I had the same tuk-tuk driver for all of my transport needs.
Like Chiang Mai, Siem Reap (pop. 174,000) is a much bigger city than I had imagined. I found it much more manageable, as arranging transportation is easy and cheap, due to the plethora of tuk-tuks. Siem Reap is most famous for Angkor Wat Archaeological Park and its myriad temples. The city has surprisingly amounts of nightlife, along with so many inexpensive spas, hotels, and restaurants. I did not think it would be possible to get much cheaper than Chiang Mai or Kuala Lumpur, but Siem Reap is it.
A tuk-tuk driver is $14 per day for the main temples in the “Little Circuit” close to Siem Reap. There is no time limit, and the drivers have seemingly limitless patience. As my driver dropped me off at each site, we agreed to anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours for each destination, depending on size and historical importance. He would park his vehicle at a designated lot, where one would find dozens of other drivers waiting and resting. These tuk-tuks have a built-in hammock for the built-in waits as a professional driver! My driver said no one has gone from sunrise to sunset because the uncooperative heat is unrelenting. I managed to visit the sites three different days for a total of 15.5 hours.
Restaurant of my hotel, Golden Temple Villa.
There is a row of shops at every tourist stop. The proprietors are not nearly as aggressive and annoying as I had thought they would be with the steady stream of tourists.
Entrance to Preah Khan temple
These statues line the entrance, but most have been destroyed. Preah Khan was built in 1191.
Inside the rectangular walls of Preah Khan.
Restoration efforts include wooden supports for stone structures.
All these temples are situated in humid forests.
This tree looks like it is invading the temple, like the Alien when it latches onto Kane’s face.
Neak Pean, the site of an artificial Buddhist temple, pond, and island. It is a nine-minute tuk-tuk (2.4 km) ride from Preah Khan.
A one-day pass gets you into all the temples and costs $20. Since I was in Siem Reap for two nights, I opted for the $40 three-day pass. A seven-day pass costs $60. A hole is punched for each day used. The days do NOT have to be consecutive. There is also security at the entrance to each temple site, although their check is cursory so no queues result.
Tuk-tuk drivers will carry this map so you can plan your itinerary.
Ta Som. I would often sit and stare blankly into space until I realized that the large stone structure had a face carving. There were many amazingly detailed carvings all over these temples.
Pre Rup, a temple dedicated to Shiva and probably used for funerals. For tourism purposes, flocks of people gathered here for sunset, as did I, although the haze obscured the sun.
My $15/night hotel room.
I paid this child labor $1 on Pub Street to make me a banana-Nutella crêpe.
Party areas in Siem Reap are Pub Street, Sok San Road, The Alley, and Old Market Area.
Looking east at Angkor Wat. Time is 5:32 am. Sunrise was at 5:55 am.
I thought I would be early, but there were hundreds of people already out at 5 am! Angkor Wat averages two thousand visitors per day.
Angkor Wat at 5:36 am. The color is authentic.
Hot and humid even before sunrise!
Inside the walls at 5:55 am.
There were people lined up for sunrise with tripods.
For such an important UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are almost no informational signs.
Only kings, priests, and tourists during marked hours are allowed up these steps.
Bayon at Angkor Thom. Check out several of the 216 stone faces. This Angkor is 11 minutes and 3.7 km from the main Angkor.
Banteay Srei was built in 967 and dedicated to Shiva. This temple is 53 minutes and 29 km north of the main Angkor area, for which the driver will charge an extra $5, which is easily worth it.