Hindu holiday

Hindu holiday

The tourist trap that is Angkor and goes Khmer confidential - with a really good guide by day and a historian to fill in the blanks by evening

Rahul Jacob
June 19 , 2014
12 Min Read

The information

Getting there
There are connections from India to Siem Reap, the bustling town on the outskirts of Angkor, via several Southeast Asian hubs. However, via Bangkok seems most convenient and affordable. For instance, Indigo flies Delhi-Bangkok for as low as Rs 16,000 return. From there, Bangkok Airways offers return fares to Siem Reap starting from THB 10,980 (Rs 20,660).


Cambodia offers visas on arrival to most nationalities, including Indians ($20). You can also get an e-visa before your departure at ($28).

The Cambodian currency is the riel, but dollars are freely accepted. $1=4,000 riel (approx.).

Where to stay
Siem Reap offers accommodation to suit every pocket. My suggestion would be to skip the luxury hotels and check into one of the charming little guesthouses that have mushroomed all over town. Service is more intimate, they offer great value (without being grungy) and they will also organize your temple visits for you. I can personally recommend The Villa Siem Reap (from $20, tour inclusive packages from $120/2nights per person; 153 Ta Phul Road, +855-0-63761036, The tuk tuk drivers they use on a regular basis have been well trained and I really did not miss having a guide. If he’s still around, ask for Snar. He was pleasant-mannered and courteous young fellow who managed to avoid the crowds at the temples we visited and also pointed out the best angles and spots for taking photographs. Bang opposite The Villa, the Auberge Mont Royal D’Angkor (from $39, 15% discount if booked 45 days in advance; comes highly recommended by a veteran of these pages. If you absolutely must luxuriate, look no further than the Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor (from $285; The FCC Angkor is stylish too, but more affordable (from $105;

What to see & do
The temples There’s, of course, Angkor Wat. Within the walled city of Angkor Thom are the royal temple Phimeanakas, the pyramidal Baphuon (which was closed for twenty-five years), the elaborately carved Terrace of the Leper King and the Elephant Terrace, and the famed Bayon — the temple with those intriguing faces. Other important temples include Ta Prohm, Ta Keo, Ta Som, Preah Khan and Banteay Kdei. Excursions can be made to Banteay Srei (32km) and the Roluos Group (13km). Head to the ‘temple mountain’ Phnom Bakheng for great views. You’ll need an Angkor pass to visit the temples: $20 for a day, $40 for three days, or $60 for a week.

Other diversionsIf this great open-air  museum doesn’t sate you, in town, check out the Angkor National Museum. A highlight is the room displaying 1,000 Buddhas. Or take a boat ride on the dreamy Tonlé Sap lake.

With inputs from Amit Dixit

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