Angkor Wat is Cambodia’s most iconic temple complex and top of the list for anyone visiting the country. The Unesco World Heritage site, known for its symmetry and intricate carvings, is easy to visit from Siem Reap.
Sunrise at Angkor Wat
We took advice from our hotel and arrived at 4:30am to witness the sun rise behind Angkor Wat. Unfortunately it was quite a cloudy day so there was no magnificent sunrise and it also seemed that everyone else had the same idea.
We spent the day touring the Angkor temple complex, including Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm which is recognisable from the film Tombraider. In future we’d probably give the early start a miss, as the temples seemed to quieten down in the afternoon.
Siem Reap by bike
While in Siem Reap we took a motorbike tour through the countryside to visit local villages and some lesser visited temples. We rode our own mopeds, with a lesson beforehand if you’re not used to manual gears. After breaking down twice we finally hit the road!
We spent a lot of time in the countryside in Vietnam and we were expecting Cambodia to look pretty similar but it was actually quite different, vast flat areas with tall palm trees, very dry and dusty (apart from the occasional paddy field) and the villages seemed noticeably poorer, but as always in Cambodia the people were really friendly and always had a smile and a wave for us.
Just before heading to the beach we ventured further into the countryside to visit a homestay in Takeo province. This was a unique place where we could experience living with a Khmer family, with all our meals cooked in their outdoor kitchen.
We rode bicycles into the local village and our friends had bought some toys and sweets that we handed out to the kids. Not just your average bike ride, with runaway pigs to contend with and we even saw a dog fighting with a snake!
The homestay owners ran a free English class for children after school and we were asked to help teach a lesson, although I think we were only there for practise as their English was brilliant anyway!
We’re glad we got to experience rural Khmer life, such friendly, laid-back people who seem genuinely happy despite their current struggles and tragic past.