Seeing the temples of Angkor has always been a dream of mine.
Spending an entire day photographing temples sounded perfect.
Once I arrived in Siem Reap I couldn’t wait to visit them.
The tuk tuk drivers that worked for the Mad Monkey Hostel I stayed at charge $25 to go around the temples all day.
Instead I tried to haggle with random tuk tuk drivers on the streets.
A few tried to charge more than $25, but I soon realized that $25 was the going price for all day ride around the temples.
I showed my driver all the temples I wanted to visit, which was basically the Grand Circuit.
From there he knew exactly what to do and where to go.
After a quick in and out visit to the ticket office
(1-Day Angkor Wat Pass costs $37) we were at Angkor Wat right away.
ANGKOR WAT – early 12th century.
Before getting to the main temple grounds you have to cross a bridge.
That bridge will be full of people trying to be your guide.
I went without one and decided to roam the grounds myself.
Once I crossed the bridge no one bothered me about guided tours again.
There was a decent amount of people at the temple but it wasn’t overbearing like I thought it would be.
There were a few times that I had whole areas to myself.
ANGKOR THOM(AKA: Bayon) – late 12th century.
Bayon was the temple I was most excited for.
This is the temple that has all the face carvings in it.
As soon as I arrived it started raining, which was good because it made a bunch of people leave.
After a few minutes the rain stopped, the sun came out, and the weather was perfect.
I ran in there before more people arrived and had plenty of room to myself.
The temple grounds were smaller than expected, but it was still one of my favorite temples to visit.
All the face carvings makes Bayon one of the more interesting temples along the loop.
PREAH KHAN – 1191 A.D.
When we arrived at Preah Khan my tuk tuk driver told me to go all the way through and he’d pick me up in the back.
The temple was longer than I expected but this place was really cool so I was OK with it.
The walkways are quite small, but luckily there weren’t many people when I was there.
There’s many areas of this temple that have piles of rubble around.
So watch your step if you decide to venture down walkways off the main path.
At the end of Preah Khan there are trees growing on and out of the temple.
This was the coolest part of the entire place.
NEAK PEAN – 12th century.
Neak Pean is hardly even a temple at all.
It’s a “temple” on an artificial island in the middle of a pond.
It’s really not that special.
The walk over the tree filled river was more fascinating than this site.
As you can see I was in and out of there rather quickly.
TA SOM – end of 12th century.
Ta Som was a rather small temple.
Most people go there for the trees growing over the doorway at the end.
Unfortunately there’s a family back there aggressively trying to sell you stuff while their kids beg around you.
I was cautious of my pockets.
Snapped a few photos and took off.
PRE RUP – 961 A.D.
Pre Rup was a temple I didn’t originally have on my list.
My tuk tuk driver suggested it to me.
I’m glad he did too.
This temple is built from sandstone so it has a much different look than the previous ones.
There were hardly any people there.
And the panoramic view from the top was quite nice.
TA PROHM – 1186 A.D.
Arriving at Ta Prohm was entertaining.
Because as soon as you enter the parking lot you’re swarmed by people trying to sell you stuff.
There were so many people around my tuk tuk I couldn’t even get out.
My driver thought it was pretty funny.
Once I broke through the mob and entered through the gate of the temple grounds I was fine.
Saving Ta Prohm for last was definitely like saving the best for last.
Ta Prohm is the temple that is heavily overgrown with trees.
There are photo opportunities everywhere.
But this temple will require you to have patience, as it was the most packed with people.
This temple also had some vicious mosquitoes that I didn’t notice at any of the other temples.
Besides the people and mosquitoes this was my favorite temple.
The pics you see online are everything you hope this place would be.
Once I finished and ran past the kids trying to sell me things my driver and I were back to Mad Monkey within 15 minutes.
My entire loop went from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm.
That might be a little too long for most people.
But I took my time at most places and snapped a whole bunch of photos.
If you don’t take too many pics and avoid Neak Pean and Ta Som you can shave an hour or two off that time.
If you’re “all templed-out” by the time you get to Siem Reap I’d recommend only going to the big 3: Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Ta Prohm.
But if you’ve never seen anything like the temples of Angkor the Grand Circuit is 100% worth your time and money.
Have you ever spent all day at the temples of Angkor?
Let me know in the comments below.
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