Fellow travelers, with your hardly-earned vacation right around the corner, how many times these thoughts have crossed your mind?:
"Let me go with the flow and leave the planning of daily activities once I get there."
Well, this might have been the right approach in your 20s, but today's savvy travelers know that a bit of pre-planning is essential to be able to actually relax on a vacation. Of course, the variety of tricky experiences in my own travel adventures have served to reinforce this idea, and we generally pre-book the main points of interest ahead of time (while still leaving some free time for exploration), and would like to share a few key points learned from the process.
Pre-planning will optimize your vacation time
In the today's busy world, time is money -- and time at your vacation destination is especially valuable -- so leaving that to the last minute to "go with the flow", will mostly result in last-minute stress, missed opportunities, and an unsatisfactory experience generally. Picture this: After one or two typical international flight connections, you finally have arrived in the destination. The last thing you'd like to do at that point, is to start exploring ideas what to do and not to do and when/where to go. Yes, most likely there will be an excursion desk in the hotel or nearby ready to book you on a tour for the "best rate" according to them. The chances are, that's just another tourist trap. ...Just to cite a recent an "eye-opening" example from my last family vacation in Malta, we reserved the one of the popular Captain Morgan Cruises for a day tour to the Blue Lagoon and the island of Gozo (you can see Captain Morgan booths almost at every corner of the sea promenade in Sliema, where is the main foot traffic). The total tour was 8 hours, out of it, we've spent 1 hour "beach time" at the Blue Lagoon and 1 hour touring Gozo (including the bus transfers). We ended up with 6 hours on the boat "cruising" between the islands, considering the fact that the distance between Malta and Gozo is less than 14 miles!). What a time-waster!
Special interest activities typically require -- or benefit from -- an advance booking.
Did you know? Exclusive museum/ special interest entrance tickets require an advance registration (the Tomb of the Pharaoh Seti I in Valley of the Kings in Egypt is one of the best-preserved tombs just recently opened to the general public and allows only 150 ppl per day with a special permit), or Scuba Diving Trips (limited number of divers in a group, in addition, most dive shops require reservation at least one day ahead).
Tip: Using a travel specialist to assist you with special interest tours will save your time and will enhance your vacation experience by leveraging relationships with local tour operators.
Save $ reserving in advance online
Did you know? Many local tour operators offer two type of rates- An online rate and a walk-in rate. Sometimes the price difference is significant.
Skip the long lines to must-see sites
Majority of must-see historical sites are notorious for their long wait lines (the walk-in entrance to the Vatican museum can easily be a couple of hours). However, a travel expert will tell you that there is two type of travelers: those that wait in lines, and the other ones, who don't. Many museums offer a skip-the-line pass for an upcharge which is totally worth it in terms of a value and time-saver.
Pre-planning helps to reduce your stress
Unfortunately, stressful situations do occur when you are on vacation, especially due to a lack of coordination and planning to stay ahead of the game. Quite often, nailing-down a couple or a few key, high-value, items can work wonders in helping to create the best, most-optimized experience for you and/or friends and family.
Are you ready to plan your stress-free journey?
The land of the pharaohs is a destination that has fascinated travelers since antiquity. Egypt is the "Gift of the Nile" remarked the Greek historian Herodotus when he visited in the 5th Century BC. There are not enough words to describe the magnitude and ingenuity of the Ancient Egyptian Engineering and the stunning colorful religious scenes carved in the temples and tombs -- you have to see it for yourself.
Travel Tip: As a Muslim country, the locals are conservative, but you will soon find that they are also genuine and helpful. The US dollar and the Euro are strong and go a long way.
Travel Tip: Renting a car is not really an option: The country roads are extremely busy, most of the directions are in Arabic and traffic lights are a rare occurrence. In order to travel, the Egyptian Tourism Board must issue you a road travel permit. In the countryside, there are security checkpoints every few kilometers.
