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Angkor Archaeological Park (1-3 days)

Siem Reap Park
Without a doubt, the Angkor Archaeological Park is the main reason for Siem Reap’s prosperity. Without this, Siem Reap wouldn’t be on the map. So we have to give you some information about some highlights and some practical tips.

Before you enter the Park you have to buy your ticket at the main entrance. A ticket for one day costs us$ 20. You can see the highlights of the park in one day, but if you want to visit the park for several days, if you buy two days, you get one free.

As the temples are quite far apart, you need transportation. A local tuktuk is a perfect way of transportation. A tuktuk for one day will cost you us$ 15 per day.

If the weather is not too hot you can visit the temples by bicycle. Rent them from the white bicycles rentals. They have well maintained bicycles, which can be hired through various guest houses affiliated with this local charity that uses hire proceeds to fund youth education and clean drinking water projects in villages around Siem Reap.

Angkor Wat

Siem Reap Angkor Wat
A visit to the park should at least include a visit to Angkor Wat. This temple ruin offers the most spectacular and unique examples of Angkorian art and architecture. It is visually, architecturally and artistically breathtaking. It is a massive three-tiered pyramid crowned by five lotus-like towers rising 65 metres from ground level.

At the apex of Khmer political and military dominance in the region, Suryavarman II constructed Angkor Wat in the form of a massive ‘temple-mountain’ dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu.

A great time to see the biggest highlight of the park is at sunrise. For that you’ll have to wak up very early, around 4 am and proceed to the temple. The northern reflecting pool in front of the temple is the most popular sunrise location. Times of sunrise may vary, so ask your concierge what time it will be.

Another nice way to see this temple is by balloon. Angkor Wat by balloon. This helium balloon is attached to a rope and ascends approximately 200 metres, floats for a while and then descends. The ‘flight’ lasts about 10 minutes, which is enough to get some great pictures of Angkor Wat on a clear day. A flight costs us$ 15.

Angkor Thom

Siem Reap Angkor Thom
Angkor Thom is a three square kilometre walled and moated royal city and was the last capital of the Angkorian Empire. After Jayavarman VII recaptured the Angkorian capital from the Cham invaders he began a massive building campaign across the empire, constructing Angkor Thom as his new capital city.

This magnificent inner royal city was built by the end of the 12th century and is renowned for its temple grounds and towering southern gate. This gate is mostly the first stop on a tour to Angkor Thom.

At the centre of the city is King Jayavarman's state temple, the Bayon. The giant stone faces of Bayon have become one of the most recognizable images connected to classic Khmer art and architecture.

Ta Prohm

Siem Reap Ta Prohm
Another famous temple is Ta Prohm, where massive fig and silk-cotton trees grow from the towers and corridors offering a ‘jungle atmosphere’ and some of the best ‘tree-in-temple’ photo opportunities at Angkor.

This temple was one of Jayavarman VII’s first major temple projects and was dedicated to his mother. It was originally constructed as a Buddhist monastery and was enormously wealthy in its time.

Unfortunately, massive numbers of visitors and the installation of wooden walkways are detracting some from the jungle atmosphere. Ta Prohm is still well worth an exploration of its dark corridors and open plazas.

Hindu Temple Banteay Srey

Siem Reap Banteay Srei
This is a small temple 35 kilometres outside Siem Reap and known for its incredible detailed stone carvings. It was built at a time when the Khmer empire was gaining significant power and territory. A Brahmin counsellor under the powerful king Rajendravarman constructed the temple.

The temple displays some of the finest examples of classic Khmer art. The walls are densely covered with some of the most beautiful, deep and intricate carvings of any Angkorian temple.

If you have a tuktuk driver for a day and you pay him us$ 15 for a day, you’ll have to pay him us$ 7 extra for the ride to Banteay Srey. This visit can be done in combination with a visit to the Piles of Mines museum.

Siem Reap Sunset 1
Sunset on the lake (3 hrs)

A perfect end of a long day of sightseeing in Siem Reap is to enjoy the sunset at the lake. The Tonle Sap Lake just outside Siem Reap town is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia.

You can go there by Tuktuk. The drive will be approximately 30 minutes and will cost about us$ 10 for a return ride including waiting. It is a bad road, but it’s nice to watch the scenery and the daily life of the Cambodians on the roadside. Bring sunglasses to protect yourself from dust and insects on the way back.

Siem Reap Sunset 2
Best time to leave at Siem Reap town is around Leave 4 pm. Let the driver bring you to boat pier for sunset tours. Prices of the boats vary; it will be approximately us$ 30 per person for a private boat. When you arrive late the prices get low, around us$ 20 per person.

It is a really wonderful boat ride, you will see sunset on the lake, a crocodile or a fish farm, a floating market and floating school if you like. But be aware of the fact they see every tourist as a walking ATM in Siem Reap. Nevertheless at the end, at the big lake, have a drink while enjoying the sunset (and buy your drinks in advance!).

Piles of mines (½ hr)

Siem Reap Mines
Of course you see all the old ancient temples in Siem Reap, but unfortunately the country has a more recent history, which is a very sad period. It’s good to learn about that period as well, so you should also visit the Landmine Museum. This tiny museum was set up by local deminer Aki Ra to educate locals and tourists about the dangers of land mines.

Piles of defused mines and UXO lie around the site and the guides are mostly teenagers who were orphaned or injured by mines, many of whom live onsite. This is a very worthwhile attraction that brings home the scale of the problem and shows you a slice of real Cambodia. The entrance fee is us$ 3.

It could be a good visit in combination with a visit to Banteay Srey temple, as it is just 6 km south of this temple and 31 km from Siem Reap.

National museum (2-3 hrs)

Siem Reap Angkor Museum
A great preparation for a visit to the temples is the Angkor National museum, which offers visitors a better understanding of the area's archaeological treasures. The museum covers Khmer history, civilization, and cultural heritage in eight galleries.

The temples of Angkor inspire the architecture of the building. It is a beautiful museum and it is a great place to learn about the history of Angkor and Cambodia and learn about Hinduism and Buddhism.

It is a good thing to do on a rainy day or a day in between temple visits if you get the feeling of 'temple burn-out'.

The entrance fee is us$ 12 for foreigners and the price is including pickup from your hotel, so let your concierge call them: 855-63-966-601. Or if you like to go there yourself, the address is: No 968 Vithei Charles de Gaulle. It is located just outside Siem Reap town at the main road leading to Angkor Wat. The opening hours are from 7 am to 4 pm. More information can be found here.

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Language of the world

Of course you like to speak a few words of the local language onboard the plane or at your destination. Here you find some simple basics of the main language spoken in Siem Reap.