In our visit to Angkor, we decided to have a rather “adventurous” experience in this magnificent place.
We decided to buy a 3-days pass, rent bicycles, grab a map, and be our own guides, and i gotta say that i was pretty AWESOME!!
1) Can you do it ?
For this adventure, you’ll need to be fit and in a healthy condition, since you will end up cycling for a large number of kilometers throughout the day, in addition to walking around the enormous temples, climbing stairs, and trekking!!
We’ve found that the best bicycle to do this adventure is Mountain bikes with multiple gears.
I highly recommend getting a bike with gears, as it will make it a LOT easier for you and -in a way- less tiring.
The most important rule here is “Check your bike” …. let me repeat that again … CHECK YOUR BIKE!!!
Check everything, the front tire / the back tire / the peddling / the gear shifting … etc
and trust me when i tell you:
bad bike = HORRIBLE experience
We rented our bikes for 2 days for 5$ (2.5$ per day), do ask for a map to Angkor as well, it will be very helpful.
Water !! …. period !!
pack 1 or 2 big bottles of water with you … you must stay hydrated at all time …. every time you stop for rest, or stop to check out a temple … remind yourself to drink some water.
We also packed some food with us like bread, spread cheese and potato chips, and it was really cool having our lunch beside the lakes over there instead of the packed expensive restaurants !!
I highly recommend putting all your stuff in a backpack, and not carry it by hand … your arm and hands will thank you !!
i recommend wearing high quality shorts or pants, something comfortable but NOT cheap material, as it’ll be torn from the “excessive” biking.
Sun Rise at Angkor Wat:
One of the most phenomenal things to see in Angkor is the sunrise at Angkor Wat.
We started moving around 5:15 am from the hotel, we biked all the way to Angkor Wat, the road was dark but we had a lot of tuk-tuks around us which made it easier to see the road, when we reached, we bought the tickets quickly and raced inside to the lake beside Angkor Wat and we witnessed the famous sunrise there.
Bear in mind that every single visitor to Angkor will be standing there to see the sunrise, so expect to see something like THIS!!
After the sun is up, we went back and took our bikes to start our tour.
we followed what is known as the “small circuit“, our next destination was :
The south gate of Angkor Thom:
And from this gate we biked to the middle of Angkor Thom, where BAYON was located (My personal favorite :D)
and we stumbled to few monks inside, i took a picture of them real quick ….. hmmm i donno but for some reason i called this picture “The Door To Asia” 😀
After spending quite some time in Bayon, it was time for us to move on to our next destination, but i had to take 1 more pic 😀
We were back on the road and in our way to our next destination “Baphuon“!!
When we stumbled into this:
We met quite a few on our way, till we reached the world largest jigsaw puzzle “Baphuon Temple” that was all put back together from segments of plans and drawings that were long lost ….
After spending some time in Baphuon, we headed for phimeanakas, Terrace of the elephants, Terrance of the leper king, and some cool looking secluded temple 😀
Terrace of The Elephants:
Terrace of the leper king:
The cool looking temple:
After visiting all those places, we went out of Angkor Thom from The Victory Gate, we then headed for Ta Prohm, the famous temple that was featured in Lara Croft Tomb Raider, it was a huge temple and it was quite remarkable.
After Ta Prohm, we went for lunch beside a beautiful lake, we ordered coconuts which were AMAZING!! and so worth it!!
Tip: After you finish drinking the coconut water, ask the vendors to cut it open for you … the coconut “meat” is sooooooooooo delicious !!
We had lunch, chilled for a while then we took our bikes and headed back to Angkor Wat.
We spent some time in Angkor Wat, then it was getting close to sunset, so we headed to the most famous area for Sunset in Angkor …. Phnom Bakheng
Phnom Bakheng is a temple on top of a mountain, we had to trek for a while first, then we had to go up some stairs and wait on the top to see the sunset.
After the sunset, we took our bikes and raced back to Siem Reap before it get too dark, and we also had to return the bikes by 7 pm.
And that marked the end of our First Day of Adventure in Angkor
Hints to manage your expectations:
1) Biking is TIRING, and i mean REALLY tiring …. and worst of all … those mountain bikes have the WORST seats, they are gonna hurt your @$$ like a b**** , so make sure you take rest every now and then and don’t push yourself too hard, because trust me when i tell you that “When you’re tired and in pain, even the most marvelous temples are gonna look like some freaken rocks laid on top of each others”
2) Angkor is gonna be crowded … That’s a given … however, since you got your bike and your map, you can manage your stops at the temples so that you would avoid the crowd -like we did-, so that’s a perk of being your own guide.
3) Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta prohm and Baphuon (yup, those 4) are -in my opinion- the “must see” in Angkor, each one of them is unique in its own way and they have a lot of history within their walls, other than those … you won’t be DEADLY wrong to miss any other temple, so make sure that you don’t rush, stress or tire yourself seeking out every single temple around …. Just enjoy the ride.
4) Sunrise in Angkor Wat is definitely something to see, however Sunset in Phnom Bakheng (although it’s INSAINELY famous) isn’t -in my opinion- as AWESOME as advertised ….. not even close. (You expect -based on what people say- that you will go up there and see the sun set over the temples of Angkor in a majestic view .. blah blah blah) but that’s not quite the case, you see, the temples are in the east and they are FAR !!! like really FAR !!! , and the sun set in the west over the city or something, you can’t even see clearly because of the jungle trees. soooo a piece of advice, if you are really tired from your whole day biking (almost 12 hours), then just go back to the city … you can skip the sunset in Phnom Bakheng.
5) Biking through Angkor enhanced the experience and made it much more exciting and memorable, cycling on the road and in the jungle and finally reaching your destination temple, it’s just an indescribable feeling 😀
Our second day, we wanted to take a rest from the excessive biking in the day before, so we decided to take a tuk tuk and go to Beng Mealea (70km away from the city)
But more on that in my next post.
So stay tuned and till then …..
Basel …. OUT
(All pictures are captured by Samsung Galaxy NoteI & NoteII phone cameras)