In a nutshell
Follow the crowds as they ply the classic route through this amazing historical monument, or beat your own path following Travelfish.org's recommended navigation. Either way, be impressed by this breathtaking and divine site.
Cambodia's Angkor is, quite simply, one of the most splendid attractions in all of Southeast Asia. Long considered "lost", the ruins of Angkor were never really lost to the Khmers, who have used the monuments as religious sites throughout their history.
The myth of "The Lost Ruins of Angkor" is more suited to an Angelina Jolie film than the history books. The story more or less begins with their being "rediscovered" by Western explorers in the 19th century, beginning with the French botanist Henri Mahout who stumbled across Angkor Wat in 1860. Few remember though that Mahout was led to the site by a Khmer guide and that when he arrived, he found a flourishing Buddhist monastery within the temple grounds.
During the Khmer Rouge period, the ruins were largely left to their own devices.Like most Khmers, even Pol Pot was unable to shake the power of the site, saying in 1977, "If our people can make Angkor, they can make anything."
Never lost, lost then found, found then lost then found again -- today it doesn't really matter. With thousands of people visiting daily, sprawling Angkor Wat Historical Park remains a see-at-least-once-in-your-life destination.
Most of the nearest accommodation is in Siem Reap, while for food and drink, there are some snack stalls set up. They'll offer basics like baguettes and noodle-soup and much-needed bottles of water at slightly inflated prices -- don't expect haute cuisine, and you will not be disappointed. In the middle of the day, you're best to head back to Siem Reap for a rest and a meal -- Siem Reap has some outstanding restaurants.
Passes to the park cost $20 for one day, $40 for three days of visits within a week, and $60 for seven days of visits within a month. Ticketing is operated by privately owned Sokimex Corporation. The process takes a few minutes and they take your photo and print it on the ticket, so don't hope to share a week's pass with a fellow backpacker unless you bear an uncanny resemblance. Tickets are checked at almost every temple too, including the ones further afield.
Transportation to the park for the day is relatively easy. The going rate for a day-long tuk tuk ride through the park is $10. This price includes Angkor, Bayon, and all the temples in the immediate surrounds. For longer distances, expect to pay more. Trekking out to the Rolous Group of temples about 13 km away will cost an extra $3, while prices for trips to Banteay Srei and even farther temples can range wildly depending on your driver's willingness to make the trip. A guide usually costs about $15 to $25 a day and is recommended if you really want to understand the thousands of carvings adorning the buildings and get pointers on what time of day to visit the various sites.
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Angkorian traffic woes
Bangkok to Siem Reap
Five special hotels in Cambodia
Siem Reap to Ko Chang
Cheap flights with Discovery Airpass
Check Angkor hotel rates on Agoda. Best price guarantee!
Text and/or map last updated on 5th September, 2010.
Angkor interactive map
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