Cambodia – Feeling like Indiana Jones at Angkor, still possible?

I recently went back to Angkor: ten years have passed since my first trip and tourism has exploded since then. Some temples get really crowded these days and it means tuk-tuk traffic jams are common place.

Is it still possible to feel like an adventurer when you are there like I did on my first visit? I felt there might be two options: Ta Prohm and Preak Khan. Those two temples have a lot in common: they were built by the same king, both are flat temples and the conservators decided to leave them in much the same condition as they were found – they both have beautiful giant trees that have taken root in the building to give the sites a nice atmosphere.

So which one is best to visit?

Ta Prohm is pretty special because of the extent of the tree growth through the temple. All those trees make Ta Prohm totally unforgettable even though they are slowly destroying it. I had fond memories of Ta Prohm from my first visit however the temple has become much more touristy: you now follow a marked itinerary and there is a wooden deck in front of the most impressive trees for taking photos. Not that easy to feel like an adventurer under those circumstances.

Preak Khan is quite the opposite: quiet, calming, the temple has kept the soul that Ta Prohm is starting to lose. You notice a more relaxed atmosphere right away: the vendors are less pushy here and once you have crossed the naga bridge you can stroll in total peace along a very long corridor that opens up to different chambers, all of them more or less in ruins but with amazing statues offering a special atmosphere.

You can see that I enjoyed Preah Khan more but I still recommend you to go and see both. Pick your time carefully at Ta Prohm or you will have to queue up with everybody else to take your pictures on the wooden deck in front of the trees.

Voyagista’s tips

  • Take your time, soak up the atmosphere and don’t try to go and see as many temples as possible
  • Pick a less busy time to go to temples (early morning, sunset)
  • Buy your pass the night before (after 5pm) to skip the morning queue and rent a tuk-tuk, that’s the best way to visit

The other “Indiana Jones” option in the area is Beng Mealea temple however we didn’t manage to go there because the road was too long (I was 7 month’s pregnant at the time!). I would have loved to go – have you been there? What did you think?

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  1. Nous aussi nous n’avons pas été gêné par le foule. En fait, à part à Angkor Vat, dans les autres temples, même les plus connus, on ne peut pas dire que nous soyions les uns sur les autres et dés qu’on sort un peu du circuit habituel, il n’y a carrément plus personne. Nous étions parfois seuls dans certains d’entre eux.

  2. Je suis allée au Beng Mealea, malgré l’inquiétude de mon chauffeur de tuk-tuk qui craignait qu’on n’y parvienne pas vu l’état de la route et la mousson! Une expérience très étrange que celle de déambuler dans le temple affaissé, de grimper sur l’amas de pierre pour découvrir la vue, de parcourir les coursives en sautant de roche en roche! Evidemment seule! Je suis d’accord avec vous, il est encore possible d’être au calme à Angkor, il suffit de s’en donner les moyens en allant pas aux mêmes endroits aux mêmes heures! Par ex : débuter à l’aube par le Bayon et poursuivre pour arriver en dernier à Angkor Vat, vous aurez toujours un temps d’avance sur tout le monde! Le Preah Khean ne rencontre pas non plus autant de succès et la finesse des sculptures est splendide!

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