We could not go to Southeast Asia without paying a visit to Angkor Wat. This Unesco World Heritage Site is definitely one of the man-made wonders of the world. The cheapest way for us to get here was a flight from Danang to Kuala Lumpur, our destination after Cambodia and from there a return flight.
Vietnam was really cheap, so Siem Reap was quite a shock to us. On the first day we had to pay right away 30 USD for three nights in the hotel and 18 USD per person for the famous Cambodian circus we wanted to visit on our first evening. But these were really small expenses compared to the three-day tickets to visit Angkor Wat. We had to pay 62 USD per person plus 20 USD for a driver for one day. But there is nothing you can do, sometimes you just have to spend money to experience a place.
The Vietnamese cuisine didn’t impress us too much (at least the vegan options), but we were super happy with our first meal in Cambodia. Sure the 3.50USD per meal was much more expensive than in the neighboring country, but the choices and taste of the different Khmer curries were impressive.
After a pool session at the hotel, we went on a bike expedition to get our Angkor Wat tickets. We took the bikes all the way to the temples to see the sunset, however, it got too late and we had to go back to not miss the circus. This was an absolute highlight. The Cambodian circus had a long history which was basically lost after the military dictatorship during which intellectuals and artists were exactly the kinds of people who were targeted and killed.
In the 90’s, the circus got a revival and is now focusing on giving children from humble families an education and a chance to support themselves and their families. The 75-minute show we saw, was super professional and the acts performed can compete with any other circus around the world. For details about the Phare Circus in Cambodia, we have a separate article.
The next morning we had a pickup booked for 4.30 am to watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. The weather had different plans though and it was pouring down. Fearing that there wouldn’t be an enjoyable sunrise we rescheduled for the next morning. After we got a couple of hours of extra sleep we went back on the bikes to cycle the 7 km to Angkor Wat again. There are two main tours in the park: the big and the small circle. We decided to do the little one by bike that day. However, we underestimated the heat and the distances and it turned out to be a tough day. But being in the presence of these magnificent temples is worth it.
We started with the biggest and most famous Angkor Wat. There is a reason why so many people are drawn to it but we really enjoyed visiting the next, less crowded temples. The Bayon Temple impressed us with well preserved faces carved into the stone. The Ta Prohm, famous from the Tomb Raider movie, is set in a beautiful jungle scenery. After visiting another temple and a lake we cycled the 13 km back to the hotel where we had some well deserved beers.
We were luckier with the weather the next morning and could enjoy the sunrise without getting wet. This time we took a tuk tuk for the day so we had fun visiting the temples without the physical exhaustion. The temples from the first day were really impressive, little did we know that our favorite temple would be the lesser visited Preah Khan.
Here we spent 1.5 hours walking around the inside and outside of the premises. The uniqueness of the Ta Som temple is the location on the water, reachable via a beautiful boardwalk over a lake. The next impressive site was the East Mebon for its different colours and its height.
Since we started early we were back in the hotel by lunchtime. I started working some hours freelance again so whilst I was on the computer, Ale had a look at the local market. The last hours of our short trip to Cambodia we spent by the pool and having a last amazing Khmer dinner.
In case you are interested in visiting the Phare Circus you can get your tickets here.