Ask any traveler…and one of the locations in their top 10 will likely include a visit to Angkor Wat. What makes this location so special? We just returned from a visit to these historic Hindu and Buddhist temples, and trust us, there is plenty that makes this place worthy of anyone’s top 10 list. We came up with a list of our favorite things about visiting Angkor Wat. Enjoy!
1) Cambodian Ferraris (aka tuk tuks)– It is a little hokey, but we really enjoyed using the tuk tuks. Why you ask? First of all, we had a great driver. He offered ideas on what to see and when which proved very helpful. But our favorite part of the tuk tuk was the smells. Driving through the forests that surround the temples, we would catch the scent of flowers and trees. Tuk tuks offer cheap and easy transport between temples, lodging and foodstuffs.
2) The Pink Temple-One of our favorite temples wasn’t even on the Angkor Wat premises. The Pink temple or its formal name Banteay Srey Temple is a 45 min. drive by car away from Angkor Wat. What makes this temple special is the color of the sandstone. It is quite remarkable. We also found these ruins were in a little better shape than other temples in the area. The reliefs on the sculptures were much more complete.
3) The People-This should really be at the top of the list. The people of Cambodia are some of the most hospitable and generous we have come across. Life in Cambodia has been marked by political upheaval, economic turmoil and human atrocities that are legendary. This is a given. What was shocking to us, was the how despite this background, the people retain a positive if not even optimistic outlook on life. We miss our friends in Cambodia.
4) Amuk Soup–How can a soup make the top ten list? Easy. It is just that good! It was our first full day of touring the ruins and we were sweltering in the heat. We were already beat at mid day. Our trusty guide Mr. Thy, asked, “hungry?” Sheepishly we both nodded. He drove us to what looked like a nice restaurant, then we drove behind it and there was kind of a garage looking building. We were not impressed. Large fans were mounted on the walls and the tables looked a makeshift. As the adage goes, never judge a book by its cover. We had one of the best culinary experiences in all of our travels in South East Asia. It was here that we were introduced to Amuk Soup. The workingman’s soup is a delightful blend of shallots, lemongrass, garlic, and kaffir lime. It was the perfect pick me up. Try it!
5) The Tomb Raider Temple—Yes, we had to pay our homage to Angelina Jolie. The Tomb Raider Temple or Ta Prohm is located a few minutes away from the main Angkor Wat complex. It was built in the Khmer style in 1187 AD. What is most remarkable about this temple complex is how the jungle is taking over. Huge trees have invaded the temple and are sucking it down into the jungle. This temple makes for some amazing pictures.
6) Palm sugar-the second food item on the list! This one is pure sugar! One of our guides explained the process of collecting the nectar from the male spores, heating the sugar up, and putting it is the bite-sized forms. Palm sugar is a sweet treat between temples.
7) Cambodian Massage-How could we not mention one of our fave parts of visiting Cambodia? Two words: Cheap Massages. We use the word cheap in reference only to the price. The quality was above and beyond! We enjoyed our Cambodian massages more than our Thai ones!
8) Monk watching– We know, this one sounds just a little creepy. But we are a little weird…we live in Idaho we don’t have monks. We sad for an hour and just watched them interact. It was fascinating. The bright orange togas for the males and the flowing white robes of the females made for great pics.
9) Baby monkeys-How could this not make the list? Seriously!
10)Angkor Wat at Sunrise-I know, I know, everyone does this….and for good reason. The sunrise at this holy of holies is simply something to behold. The skyline is especially impressive preceding and during the rainy season. The clouds reflecting the light make for a few moments of magic. Making yourself get up at O’dark hundred in order to join with the throngs of camera wielding tourists can be a little discouraging. But the views are simply breathtaking. The pictures simply do not do it justice.
A word about getting to Angkor Wat. There is the hard way which is cheap, take a bus from Bangkok. Leave in the spring, you should get there by the fall. Or there is the easy way which will cost your first born, take Bangkok Air from Bangkok. The have a monopoly and get a king’s ransom for the 45 min. flight.