Travel tip: If the purpose of your vacation is to party, reserve an all-inclusive resort in Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada (Egypt's popular resort towns), where you can find trendy bars and nightclubs in a short distance from your resort.
Are you ready to plan your journey to the "Land of the Pharaohs"?
If you have any remote interest in ancient history and culture, a trip to Egypt will transform the way you see life.
When you arrive in the country and run into the dusty roads, the traffic, and poverty, It is hard to imagine that this land was a home to an advanced and thriving civilization, dating back to more than four and a half Millennials. Nevertheless, the evidence for it still exists and your first encounter with it will be seeing the Pyramids at Giza.
One of the best way to visit multiple archaeological monuments is taking a river cruise from Aswan to Luxor and below are few good reasons to consider why you should take a cruise on the Nile
A quick note: While some travelers choose to visit only Luxor and Karnak Temples, the most beautifully preserved are those from the Ptolemaic period (nearly 1500 years later than Luxor and Karnak complex), and they are near the city of Aswan.
Thanks for reading and please leave your comments below!
Do you check your luggage every time you travel? Even for shorter getaways?
According to the Airline information technology company, SITA, and their new baggage report for 2018 mishandled luggage rates has reached a record low-70 % drop since 2007 with the help of new technology implementations.
However, the biggest ongoing problem is luggage mishandling between tight flight transfers with a large number of the bags being misplaced in this process.
Here are five reasons to avoid checking your luggage
Reduce your risk of missing a connection
Some airlines (especially the budget ones such as Ryan Air), will require getting your luggage between flights. In any event, that you have a tight connection you can easily miss your next flight.
Protect your luggage
Often luggage is mishandled by careless airline employees that can result in broken wheels, handles or dirty spots. If you have invested $$$ in a quality, brand name bags seeing your luggage mistreated is not a pretty sight.
Saves you time
When checking your luggage you have to add automatically an additional hour to your travel time. As a savvy traveler to save time, you will have either printed your boarding pass ahead of time, or you will have it on your mobile phone. In this scenario, you should be able to go straight to your gate after the immigration wheeling your carry on bag, instead of waiting on a line to check it in a heavy suitcase. In an event that your luggage got lost, you will have to spend at least a day of your vacation shopping for "must have" items instead of enjoying your time in the destination.
It can reduce stress
Have you ever thought how much stress is associated with a lost luggage? Think about the multiple phone calls, waiting on lines to make a claim, waiting for the luggage delivery etc., in my humble opinion, this is really something that can ruin your vacation.
Save $ on baggage fees
In the last years, unfortunately, most airlines have adopted the pay for check-in luggage policy, and this is one of their main profit sources. Unless you have a credit card issued through the airline you are flying with, which might wave the fee, you should expect to pay if you want to check your bag. In addition, the budget airlines are notorious for their business policy of charging for a carry-on bag as well. So, a key takeaway is to keep a sharper eye on baggage policies generally, especially when flying with a different airline with whom you might not be as familiar.
Thanks for reading and share your comments below!
Did you know that Malta's history is older than the Pyramids? The archipelago is home to some of the world's oldest human structures and many of them are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Moving on to the later millennia, the strategic geographical position of the island has naturally attracted the ruling military powers of that period. Phoenicians, Greek, Romans, Moors, the Knights of the Order of Saint John, the French, the British -- all have left their impact in shaping Malta's history, culture, and architecture ...
Quick facts & geography
Malta is one of the smallest nations in the world (just under half a million inhabitants) situated right in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, between Sicily and the North African Coast. A part of the EU, the local currency is Euro and there are no visa requirements for US citizens. The official languages are Maltese and English (as a former British colony). The Maltese Archipelago is comprised of Malta (the largest island), Gozo and Comino, with the capital Valletta located on the main island. Malta's territory is very small (122 sq. miles) and the best way to explore it is to use the well-developed Public Bus System.
Travel Tip: Get the Explore Card (Adult) for 21 Euro, and enjoy unlimited rides for a week!
