With over 2 million visitors each year, a visit to Angkor Wat can feel more like a visit to Disneyland than to a Buddhist temple in South East Asia. Of course there is no denying the appeal of the temple, which stood as the centre of the Khmer empire for over 500 years and remains as the spiritual heart of Cambodia today. That said, the increasing number of tourists disrupt the fragile balance between preserving the temples and welcoming foreign tourists who generate jobs and stimulate the local economy.
To re-centre this balance, we must make an effort to experience this ancient wonder in a sustainable way that prevents damage to these buildings that took hundreds of thousands of people hundreds of years to construct. I suggest that we refocus our attentions not just on Angkor Wat, but on the entire Angkor Archaeological Park. By spreading out our visits, we allow the environments more time to recuperate from the impact of our presence. What’s more is that the lesser-known Angkor temples receive far fewer visitors compared to Angkor Wat. This means that you can take your time and let each and every carving tell you its life story.
Having spent 3 days exploring the Angkor Archaeological Park, I can promise you that there are many other temples in the area that are just as fascinating and beautiful as Angkor Wat. And, if you must visit Angkor Wat, make sure you plan your visit outside of peak hours. In the meantime, check out these equally beautiful Angkor temples that are even included in the same entrance fee as Angkor Wat.
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