Tuesday, April 30, 2013 Home

Memorable Travel Moments: Climbing the “stairs” at Angkor Wat, Cambodia (2006)

As part of a group tour to Thailand, we booked an extension to Cambodia. Our group in Cambodia consisted of seven of us, with our own guide and driver. As a small group we had a lot of flexibility, a trait that came in particularly handy when visiting Angkor Watt.


Angkor Watt is among the most visited World Heritage sites, with more than a million tourists each year.  On the day we visited, we had much of this magnificent and gargantuan structure mostly to ourselves. The exception was the area around the “stairs” leading up to the third level and central courtyard. This is the heart of the complex and a spot through which every tourist passes.

The main stairway leading up from here is steep and uneven – but it also has a narrow set of concrete steps that have been added, along with a hand rail, along one edge. The accessibility provided by this accomodation resulted in a line that snaked around the courtyard as people awaited their turn to climb to the next level.



Our guide took account of the situation and then directed us around to a similar stairway on the other side. This one seemed even steeper and was worn nearly smooth, but you could climb up without waiting in a long line – assuming you could navigate the huge, uneven “steps.”  
With patience and a good deal of coordinated effort (pushing and pulling each other up), we all made it up.

It was definitely worth the effort. 
The evening before our guide had taken us to a site that required us to help each up climb up the side of a ruin. I suspect that was a test run for today. Thank goodness we passed!

(We took the “regular” stairs back down. As predicted by our guide, there was a much shorter wait to go down then there was to go up. I suspect that access is much more limited – and controlled – today.)

Thailand and Cambodia (2006) 

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