Park Hyatt Siem Reap - Pool
REVIEW – Park Hyatt Siem Reap (Park Executive Suite)
June 10, 2017
Miss Wong - Siem Reap
GUIDE – Eating and Drinking in Siem Reap
June 11, 2017

GUIDE – Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Angkor Wat - Jarvis Marcos

Angkor Wat - Jarvis Marcos

Our Driver – Synon Korng

We availed ourselves of the services of a friendly Cambodian driver named Synon Korng . He came highly recommended by number of people on Flyertalk and was willing to fully customise an itinerary for us which included numerous temples off the beaten path, as well as including our airport transfers. Being driven around in an air conditioned Lexus was great in and of itself but better still was the endless supply of icy cold towels and water and of course the friendly conversation from the man himself. I made all the arrangements via email, which he responded to very quickly.

You can find all of his contact details on his website here:  Synon Korng – Siem Reap Driver

Temples 7 Angkor Thom 7 1024x1006 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Synon Korng – Siem Reap Driver

Temples 1 Angkor Wat 11 576x1024 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Icy cold towels and water in our Lexus


Here are the full details of our itinerary:

Day 1       $30

Airport pickup                            1:00pm

Rest at Park Hyatt

Angkor Wat                                3:30pm

Return to Park Hyatt               6:30pm

Park Hyatt Siem Reap to Angkor Wat  Krong Siem Reap  Cambodia   Google Maps 1024x928 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Siem Reap temple itinerary – Day 1


Day 2   $100

Pickup at Park Hyatt          9:00am

Prasat Pram (Bram)         10:30am

Koh Ker                                1:00pm

Beng Mealea                        3:00pm

Return to Park Hyatt        6:00pm

Park Hyatt Siem Reap to Park Hyatt Siem Reap   Google Maps 1024x711 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Siem Reap temple itinerary – Day 2

 


Day 3  $50

Pickup at Park Hyatt       10:00am

Kbal Spean                         11:00am

Banteay Srei                      12:30pm

Lunch in Siem Reap and Rest at the Park Hyatt

Angkor Thom                    4:00pm

Return to Park Hyatt       6:30pm

Park Hyatt Siem Reap to Park Hyatt Siem Reap   Google Maps 1 861x1024 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Siem Reap temple itinerary – Day 3


Day 4  FREE

(Airport Transfer)

Pickup at Park Hyatt        8:30am

 

Park Hyatt Siem Reap to SRIA   Google Maps 1024x941 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

 

I’m no temple expert, so I won’t waste your time by copy pasting the history of each of them. I made sure to visit the ‘big hits’ as this was Kamara’s first time in Siem Reap, whilst also adding in some temples which hardly see any tourism – a number of which were still littered with landmines, the last time I visited the area.

 


Angkor Wat


Synonymous with Cambodia and featuring on the country’s flag. Angkor Wat is often described as one of the wonders of the world and rightly so. When I was here in 2001 there were perhaps three or four other groups of tourists here. Nowadays the temple is extremely busy, particularly around sunset and sunrise.

My recommendation: Don’t bother getting up to come here at sunrise; you’ll be jostling for position with hundreds of other tourists. Instead, come nearer sunset and take pictures from the far side of the temple where almost nobody bothers going.

Temples 1 Angkor Wat 1 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Temples 1 Angkor Wat 2 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Temples 1 Angkor Wat 3 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Temples 1 Angkor Wat 4 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Sitting against the cool stone in the shade – unbelievably satisfying after walking through the searing heat

Temples 1 Angkor Wat 6 1024x537 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Temples 1 Angkor Wat 8 576x1024 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Temples 1 Angkor Wat 9 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Sunset at the East gate of the temple, away from the crowds

Temples 1 Angkor Wat 10 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Sunset with the crowds at the West Gate of Angkor Wat

 


Prasat Pram


A bit of a detour on the way to Prasat Prang (the temple shown in the top ticket below) but worth checking out. We were the only ones there at the time. There’s a weird system in operation for Prasat Pram whereby you pass a checkpoint and pay for your access to the main temples in the region. It seems like the visit to Prasat Pram is thrown in as a freebie.
Temples 2 Prasat Pram 1 740x1024 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Koh Ker and Beng Meala tickets

Temples 2 Prasat Pram 4 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Prasat Pram Temple

Temples 2 Prasat Pram 5 576x1024 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Prasat Pram Temple

Temples 2 Prasat Pram 6 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Prasat Pram Temple

Temples 2 Prasat Pram 8 576x1024 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Prasat Pram Temple

 


Koh Ker -Prasat Prang


Koh Ker is the name of a region to the North East of Siem Reap, containing a number of temples although often the name is used interchangeably to refer to Prasat Prang, a monolithic ziggurat in the heart of the region. Koh Ker is well off the beaten path and takes around three hours to get to from Siem Reap. Don’t let this put you off though, you can break the journey up by visiting Beng Meala on the way and the roads are in very decent condition. Our journey there did not seem at all arduous and I was so glad we got to climb up this spectacular ziggurat, which has only recently been demined.

 

This is one of the most spectacular temples in Cambodia and I highly recommend that you come to see it for yourself, assuming you have more than one day in Siem Reap.

