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Angkor Wat designated top 10 travel experience

A shot of the Angkor Wat equinox in 2020. Sarun Sitha via Tourism Ministry
A shot of the Angkor Wat equinox in 2020. SARUN SITHA VIA TOURISM MINISTRY

Angkor Wat designated top 10 travel experience

Popular travel advice and booking site Tripadvisor has placed its “Angkor Wat Sunrise Tour” on its latest lists of 10 overall experiences in Asia and the world, in the fourth and eighth spots respectively.

In a June 20 press release, the northeast US-based Tripadvisor LLC claimed that the lists were created using review data from the 12 months to April 30 provided by “millions of travellers across the globe”.

“The list brings together the very best activities and excursions – from bookable tours and experiences to top attractions that travellers can visit along the way,” the release declared.

“Watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat is a truly unforgettable experience. On this tour, make an early start and explore Angkor Wat before the crowds arrive,” according to the site’s description of the excursion.

The top items on the world list are the “Grand Circle Island and Haleiwa Tour” in Honolulu, Hawaii, the US; “Thai Cooking Course” in Chiang Mai, Thailand; “Ubud Tour – Best of Ubud” in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia; “Red Dunes ATV, Sandsurf, Camels, Stargazing & 5* BBQ” in Dubai, UAE; and “Best DMZ 3rd Infiltration Tunnel Tour from Seoul” in Seoul, South Korea.

The remaining five are the “Reykjavik Food Walk – Local Foodie Adventure” in Reykjavik, Iceland; “Amsterdam Luxury Guided Sightseeing Canal Cruise” in Amsterdam, Netherlands; “Angkor Wat Sunrise Tour” in Siem Reap, Cambodia; “San Juan Guided Snorkel Tour” in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the US; and “Hanoi Jeep Tours” in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Items 2, 3, 5, 8 and 10 on the world list were ranked 1-5 on the Asia list, followed by: “Private Street Food Tour by Motorbike/Car with Local Students” in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and “Lion City Bike Tour of Singapore” in Singapore.

Rounding out the Asian top ten are “All Inclusive Taj Mahal Day Tour from Delhi by Superfast Train” in New Delhi, India; “Hue to Hoi An Top Gear with Lefamily Riders Tours” in Hue, Vietnam; and “Tanah Lot - Private Full Day Tour - All Inclusive” in Bali, Indonesia.

“Experiences turn travellers into adventurers, connecting them with the local community and giving them unforgettable stories for years to come,” Tripadvisor general manager for experiences Kate Urquhart said in the release.

“With more than 300,000 bookable experiences in over 250,000 destinations worldwide, Tripadvisor helps people access the best things to do globally, and we’re committed to expanding that number of tours and attractions across every destination.

“These awards are a testament to the businesses dedicated to ensuring the Tripadvisor community enjoys the most memorable trips, and we’re grateful to everyone who took the time to share their reviews and help fellow travellers plan their next escape,” she added.

Tripadvisor offers “small group” and “private guided” versions of the “Angkor Wat Sunrise Tour”, respectively charging $38 and $110 for two people – a price it notes does not include admission to the complex.

Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia Chapter chairman Thourn Sinan commented to The Post on June 22 that the Tripadvisor list underscores the true splendour of Angkor Wat. He pointed out that the 12th-century temple conceals a realm of mysteries about Cambodia’s history, culture and civilisation for tourists to discover.

“In March, we attracted thousands of tourists who came to the Angkor Wat temple to take in the dawn at the spring equinox – it is the best location for tourists,” he said.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, the sunrise aligns with the central spire of Angkor Wat on March 20-23 each year – most precisely when the vernal (spring) equinox occurs.

Siem Reap provincial Department of Tourism director Ngov Seng Kak reported that 8,726 people – 2,226 of whom were foreigners – went to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat’s central spire, at the same time as Cambodia’s torch lighting ceremony for the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games.

The tourism ministry has been pushing for social media photos and more promotion of the biannual equinoxes at Angkor Wat in March and September as part of the “Visit Cambodia Year 2023” campaign and its tagline, “Every Day is a Wonder”.

A total of 344,757 standard tickets for Siem Reap province’s Angkor Archaeological Park were sold to foreign visitors in the first five months of 2023, amounting to $16,065,829, available in one-day, three-day and seven-day passes, Angkor Enterprise reported. Cambodians do not pay any of these entrance fees.

This marks 653.09 per cent and 765.42 per cent year-on-year increases in terms of the quantity and value of tickets sold, but 71.42 per cent and 70.79 per cent decreases from the 1,206,188 tickets worth $54,993,391 logged in the same time of record-breaking 2018, according to statistics from the state-owned enterprise in charge of Angkor income management.


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