The main reason we came to Siem Reap was to see the temples and ruins of Angkor. They are truly magnificent. Back in its peak the area of Angkor had a population of over a million people when the city of London was a mere 50,000!
Getting Your Passes And Arranging Transportation To See The Temples
You have to buy passes to see the ruins. Most of the main sites around the Angkor area are included in this pass. There are a few that have a separate entrance fee. The passes come in 1 day, 3 day and 7 days, and are $20, $40 and $60 respectively. They can be purchased at the main area gate to Angkor. Your driver will know where to take you and direct you. Once you buy the pass it is only good for the consecutive days you have purchased. This is a shame because it can get quite tiring in the heat to get around to view all the ruins. It would be nice if you could take a break for a day and then go back. The one day pass would be a waste in our opinion. You could spend a whole day at Angkor Wat alone. We bought the 3 day pass. We had 8 days here in total and thought it would be enough. We should have purchased the 7 day. Even if we didn’t use all 7 days, we could have taken a day or two break and really took our leisure viewing the different sites. Several weeks could be spent viewing all the ruins around Siem Reap. We ended up having to buy another day pass in the end. 3 days was just not enough for us. We would like to come back some day to see more of the temples.
To see the ruins you need to get an early start. On our first day we were up bright and early at 4:30am. Ugggggh! For those that know me (Audrey) you know I am not a morning person. Even Jack was not too chipper at this hour! By 10 or 11am you can hardly handle the heat so you have no choice but to start your day early. Our days would usually consist of leaving early, seeing ruins until 11am or so. Then we would get our driver to take us back to our hotel. We would have some lunch and then take a nap. He would come get us again at about 3pm and we would go back out to view the ruins again until sunset.
We came across a great tuk tuk driver named Mouen Leak. He was recommended by the Guest House we were staying at. There are literally hundreds of drivers for hire. This is the ideal way to see the temples in our opinion. You have the driver at your leisure to go where and when you want. Just pick up a cheap information book about the sites to get the details on them. There’s no need to book a group tour. We hired Mouen Leak for all our days of visiting the ruins and many other times while in Siem Reap. He gave us a cell phone number and we could call him at anytime. He was a very courteous driver. He was a friendly guy who we quickly became fond of. He had 3 daughters age 12, 8 and 6. He works very long days, with no days off for long periods of time. Once in a while he said he takes a bit of a holiday.
One day we had him from 7:30am until 10:30pm at night. We asked him if he wanted to go back to his family and we could make our own way into town for dinner, but he insisted it was okay and he would take us. We gave him $20 for this whole day. This was well beyond the regular fee of $10 to $12. He was so grateful for the money, he made a face of embarrassment to even take it at first. Even though the ride back to the airport in a tuk tuk wasn’t our ideal situation, we would have had no one else see us off from Cambodia other than Mouen Leak. It was sad to say goodbye to him.
If you buy the pass just before 5pm you can go see Angkor Wat for sunset for free and then start the 3 days the following day. We took up this offer. We set out with another couple we met at our guest house. We arrived in about 15 minutes by tuk tuk to Angkor Wat. This is the big attraction everyone comes to see. It’s size and appearance is impressive in its present state, we saw drawings of it in its original condition in the 12th century, it was even more stunning. It was the grandest of all Khmer temples. The outer area of Angkor Wat is surrounded by a broad moat. The entire area is almost 200 hectares in size, making it one of the world’s largest religious monuments.
Approaching the site from the west crossing the causeway over the moat, you can’t help but feel a sense of aw. The grounds are full of different pavilions and galleries, the relief carvings and architecture are remarkable.
When we reached Angkor Wat at 5am we could hardly believe the amount of people pouring onto the walkway to get in. More and more just kept showing up in the dark. We thought we would be sharing the sunrise with a few other early birds, I guess not! It was an incredible site as the sun came up and lit the towers and glowed off the moat.