Asia,  Cambodia,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Temples of Angkor (Cambodia): Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple, Ta Prohm, Preah Khan – Travel Diary

We were waiting for it, and this day has finally arrived! We visit the Angkor temples for the first time (second time for JB who already passed there 11 years ago, an eternity!)!

Note: as we are staying here for one month, we bought a 7-day ticket that can be used in one month, so we can visit the site in small doses and avoid burning too much under the sun

Travel Notebook

For this first day, we rented an automatic scooter. 10$ per day. For scooter rental, ticket purchase etc. I will talk about it in a separate article, so as not to pollute it

We follow the tuk tuks that leave from the ticket center, and fortunately, because Google Maps shows us a shorter path; but the path taken by these tuk tuks allows us to stop at a checkpoint (on the avenue Charles de Gaulle). Basically, they punch our entrance ticket, one hole a day – to better control the entrances. By the way, if you see “Checkpoint – STOP”, stop to show your ticket

We pass by Angkor Wat, but given the crowd and the difficulty to keep our scooter properly, we pass the road and plan to come back another day by renting a tuk tuk for the day (with driver of course)

The itinerary we do these first two days is completely random (by feeling). I will write about the ideal itinerary later


Bayon Temple

Just before arriving at Bayon Temple, we see this mythical bridge with its face tower, featured on all the postcards and paintings sold in Siem Reap. Too happy, we stop, without paying attention to the police car just next to it. Here we are, it got us checked by the police (because of the scooter rental – considered as forbidden to tourists), so please enjoy these pictures! 😀

Note: in case of a police check, just be patient. And make a call to the scooter rental company, they will talk to each other on the phone. In our case we had to wait about 45 minutes before leaving without any problem.

Nearly every bridge leading to the temples is decorated on both sides by an army of men pulling the tail of a snake. This refers to a myth of Hindu origin of the churning of the Sea of Milk, allowing the production of a drink of immortality at the end

In a common action, the gods (deva) and demons (asura) churn the sea of milk for 1,000 years to create a beverage of immortality (amrita)

They use a snake, named Vasuki. It is coiled like a rope around a mountain called Mandara. This allows the mountain to rotate back and forth, thanks to the action of the gods and demons, who take turns pulling on the snake’s body. The god Vishnu, located in the center of the scene, supervises the churning process


Arrived in front of the temple, we entrust our scooter to a beverage vendor, being careful to lock it (by blocking the steering wheel)

The place is already crowded. We all take wooden stairs to go up to the platform, which gives us a closer view of the face towers

The bas-reliefs of the temple are extremely worked, I love this kind of decoration, it reminds me of Indian temples

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm is one of the best known temples thanks to its walls imprisoned or destroyed by the roots of century-old trees – and its appearance in the film Tomb Raider

This magnificent corridor has been completely renovated

What we hope to see

The reality

This is the sad reality behind the travel pictures 😀

The huge tree shown earlier in the picture is actually a meeting of two trees. The second one invades so much the first one that the first one is dead but its roots are still visible

Take a good look at this tree that appeared in Tomb Raider

Well it’s still there!

The visit of Ta Prohm is really pleasant because we are always in the shade. What isn’t the case of the other temples

We visited it at the worst moment (around 11am) in company of other tourist buses. The advantage it is that we had free explanations while following in spite of us English-speaking and Vietnamese groups. But we are going to come back there another day at a calmer moment

In front of Ta Prohm, there are a multitude of restaurants. We take two coconuts (in exchange of the guard of the scooter) then we take the road again

Note: In reality, no one really cares about our scooter, but it always makes me feel better to have someone in charge:D

Preah Khan

Preah Khan is one of the great temples in Angkor, but as we visit it at lunch time (about 1pm), it is less crowded. Here nobody can keep our scooter, so we leave it next to the bikes of other tourists

One must first cross a beautiful, richly decorated bridge before one can see the temple. We witness an exchange between two Catalans (from Barcelona) and Buddhist monks taking pictures. The Catalans ask the monks where they come from. Answer: Miami! Wooow, it’s great to meet globe-trotting monks