Travel Tip: Order your taxi once you arrive at the airport. Taxi services from Luqa airport to any destination in Malta are available 24 hours a day. Pre-paid tickets can be purchased at fixed rates from the booth at the Welcome Hall.
How many days should you stay in Malta?
It depends on how deep you like to dive into Malta's history. The country is literally packed with historical must-see sights, and although the distances are short, you must take breaks between sights to absorb what you've seen. After spending a full week in Malta, I would recommend putting aside 8-10 days if you like to explore both Malta & Gozo islands (Comino is mostly uninhabited).
When is the best time to visit Malta?
Fortunately, with mild, Mediterranean winters, Malta is a year-round destination but If you really like to immerse yourself into the local culture, plan a trip in the spring and early summer months, when a number of religious and cultural events take place like Malta's Carnival and Mdina Medieval Festival
Travel Tip: If you are in Malta during the summer months, start sightseeing early morning! Malta's midsummer temperatures can go up to 34 C (93 F) in the hottest months July and August. Due to the high temperatures, sightseeing can be a challenge in the later parts of the day. We found breaking the day into two parts the most efficient, like sightseeing in the morning and beach time/sunbathing in the afternoon. For instance, my parents and I were sightseeing in the morning until 1-2 pm, and in the afternoon we were taking the bus from Sliema to St Julian's where the nearest (but not the cleanest) beach was located (St. George's Bay).
Where to stay in Malta
Again it depends on what you'd like to see/do... My parents and I stayed at Sliema, which is one of the popular tourist areas, in the closest proximity with Valletta (appx 25 min by bus). Majority of the accommodations and entertainment are located along the seafront. Note that Sliema does not have beaches per se, but instead "Lidos" which are essentially Beach Clubs with pools. Other popular areas further north are St. Julian's (known for its nightlife), & St. Paul's Bay (quieter tourist village) near which you can find the best beaches in Malta (Golden Bay & Mellieha Bay). If beaches/nightlife are not of importance for you, consider staying in Valletta, where although little quiet in the evening, you can find qualify boutique hotels, restaurants, and wine bars. (Check boutique properties like Palazzo Consiglia, Ursulino)
Travel Tip: Due to the short distances, you can easily commute between the different Bays (for instance, a bus ride between Sliema & St Julian's runs mainly along the seafront and takes about 20 min). The bus schedules are conveniently posted at each designated stop. Lastly, the Explore Card can be used to visit must-see sights like Mdina, Marsaxlokk fishing village & Hagar Qim temple complex, with all buses to the countryside departing from Valletta Bus Terminal.
Are you ready to start planning your Maltese Vacation?
Mainly traveled by Europeans, the small Maltese archipelago is somehow off the radar for the rest of the world, however savvy travelers often described it as one big open-air museum. What makes this islands unique is that so much of their past is visible today. The balmy Mediterranean climate makes Malta near around-the year cultural, beach and nightlife destination with all of the attractions packed in a small territory. That's the real advantage of staying here. This blog is inspired by Malta's rich cultural heritage.
Malta's History is closely interwined with the history of Knights of Saint John: What we see today in Malta, is the legacy the Knights of St. John left for us. The Knights Hospitaller (the Knights of Saint John), was a religious and military Roman Catholic order formally founded in the 12th Century to protect Jerusalem against the Ottoman Turks invasion. After the Order of Saint John was expelled from its base in the Island of Rhodes during the Ottoman Siege in 1522, a search for a new base began. This led to a new chapter in the Knights' history when the Pope gave them the island of Malta in 1530. The Knights Hospitallers settled in the area known as the Three Cities and more specifically in Birgu (Vittoriosa). After the Great Siege in 1565, and in order to celebrate the victory over the Turks, the Knights embarked on an ambitious project to build a new capital: Valletta. With one of the highest concentration of historical monuments per territory in the world, today, the city is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Start from Valletta
To get the best introduction to Malta's history, start from the capital Valletta followed by the Three Cities. Must see sights are Saint John's Co-Cathedral (an exquisite example of Baroque Architecture), Grand Master's Palace (headquarters of the Grand Master of the Order of Saint John), Upper Barrakka Gardens (Public Gardens), offering panoramic views of the Grand Harbor, Casa Rocca Piccola (a "living" 16 Century Palazzo), Fort Saint Elmo (National War Museum)... this is just short list of the historical sites which you can find in Valletta. If time allows, take a ferry for a scenic ride (multiple departures throughout the day ) to The Three Cities (Vittoriosa, Senglea & Cospicua). Visit The Inquisitor's Palace (seat of the Maltese Inquisition for two centuries) in Birgu (Vittoriosa) is a must!
