Angkor is probably one of the most amazing places that we have been to and a must see for anyone visiting Cambodia.
Located in the jungles of the Siem Reap province, it is every travelers dream. Since I first saw the Tomb Raider movie, I have been wanting to explore this magical site.
You can either explore the temples by bicycle, tuk-tuk or moto. As Angkor is massive, walking is not really an option if you want to get the best out of each day. The town centre is about 6-8km’s away from the entrance of Angkor, so make sure you know where your accommodation is located. Bicycles can be rented from your hotel or a shop. It will cost you 1$-2$, per day, to hire a local bicycle and 4$-5$ to rent a mountain bike. Make sure that your bike has a lock, and that the tires are pumped. Take lots of water with you, snacks, a hat and sunscreen.
On our first day we rented local bicycles. Armed and excited we got our 3 day pass from the ticketing office and headed out on the “small circuit tour”. The price for a 3 day pass is 40$ per person.
On the small circuit tour, we got to see plenty! We decided to skip Angkor Wat on our first day as it was buzzing with tourists. Everyone wants to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat, and this is also where most people will start the small circuit tour.
The small circuit tour is perfect for going by bicycle. Off course you will want to visit all the main temples such as Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Prohm etc, but you will also get to see the smaller temples if you are willing to explore the dirt roads a bit. (We later discovered that renting a mountain bike is much easier for dirt roads. Keep this in mind when you are planning your visit.)
As we rode through the jungles of Angkor, we found so many hidden paths. We visited temples where there was nobody else in sight. Just us. There was a moment, I remember, where we just sat down to relax. It started to rain leaves, probably for 5 min long, and the sound of wind chimes could be heard in the distance. “There is so much magic here” I thought to myself.
Along the way we saw water buffalo, children playing, monks praying, monkeys and so much more. One really old lady even offered us her hammock to sleep in.
The temples are also filled with little restaurants for a quick breakfast or lunch stop. You will also be approached by people, especially small children, selling bangles, guide books and postcards for “one dollar” (said in a very American accent). As this will happen, most of the time, don’t get irritated or angry. Just smile and say “no thank you” until they eventually leave you alone.
For us, exploring Angkor by bicycle was the best way to escape the crowds of tourists and to really get a feel of how the locals travel. Bicycles are used all over Cambodia. If you are used to driving on the left side of the road, like us, it is quite tricky at first to figure out how the flow works when driving on the right side. Trust me, I have some scars to prove it. Make sure you don’t stop in the middle of the road and don’t be scared to use your bell. Keep the flow going. And the best tip: stay calm! Just trust and be confident that nobody is going to crash into you!
Click here to see some of our other photos from Angkor.