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Siem Reap - Angkor Grand Tour Travel Report

Siem Reap - Angkor Grand Tour Travel Report

Old Jul 6th, 2016, 12:37 AM
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Siem Reap - Angkor Grand Tour Travel Report

Before I went, I have heard a lot of amazing things about the Angkor Wat World Heritage in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I was told by many fellow travelers that Angkor was one of the most spiritual sites they had ever been to. I looked at the pictures and wondered why a big pile of rubble and broken pieces was so magical. Until I went, I witnessed it myself, and now I don’t know where to begin.

Angkor is one of the largest and most important archeological wonders in the world. Don’t expect to see or feel them all in a day. In general, visitors could see the majority of the Angkor Temples in 3 days. All foreign visitors are required to purchase an entrance pass to the Angkor Archaeological Park.

1-day pass - US$ 20
3 consecutive day pass - US$40
7 consecutive day pass - US$60

The Pass gives visitors access to all the Angkor Temples, except Kulen mountain and Bengmealea Temple. There will be guards asking for the Pass at the entrance of every temple so make sure keeping it safe and intact and carrying it along.

There are many ways getting around – elephants, motorcycles, bikes, and coach buses for visitors in a group tour. For self-packaged travelers, it’s common to hire a tuk-tuk driver or a private tour guide. Tuk-tuk is basically a carriage hooked to a motorcycle that conveniently transports tourists around the city.
1-day Grand Tour: US$ 25
1-day Small Tour: US$ 15
I hired a private tour guide (with a driver), which I recommend. The tour guides are licensed and they wear a yellow uniform.
3-day private tour: US$ 200-300

Well, unless you have studied very well the Khmer history and culture, a private guide may offer you a better understanding to appreciate the wonderfulness of the Angkor Temples. In three days, you are going to see a lot of temples, temples, temples, and temples. There, I learnt in which period each temple was built by looking at the engravings on the lintels and shapes of the colonnettes, and I learnt about some Hindu and Buddhist legends, like the famous “Churning of the Ocean of Milk” and “Mucalinda sheltering Gautama Buddha” (Naga: seven-headed cobra which sculpture could be seen everywhere around the Angkor site).

For the photos and details.Check out knycx.journeying blog for photos and a detailed trip report: http://wp.me/p5Lw9a-Xv. The Grand Tour is the outer circuit in the Northwest area of Angkor Thom. The route is more extensive as it includes Banteay Srei Temple (The Lady Temple) which is farther away from the reservoir area.

*Pre-Rup Temple*

The first temple we saw in the morning. Surrounded by an artificial lake, the temple was a crematorium as this was where the funerals took place in the 16th century. There are pits on the walls where the cremation happened – although it is believed that the temple was originally built in the mid-10 century and dedicated to Shiva – one of the trinity in Hinduism.

*Ta Som Temple*

Ta Som is a small temple in Angkor and was built at the end of the 12th century for Kind Jayavarman VII. It is located in the northeast of Angkor Thom and the east of Neak Pean.

*Neak Poan Temple*

The Neak Poan Temple is located in the middle of the Jayatataka reservoir and served as a hospital in the ancient times.

*Preah Khan Temple*

Preah Khan was built in the 12th century for Kind Jayavarman VII to honor his father. It is located in the northeast of Angkor Thom just west of the Jayatataka. The temple was originally a Buddhist Temple until King Jayavarman VIII was on the throne as a Hindu King. The Buddhist statues and sculpture were destroyed in his anti-Buddhist reaction and replaced by Hindu gods – like Garuda. Statues of Garuda, the humanoid bird Hindu god, were placed on the wall every 30 meters apart to protect the temple against evil spirits. The temple was like a maze with rooms connected from one to another, and I was amazed by the details engraved on the walls.

