The prices for a visit to Angkor increased in Feb 2017 to $37 for a one day ticket, $62 for a three days ticket (using within 10 days) and $72 for a 7 days ticket (using within 1 month), but the temples are in a downgraded state over the past 18 years. It’s sorry to see that the authorities (APSARA) can’t be bothered to clean the area from dust for that price, just to give you an example. Not even the paths and roads leading up to a temple or within the temple compound are swept or sprayed clean. It’s recommendable to bring a mask with you.
Another example is the pure unorganized chaos at overcrowded parking lots. Something that could easily be worked on. It would bring more jobs and a better first impression for visitors. They do hunt you down to see your ticket several times. But when you ask an employee in a temple which side to go to the east gate, she feels obviously annoyed and disturbed from being busy with her phone. All in all Angkor becomes an overrated place to visit. But for some time to come it is still a must see place of course.
Mass Tourism is the magic word for huge income for countries. It’s supposed to boost economies, but that doesn’t count for extreme corrupt countries like Cambodia, where almost all money disappears into corrupt officials and ministers pockets. If you look for a quiet, peaceful, scenery or spot to visit, don’t go to Angkor. Better visit only the smaller, less popular, less known temples around.
You’ll get a first shock of mass tourism at the ticket sales building. Some 45 ticket counters and almost all of them are open and have a line of waiting people. It’s mentioned in other Ancient Angkor posts on this side. Mass tourism, busloads of mostly Chinese visitors. Cambodian guides with loudspeakers to guide them. They do have the right as everyone to visit. But the idea of mass tourism has been created and people from some countries are just noisier.
It’s absolutely impossible to take pics without people in it, unless you can manage a spot at the first row of many. Bumping each other to find a way. It took away most of the charm, of the culture, the history, as you’re simply too much busy with how to walk and where to walk. The focus on the temples is therefore little or gone. In some temples the authorities try to organize it by making walking directions to follow, cordoned with ropes, but that makes you walk in one small line with lots of people. Not the solution either.
As mentioned, small one direction paths to follow for safety reasons from near to collapse buildings and to protect those same temples from tourists who think that everything is touchable, to sit on, to take pics on, to lean against or even worse. It’s all a bit too little too late. Year by year that you visit you’ll see widening cracks and gaps and more collapsed.
Sure, you can see a lot of restoration work going on, sponsored by Germany or India or other countries. Cranes for restoration work in temples, metal pipes to support structures and new cement/stone blocks used to replace the old ones, which is another failed attempt to make things look better. Yes, the temples are saved by it. But isn’t it just that where the visitors come for, the old original materials and look of the temples instead of a newly constructed building look? It’s a never ending story of restoration.
By the time that one corner of a temple has been restored and got a new cement look, the other corner is near to collapse. A sign of the times you could call it. Too much time has passed and even the Khmer kings weren’t able to make materials that would last 40 centuries. Don’t be fooled by guides who say that all damage and collapse was done by the Khmer Rouge. Half of it is done by passing of time.
For these kind of ticket prices you can expect or even demand more. It’s really not that difficult to work on pollution levels. Especially not with a roughly estimated $100 million of just ticket sales to spend a year. Unless that money goes elsewhere. Unless there is no will. Walk around and pay attention to all kinds of visitors and you’ll see that the Chinese are undoubtedly doing their thing and look satisfied, while you can see westerners walking around with annoyed faces, complaining about a lot.
It’s just another of many signs in Cambodia that the country is taken over by the Chinese. In Sihanoukville the locals and other foreigners have left the area as it’s completely taken over by Chinese. Our advice, go to Angkor and Cambodia and find out for yourself if things became overrated or worse compared to years ago.
An impression video of all mentioned can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQJc6hInl8c&feature=youtu.be