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Behind the scenes: Q&A with an Angkor Wat Guide

| Words by Moun Monirom |

The temples of Angkor in Cambodia are one of Asia’s most iconic sites, and top many travellers’ bucket list, but what is it like for those that visit the temples over and over again. We asked Mr. Monirom, one of our expert local guides at the temples.

What is it like leading tours through the temples of Angkor?

It is my pride and joy to lead tours through the Angkor ruins, even though it needs to be done with the greatest care and responsibility, since I must try my best to make my clients’ trips safe and enjoyable. This upholds the reputation of my Angkor, of my country, of my company - Insider Journeys, and of myself.

local guide at Angkor Wat Mr. Monirom on one of his many visits to the temples of Angkor

What is your favourite part of the job?

All the cultural and historical remains from the great Angkor civilisation, including the temples inside the Angkor region and those just outside it like Boeng Mealea. Even those ancient ruins outside of Cambodia, every last single stone of them I enjoy seeing.

Boeng Mealea, an outlying temple near Angkor Wat Boeng Mealea is one of the outlying temples that should not be missed.

Can you tell us something about the temples that we might not already know?

Most people already know about Angkor Wat, but there are many other interesting temples in the region to visit like Boeng Mealea which is a 2 hour drive from Angkor.

How is visiting as a guide different to visiting as a tourist?

As a guide, when I visit I try to obtain potential new points of interest, ideas, new information, or history to expand my knowledge. This is for the purpose of working better as a guide and being a better resource for future clients.

Do you remember what you thought about Angkor Wat when you were a child?

When I was a child, I had heard very little of Angkor and its temples because I was living away from this region and because of the social and political unrest within the country. However, I used to think of Angkor Wat as an important achievement of my nation because we’d seen it on the national flags of Cambodia, even the red flag of the Khmer Rouge regime.

How do the locals feel about the temples?

I think most of the locals feel the temples of Angkor are things of honourable pride which help them to live bravely and be hopeful for a brighter future, because their predecessors have left them a memory of a time of great glory.

Banteay Srei near Angkor Wat Banteay Srei lies around 25kms (16 miles) away from the main temple complex at Angkor

Do you have an insider tip on visiting Angkor?

The Angkor historical site is a huge area with lots of things to see and do, so it’s best not to try to see too much in a short time frame. Also, many travellers leave their visit to Angkor until the end of their trip, and can be exhausted physically, and perhaps mentally, which can diminish their interest and concentration and leads to a less enjoyable experience. Try and make it the start of your trip.

Are there any common mistakes that tourists make?

There is etiquette which protects both the site and other travellers, and some travellers don’t follow this. This can include: making too much noise and disturbing others, blocking busy paths, littering, wearing inappropriate clothes (it is best to cover up), making others wait too long when taking pictures, and stepping or climbing on prohibited parts of the ruins.

Jungle covered Ta Phrom Jungle covered Ta Phrom appears even more mysterious at dawn

What else would you recommend for travellers?

We do a very popular sunrise tour to Angkor Wat, but beyond this I would recommend sunrise at Ta Prohm. This is not really to see the sunrise view, but to enjoy dawn in the jungle temple which is famous from the Tomb Raider movie. Also visiting a fishing commune of Tonle Sap Lake, Kampong Phluk, should be considered, especially from August to January.

Lots of thanks and best regards,


Mr. Monirom is one of our guides at Angkor on our Cambodia small group tours and private journeys in Cambodia.