*Banteay Srei Temple*

The Banteay Srei Temple is also called the “Lady Temple” as the structure was constructed with unique pinkish sandstones and decorated with delicate, ethereal and beautifully-detailed motives of Khmer Art.The temple was the first restored by the French craftsman – Henry Marshal, using a technique learnt from Dutch archaeologists who reconstructed Borobudur in Java, Indonesia

*Banteay Samré Temple*

It was the last temple in our Grand Tour. The Banteay Samré was built under Suryavarman II and Yasovarman II in the early 12th century, originally dedicated to the offspring of the Emperor. The temple used the same material of building Banteay Srei Temple and was built in the same style of Angkor Wat. The complete temple was restored by French. Entering the temple, the windows were huge like displaying windows at a boutique.

Afterwards, we visited the Angkor National Museum, wandered in the Angkor market, or tourists could catch an Apsara dance show Stay-tuned. More photos about the temples and more travel tips, check out http://wp.me/p5Lw9a-Xv.
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Old Jul 6th, 2016, 10:37 AM
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Did you use a tuk-tuk to get around? Personally, I find the dust and fumes from a tuk-tuk unpleasant, so hired a car and river.

I'm glad you enjoyed Angkor - one of my favorite places!

PS Please don't encourage people to ride elephants.
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Old Jul 6th, 2016, 03:43 PM
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Thanks for sharing. Angkor is one of the places that's on my list but have not visited yet. Did you experience large crowds at each of the temples? If so, how easy or difficult was it to get away from them?
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Old Jul 6th, 2016, 08:28 PM
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When we went to Siem Reap, we enjoyed our temple visits immensely
because we hired a private guide who knew the paths to take to avoid the large overwhelming crowds and tour groups. We were taken to hidden passages and pathways the tour groups did not go to and had quiet conversations with our guide in the temple. We met the monks who blessed us and saw the monks at meditation. We hired him for 3 days to bring us to the various temples mentioned and we were very pleased with our "private tour" and insight into the temple constructions, the worshipping and culture. There are a lot of private licensed guides available. We contacted "seven candles" for our guide. We did not stay at the guest house but used their services since we believed in their vision........ They were reputable and we were not disappointed. We could choose a Tuk Tuk for our 3 days (which we did) or an air conditioned new car. The Tuk Tuk gave us the real flavor of Cambodia lifestyle and because it was open air, we enjoyed seeing the country view and sunrise and sunset from the open Tuk Tuk. but each to its own............
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Old Jul 7th, 2016, 02:55 AM
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Hi Kathie, I did hire a tuk-tuk to travel around the hotel and the night market but not for the Angkor grand tour. I hired a private tour guide. Actually it's convenient to hire a tuk-tuk in the city!
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Old Jul 7th, 2016, 02:57 AM
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Hi Dragon88, Totally agree and the temples in the Grand circle are generally quiet. Except the Angkor Wat / Bayon in the morning with lots of Chinese tourists... they were yelling and screaming at each other which completely ruined the mood.
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Old Jul 7th, 2016, 09:07 AM
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Yes, tuk-tuks make good sense in the city.

I enjoyed your photos of Ta Som. When we were there in 2001 they were stabilizing the structure. The first time we visited, we were the only visitors and enjoyed the silence. A few days later we stopped there again and the stabilizing work had begun. It felt totally different to be there with the workmen and the noise. I see in one of your photos a relief they were stabilizing when we were there.

We spent a week at Angkor and didn't see it all. It's amazing just how many accessible temples there are.

I highly recommend Dawn Rooney's book, Angkor: A Guide to Cambodia's Wondrous Temples. We used that as our guide.

The big Asian tour groups had just started coming to Angkor when we were there. It was still possible to avoid them and to enjoy some temples in silence. It sounds like other than Bayon and the main temple you were able to enjoy the temples without the crush (and bad behavior) of groups.
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Old Jul 7th, 2016, 12:11 PM
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Thank you, knycx! Contemplating my first trip to Angkor. Your photos and descriptions help my plans.
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