back of the tuk tuk driving from the main area of temples to the far out Banteay Srei temple. This trip really elongated our day, but it was definitely one of my favorite temples, had the best food hut outside of it, and we were able to get away from the tourist center and feel more like we were mingling with locals. {The picture below is what my lunch looked like. YUM}

lunch angkor wat

7. Stay hydrated!!!

Going back to how hot it is… you need your own water bottle. Sorry, no sharing. You’ll feel miserable if you don’t stay on top of it. I went the extra mile and also wanted to try the freshest coconut water to touch my taste buds. So then this happened.. {Also at the aforementioned lunch spot}

drink angkor wat

8. Get to know your tuk-tuk driver.

Being a driver is taken very seriously and these locals have worked hard to learn english so they can be a wealth of knowledge while touring around with you for the day. {Our sweet driver is pictured below.} During our rides in between temples he would brief us on the history and knowledge we needed in order to best explore the temple. We also relied on him to get us to the best places to eat and when we were in need of more water he took care of us. We really enjoyed our time spent with him and he actually ended up being our taxi driver to and from the border as well as our tuk tuk driver. A lot of times these locals do both so if you like your taxi driver ask if he also does temple tours.

tuk tuk driver

9. Look up!!

I found after our day “temple-ing” that my neck seriously hurt. {This is something that I can honestly apply to my day to day living too..} Don’t forget to look up! There are such intricacies and beauty that does not reside at eye-level, but rather requires a major craning of your neck. Sounds painful, but geeze I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

tree angkor wat

10. Don’t forget about the city center.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.. I wish we had had more time to explore Siem Reap’s city center. What a quaint town with locals leisurely biking through. A very striking difference from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. A small stream and quaint bridge takes you through to the restaurant and bar scene where you can usually get during happy hour a “Buy one, get one free” deal for $1.50 USD. We enjoyed meeting new friends, talking with the youngsters who sold us about 15 different bracelets, and reminiscing on the majestic beauty that we witnessed earlier in the day. Truly a wonderful place to visit.

Hannah Heine

University of Dayton | 15 stories

Virginia born, Kentucky raised, and Spain living. Currently living in Southern Spain as an English Language Assistant. A graduate of The University of Dayton with dual degrees in Spanish and Public Relations. I fell in love with southern Spain during my semester of study in Seville & before coming back to USA after my studies I decided to circumnavigate the globe for three months. I then went on another 50 day backpack trip and ended up living in Spain! I consider myself a world traveler, videographer, (striving) calligrapher, and blog enthusiast just beginning to scratch the surface of the adventures life has to offer.

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