Reserve a half day tour (I'd suggest Excursions in Malta) or Tours by Locals (private local guides) to get a deeper knowledge of Valletta and the Three Cities history. Especially valuable will be to have a guide with a car in The Three Cities. A former administrative seat of the Knights of St. John, today the cities are left largely unvisited and offer an insight into Malta's Maritime History and authentic Maltese daily life. Although the cities are connected, they are spread out, and we found them not as pedestrian friendly as Valletta and exploring without a car can be a challenge.
As much as my family enjoyed exploring Valletta and the Three Cities, once my parents and I entered the Main Gate into the fortified city of Mdina, we felt like we traveled back to Medieval Times. A former capital of Malta from the antiquity to the medieval period, Mdina is one of Europe's finest examples of an ancient walled city with a unique mix of well-preserved medieval and baroque architecture. The arrival of the Knights of Saint John on the island in 1530 led to moving the capital to Birgu (Vitturiosa) and the city faced a period of decline. Though the centuries, Mdina remained a center of the Maltese noble residents and religious authorities but never regained its pre-1530 importance. Today, Mdina is home to less than 300 inhabitants giving the rise of the popular nickname the "Silent City".
Although Mdina is quite small, dedicating at least a half day is a must. Among the many historical sites worth visiting are St. Paul's Cathedral (second in grandeur after St. John Co-Cathedral in Valletta), Cathedral Museum, Palazzo Falson (13th Century Medieval Palace), Carmelite Priory to name a few. Take a time and wander around the narrow streets and stop by a traditional Maltese glassmaking store for a souvenir (Valletta Glass is an excellent choice). If time allows, enjoy a gourmet meal or spend a night in Xara Palace, a 5-star boutique hotel, member of the prestigious collection Relais and Chateaux situated in a 17th Century palace.Although Mdina is quite small, dedicating at least a half day is a must. Among the many historical sites worth visiting are St. Paul's Cathedral (second in grandeur after St. John Co-Cathedral in Valletta), Cathedral Museum, Palazzo Falson (13th Century Medieval Palace), Carmelite Priory to name a few. Take a time and wander around the narrow streets and stop by a traditional Maltese glassmaking store for a souvenir (Valletta Glass is an excellent choice). If time allows, enjoy a gourmet meal or spend a night in Xara Palace, a 5-star boutique hotel, member of the prestigious collection Relais and Chateaux situated in a 17th Century palace.
Savor Fresh Seafood in Marsaxlokk
Take a Sunday morning trip to the fish market in Marsaxlokk! This is a picturesque fishing village famous for its bright color boats and its Sunday market. You will have a chance to experience authentic Maltese culture and interact with local fishermen's and farmers. The market is an excellent choice to buy local products, and the sea promenade offers a wide variety of seafood restaurants accommodating every taste and budget.
Visit Hypogeum, Hagar Qim or other megalithic Complexes, UNESCO designated sites
The Maltese archipelago is home to one of the oldest ancient religious temples in the world, believed to be dedicated to Mother Goddess. Located just outside of Valletta, the Hypogeum is a underground sanctuary and necropolis dating to 3300 BC. Continuing just six miles south, you can reach Hagar Qim and Mnajdra megalithic temple complex constructed in the same period- 4th millennium BC. The two temples of Ggantija on the island of Gozo, recognizable for its gigantic Bronze Age structures, are well worth the trip to the island alone.
