Angkor Wat

Many years ago I came upon a National Geographic article on Angkor Wat and its surrounding temple complex. I thought one day, I shall go and see this wonder of the world with my own eyes. Not one to expresses themselves in an over enthusiastic way like say your stereotyped American. I’m more your reserved Brit (hmm yes, very nice, lets have a cup of tea) but this place is awesome, fantastic and amazing. To think that it was conceived and constructed so long ago is truly inspiring. Not to mention the brave and enduring fellows that gave their time, money and lives in resurrecting the site so it may be appreciated by the curious tourist or traveller.

The main Angkor Wat Temple is – Huge – as a reference it could easily occupy half of Hyde Park (London) or half of Central Park (Manhattan) surrounded by a massive moat. To do the complex justice you would need to visit it quite a few times  to discover all the nooks and crannies, of course this is not feasible for most people on holiday, only the dedicated few will examine it in depth.

It’s a good 20/30 mins tuk-tuk ride (about $20) from central Siem Reap.
It’s hot 30 to 35 degrees celcius with around 90% humidity.
As you drive along the roads rubbish will be ever present, at every turn of the head.
I found perfect blue skies rare as hens teeth, most of the time it is overcast and very bright with a slight touch of haze.

The main entrance the – Western Gate – is really, really busy even in the early hours of the morning. Along with all the tourist are street vendors plying their wares, drink stalls, food hawkers and the ever present car parks.

Tourists: Lots ! And I mean lots !….So many that I did not like it very much. Too many people detract from the serenity of the location and experience. As you spend a lot of your time dodging one another, a bit like walking down a busy high street on a Saturday. With every other person trying to do a selfie. Don’t I look pretty with this amazing building as a backdrop ? Errr no, you look vain and silly, move on please your getting in my way and giving me the hump.

Hassle: Your going to come across people trying to photograph you and others pushing guiding services, selling books, postcards and some other service. Just politely decline and walk on by. Just remember these people are trying to make a few pounds / dollars.

On reflection I actually ended up taking quite a few photos of the main Ankor temple.
Some of them are below. Be patient and you will get your shot. It will be like thousands of others but it will be yours.

The smaller outlying temples were my favourites and are a pleasure to wander around and marvel at. To fully appreciate Angkor I think you have to see it in different seasons. Especially the wet season when the jungle looks lush and the ponds are full of watery reflections.

For the camera folk out there my tips are.
Camera: Dslr or similar (Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Olympus etc).
lenses: The 24/70 lens will your staple. A 90mm, 70/200 or 70/300 would come in handy for those longer shots where something of interest is hard to reach physically.
As you can see on the whole I’m recommending zoom lens’s as they provide a degree flexibility in these situations.
A monopod or a tripod comes in handy but you will have to lug it around with you.
I found the Sirui P-2054s to be the best compromise and it worked a treat. When the temples get busy some of the available space becomes quite tight especially where a Monk is giving a blessing or where people are paying homage to Buddha.

I actually used a Nikon D810, 24/70 and a 90mm for most of the photos. I did take and use an Olympus Pen F with the 12/100 but I found the evf a pain to use in the bright light, the optical viewfinder of the Nikon was a pleasure on the other hand. However the discreteness of the Pen F became apparent in the urban environment.

So there’s some waffle, below are the photos. I will post them in bite sized blogs more or less in the order that I visited the temples.


To get to the Temple complex you have to walk across the moat. A temporary floating bridge, the main one was having restoration work done.


This is the inner section that leads towards the three main central towers that are often photographed from the ponds that are just in front of it. As you can see the sky is washed out and the ground is parched. Its about half past nine in the morning.


Pink brolly (to protect from the sun) and pink flowers on one of the ponds in front of the main towers. The ponds did not have a lot of water in them.

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A small section of corridor that inside contains thousands of wall carvings. See below.

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Wall carvings.

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Wall carvings.

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An inner court yard with a bathing pool. Bit like a Roman bath.

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Note the detailed 12 century carvings. 

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Looking out towards the east gate.

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Kou entrance east gate.

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One of the many dressed statues dotted around the main Angkor Wat Temple. They really stand out amongst all the mouldy drab grey stone.

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As above.



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4 replies »

  1. Lots of tourists indeed. But you do get a real sense of the advanced civilisation that once existed there.Nice shots, mate. Love the view out to the East Gate.
    Cheers, Pete.

  2. The Khumer Empire had most of south East Asia for 600 yrs, no mean feat and their legacy lives on in the buildings they left behind. More to follow.

  3. Top tip…Start out very early, like 0500 hrs and you will be there first at some sites. By lunchtime due to the heat, schlepping about and numbers you will be ready for a spot of lunch and a dip in the pool to cool off followed by a snooze.

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