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Tomb Raider Fever: Angkor Wat Temples

By Smartgirltravel @SmartGirlTravel

Damn you, Angelina!  Damn you and your big boobs, slender figure and 24 inch waist!  Damn your sexual magnetism and your influence on the world’s geekiest gamers.  The beautiful temples of Angkor Wat have surrendered to the pressures of tourism and are now facing a growing problem of deterioration – and it’s all down to you and your saucy Tomb Raider shower scene with over-emphasis on pouting and hair flicking.

I love the magical Angkor Wat temples and I kind of wish they were all mine, but that’s just selfish.  If I can erode the footpaths with my bright pink Crocs, why can’t another girl?  If I can swan around in a tuk tuk omitting fumes into the air, why can’t someone else do the same?

angkor wat temples angkor thom bayon temple

Tomb Raider fever has made the Angkor Wat temples something of a tourist hot cake; if the temples were cakes on sale, there would be none left.  But we can all do our bit to protect the archeological site:

• Don’t litter – oh, don’t you dare!
• Don’t carve your name into the stonework – tempting but it’s vandalism.  Plus it’s   tacky. You don’t want to be tacky, do you?

Lara Croft at Angkor Thom, Ta Promh and Bayon

I’ve never been much of a gamer (apart from the time I got slightly little addicted to Discworld).  I’ve never really understood the hype of sitting indoors with the curtains drawn, with a headset on, talking to people who could, or could not, exist.   So if Lara’s big assets have inspired hermits to travel the world and leave their gaming chairs behind then I’m a happy girl.  But this photo of Ta Promh does just make me a little teensy weensy bit sad:

angkor wat temples angkor thom bayon temple 5

Angkor Wat temples appear in various scenes within the Tomb Raider film, and they don’t feel quite as special in real life with so many people suffocating their beauty.  Trust me, the temple ruins look a thousand times better when there’s no-one else around.  But the Angkor Wat temples receive over a million visitors every single year, so avoiding the crowds isn’t going to be easy.

Visiting the Tomb Raider Filming Locations

• Angkor Thom (the complex where Lara Croft retrieves the triangular MacGuffin)
• Bayon Temple (Lara tools up and drives off in her Land Rover outside Bayon)
• Ta Promh (where Lara Croft meets the mysterious girl)

angkor wat temples angkor thom bayon temple 3

The Angkor Wat temples open at 5am every single day and sunrise is the busiest period for tourists, with cameras lining up in attempt to capture the most compelling shot of the red/orange sky.  A very typical tourist pattern is to visit Angkor Wat first thing in the morning, visit other temples (including the Tomb Raider filming locations) throughout the day and then return to Angkor Wat for sunset.

December to March, being the cool dry season, is the most popular time to visit Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Bayon Temple.  Not only are hotel prices at their highest during this time, but crowds will be at their biggest too.  To avoid rubbing shoulders with thousands of happy holiday snappers, I would recommend going either side of the cool dry period.  But you will probably find that there are pros and cons of each season.

Read my complete Angkor Wat temples guide to find out more about purchasing tickets, transport and what to bring.

Lara Croft escaping the temple scene:


Escaping the Temple

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

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