Angkor Wat is one of the only large-scale temple complexes in the world that allows people to independently explore its ruins, which is why it is important to prepare your eco-friendly visit to Angkor Wat.
Big bus tourism is having a negative impact on the structural integrity of the ruins, not to mention clogging the roads, so before we start on our eco-friendly guide to Angkor Wat, here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
- Avoid the crunch of tourists at sunrise / sunset spots; it’s no fun, and you’re likely to bump into the ruins by accident
- The area suffers from catastrophic over-fishing; avoid eating fish where you can.
- The elephants are fairly poorly treated; please don’t take elephant rides.
- Don’t give money or candy to kids as it promotes begging vs. staying in school. Rather, contribute back to the community by shopping at spots like Rehash Trash.
- Don’t buy rattan handicrafts; rattan is collected in the wild and supplies are dwindling and forcing people further afield
1. Plan your must-see items
- Plan to visit the three top temples (Ankgor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Ta Phrom). Missing these three is like going to the Louvre and not visiting the Mona Lisa. However, like the Mona Lisa, these are all great experiences if not surrounded by tourists, and pretty mediocre if you have to elbow your way through a thousand people, potentially damaging stunning relief sculptures in the process.
- TOP TIPS: Most tour buses go back to the hotels for lunch. Get an umbrella, grab some low-plastic travel gear like refillable water bottles (with built-in filters!) and slather on some sunscreen. You’re going to be hot as anything, but you’ll have the temples largely to yourself.