With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

Angkor Wat

Posted by Heliocentrism on July 10, 2017

Monday, May 15th to 18th, 2017

We went to Siem Reap for one thing and one thing only. We wanted to see Angkor Wat. We weren’t really enjoying Cambodia that much. I’m not sure, maybe it was the genocide being less than 40 years ago, but it just wasn’t half as fun as Vietnam was. So excluding the day we arrived and the day we left, we stayed only 2 days in Siem Reap.

Arrival Day  

  • Option 1: Buy AW Tickets after 5:00PM and see the sunset?

The very first day in Siem Reap we made our first Angkor Wat orientated decision. We chose not to see the sunset at Angkor Wat. You see, on the day you buy a ticket, if the ticket is purchased after 17:00, you can enter the Angkor Wat complex without it affecting how many more days you have left to tour the temples. It’s like a sunset freebie.

  • Option 2: Sunrise at AW?

We were tired from traveling the 7 hours it took to get to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh. So, not only did we not head right over to the Angkor Wat ticket office, We didn’t even schedule a tuk-tuk to take us there early enough to see the sun come up the next day. Instead, we agreed that he should come pick us up at 8:00 the next morning. Actually, I groaned on the inside at the thought of not being able to sleep in the next day, but then nodded at his suggestion that an 8:00 pick up would be ideal if we didn’t want to see the sunrise.

Mr. Le

Siem Reap Day 1 — Option 3: Buy either the 1-day, 3-day, or 7-day ticket?

  • Option 4: Bike or Ride?

Our tuk-tuk driver, Mr. Le, showed up as scheduled and took us right to the ticket office. I read online about people who rent or borrow bicycles from their hotels to get to Angkor Wat. We passed a few of them on our way and I thought they were crazy. It was very hot even this early in the morning. “Most of them will not make it back this afternoon,” I thought. Even if I were in the greatest of physical shape, the heat alone would deter me.

  • Option 5: Buy a sarong?

Mark only had shorts, having thrown out all his long pants in Vietnam. They were all too hot for the Vietnamese climate and they weighed his pack down. So, now he had no pants that completely covered his knees for Angkor Wat. There, knees need to be covered, even male knees.

There are shops at the ticket office selling snacks, drinks, food, bags, sarongs, and all manner of tourist items. Mark walked into a store to pick out a manly looking sarong. He tried on a few, holding them around his waist and looking at himself in the mirror. None of them were “him”.

Seeing what Mark wanted the sarong for, a sales lady told Mark, “Pants okay.” She pulled on the end of Mark’s shorts to show that it stopped almost below the knee. The shorts didn’t fully cover the knee, just most of it. He did not need a sarong after all.  

I had to yell at some tour group people to get out of the shot, right before this photo was taken.

  • Option 6: What order?

We read about “temple fatigue” and knew we would be very susceptible to it. We had already suffered from “travel fatigue” a few times on the trip. These syndromes happen when you have too much of a thing. You become overwhelmed by or tired of temples, travel, or whatever.

The best cure is to stop doing the thing that you are tired of for a day or two. For travel, Mark and I might spend a day in the hotel watching movies, hang out at a park, or stay at a café where Mark reads online articles and I blog. (I’m writing this right now in a café in Bali as a cure for “beach fatigue”.)

It wasn’t a matter of “if”, but “when”. So, we chose to visit our must-sees first. That way we could leave when the “temple fatigue” hit. We chose to see, Ta Prohm, Bayon (Head Temple), and Angkor Wat, in that order.

Ta Prohm, the temple from Tomb Raider, was picked to be first because it is a popular afternoon stop for tour groups. These groups move through the temple 30 or 40 people strong. They are slow, constantly stopping to take selfies, and always getting in your selfies.  Once you get stuck behind a tour group, all you can do is wait, or have clumps of tourists in all your best shots. It’s best to avoid tour groups at all cost.

We picked Angkor Wat, the temple all the other temples are collectively named after, for the afternoon. Most people will have seen it shortly after sunrise. So, we hoped that it would be least busy after lunch. I don’t know if that is when it is least busy, but we did manage not to run into a tour group until our way out of Angkor Wat.

We also explored Elephant Terrace since it was not too far from Bayon, the temple with all the faces. There were so many photo-perfect moments interrupted by other tourists mindlessly stepping in the way. It was also hard to not be a mindless tourist myself, since at any given time other people were having photo-perfect moments themselves.

