Visiting Angkor Wat during normal times is of course still amazing, but hordes of flag following Chinese tourists can also be quite the ordeal. As things stand visiting an empty Angkor Wat is now an option, and probably one that should not be missed.
With that being said it should be kept in mind that the situation in Siem Reap is currently far from normal, but we will get to that in a bit.
To read about which countries are open to tourism click here.
What is the current situation in Siem Reap?
Siem Reap has struggles a lot with Covid-19 and was recently under not only a bunch o red zones, but an almost complete lockdown. The lockdown is now over, but dine-in in is currently banned and there is no nightlife to speak of.
If you want to visit Siem Reap to party, now is not the time, but for visiting and empty Angkor Wat? As things slowly start to open up, it is unlikely that such an opportunity will arrive again any time soon.
How to visit an empty Angkor Wat?
Siem Reap is no longer under lockdown, so you can travel here freely, but more importantly without the fear factor of getting stuck here. Buses from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap are regular and cost around $12.50 a person. There are currently no night buses to Siem Reap, so if you are looking to do a hotel hack you are fresh out of luck.
To visit and empty Angkor Wat will involve getting the famous Angkor Pass, which will set you back $37 for two days, free of course if you are Khmer. The vetting process seems to be if you look Khmer you are A-OK. I do not look Khmer.
Buying the ticket itself is a very surreal experience, with what would usually be an office built for thousands of people to go through now having handful of resident travelers.
What is an empty Angkor Wat like?
During normal times the place services millions of people, this lack of people now while obviously devastating for the economy means that you can truly enjoy visiting this wonder of the world. You can move very much at your own pace, but much more interestingly can also take pictures at leisure.
Taking pictures at Angkor Wat without people in the background is unlikely to occur again, particularly when the tourists come back.
There is more to Siem Reap than just Angkor Wat
And of course there is also much more to Siem Reap than just Angkor Wat, there are lots of temples for you temple chasers out there, but also more interactive experiences like visiting Tonle Sap floating village, genuinely a highlight to any visit to the region.
What about the hotels and nightlife?
As things stand there is no nightlife in Siem Reap, bars and restaurants have been forced not to allow dine-in until new procedure is in place and things are quiet to say the least. Of course things will get back to normal soon, but the more normal they get also the busier Angkor Wat is likely to get. Good for the local economy, but perhaps meaning you will miss your opportunity to see an empty Angkor Wat.
Hotels are of course open as usual and this means you can get great deals. Getting said deals involves turning up and negotiations rather than using booking.com. So far the best value deal I have found is Sabara Angkor Resort, where a normal room costing $25 and the grand suite $50-70, depending on how lucky you are.
No one is enjoying Covid and of course we are all hoping that it just “goes away”, but much like any kind of bad situation you might as well make the most of the small mercies god gives. Now is the time to visit an empty Angkor Wat.
You can read about Sabara resort here.