Beng Melea is a fascinating temple complex situated about 80km by road from Siem Reap ‐ about one-and-a-half hours by tuk-tuk. Unlike many of the popular temples at Angkor Wat, Beng Melea is largely unrestored ‐ in fact the site was only declared safe from landmines in 2007. Very little noticeable reconstruction and restoration work has been done and this gives you a real feel for what the temples of Angkor must have been like when they were originally rediscovered.
After two days of visiting the temples at Angkor, Kate elected to spend the day chilling at the pool at the Green Garden Home Villa hotel were we were staying. Early on our third-day in Siem Reap, I set off with our dependable and friendly tuk-tuk driver for one of Angkor's hidden treasures.
Arriving in Siem Reap was a bit of a shock to the system after six weeks of travelling through the wilder, less-explored parts of South-East Asia with limited tourist infrastructure. The town is a bustling tourist hub geared towards mass-tourism and caters for all types: from backpacking students to jet-setting pensioners.
Of course, the main reason that so many people come here is a valid one: to see the amazing temples of Angkor.
The Angkor Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritiage site, covers about four-hundred square kilometres and was the home to several different capitals of the Khmer empire between ninth and fifteenth centuries. We spent three days exploring the park, hiring a tuktuk with a driver for the entire time to get around (we would recommend our tuk-tuk driver for anyone heading to Angkor; his Cambodian mobile phone number is 0976 666985 - unfortunately we've lost his name).
We used two different guides while we were there and although all guides go through a rigorous training programme, we found that our second guide, Nak, was significantly better than the first. We would definitely recommend this excellent, eager, knowledgeable, well-spoken guide if you're planning on visiting Angkor - his website is The Angkor Guide/. We stayed at the comfortable Green Garden Home Guesthouse.