Most people tried to be as respectful of other people’s shots as possible. It was a little hard with so many tourists taking photos at all times. The only people who just didn’t care about ruining other tourists’ shots where the ones in tour groups. Something about being in a tour group makes people obnoxious and act like everything belongs to them. Tour group patrons would jump the queue of tourists patiently waiting to take photos with certain statues or doorways or take forever with a thousand and one selfies before pulling out another camera to take more photos.

  • Option 7: Buy a guide book?

At the entrance to every temple there are touts trying to get you to buy stuff. The most common thing they sell are guide books. You can buy one for really cheap, I hear. But, like me, most people have done their research before getting to Angkor Wat and a guide book at this point is a bit useless.

The Cambodian government would rather you buy from the adults, if you are going to buy something, and not from the children. Kids are recruited to sell things because they are cute or pitiful. The people forcing them to sell, think that tourists are more likely to buy from them. These kids are taken out of school to sell junk. If people stop buying from the children, their overlords might let them go back to school.

Sometimes you just have to rest and enjoy an icy drink.

  • Option 8: Stay for sunset?

We never did get “temple fatigue” because regular old fatigue and the heat got to us first. We spent 2 hours wondering around Angkor Wat after lunch and had to take many breaks and several liters of water to get through it. There were a lot of stairs to climb.

To cool down we ate some ice cream at a shop near the temple before looking for Mr. Le again. He asked us where we wanted to go next. It was only 3:00 in the afternoon. I couldn’t climb any more steps. We asked to be taken back to our hotel.

On our way back we passed a few tuk-tuks with bicycles shoved in the back cab. The cyclists looked so tired, many of them could barely sit up. “I knew it,” I thought. At least they didn’t have to bike back to their hotels…

  • Option 9: How will we recover?

We spent the rest of the afternoon in the hotel’s pool. Later we were even too tired to go out for dinner. We ordered room service and went to bed early. It was a great day.

The following day we leisurely walked around town going from coffee shop to coffee shop. I did some writing and Mark got a 2-dollar haircut and shave. We felt like rich people because everything was so cheap.

Then we walked into an upscale mall. It had shops like Armani Exchange and Montblanc. I couldn’t even afford to buy a pen in that mall. I went from being a high roller to a peasant by just walking through the door. We didn’t stay long.


How to get there:

  • You can enter Cambodia by bus, plane, train, or boat.
  • You will need visa to enter. You can get a visa at the border, get an e-visa, or go to the nearest Cambodian embassy or consulate and get a visa.
    • I got my visa at the border, so I don’t know what advantage an e-visa would give you.
    • The cost of a Cambodian visa at the border or at the airport is 34USD. I know all the websites say 30USD, but it’s actually 34USD.
      • It’s not a scam, because everyone pays 34USD. If it is a scam, it’s a very consistent one.


  • Emergency Numbers:
    • Fire 118
    • Police 117
    • Medical Help 119






  • The US dollar is the main, however unofficial, currency.
    • Only paper money; no coins.
    • When getting money from retailers as change, check the bills.
      • Return anything that looks suspicious and ask for a new better looking bill.
      • If you have a suspicious bill, you will be stuck with it. No one will take it from you.
      • Refuse to take anything with rips, writing, or stains.
      • Refuse to take anything that looks fake, even if it’s a one dollar bill.
  • The local currency, the Riel, is used mainly as change less than a dollar.
    • Pay for things in rial, is like paying for things in quarters.

Siem Reap

How to get there:



  • During the hotter months, I recommend getting a hotel with a pool.
  • Other than Angkor Wat there are lots of adventure sport things to do in Siem Reap.

Angkor Wat

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 13.376835, 103.880741 (Ticket Office)


  • Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia





  • One day 37USD
  • Three Days 62USD
  • Seven Days 72USD
  • Cambodians can enter for free
  • Tuk-Tuk ride 15 – 25USD


  • Ticket Office 5:00 – 18:00
  • Sometime before sunrise to sometime after sunset.



  • Be sure to see:
  • Always keep your ticket with you. If an official asks to see it and you cannot produce it, you will be fined.
  • Food at the site can be a bit overpriced and not very delicious. Try the Golden Monkey in front of Bayon and Angkor Wat temples.




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