Exploring the Angkor Complex | Siem Reap, Cambodia

Our final stop on our amazing three week adventure was Siem Reap, after all you can’t not visit the iconic Angkor Complex when in Cambodia, right?

Fun Flying Four Siem Reap

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We arranged with our hotel for a driver to pick us up on our first full day in Siem Reap and drive us around a few of the temples inside the Angkor complex, starting with Angkor Wat.

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It seems a lot of people choose to visit Angkor Wat early in the morning to see the sunrise, I can imagine this is spectacular!

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We opted, instead, to visit early in the morning still but at the more family friendly time of 9am.

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Matt & I really contemplated what to do but decided the girls had been troopers this entire trip and waking them up so early just seemed a little cruel and to then expect them to temple hop all day in the heat!

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We don’t regret our decision although maybe thats because we don’t know what we are missing out on!

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Our driver was amazing, he stocked the tuk tuk with a huge ice block and bottles of water and whenever we were thirsty he would fish one out for us. We actually used the same driver for our entire stay in Siem Reap and he always did this on long trips.

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Now I am guessing you are expecting to hear some amazing things about Angkor, and while it was/is amazing, it was actually our least favorite of the temples.  I had read somewhere to start with the smaller, less grand temples and work your way up to grande finale…Angkor Wat, that way you won’t be disappointed.

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As it turned out this was true for us even though we started with Angkor Wat.  While it is incredibly amazing, and full of beauty and details it also FULL of tourists.  This really took away from the splendor, for us anyway.

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Angkor Wat is also incredibly well-kept and in fantastic condition considering its age but compared to the temples which were a little more rugged it was a lot less fun!

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We loved exploring/getting lost in the likes of Banteay Kdei & Ta Prohm and then of course there was Bayon with all those beautiful faces looking down on us as we explored.

tears at the temples!

tears at the temples!

It was a hot but amazing day and after 6 hours of exploring a swim in the hotel pool was beyond refreshing!

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We only ended up doing one day of temple hoping and I thought I would regret that too but you know what I don’t!

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I could have easily spent a week wandering around all the various temples but after almost 3 weeks on the road spending our last few days just relaxing, swimming and eating was definitely the perfect way to end a perfect family vacation.

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Linking this post up to Weekend WanderlustTravel Photo Thursday, Monday Escapes & Travel Tuesday 

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46 responses to “Exploring the Angkor Complex | Siem Reap, Cambodia

    • Yeah I am so happy you are going to get to Siem Reap next year, I bet you will love it and how special getting to cross something off your list!

  1. Hannah your pictures are so amazing I always feel like I am there! Love the tears at the temple photo. Do you typically do research on any of these places before you go, or are you just very well versed in the culture and history of all these amazing places?

    • Thank you! (and you can comment again?!) I love reading about new countries, cultures and customs. Also if we are on a short time frame I like to do a little research to know what we will/wont do, the times I haven’t done this I regret it because we never end up doing much. In an ideal world time wouldn’t be a factor and we could just explore a place at our own pace (like over a 3+ month period haha)

    • I hope someday you do! We are definitely very blessed to be living in Asia making these trips more affordable/doable!

  2. Angkor Wat is high on my list of places I really want to visit. Your photos are lovely. I think I would have gotten up for sunrise, but I might have had to go alone as my teens wouldn’t share my enthusiasm, and would rather go at the family friendly time 🙂

    • I hope you make it there one day, the temples are spectacular! I am sure the sunrise would be beautiful.

  3. I love your photos! I found your link on the #WeekendWanderlust Link Up. My co-author and I studied in Thailand, and a trip across the border to Siem Reap and Angkor was one of our favorite weekend trips. Now you have me dying to go back!

    • Wow how cool about studying in Thailand! And what an awesome.m weekend trip! How long were you in Thailand for?

  4. Looks amazing. Cambodia is on our family bucketlist and your pictures only make me want to travel there that much sooner 🙂 I agree with your stance on taking the last few days for some R&R. It’s a lot of work to travel with our little’s and its easy to get caught up in trying to see everything. But, for us bonding is such an important part of our travels and scheduling downtime ensures we have a positive experience. Great job mama!!

