Our Cambodia trip: Exploring the Angkor temples

Our Cambodia trip: Exploring the Angkor temples

As promised, here is the full run down of our time in Cambodia.

I’ll start by saying it again: We finally did it! We saw the beautiful temples of Angkor. It was amazing. It’s been on my bucket list for a long time but somehow it never worked out during my Asia travels. Warning: Long post with lots of pictures ahead.

According to the internet the best travel time aka dry season is from November to March. I booked our flights, hotel and a 2 days of temple touring with a driver and guide back in July. There are lots of tour operators so I went with one out of TripAdvisor’s Top 10: Happy Angkor Tour. I opted for their tour “to avoid crowds”, which meant that we visited some smaller, less busy temples and tried to go to the really famous and popular ones at not so busy times. It worked out pretty well for the most part 🙂 Our guide was also a fan of panoramas and cheesy tourist photos, so there are some good ones in there.

Day One

The itinerary: Angkor Wat, Ta Promh, Ta Nei, Angkor Thom incl. Bayon, Sunset at Phnom Bakhen

Angkor Wat is the most famous one and really big, with lots of detailed carvings and different layers but unfortunately also lots of people. We had to queue for almost half an hour to be able to climb to the top. The Tomb Raider temple Ta Promh was also great, I love how the trees grew over the temple, almost like someone forgot about them for several hundred years 😉 At Angkor Thom we mostly focused on Bayon, the temple with the big faces.

However, my favorite temple of the first day was Ta Nei. It’s reachable only by a dirt road which goes through the jungle and when we arrived we were the only tourists. During the whole time there we only saw a couple of people. It kind of felt like we were the first people discovering it and the atmosphere was really cool.

Day Two

The itinerary: Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Preah Khan, Neak Poan, Ta Som, East Mebon, Banteay Srei (Lady Temple), Banteay Samre, Pre Rup, Banteay Kdei, Krovan

The second day was really great because we saw such a variety of temples. All of them were beautiful in different ways but I think my favorite that day was Preah Khan. Maybe that’s because we got there before 8 and had it almost to ourselves and walking there through the jungle gave me that explorer feeling again 🙂

Overall, I’m really happy with the way we saw the temples. We hit the big, famous ones but also saw some hidden gems. Having a guide and an air conditioned car, cold water and washcloths was very worth it. Especially because of the cold wet washcloths 🙂

Other Cambodian activities: Pool and cooking class

We stayed at the Hillocks Hotel & Spa in Siem Reap for 5 nights, which gave us 4 full days. The two days when we didn’t tour the temples, we spent hanging out by the pool and relaxing. After all the busy city trips we took this year and the everyday craziness of Shanghai it was nice to do nothing for a bit.

To not get too lazy we signed up for a cooking class which our hotel offered. Contrary to the description there wasn’t much activity involved. First we went to the market which was more of a sightseeing trip, because they had already bought all the ingredients. It was similar to the wet markets we’ve seen in China. Then they sent us back to our room to relax and when we showed up again at the announced cooking time, all the prep work had already been done. No peeling, cutting, curry paste or dressing making for us, we just got to mix, heat and stir a bit. While we didn’t really learn much, the 4 course lunch was delicious: We had green mango salad, sour soup with shredded chicken, Fish Amok (Cambodian fish curry) and banana tapioca sago.

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