A Sacred Trip to Cambodia: Angkor Wat

Chutiluk Vilaib, an Application Developer in Diethelm’s Thailand office shares what made his first trip to Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Wat stand out.

 

What began with a question from a close friend – “Hey, have you ever been to Angkor Wat?” –resulted in our unforeseen journey to Cambodia in the summer of 2016. Even though the trip was decided on a whim, we knew we wanted to see one of the greatest World Heritage sites, Angkor Wat. Particularly since my friend and I are Buddhist, we didn’t want to miss visiting the largest temple complex in the world!

 

 

Staying at Angkor

 

We didn’t have much time to prepare for our trip, so we packed a few change of clothes in our backpacks and briefly searched for hotels. We decided on the Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor, which is in the heart of Siem Reap. This contemporary hotel has a beautiful Cambodian design and atmosphere that fuelled our excitement to explore Angkor Wat.

 

 

Dining on Local and International Cuisine

 

We came across a good variety of restaurants in Siem Reap featuring local and international food. We couldn’t pass up sampling Cambodian curries and rice noodles, but other cuisines were not hard to find either. We found an Italian restaurant called Mamma Shop that served delicious pizza and pasta – it was so good that we wanted to eat there again!

 

 

Getting Around Angkor

 

Given the enormous area of the temple complex, we opted to hire a tuk tuk driver rather than explore the area by food. A tuk tuk is a type of small vehicle in which a motorcycle pulls a covered carriage.

 

There are other transportation options by which to explore Angkor such as renting a car or taxi, but we found that the best means of getting around Angkor area was by tuk tuk. We preferred its open-air design and the joy of the ride, which is one-of-a-kind experience in our opinion.

 

 

Exploring the Temples

 

We took a tuk tuk from our hotel in the early morning and headed to Angkor Wat in hopes to avoid the crowds. But after arriving and paying the USD 20 single-day entrance fee, we realised that many people had that same idea as us! That didn’t stop us from praying to Buddha and watching the first light of the sunrise in the morning for a blessing.

 

Angkor Wat literally translates to “temple city” and consists of many religious structures and consecrated places. Apart from the gigantic scale of the complex, the architecture of the temple and walls is visually stunning and lives up to its fame that has stood the test of time. The art and the decorations tell the story of how magnificent the Khmer Empire once was. Though the empire has since withered, the legend certainly lives on.

 

There are also many other sacred places to visit near Angkor Wat such as Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple and Ta Prohm. They all have interesting stories behind them and have subtly different architecture and atmospheres. Although it took all day, we visited many of the major sites and felt that our bodies and souls were blessed. We wish we had visited all of the sites but we agreed that it would have taken at least two days for that to be possible. Here is a list of places we visited:

 

  • Angkor Wat – A World Heritage site and the largest temple complex in the world, this is the main attraction for every visitor and worshiper
  • Angkor Thom – The ancient capital city of Khmer Empire containing beautiful architecture and ruins
  • Bayon Temple – An iconic temple located in heart of Angkor Thom with smiling stone faces
  • Phnom Bakheng – The mountain temple, famous for its sunset views
  • Ta Prohm – Temple ruins covered by tree roots that offer unique photo opportunities
  • Preah Khan Temple – Temple ruins built to honour the ancient king’s father

 

In a nutshell, we were impressed by the sight and size of Angkor Wat and other ruins. They have a unique cultural presence and historical significance. It was a memorable journey for us that we would like to go and visit again someday. The charm and beauty of this sacred ground are something to behold and worth the journey for any visitor.

 

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