One of the primary reasons to travel to Cambodia has become the Temples at Angkor Wat, near Siem Reap. It seems to have become one of the travelers. ” see before I die” site much like the Pyramids and Machupichu. The place has much beauty and granduer but is rapidly being spoiled, in my opinion, by too much ” preservation ” and over commercialisation. The main Angkor Wat site at certain times has so many tourist that it becomes suffocating and almost impossible to get a good picture without getting someone in the frame.
You really have to choose your times for a visit to avoid the crowds of mainly Asian tourists that arrive in large bus loads , spend about an hour or less and then get back on the bus to go to the next temple. This said there are many of the smaller temple complexes that do not suffer this problem and are just as photogenic and worth visiting.
As can be seen on the map above there is a lot to see around Angkor Wat and within a few kilometers many of the temples are unvisited and less developed giving that more ” in the jungle ” feel to them. For me by far the best temple complex is Bayon, with its gates and faces and the possibility to make some interesting images (without to many unwanted tourists), it does get crowded but less so than Angkor Wat.
Even with the problems of over commercialisation described, that lets face it you will get everywhere when you visit sites such as this, it is well worth the effort of getting there and the positives far outweigh the negatives. For the photographer this is a place not to be missed but you will have to work a lot harder to get good pictures but that, as they say, is part of the challenge.
© Ian Kydd’Miller 2010