Yep, here we go again. Save the date on your calendar, here comes Art Basel Hong Kong right around the corner. Art Basel has a pretty good spread across the globe at this point, of course the annual in Basel Switzerland itself, the somewhat iconic although over rated Art Basel in Miami for all of […]
Someone told me that even during the rainy season the weather in Siem Reap and other parts of Cambodia is never too bad. June, they said, was the best time to go to avoid the hordes of tourists at the Angkor temples.
Well, I for one really prefer not to be standing side by side with 3000 tourists taking pictures on a very hot day. I actually love the hot weather, but it’s the crowds I can do without. I don’t even recall who gave me the advice about traveling throughout South East Asia in June, but I can assure you that they were wrong. At least about the weather.
Siem Reap was once a quiet little village but it has become the largest boom town in all of Cambodia. It’s a major tourist destination, so it is a bit more expensive than other parts of the country. But It’s still quite a laid-back place to stay as long as you are prepared for the constant shouts from motodop and tuk-tuk drivers offering rides, tours and something to smoke. But there is one main reason to come here. The majestic Angkor Wat. Its beauty and state of preservation is unrivaled to almost any man-made structure I have ever seen. This is the largest religious structure in the world but it was also built as an irrigation system, and it still works today. The story goes that in order to provide a year-round supply of water for irrigation, engineers of the Khmer Empire connected a region the size of New York City with an elaborate system of dams, canals and reservoirs. The site has stunning temples, intricate lotus-blossom towers, moats and sculptures. It is almost impossible to describe its awesome beauty.
There is a wide choice of hotels and other accommodations around Siem Reap, in a later article I think we can give you some of our suggestions, but from the very expensive to the relatively cheap, there is something for everyone. As the Gateway to Angkor and with all the tourists, food-wise you can find something for every taste and the town even has a pretty great nightlife scene too, for after your days of wandering the ruins and dodging rain, you can regale other travelers of your common adventure. If you need to hear all about it right now and can’t wait, we hate to do this but Conde Nast Traveler has an excellent guide to the town.
But June is actually the rainy season, and the tale I was told of it not being too bad was, well, partly true. It rained almost every day. To be fair, it was not the kind of rain that sets in early morning and never lets up. But it did pour down hard every morning and evening. The thunderstorms are quite intense too. Very loud and lots of lightning, but if you don’t mind getting soaked, it makes for some very dramatic viewing of the temples in crazy storms.
Anyway, for me it didn’t matter all that much. I was there, in one of the most magnificent places on earth built almost 1000 years ago. An expat that had lived there for 10 years told me that he had proof that this place was built by alien giants years before that. I don’t know if this is true, but I am pretty sure I won’t be going back during the rains. I would suggest April, when the crowds are gone, but the rains haven’t yet started.