So, you have wondered around the magnificent structures of Angkor, now templed out. What next? While photography tours are available for the more interesting places around Siemreap, many clients often seek advice on how to spend a few hours photography to fill in their spare time. This short guide will give you some pointers on where to go and at what time of day.
There are many around Siemreap. The main market in the centre of town, Psar Chaa, is well worth a visit. Head away from the tourist stalls to the centre of the market. It is very Khmer inside with food stalls and local eateries. Working with the daylight from the openings and fluorescent lights inside for some great results.
Want something out of the tourist area? Consider Psar Leu, a kilometer out of town on R6 heading east towards Phnom Penh. This is the biggest market in Siemreap, with, attracting many locals for it’s fresh supply of goods. Times to visit, best in the morning from 8am until around 11am, although any time of day can be ok.
There are many Pagodas within walking distance of Siemreap centre. Activity in these establishments follow a similar pattern. Preparing and meal time for the monks is from 9am until mid day, evening chanting around 5.30pm. There may be some activity mid afternoon with monks doing chores around the pagoda. 12 noon until 3pm see’s little action due to the mid day heat.
Some notable pagodas are as follows:
Wat Athvear, (bicycle / tuktuk recommended) a short distance from Siemreap, with it’s Angkor temple (ticket required) provides a relaxing atmosphere and quiet village life. Note, you are welcome to go to the pagoda alongside the Temple without a ticket.
Wat Enkosai?? also has some small Angkor ruins behind it (no ticket required), worth a visit if that is your thing.
Wat Svay Romiet (bicycle / tuktuk recommended) on the shore of West Baray attracts some locals and their livestock with it’s proximity to the water. Fishing is a popular past time here depending on water levels.
Wat Bo, central Siemreap. The oldest pagoda (building) is worth a visit. If you are lucky, the doors will be open to reveal old paintings on the inner walls.
Take your time and wonder along the river where there are many pagodas. If your timing is good, then photographic opportunities will come. If you are planning your trip and culture photography is your thing, it might be worth considering Vassa / Pchum Ben celebrations, a three month retreat where increased activity in the pagodas can be witnessed. If you need any assistance with your visit, please get in touch.
As Siemreap develops, the countryside views become further from the centre of town. It is best to hire a bicycle or small motorbike to explore by your self. Alternatively hire a Tuk Tuk, the driver may well have an itinerary of interest.
There are a few routes from Siemreap of interest to the photographer. Perhaps the easiest to follow is south, along the river to Phnom Kram. Wat Athvear can be combined with this, also there are many pagodas along the river. Take a trip around the base of phnom Krom to witness village life (half of which is Vietnamese. A trip up the hill can be free for sunset after 5.30pm with a panoramic view if the Tonle Sap, best during high water, September to November. An Angkor pass is required any time before 5.30pm.
One area of interest to Darren is beyond Sala Lodge road south of Siemreap. Find the road and head straight as far as you can to a large man made lake with some Khmer shacks. These are popular with locals, especially during holiday times. There is now a nature reserve (towards the end of the road, veer right at the sing board) favourable for bird watchers. The whole area with it’s big open planes attracts a variety of wild life and farmers with their livestock. It is this area that most of Monsoon Cambodia was shot, being open and providing great panoramic views of the storms coming in from the Tonle Sap. Sadly, the area is now attracting housing development as the town spreads and land prices increase.
The best time to visit the countryside is early mornings 7am-10am and late afternoon 3pm until sunset.
The easiest craft workers to find within Siemreap centre are at Artisan Angkor, a shop set up to sell Khmer crafts to tourists. Here toy will find anything from wood carving to silver smiths. It is easy to find, with locals being trained in their crafts and on show to the general public. To find other craftsmen, head along Sivutha Boulevard towards Angkor Wat. Hidden within the side streets are wood carvers, stone masons, silver smiths, painters and weavers. A tuk tuk driver will help you locate these people as their premises are a little way out of town.
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