Visit Gozo & the Blue Lagoon
Lastly, your Malta's vacation won't be completed unless you visit Gozo island and Comino's Blue Lagoon. If your time allows, spend at least couple of days on the former. A regular ferry service carries passengers and cars from Malta to Gozo. The ferries depart from Cirkewwa, Malta to the seaport of Mgarr, Gozo and take about 25 minutes. For schedule and fare information visit Gozo Channel website. Once on the island take the Public Bus to the capital of Gozo.
Although the bus service is not as frequent as in Malta, is a better alternative than renting a car. Navigating through one-lane roads and sharp turns can be a real challenge. If your budget allows reserve a driver/ guide who can save your time and bring an inside knowledge.
The capital Victoria known for its Medieval Citadel and baroque era architecture is a good base to explore the rest of the island. Check PlanetWire for a complete list of must-see attractions on the island of Gozo.
If you are time constrained, there are day trips organized from Malta to Gozo and the Blue Lagoon
Are you ready to plan your journey to Malta?
Most travelers outside of Europe have heard about the famous Santorini and Mykonos and might wonder what to see and do in Crete. After visiting Crete for a week, I just like to share with you why should you put this island on your travel list.
Crete is the southernmost and largest island in the Greek Archipelago, 3206 sq miles and actually, the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. The best way to explore the island is either to rent a car or using the well-developed Public Bus Services Ktel. In general, renting a car will be lower cost than using the Crete public buses. The local currency is Euro, No visa requirements for US Citizens.
A cradle of the Ancient Minoan Civilization, the island offers the unique combination of romantic, beach and cultural/history immersive vacation. In addition, the hotel rates and dining out/shopping is more affordable than the neighboring and popular Santorini. Crete has a Mediterranean climate, with long summer season until October and milder winter in the 50s (Fahrenheit).
Where to stay in Crete?
My parents and I stayed in magical Chania, built on the top of the ancient Minoan town of Kydonia, and known for its well-preserved old Venetian Harbor, dating back to the Venetian (13-17th Century) and the Turkish rule (17-19th Century), located northwest of Heraklion, the capital of Crete. Chania has an international airport with daily direct flights from Athens via Ryan Air, Aegean, & Olympic Air. A number of boutique hotels offer memorable experience such as Querini & Porto Del Colombo. As an alternative, Rethymno is a smaller town, an hour east of Chania, with intense Medieval architecture and lovely Venetian Port. With its busy industrial vibe, the capital of Crete, Heraklion not suitable for a longer vacation.
What to see in Crete?
Wonder around in Chania's Old Town
If you choose to stay in Chania, start from the Old Venetian Harbor and explore the Venetian Lighthouse, the Turkish Mosque or get lost in the expansive labyrinth of small romantic streets. The Old Town is brimming with boutique hotels, lively, locally run restaurants and fantastic shopping! Have a memorable dinner in Mesostrato restaurant, situated in 16 Century Venetian building or get a cocktail at one of the waterfront cafes. If time permits, visit Archaeological Museum of Chania or the Maritime Museum of Crete or take a day trip to Rethymno. When you are ready to work on your tan, Chania's beach is always an option- although not the best beach in the area, it is walking distance from majority of accommodations.
Visit Knossos Palace, Heraklion
If you have even a remote interest in ancient history, visit Knossos Palace, the capital of Minoan Crete and the mythical King Minos is a must, combined with a visit to the recently-renovated Archaeological Museum in Heraklion where the original finds from the Palace are on display.
Travel Tip: If you are staying in Chania, a day trip (88 miles one way) to Knossos can be arranged with local tour agencies, book in advance.