 

Temples 3 Koh Ker 1 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

There is a tunnel like temple called Prasat Thom, which winds through a forest, leading to Prasat Prang

Temples 3 Koh Ker 2 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Prasat Thom temple

Temples 3 Koh Ker 3 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

We got a bit of a shock when we saw this snake carcass in the middle of the temple ?

Temples 3 Koh Ker 4 1024x413 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Even more impactful was the moment we stepped out of the forest temple and first laid eyes on the incredible stepped ziggurat shape of Prasat Prang

Temples 3 Koh Ker 6 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Prasat Prang temple

Temples 3 Koh Ker 5 1024x768 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

I had heard that climbing Koh Ker was not allowed and this sign seemed to indicate that this was indeed the case.

Temples 3 Koh Ker 7 1024x768 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

When we walked around to the other side though, we found a group of Cambodian pensioners climbing a newly built staircase up to the top!

Temples 3 Koh Ker 8 1024x768 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

A long way down…

Temples 3 Koh Ker 9 1024x707 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

I’m so glad we were able to climb to the top, the view was absolutely breathtaking. An endless sea of tree in all directions, pin pricked by the occasional temple roof, poking through the canopy.

Temples 3 Koh Ker 10 1024x504 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Five minutes drive from Koh Ker we spotted this temple and asked to stop and take a look. It is called Neang Khamu, which means ‘Lady in Black’.

 


Beng Mealea


Given its location Beng Mealea makes a natural combination with a trip to Koh Ker. It is one of the more popular temples in the area but it never felt crowded. We spent quite a bit of time exploring various hidden paths until all of a sudden we were greeted by a Cambodian man dressed in official looking blue clothes. He didn’t speak any English at all but spent half an hour taking us to a bunch of cool spots, including a hidden crypt and a dry vine which had formed into a swing. He was really friendly and just walked off when we got back to the entrance, via his special shortcut. I stopped him and offered him $5 as thanks for showing us around, he seemed genuinely delighted as were we. This makes quite a change from the stories you hear of locals pressuring tourists at the pyramids in Giza for example…
Temples 4 Beng Meala 1 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Beng Mealea

Temples 4 Beng Meala 2 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Beng Mealea

 

Temples 4 Beng Meala 3 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Beng Mealea

Temples 4 Beng Meala 9 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Our ‘guide’

Temples 4 Beng Meala 4 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

A natural swing

Temples 4 Beng Meala 5 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Beng Mealea

Temples 4 Beng Meala 6 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Beng Mealea

Temples 4 Beng Meala 7 576x1024 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Beng Mealea

Temples 4 Beng Meala 8 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Beng Mealea

We had a good two hour drive back to the Park Hyatt after our visit to Beng Mealea. Synon said we should check out this roadside stall, which was located near the halfway mark. He told us that he always looks forward to driving to Koh Ker and Beng Mealea as apparently the black bean rice they make at this still is famous for being the best in the Siem Reap area.

It was fun peeling open the bamboo case to reveal the sticky coconut flavoured rice, mixed with black beans, inside. I’m not usually big into carbs but I easily demolished one of these things in about 30 seconds (and ‘helped’ Kamara with a good chunk of hers )

Temples 4 Beng Meala 10 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Cambodian bamboo rice

Temples 4 Beng Meala 12 718x1024 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Cambodian bamboo rice

Temples 4 Beng Meala 11 576x1024 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Cambodian bamboo rice

Temples 4 Beng Meala 13 692x1024 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Cambodian bamboo rice

 


Kbal Spean


Synon said that this temple probably wouldn’t be worth visiting during dry season, as the water level would be too low… he was right. We hiked up a hill for about 30 minutes and found a dry riverbed at the top. The riverbed itself is covered in a series of intricate carvings but kind of loses its impact when there is no water flowing over them.

Temples 5 Kbal Spean 1 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Temples 5 Kbal Spean 2 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Temples 5 Kbal Spean 3 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Temples 5 Kbal Spean 4 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

 


Banteay Srei


One of the most popular temples after Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, also known as the Pink Temple, for obvious reasons.

 

Temples 6 Banteay Srei 1 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Locals

Temples 6 Banteay Srei 2 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Banteay Srei Temple

Temples 6 Banteay Srei 3 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Banteay Srei Temple

Temples 6 Banteay Srei 4 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Banteay Srei Temple

 


Angkor Thom


An enormous complex of Temples, directly adjacent to Angkor Wat. You could easily spend an entire day or two exploring. The highlights are the Bayon, with its world famous carved head spires and the Baphuon, a temple notable for the fact that the entirety of one of its 70m long sides is carved in the image of a reclining Buddha.

 

Temples 7 Angkor Thom 1 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Ordinarily wouldn’t just go climbing up temples but I was spurred on by the fact that there was an unusual sign here. Rather than prohibiting climbing, the sign advised visitors to climb carefully.

Temples 7 Angkor Thom 2 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Angkor Thom

Temples 7 Angkor Thom 4 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Prasat Bayon

Temples 7 Angkor Thom 5 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

The view from the top of Prasat Baphuon

Temples 7 Angkor Thom 6 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

Prasat Baphuon’s reclining Buddha is still in the process of being restored. The face is on the left, with the nose quite visible.

Temples 7 Angkor Thom 8 1024x576 - GUIDE - Touring the Temples of Siem Reap

The imposing bridge, leading to and from the walled city of Angkor Thom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.