An aerial view of Angkor Wat?!! Well, don’t mind if I do!
That was my initial thought when I knew we were going to return to Siem Reap to visit Angkor Wat again.
This would be my fourth time returning to the town to see the temples that it is famous for and I was keen to experience it in a new way.
I remembered from previous visits seeing a big yellow tethered balloon that hovers in the sky to the west of the most famous temple of them all – Angkor Wat.
Ok, if we are going back I want to go up in that and see what it all looks like from the air, I thought. That would be a very new experience for me!
Now, if you have been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m not the best with heights…my last foray which was going up the Blackpool Tower didn’t start off too well!!
It’ll be fine I thought and put it on the list of the things that I definitely wanted to do whilst we were there.
However, as our visit grew closer and particularly once we were there, my confidence started to waver. Hmm, I’m not sure about this after all…it’s so high…will it even be worth it…I wonder how much you can actually see…!!
All these thoughts went around in my mind and I ummed and aahed about it all week! Until we had one day left and it was time to make a decision.
Let’s do it!
It was something that had been in my head from the time we booked and I would regret it if I didn’t even try.
So, in the morning we asked the hotel to book us on for 2pm that afternoon. We ventured out at about 1pm and found a tuk-tuk driver who was willing to take us out to the temples for the afternoon.
We got to the balloon site at about 1.40pm…and there was no-one else there, result!
They collected our money and asked if we wanted to go up there and then – yes, definitely, we said in unison!
The balloon is a suspended over what can only be described as a big caged doughnut!
Two guys emerged from a hut to take us on our ride.
On you get, they motioned!
I climbed through the door – eeek, I was expecting the sides to go up much higher than they actually did! There is netting over the upper section so that you can of course look out safely, but I wasn’t expecting to feel quite so exposed!
An initial feeling of fear swept over me, but I tried to gulp it down. We claimed a spot in the direction of Angkor Wat and then with a big clunk and a bang and nervous laughter from myself, we were off, being winched into the sky.
Now, as mentioned above, the balloon is tethered so you don’t go floating off anywhere, you are just winched up and down again… but that’s enough for me!
After the inital bangs and judders, it was a smooth ride to the cruising altitude of 120 metres!
I was gripping the sides of the doughnut the whole way up and it took me a while before I could prise my fingers away enough to actually take any photos.
But when I did manage to look out at the scenery spreading before me…wow!!
What a view from up there!
Angkor Wat, being the main attraction on this ride, sits in front of you and seeing it from the air really gives you a perspective on just how big a site it is.
Behind you, the huge West Baray (reservoir) can be seen, along with the international airport.
The views are incredible! However, I didn’t get any photos of all the views as I was too busy holding on for dear life and trying to take it all in at the same time!
The ‘flight’ as they call it is only for 10 minutes, and I wished it had been longer, as by the time I had gotten used to being up there, it was time to come down again.
Still, I’m so glad we did it, it was brilliant to get a bird’s eye view of the temple complex and the surrounding area and I would highly recommend it to get a different perspective.
My only gripe would be the length of the ‘flight’, it did feel a bit too short. Even another 5 minutes would have been great, to just allow us time to take it all in.
However, at $15 per person for a daytime ‘flight’, I don’t think it’s bad value. We went up just before 2pm when the sun was still high in the sky and it was a fairly clear day so we had a great view. We did book, but in fact we needn’t have bothered. I think you would probably be fine just turning up instead.
They offer sunrise and sunset flights at an increased cost of $25 and booking is recommended for these. We didn’t do this, but I can imagine it’s probably quite an amazing experience.
Angkor Wat is actually west-facing (which is unusual as most of the temples face east), so at sunset the temple catches the setting sunlight which illuminates the stones in all manner of soft tones. It is my favourite time to see it, so I can imagine to witness it from the air would be amazing.
Angkor Balloon is only a few minutes down the road from the main entrance of Angkor Wat, so it would be really easy to factor this in as a stop if you are touring the temples for the day and get a different perspective of the temples and the surrounding area.