Explore Crete's pristine beaches
One of the best beaches in Crete can be found in Chania's region. Most of them are easily accessible via car rental(1-1.30 hrs drive). Gorgeous beaches such as Falassarna and Elafonissi, known for their pink sand beaches can be even accessed via Crete's local bus system known as KTEL Public Bus Services. My parents and I decided on taking an organized day cruise to Balos Lagoon & Gramvousa Fortress (dating back to the Venetian Period Rule) with Cretan Daily Cruises- highly recommended!
Are you ready to plan your Mediterranean escape?
...What do you know about Balí?
Growing up in Eastern Europe, I knew almost nothing about the "Island of Gods" besides the fact is an exotic destination and is far, far away. I never even dreamed that l would have the chance to visit one day... Well, when an opportunity presented itself earlier this year, my husband and I embraced it and we were off on our first trip to Southeast Asia. Balí was the last stop in our multi-county Asian adventure and delivered an unforgettable experience.
You might find it interesting to learn that Balí is part of Indonesia, which is a mostly-Muslim country, but the island itself is home to Balinese Hindu minority. Another interesting fact is that most Balinese are bilingual, if not trilingual (Indonesian, Balinese, English). The local currency is Indonesian Rupiah and there is No visa required for US citizens.
Travel Tip: Exchange plenty of $ to local currency at the airport, foreign currency is rarely accepted for payments.
Travel Tip: Arrange transfer to your hotel ahead of time - In the event, you arrive after midnight (as we did), and there are no transfers available to your hotel so late at night, there are taxi drivers waiting in the arrival hall that offer their services. There is also a tourists desk that can help you to negotiate a lower rate.
What to expect from Balinese people?
My husband and I found the locals quite friendly and curious to learn about different countries and cultures. Everybody we have interactions with was helpful and respectful.
Travel Tip: Respect the local traditions - Balinese are pious people and their beliefs reflect daily life. The most visible signs are the tiny offerings known as "canang sari" that can be seen everywhere (in Balinese home, workplace, in the restaurants and streets. Every house has a Pura (Balinese for "temple"), attached to it -- even the poor houses have a small one.
When to visit Bali?
With average temperature 30 C throughout the year, Balí is generally a year-round destination, with only two seasons: wet season and dry season. Note that the High season is during the months of July and August, during Easter Holidays, and Christmas / New Year (December until 1st week of January).
Travel Tip: The best time to visit the island is before or after the High Season, typically April, May, June, and September.
How long to stay in Bali?
Balí is a comparatively big island (2230 sq. miles), and it's best to allow at least a week to explore it. If you are planning to include in your trip the nearby islands Lombok/Gili Islands (accessible via Fast Boat, Public Ferry or Air), you should consider staying at least 10 days.
How to get around in Bali?
Travel Tip: Renting a car or scooter is an option only for an experienced driver used to drive on the local roads. Especially inland, in the countryside, the GPS often doesn't work and expect unmarked dirt roads with signs only in the Balinese language.
Are you ready to experience the "Island of the Gods" for yourself?
Where to stay in Balí?
The majority of accommodations (ranging from hostels to 5-star resorts) are concentrated in the southern part of the island, in a near proximity to the Airport. Southwest of the airport, Kuta is popular among backpackers, Seminyak & Jimbaran Bay area are known for its five-star resorts, brand-name shopping, and upscale dining. On the southeast side of the island, the town of Sanur, is a low key vacation spot, known for its relaxed vibe, art and local crafts scene. Settled by the Dutch in the early 1900s, Sanur draws a lot of European travelers seeking a quiet and relaxing getaway. South of Sanur, Nusa Dua area is another alternative for discerning travelers offering luxury resorts and long sandy beaches. If you scuba dive, majority of dive resorts are situated on the East Coast, where you can find the most worthy dive sites. The "Island of the Gods" is world known for its natural healers and eco yoga retreats (check out Floating Leaf, eco-luxury retreat), with their main concentration in the cultural center of Balí, the town of Ubud.
Travel Tip: To optimize your experience, stay in two different parts of the island like Ubud ( to immerse in the local culture) and Nusa Dua (beach vacation).
