The Temples of Angkor like you’ve never seen them before
The Temples of Angkor are on most peoples ‘bucket list’ but not many of you would know that if you visit during Khmer New Year you’ll see the Temples of Angkor like you’ve never seen them before. We’ve lived in Siem Reap for a few months and finally got round to making the 10 minute journey from our house to see what all the fuss was about. We visited 3 times during a week (to a variety of different sites) and were quite simply blown away by the sheer scale and beauty on offer; but even better our 7 day pass allows 4 more visits before the end of the month, which we are very much looking forward to (expect more temples of Angkor posts coming your way!).
Our first view of Angkor Wat across the lake
The magnificent (and our favourite temple so far) Bayon at Angkor Thom
This week saw Cambodia shut down for 3 days and celebrate Khmer New Year; we thought this just involved eating and drinking with friends and family, visiting your home town or village and playing some very loud music at all hours of the day (plus a bit of talcum powder throwing in the lively pub street area of town). Then we heard about a 3 day event at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom but were put off by the thought of so many people (an estimated 500,000), traffic problems on the already crazy roads and general Cambodian mayhem, so we planned to give it a miss. That was until we were told that the temples would be illuminated each evening and that “we shouldn’t miss out on seeing the Temples of Angkor like you’ve never seen them before”. Now this we had to see. So off we went on our trusty Suzuki Step weaving in and out of the traffic jams like true locals until we arrived at the moat that surrounds Angkor Wat and saw this:
Welcome to Angkor Sankranta 2015
The lighting created a beautiful reflection in the moat
You couldn’t enter Angkor Wat but we could get close enough to the entrance to see the lighting from a different perspective
At this stage our decision to brave the crowds was proving to be a good one; our daytime visits had been mind blowing the vision of the ancient temples illuminated with coloured lights was incredible. We jumped back on our moto and headed to Angkor Thom, a short journey that included some ‘off road to avoid the police roadblock’ skills (shhh don’t tell anyone) and the extra effort was more than worthwhile:
Bayon and a giant blue tree
From every angle the temple looked amazing
Blue lights pointing high into the sky from Bayon
Now you might ask “should we coincide our trip to Siem Reap with Khmer New Year?” and our answer would be “yes”. Our advice would be to plan a trip to take in both the New Year celebrations and also a few visits to the temples as they usually are. Khmer New Year falls on 13/14/15 April so a trip directly before or after this should do the trick. With a bit of effort and planning you can escape the crowds and enjoy a moment of peace and reflection whilst visiting one of the true wonders of the world.
Have you ever visited the ancient temple ruins of Angkor at Khmer New Year, or another time? Tell us what you think by leaving us a comment below (we love to talk about travel so we’ll definitely reply).