When I booked the Angkor Sunrise Discovery Bike Tour through Viator, I had imagined that we would be cycling around the temples on the usual known paved paths taken by the other tourist vans, so I was expecting the same. Once we were done with our breakfast after our early morning visit to Angkor Wat, we were handed over what looked like proper mountain bikes.
As we started on our ride, the paths that we took were entirely unexpected. We headed straight into the jungle, not on the road or designated tracks, we were riding right through the jungle. For me this was exactly what I wanted, meandering across the trees, dodging branches that were hanging low and the occasional uphill climb.
I even got lost and reached a dead-end once (pic above) yet I realized this is as wild it would get around here and I was enjoying every moment of it. We passed through a village and rice fields and back into the jungle, heading towards the walled city of Angkor Thom. A thirty minutes ride later we emerged back into civilization – The South Gate of Angkor Thom. If Angkor Wat felt huge to me, then this place was enormous!! Just to know that this was a place of precise dimensions was fascinating enough for us just to gauge the magnanimity of it.
The central temple of Bayon, which is located at the exact geographical center of the walled city, can feel like a convoluted maze once you are in. There are numerous towers inside the temple that give it the picturesque look.
We just went on and on exploring each and every corner of this magnificent temple and the wall carvings were quite similar to the ones at Angkor Wat, yet we could see a unique feature in them. Out guide funnily enough pointed out that the wall carvings here depict a huge part of Cambodian daily life – eat, drink and fight!
After an hour of moving around inside the temple, through narrow hallways and climbing up/down a few steep stairways, we took a much-needed break outside the complex. We met up with a Japanese couple as we were seated in the resting area. We had an interesting conversation about the distinctly differing architecture styles of the temples at Angkor and the Tanah Lot (and Uluwatu) in Bali. Each entirely different but equally fascinating. But I was still in anticipation of seeing some actual ruins of the ones at Ta Phrom – The Mystic Frontier!!
- There are numerous smaller temples within the walls of Angkor Thom, hence the availability of 3-7 days passes.
- A walk or cycle ride on the walls is worth it as it gives some of the most extraordinary views of the jungles beyond the walls.
- Water and lots of water needed to spend the whole day exploring the place. Cambodia is humid.