Travel Tip: Although Seminyak offers a wide choice of upscale hotels, If you expect to bask on the beach and swim Seminyak might not be the right choice. The beach tends to be dirty and the water unswimmable.
What to See in Bali for a Week
With its diverse landscape of hills and mountains, dramatic coastlines and sandy beaches, paired with a rich cultural heritage and archaeological sites, Bali can satisfy a wide range of travel tastes
Travel Tip: To optimize your stay, arrange most of your activities ahead of time.
Travel Tip: Visit Uluwatu Temple during the week vs the weekend to avoid the crowds
Travel Tip: Buy the local mangosteen fruit from the fruit stand located by the entrance, it is really sweet and juicy!
Travel Tip: If you scuba dive, some must-explore dive sites are the Tulamben shipwreck and Manta Point by Nusa Penida (click Best dive sites Balí for the complete list). Located the southeast part of the island, the town of Sanur is a convenient jump-off point to many of them.
Are you ready to journey to the "Island of the Gods"?
The lost city of Angkor Wat, Cambodia (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), was on my travel list for a long time. While it's the largest religious monument in the world, until recently, the Western world knew very little about Angkor. It was believed that the religious complex was discovered in 19th Century by the French naturalist Henri Mouhot. However, later scholars studies showed, that in fact, Angkor Wat was never "lost" for the Khmer people, and the Buddhist monks continuously worshiped the temple complex over the centuries.
Angkor was built by the Khmer Empire -- a powerful state in Southeast Asia which existed between the 9th & 15th Centuries. At its peak, it covered much of what is today Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and Southern Vietnam. The main evidence for its existence remains in numerous religious buildings, designed in different architectural techniques that started as Hindu temples and gradually adopted Buddhist features. One of the most intriguing facts about the temple architecture is that they weren't meant to be a gathering place of the worshipers. Their sole purpose was to serve as a palace of the Hindu gods. The apogee of the Khmer architecture was reached in the 12th century with the construction of Angkor Wat. Generally, "Angkor Wat" translates to "Temple City" or "City of Temples", and the whole complex is indeed the size of a small city (about 402 acres).
Due to limited time, we only had a single day to spend at the archaeological site which wasn't enough. Most knowledgeable guides will recommend dedicating at least 3-4 days, if not a full week. At least though, as I mentioned in my previous article, we stayed at Pavilion d'Orient Hotel and a tuk-tuk driver was included during our entire stay. He truly saved us time and $$. We started our exploration from Angkor Wat, followed by Ta Keo and Ta Prohm Temples (where the movie Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie was filmed), the Royal Palace, Bapuon and ending in Bayon Temple.
Travel Tip: The temple sites are not really a (practical) walking distance between each other. You must reserve a tuk-tuk driver ahead of time that will drive you between temples. There are alternative ways to hop between sites, such as organized bike tours. However, when making your decision consider that the typical temperatures are in the 100s F, which makes biking extremely difficult after few hours of climbing the temples.
Travel Tip: Start your exploration at Angkor Wat and move to the rest of the temples within the complex. We managed to see 5 temples time efficiently with the help of our tuk-tuk driver.
Travel Tip: Start your exploration early to avoid the blazing sun and the tourist crowds. The Angkor complex opens at 5 am and closes at 6 pm
Travel Tip: The ticket office accept only cash! An online reservation system is scheduled for later in 2017. One day pass is good for the temples within Angkor vicinity. Always carry your ticket. It will be checked upon each park entry and major temple.
Travel Tip: If your budget allows, get a private guide. He/she can explain the meaning of different architectural structures and show you the highlights.
Travel Tip: Bring comfortable shoes, hat, sunscreen, umbrella, sunglasses, dress modestly. And stay hydrated -- our tuk-tuk driver had a cooler and we had ice cold water to refresh ourselves between sites.
Are you ready to plan your Journey to Cambodia?