Wednesday, 1st October 2014
Unseen Angkor - finding your own corner of the famous site
Angkor Wat in undoubtedly one of the top sights to visit in Cambodia and South East Asia as a whole, but this can lead to it feeling like you are having the same experience as everyone else. It is difficult to get away from the fact that Angkor is a fantastic place and therefore welcomes thousands of people every day.
What you can get away from, however, is the hordes of tourists if you do a little planning. Think about the times of day you intend to visit and do the route through the complex for maximum impact, and for a few moments to enjoy relatively secluded spots in peace.
Quietest times of day
Few people go on holiday with the express desire to get up at 5am, but it is well worth breaking this rule for visiting Angkor. The complex opens to the public at this hour and of course, there are few people who actually take advantage of it. Be one of them and explore much of the fascinating ruins before the majority of people arrive.
You will also find that the place feels different early in the morning as it seemingly wakes up as the light starts to hit its many stone walls. Located deep within the jungle, the magic of Angkor will not fail to impress you while other tourists are still slumbering in their beds.
Other periods where you will find spots of calm include lunchtime and just before the complex closes to the public at 6pm. You will almost certainly have times when you are among the crowds, but when these are coupled with time to gaze in amazement on your own, you will have a fantastic Angkor experience.
Walk through a different door
While most people take a similar route through Angkor, there are plenty of out-of-the-way places to go, if you are prepared to look for them. To start off your visit in a different area, try accessing the site through an alternative gopura or outer entrance. Many tourists who go through the western gopura are oblivious to the fact that there are actually three more ways to get in.
It is not entirely uncommon for holidaymakers to leave Angkor via the eastern gopura, but the northern and southern alternatives are positively deserted by comparison. The northern and southern gopuras do not span the moat and are less ornate in their decoration, but already you will find yourself in quieter, more secluded territory.
Don't follow the crowd
It may seem like an obvious piece of advice, but it is amazing how many people don't realise that they are simply following the people in front of them. There is no right way to go around the complex, so consciously step away from everyone else and see what you can find on your own. This exploring will not only allow you a little peace and quiet, but will also give you more interaction with this incredible place.
Related news stories:
Top mistakes to avoid at Angkor Wat (17th May 2016)
The Cambodian flag - its history and significance (16th October 2015)
5 things you didn't know about Cambodia (12th July 2016)
South East Asia in the footsteps of Henri Mouhot (20th May 2015)