One of the main reasons for visiting Siem Reap, Cambodia is to see Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world.
We chose a private full-day tour of Angkor Wat and the other important local temples and ruins, booking this with Viator.
We had our own local tour guide who was extremely knowledgeable, not only about Angkor Wat and the ruins, but also about Siem Reap and Cambodia itself. His English was near perfect and he was so friendly, helpful and incredibly passionate about his subject. From the moment we met at 08.00 am, we were excited about the day ahead, we knew it was going to be a memorable tour and we weren’t disappointed.
The first stop of the day was the South Gate of Angkor Thom where we began our exploration of the Bayon, which is the centrepiece of this ancient city. The Bayon holds 54 towers, which are decorated with more than 200 smiling stone faces.
We also visited the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Terrace of Elephants and Terrace of Leper Kings, as well as Ta Prohm Temple, made famous by the movie Tomb Raider – and I admit to having my picture taken under the famous tree, putting on my best Angelina Jolie style pose.
As enthralling as the tour was the intense temperature exhausted us as the morning moved on. We were thankful for our lunch break and dined in a air conditioned restaurant. After enjoying a locally inspired three course meal, we were ready to continue our exploration.
The tour certainly saved the best till last, and its most famous temple was left until the end of the day – Angkor Wat.
I don’t really know how to describe what it felt like seeing Angkor Wat with my own eyes. Surreal, is probably the right word to use. Angkor Wat is steeped in so much history. I had seen it many times in travel programmes, documentaries and films, but seeing it sit so majestically and imposingly in its surroundings was just mesmerising.
We didn’t have enough time to learn everything about Angkor Wat. Though our guide said it was the best preserved of all the Angkor temples. What I do know is that it is absolutely worth visiting. Breathtakingly beautiful, rich in history and vast, Angkor Wat is a unique site and one that should not be missed when visiting Siem Reap.
The tour of Angkor Wat was enriched by our knowledgeable tour guide. I liked that regardless of how many times he must have re-told the stories to crowds of tourists, he still held so much passion and enthusiasm. It felt like we were the first to have ever heard them.
This tour was a truly unique experience and one that will undoubtedly hold memories for a lifetime.