That’s the list! What an amazing/crazy place. Cambodia-the first reaction we received when we let our friends and family know we were headed to Cambodia was utter shock and horror! “You guys are going where?” Cambodia and Angkor Wat have become one of the Fighting Couple’s favorite places.
Ever been to Angkor Wat? What was your fave part?
Thanks for this list and reminding me to visit the Tomb Raider temple. =) We’re heading to Angkor Wat in less than a month. Only have 2-3 days. So we’ll make the most of it… including getting massages. :)
I absolutely loved Cambodia. It was an exceptional destination. My wife’s grandfather dang near jumped in front of the plane to stop us from going, but apparently our willpower was stronger than his.
We did an open-jaw ticket into Ho Chi Minh City and out of Bangkok. Our Southeast Asia experience was unforgettable. We took a bus from HCMC to the capital of Cambodia, and then took a different bus the rest of the way to Siem Reap. I wish we would have had a bit more time to actually take a boat up the Mekong. That would be an incredible way to see Cambodia along the lifeblood of SE Asia. Even though we didn’t get to take the boat, the bus trip was something never to be forgotten.
You two will have a swell time! There is so much to see! Get up way early and see the sunrise! We cant wait to see your pics!
Sweet! We wish we would have had more time to really see the rest of Cambodia. Very special place.
Great list of different things to do in area besides see the major temple! Love the photo of the monkeys! Adorable! We’re going to spend a month in Cambodia at the end of the year and are definitely looking forward to it!
Awww, baby monkeys! And I agree with you — pretty much everyone we met in Cambodia was SO NICE! Such a lovely and welcoming culture. :)
Those sunrise colors are unbelievable. Palm sugar sounds so exotic and yummy!
First of all, I LOVE the title of your post! Second, I missed the pink temple when I was there. Now I feel I must go back.
Great meeting you at TBEX Mike!
That soup sounds delicious. I haven’t made it to Ankor Wat but I certainly want to, especially for the classic sunrise shot. Looks gorgeous.
Thanks! The sunrise was so amazing! Almost worth getting up at 5 am for.
Wow. Just when I thought there’s nothing more to Angkor Wat than just Angkor Wat. This post proved me wrong then, these 10 things are really very interesting and some of them are quite weird. Haha!
If ever I’ll have the chance to visit Cambodia I’ll make sure I’ll go first to Angkor Wat and visit the Tomb Raider Temple. I think the place is really great for picture-taking. And I love to see the cute monkeys too and try to watch the monks meditating. I think that would be a whole lot of fun! Looking forward to go there someday. :)
Great post! I’m heading to Cambodia next week (although not part of a couple) and can’t wait! Your blog name is amazing.
Cute little monkey :)
I just returned from Angkor Wat 5 days ago! We stayed in Siem Reap and loved it. Walking down “Pub Street” and going to the day/night markets. I couldn’t agree more with your list, however we didn’t do the sunrise and I’m kicking myself.
Audrey- Great to hear you enjoyed AW. It is such a special place. The sunrise is pretty cool. Next time?
Wife and I stayed in Siem Reap in 2018 and Cambodia is most certainly on our retirement radar for a longer visit if not live there for a while. The people, Oh my god, so accommodating, so genuine, so friendly, the service is beyond what we ever see in Australia. Tuk Tuk drivers are comical and helpful, some have a theme such as one we used “Batman” one US$ will get you from the outskirts to the city centre in no time. You never feel like anyone is out to rip you off as in many other countries we have visited in the region. Lots to see and do, early morning and early evening is the best time to be active. Food is very, very cheap as is most drinks. Siem Reap is progressing in leaps and bounds, you hear about the politics being this and that but from what we saw, this is a country under huge growth and the most beautiful people one could ever hope to meet. Please enjoy as we did.
Thank you for the comments and insights! Safe travels. -Mike