Picture Disney World style crowds and heat, only this 'Magic Kingdom' is hundreds of centuries-old. Angkor Wat is located in Angkor, Cambodia's northern province of Siem Reap. These temples were built in the first half of the 12th century and took an estimated 30 years to construct. They represent one of humankind's most astonishing and enduring architectural achievements. They are probably most recognizable as the setting in parts of both "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" and "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."
At the start of our Angkor Wat tour, it was impossible to take a picture without hundreds of random tourists unintentionally photobombing. Lines to climb the structures were exceedingly long and it was far too humid to be even remotely enjoyable. Things turned around when we moved on from Angkor Wat to Angkor Thom though. The crowd thinned and when midday struck, all the tour groups left to go eat lunch. We decided to power through and got to explore the Bayon and Baphuon Temples without any competition. We were rewarded with stunning pictures and no stress! It was the smartest thing we did all day!
Angkor is truly an amazing place to visit, but can be a bit hectic. To avoid fighting your way through a mob scene, here are a few tips: 1) Do your research ahead of time - know what you want to see, how you plan to get around, etc. 2) Do the 'typical tour' in reverse order. Normally the tours start with Angkor Wat and end with Banteay Kdei/Sras Srang. 3) Bring snacks and water with you, and take advantage of masses being gone during lunch. 4) Try not to visit over Christmas/New Year's (like I did). June to October is the rainy season, but it's when the temples are at their quietest.
As far as accommodations are concerned, I stayed at the Park Hyatt Siem Reap. Although it's not cheap, it is newly renovated and located on the main road, right in the middle of all of the action. Stay here and you’re in walking distance to Pub Street. Be sure to have a drink at Angkor What?!