Here is the temple on the west side

Frankly, I wonder how it all still makes sense! This type of ceiling is obtained by superimposing smaller and smaller stones until it forms a ceiling/arch. It’s very different from the vaulting technique we’ve seen in Andalusia

The disadvantage of this technique is that the constructions aren’t stable in the long term and the chambers/corridors with this type of arch must be small in size (in width)

The decorations and reliefs are better appreciated when there are less people 😀


In this temple, we see many stones with holes (see picture below, left), the holes were made to facilitate their transport by elephants

Having had a good breakfast, we don’t feel like eating too much. And as it is too hot, we decide to go home when it is only 2pm

Passing again next to Angkor Wat, we meet women sellingsticky rice cooked in bamboo trunks. This is the kind of delicious street food that non-Asian tourists completely miss. So you have to open your eyes and don’t hesitate to ask the saleswomen what it is

To eat, spread the bamboo in a fan like JB does, you will find inside the sticky rice mixed with black beans, a little coconut; and a transparent film of bamboo stuck to the rice, which gives a nice little taste. We paid 1$/bamboo

Day 2

We take advantage of the scooter to try to visit temples that are less well served or less popular. Unfortunately, despite our efforts, we were not able to visit the Banteay Thom Temple nor Western Mebon – because Google Maps thinks that all roads are car friendly. Whereas in reality, on our way to the temples lost in the jungle, we pass this superb road

to this dusty road with lots of holes

to this one where sand replaces pebbles. Even on a bike, it would have been super boring. So, we give up and we hope that a tuk tuk will be able to bring us there later, by taking a safer road

Next to the ticket checkpoint, JB finds his fries bananas (1000 riels each) – which he had the opportunity to test about ten years ago in Cambodia

I see these mini-shells everywhere. I don’t even know if it’s cooked or not. The fact that it stays under the sun for hours and hours is a bit repulsive, but it’s itchy. Another day maybe

Terrace of the Elephants

So, today, we visit this site that we spotted the day before, still full of tourists

Do you see the elephants in relief on the wall? It’s beautiful ! I almost zapped them because they are quite far from the main entrance

If the terrace of the elephants is so crowded, it is because behind it are hidden beautiful things, such as the Phimeanakas temple


It is a temple that I spotted while looking at the photos of Angkor. It reminds me of the Burmese temples. Before, it was possible to go up to the top, but it is no longer possible because it is too dangerous. When it rains a lot and the surroundings are flooded and the vegetation is more abundant, it’s really beautiful



Well, it’s still very nice eh 😉


The temple next door (Baphûon) is just as impressive, and you can climb to the top (but don’t be afraid of heights)

Overview of the temple

View from above the temple. Because of a very dense vegetation, one cannot unfortunately see the other temples from above (contrary to Bagan in Burma)

Passing behind the temple, we see the head of the reclining Buddha. It was restored for our greatest happiness

Very embarrassed by the heat, we finish our second day in Angkor here, at 1pm too. We pick up two pieces of sticky rice cooked in debamboo trunks and some fruits then we go back to Siem Reap

After 2 days on the scooter, we have a little pain in the buttocks lol… the next few days, we will book a tuk tuk (a friend will join us)

See you soon for new travel diaries to the Angkor temples!


  • 7-day ticket valid for 30 days: $72
  • Scooter rental: 10$/day
  • Gasoline for the scooter: 1$/day
  • Food in Angkor :
    • Soda : 1$
    • Mango/Pineapple: 1$/fruit, negotiable at 0.5$
    • Sticky rice : 1$/bamboo

  • Scooter custody: It is customary to tip. Either you buy a drink or give 1000 riels.
  • I know that other tourists don’t give anything, considering that there is no risk. There are innuendoes and rules in Asia that are difficult to explain to foreign tourists because we don’t have the same culture. I really advise you to give something, especially if you rent a scooter because you are still out of the law (it is normally forbidden)

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