I first went to Angkor in 2000. It was practically devoid of tourists. Nowadays, it is Southeast Asia’s premier tourist destination. We wondered if it was still worth visiting despite crowds and mass tourism. Our verdict: it’s worth a visit, but takes some planning to find the quieter temples. At the famous temples, there is no choice but to grit your teeth and put up with the crowds.
On my first visit, Siem Reap was a ramshackle town with a few hotels and restaurants. Angkor was unbelievably monumental and beautiful but, curiously, had few visitors. The road from Thailand was terrible. A dusty red dirt road traversed by open pick ups. There were potholes so big that they could swallow a whole pickup and then some. Cambodia was opening up to tourism but many areas were off-limits due to continuing activities of remnants of the murderous Khmer Rouge.
Cambodia is now firmly on the tourist circuit and Angkor may well be the most visited sight in Southeast Asia. I googled ‘Angkor Wat 2000’ and found an edition of an English language Cambodian newspaper from that year. The PM, Hun Sen, seemed excited about the prospects for Angkor tourism. At the … Read more