Cambodia's temple tranquility

A travel piece about the Angkor temples in Cambodia, skimming over Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Preah Khan and Banteay Srei. Has some practical advice in avoiding the crowds too, although be careful about several spelling errors in the text (eg, Banteay Srei, Suryavarman II).

28 July 2007 (The Courier Mail) – A travel piece about the Angkor temples in Cambodia, skimming over Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Preah Khan and Banteay Srei. Has some practical advice in avoiding the crowds too, although be careful about several spelling errors in the text (eg, Banteay Srei, Suryavarman II).

Cambodia’s temple tranquility

I always thought that visiting Cambodia’s Angkor temples would be like exploring a lost city.

For many years I had heard tales of crumbling ruins hidden from time by steamy triple-canopy jungle that echoed with birdsong and the call of mysterious animals.

I imagined walking along jungle tracks, coming upon a faded ruin only after the last strike of a guide’s machete cleared an overgrown patch of scrub. But the reality of Siem Reap’s Angkor is this: hordes of tourists and well-worn paths leading to crowded temples.

Pick the wrong time of the day to visit Angkor Wat, the most famous of the region’s temple complexes and the symbol on the Cambodian flag, and you’ll be sharing the site with thousands.

The tour buses start arriving mid-morning and drop their passengers on the other side of the moat, with tourists flooding across the Naga Causeway to the dusty temple compound.

While Angkor is now firmly on the tourist track there are still ways to guarantee that you get to see the temples without being surrounded by hundreds of other people, and one is to pick the time of the day you visit.

Start early, and head into the temples while they are still quiet.

Read the full travel piece on Angkor here.

If you’re planning a holiday in Angkor, some books you’d find useful include:
Angkor Cities and Temples by C. Jaques
Ancient Angkor (River Book Guides) by C. Jaques
The Treasures of Angkor: Cultural Travel Guide (Rizzoli Art Guide) by M. Albanese
Angkor: Cambodia’s Wondrous Khmer Temples, Fifth Edition by D. Rooney and P. Danford

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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