At breakfast we came across a Dutch fellow who recounted some recent anecdotes of how he tripped acid while being interrogated by Nepalese police and how he spent 2500 euro after a drunken night at a Katmandu Casino. Later, I asked him advice about Angkor Wat and he very adamantly suggested we sneak in to avoid the 20$ entrance fee. Although it was a tempting prospect, and in my poverty stricken youth I would have jumped at the idea, I was hardly persuaded by this somewhat tweaked though amiable Dutchie.
However, when we hit the first checkpoint, I decided to give it a shot. Two very pretty Cambodian girls stopped us and asked to see our tickets. I told them that I was looking to buy one and asked if I could do that with them. They informed me that I could only buy tickets at the main entrance, which was 6 kilometers away. Not wanting to cycle there and lose time, I told them what the Dutchie had advised I tell them, that I wanted to take the balloon ride. At this, they let me pass but informed me that if I am caught inside the temples that it would be a 100$ fine. I was definitely not the first shmuck to attempt this I realized and I wished I had just bought the ticket from the get go.
As we cycled towards the balloon ride, countless security guards, forewarned of our ploy by radio, ushered us in the direction of the balloon. They were at every corner and made damn sure we couldn’t get near any temples. Long story short, the balloon ride was closed, so we hired a scooter, went to the main entrance, bought our tickets, and finally entered Ankor Wat.
I was glad we did because Angkor Wat was truly amazing. It completely surpassed all my expectations. It was by far the coolest ancient city I had ever laid eyes upon. It so epitomized an ancient city in ruins, that a few times I felt as though I could have been on a movie set at Universal Studios or at Disney World. It was cooler than the Pyramids of Giza, than Queen Hot Cheap Soup, of Luxor, and cooler than the 13 stone churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia. Never before had I felt more like my idol, Indiana Jones.
Despite being constantly awestricken, I still plotted possible methods by which to sneak in. As the saying goes, or doesn’t, “Once a Runaway, always a Runaway.” In any case, I realized that one could, theoretically, by pass the security guards if they knew where each one was stationed. Another way to get in would be to visit during closing time at around 5 pm. At this time I found that most guards stopped bothering to check tickets. This is probably the least risky way to get in but it would only give you an hour or so to see a city comparable in size to modern day Paris.
If you are extremely motivated and stealthy, you could potentially sneak in successfully. However, given the amount of security guards, the probability of being caught, and the 100$ fine, it definitely isn’t worth it. I would advise buying a ticket. It’s only 20$, which is nearly the same price as going to the movies in NYC. Plus you get a cool ticket with your picture on it, it supports the economy of Cambodia, one of the poorest countries in the world, and you get to enjoy a world wonder stress free.
Check out Angkor Wat by bicycle below!
Massive thanks to Felicity, Therese, Obaachan, and Debbie for making this adventure possible and keeping me fed.