ooooooooh... aaaaaaaah... The Temples of Angkor!!!
We took a 13 hour bus ride from Saigon to Siem Reap (only $14!!!) just to explore the Temples of Angkor - and ooooooh it was worth it!!!!!
I'm too lazy to write about the history or about the temples themselves - so you can google it or look at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angkor_Wat Sorry!!! ;-)
So many people talk about Angkor Wat, Angkor Wat, Angkor Wat - but in actuality Angkor Wat is just ONE of the many many many temples. In fact, Angkor Wat was probably one of my least favorites. (although still amazing!!!)
If you go to Siem Reap, Cambodia you must take at least a few days to explore the lesser known temples around Angkor Wat. It's only when you are alone at these smaller temples that you truly experience the magic and beauty that they hold.
One of the best ways to explore the temples is to rent a tuk tuk and a driver. (here's our tuk tuk - the driver insisted we get a picture of us driving at the gates)
With your own driver you can zoom around the temples at your own pace. It was about $12 for the entire day!
I'd also recommend you hire a guide for the first day. Our guide was fantastic!!! He gave us the history behind the temples, explained the stories on the walls, pointed out the tiniest details which we would have overlooked if we were on our own. He also gave us some of his family stories which gave us an insight into Cambodian culture and traditions.
The other days we explored on our own. :-)
Ta Prohm Temple is a must if you go to Angkor... It is one of the few temples which was left untouched. You can see the trees completely enveloping the temple walls...
This temple is also famous because its where Lara Croft Tomb Raider was filmed.
Be careful not to go in the heat of summer cause there are hundreds of steep steep steeeeeep stairs to climb. We were told they built the temples like this so people had to enter on their hands and feet to show respect for the Gods.
The temples of Angkor was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. :-)
For more photos: http://callieinjapan.shutterfly.com/1420