The Ankgor temples are a must see. If you are planning to be traveling around Southeast Asia scheduling a stop in Siem Reap Cambodia is a must. Not only is the country and it’s people beautiful, but is also home to one of the most breath takingly beautiful historical sites in the world. Most widely recognized known as being the set of Tomb Raider, staring Angelina Jolie, Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. I would absolutely recommend that if you are able to spare a few days in your itinerary then you should schedule a few days into your itinary so that you are able to see all of the temples. If you happen to running on a tighter schedule as I was during my trip to Asia, then below is my suggestion of how to best experience the temples of Angkor in a day.
First Things First
First things first you must get yourself an Angkor Wat permit. Everyone needs a permit to enter the Angkor temples unless you are Cambodian or related to a Cambodian. A single day permit to see the sights is an inexpensive $20 USD, 3 day is $40 USD, and 7 day is $60 USD. Your permit gives you access to the complex starting at 5pm on the previous day. My number one suggestion is to see the incredible sunset over the temples the night before.
Do You Need A Guide?
No you don’t need a guide and if your running on a really tight budget then I would absolutely say just get yourself a good guide book, they sell these inexpensively all around the complex, so that you can look up and understand the history of the sites you are seeing. Transporting to and from the temples from the city center is an inexpensive tuk tuk ride. That being said if you can spring for a private guide I would absolutely spend the money, as it an expense (and not an actual one) that is well worth it. A private tour for the day will only set you back $70USD. Your guide will pick you up bright and early in an air conditioned car and spend the day with you teaching you the history of the temples as you explore the complex throughout the day.
If you do decide to go with a guide I highly recommend Mr. Dara Rann of Angkor One Tours!
Cambodia is hot! November through April, the temple’s busiest season, is Cambodia’s cool season. By cool I’m talking lows that do not dip below 68 degrees fahrenheit. Needless to say there isn’t really a time of year to the temples when you wouldn’t be combating a fierce mid day heat. The tricky part of dressing for the weather is that, as with many of the temples in South East Asia, there a strict dress code that must be adhered in order to enter the temple grounds. Skirts, small shorts, tank tops, and other items of revealing clothing. Showing your shoulders is not allowed.
So what do I recommend wearing? A long skirt or pants made from a light weight and breathable fabric. Like I've already said it is hot so go sleeveless but bring with you a lightweight long sleeve throw over for visiting inside the temples. Most importantly wear comfortable shoes you will be doing a ton of walking!
Mid Day Recharge
Take a break and head to Mie cafe to take a break from the heat and fill up on some yummy khmer food. Try the tuna many tartar or ANY of their curries. Located within walking close proximity to the temples this restaurant is the perfect stop to recharge before a full afternoon of touring!
I can’t wait to make it back to Cambodia! I know for certain that this special place is somewhere that I must revisit and spend more time exploring. One of my number 1 personal fitness/travel goals is to plan my next trip back around running the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon. Talk about running for a great cause runners from all over the world gather every December to participate in supporting a ban on the manufacturing and inhumane use of antipersonnel mines. All entry fees and additional financial support foster independence among landmine victims by helping provide prosthetic limbs, social reintegration programs, and supporting other relevant and needed programs such as education and prevention of HIV / AIDS.