Sometimes it makes sense to do the most popular tourist destination when it’s the most crowded. Normally I like to try to see the site my own way – avoiding crowds, taking a different path, etc. But there’s a reason that popular places get crowded!
The major spot to see the sunset in Siem Reap is on top of Phnom Bakheng. A line forms, and guards make sure that only 300 people go to the top at a time. It sounds like a pain, but let me tell you – it was well worth it!
Another cliche, but well worth it, attraction is to hitch a ride on an elephant to get to the top, and/or back down. You can walk, but it’s much more fun to ride!
To be honest, I felt very conflicted about riding the elephants after our natural tour in the elephant sanctuary, especially considering that just a week prior, an elephant had collapsed dead due to exhaustion – in Siem Reap. I quickly and irrationally made the choice to ride once I saw that it was an option, since I do love elephants and riding one has been on my bucket list since I knew that it was a thing. I also wanted to see first-hand if the animals really were treated that badly – I didn’t want to believe that they are. It was a selfish move, but I am glad that I got to do it. I can only invest money for and pray that the animals are properly taken care of.
I will note that sadly, there was no gleam in our elephant’s eye like there was in the ones I met in the wild. This girl was sweet, but you could tell she was hungry (she kept trying to graze along the way), she was hot and sweaty, and her eyes didn’t sparkle and shine like she cared about meeting me when I fed her at the end of the trip.
One of the reasons that Phnom Bakheng is so great is that you can see Angkor Wat in the distance!! Our first glimpse – it was gorgeous at dusk.
(Tiny Angkor Wat in the background)
Now – a lot of sunset pictures!