    • I hope you make it there soon! Have you been to Vietnam? We spent 2 weeks there prior to Cambodia and absolutely loved that as well! Family time is super important so we always try to take some time (at home or away) to really spend time with each other!

  5. Wow! Another incredible post. I absolutely love your photos of the temple ruins. It shows us the age and natural decay. Thank you for your honesty about the final grand temple. I will use this advice for when I visit.

    • oh, even with the tourists it is really amazing but I definitely preferred the temples which were a lot less crowded! I hope you make it someday

  6. Pingback: Some of the great posts I liked in October | Tiny Expats·

  7. We also decided to skip sunrise at Angkor Wat, although I contemplated doing it solo while hubby and the kids slept in. I imagine that it would have been similarly packed with tourist and perhaps not the transcendent experience that I would want. We also left this temple for the end. My kids were so burned out on temple-hopping by then that they weren’t too interested. I agree that having an air-conditioned car/van with iced water is a preferred way to travel around Siem Reap. It was so hot and humid while we were there that I think the kids would have rebelled if we tried to save money and go by tuktuk.

  8. We had a guide for our visit to the Temple complex. He saved our visit to Angkor Wat for lunch time when everyone else was off eating. Well, not not everybody, but it must have been most people because we were able to visit without crowds. In fact, the site that was most crowded when we visited was the Bayon which we went to first. So, my tip: visit Angkor Wat at lunch time.

  9. I have done sunrise at Angkor Wat, and it is beautiful. I don’t think it’s a good place for young children. It’s still dark when you arrive, and it would be hard to keep track of little ones. My favorite temples are the Bayon and Ta Prohmn. Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

    • I never thought about the safety issue with the kids, great point! Bacon was amazing, I think it was definitely a fav for me.

  10. I absolutely adored all the temples, but I agree – I adored Angkor Wat the least. It was too busy and a lot of the interesting details had been lost. Especially the one tower that had been cleaned by some bright spark using acid(!!). Also you didn’t miss much for sunrise – we made the effort to go and honestly I could have skipped it. The smaller temples were more magical at any time of the day. Overall we spent 4 days looking around temples and I could have spent longer, but we also had a full day in the hotel which was bliss. Our guide was fantastic, worth his weight in gold. I’d go back tomorrow if I could!

    • I think if it were just I or if we had way more time I could have easily spent days on end exploring the temples, but it was at the end of a full but fun 3 week trip and relaxing at the hotel was bliss!

  11. I totally get what you say about it being crowded with tourists! When I visited the North Cape it was the same. It could have been really magical but with all the crowds it just wasn’t…

  12. This temple looks amazing, even though I know what you mean about the tourists! Even though we are tourists ourselves…. Sometimes it’s just so hard to enjoy something with so many other people around! Still looks like you had a fantastic time though! 😀

    • lol thats so true about being tourists ourselves, I just don’t understand why everyone wants to go to the same places I do 😉

  13. Absolutely stunning – and love how the children are enjoying the wonder around them. I went to Angkor Wot many, many years ago and always remember how magical it was. I would love to take my son back there one day! Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

  14. Thank you for your posts about this trip. I am in Okinawa and planning a trip for my family to Vietnam and Cambodia in the Spring, so all your info has been really helpful. Your photos are getting me through the stress of planning the trip. What airline did you use? I really wish there was a direct flight to Vietnam (or Cambodia!) Since we have to connect through another place to get there, I am tempted to make it a Seoul/Cambodia trip instead.

    • Ohh fun we loved our trip so much! We flew from Okinawa to Seoul to Hanoi, and then coming home we went Siem Reap to Seoul to Okinawa both with Asiana. They were great and they layovers were reasonably short, so even though it wasn’t the most direct route it was the shortest total flying time (for a decent price!) I also took my oldest to Seoul a few years a go and we LOvED that too! I would love to hear what you finally decide!

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