Every morning thousands of visitors enter the Angkor Wat temple for Sunrise. Eric and I followed the crowd, everyone with camera in hand, and it reminded me of walking into the entrance of Disney Land. There are actually hundreds of temples laid out here at these famous ruins north of Siem Reap, Cambodia and Angkor Wat is just one of them.
By SE Asia standards, Angkor Wat is overpriced; at $20 a person they are making a fortune. Unlike Disney, this place seems to have no overhead. They definitely don’t have to pay an electric bill and besides a few “guards” at the temples the workforce seems minimal. I wonder now – who is making the money? Does it go to the government, or towards the restoration of the temples?
To make the day more expensive for us budget backpackers, you also need to hire a tuk-tuk to get you there and around all the temples, which will set you back another $15-$25 depending on your negotiating skills. Most of the tuk-tuk drivers’ time, besides the 20 minute ride to and from town, is spent waiting on the tourists as they go into each temple to explore.
I don’t want it to seem like I’m complaining about spending the money. Angkor Wat was getting checked off my to-do list even if I had to pay $100. However, I did meet half a dozen backpackers that were not going to see Angkor Wat. I remember these three European guys staying at my hostel said they weren’t going because it was too expensive. It was hopeless, but I told them, “Since you may never be in Cambodia again it’s worth the $20.” After all, it is the biggest tourist attraction in Cambodia besides the Killing Fields and there’s no Disney Land feeling there.