I spent 3 weeks in Cambodia. Here are my photos.
I was there from November 21st to December 11th. I was mostly in Siem Reap/the Angkor Wat and then a few days in Phnom Penh.
I went to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat and do a Visa run at the same time to go back to Thailand after spending a month in Bangkok.
I took the train from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet and then crossed into Poi Pet. From Poi Pet I took a private taxi to Siem Reap.
I spent about 2 weeks in Siem Reap where I bought a 7 days pass for Angkor Wat, this pass is valid for many sites around Siem Reap. The pass is good for 7 one day visits within a month.
Anyway, I was told about an event at the Elephant Temple on the night of November 29th. It was a celebration for the one-year anniversary of UNESCO approval to includes in the heritage of the site, the local dance, and singing from the Khmer.
It was quite impressive. Here are a few photos from the evening.
The next day I traveled to a temple a little outside the main area, about 50 minutes’ drive from Siem Reap to Banteay Srei.
There’s also a park with a small waterfall and some stone carvings in the river but it wasn’t very entertaining to be truthful.
The name of this park is: Kbal Spean
Cute Khmer girl selling souvenirs:
After a walk around that park, I went to Banteay Srei Temple.
This temple is not the biggest but there are so many details, it’s very impressive. Keep in mind this temple is about 1000 years old. Let that sink in.
There’s a security rope, some places are restricted. The guard asked me if I wanted to go inside the restricted area in exchange for 5$US. The site was going to close in about 10 minutes and I was alone there. So I did.
I was able to get even closer to the details of this artwork.
These are about 50cm high:
The next day I went to the main site of Angkor Wat, the Angkor Wat Temple. Here are some photos around it, very impressive also. This is also 1000 years old.
The details, everywhere, carvings, I was impressed.
What an amazing construction that was lost in the jungle for hundreds of years. There are many documentaries about this place on youtube if you want to learn more. There are still many questions about all of it but there’s also quite a lot of information.
The next day I visited one of my favorite temples, Bayon Temple. This one is inside another fortress, Angkor Thom, a few minutes away from Angkor Wat. That fortress has very impressive gates such as this one:
Beautiful nature around this gate:
This is the main gate to get in:
This one is surrounded by two rows of statues with gods and demons.
Inside Bayon Temple there are many little passages at the ground level:
But when you look up is really where this temple shines:
From the vantage point of the temple’s upper terrace, one is struck by “the serenity of the stone faces” occupying many towers.
It’s very impressive when you get to the upper terrace:
I love the hallways in those temples:
Very beautiful and impressive, and to know how old that has been standing thing makes it even more impressive.
After this amazing temple visit, I went to another temple away from the crowds for sunset, Bakong Temple. It’s about 30 minutes from Bayon to Bakong.
It was empty when I got there at sunset:
At the top of the temple:
This one is called the Baphuon temple:
Human for scale:
Didn’t go into this one but it’s called Phimeanakas Temple, there are so many of them, you can’t do them all:
And I wanted to get to Preah Khan before the end of the day, this one is very destroyed, nature took its place and it’s beautiful. They rebuild a lot of it but there’s still a lot of destruction around:
I don’t know the whole history behind this one but it’s one of the most famous goddess statues in Cambodia.
Here you can see what the conservation effort was able to achieve on this temple, Ta Prohm Temple:
Ta Prohm temple is very popular due to the movie Tomb Raider, many scenes were filmed here. This is one of the temples that I saw with more destruction and trees growing in it, just amazing:
Went up the hill to Phnom Bakheng temple for sunset, very busy place at sunset:
The last morning I went back to the main Angkor Wat temple to catch the sunrise. What a mess. This is the main activity that people do, taking photos and making it look like it’s a spiritual, peaceful sunrise at the temple. Sure if you only look at the temple and have your noise-canceling headphones, it might be, but this is the reality:
Crowds like this on both sides, this one was the “closed side” but people still went in. Anyway, It makes for pretty photos but for me, this would’ve have made the whole week there less attractive if I had started with that activity. One advice I can give you, if you have the time, take the 7-day pass and visit the sites at 2 PM until sunset. Most people do sunrise and leave around lunchtime so there are way fewer crowds in the afternoon, from my experience.
It still makes for nice photos, don’t get me wrong, sunrise is the way to photograph the main temple for sure but don’t expect any spiritual/quiet experience there:
The backside of the temple, much quieter to come from there too:
After that, I left Siem Reap for the capital, Phnom Penh. I didn’t visit many sites there’s just was trying to feel the city, I did go to Wat Phnom:
But after Angkor Wat, it takes a little more to be impressed. Walked around the city a little bit:
I also visited “S21” the high school that was converted to a torture center under Pol Pot. A very sad place, I didn’t bring my camera there but if you want to learn about what happened during that time the visit is worth it for sure.
A little night shoot before leaving Phnom Penh:
I then left, the journey back to Bangkok was quite a long one!
I didn’t see that much of Cambodia but I must admin Angkor Wat exceeded my expectations by a big margin.
If you like, temple, ruins, the history you must spend time there, and please don’t go there just for sunrise, that’s not what that place is about.
Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about these areas.