Why Cycle Angkor Wat?
The Angkor Wat complex near Siem Reap, Cambodia is a massive collection of over 1,000 temples ranging in scale from the legendary Angkor Wat to nondescript piles of brick rubble being quickly being lost to the ages. At its peak over a thousand years ago, Angkor was the largest pre-industrialized city in the world boasting over one million inhabitants. While Angkor Wat gets most of the attention, Angkor Thom is my personal favorite. Cycling Angkor Wat is an experience you will never forget, but keep in mind, there are better, more out of the way places to cycle in the Angkor Wat complex.
What is Angkor Thom?
Angkor Thom (literally: “Great City”), was established by King Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century. It was the longest lasting capital of the Khmer empire. These well-preserved ruins lie on the Siem Reap River about a mile north of Angkor Wat. Surrounding Angkor Thom are walls, about three kilometers square which are over 25 feet high and about 20 feet wide. Inside the walls are wide tree-lined boulevards, several ancient man-made lakes many temples including Bayon! The most important things to keep in mind when you cycle Angkor Wat is to take your time, be careful of hazards, don’t damage the temples and drink plenty of water.
Best Place to Cycle Angkor Wat
One of my favorite activities, while I lived in Siem Reap, was to take a day and cycle Angkor Wat, but especially on the paths on top of the walls surrounding around Angkor Thom. There you can just sit and enjoy beautiful views of the river, unmolested by other visitors. Wander around the small outpost temples at the corners of the wall called Prasat Chrung or ride into the heart of Bayon and contemplate the massive stone faces of King Jayavarman VII with his enigmatic smile.
Cycling Angor Wat is one of those things you will never forget, but to truly enjoy the experience, try to get away from the crowds, start as early as possible and just relish the experience. If you don’t have your own bike you can usually rent them in Siem Reap for just a few dollars a day.