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Angkor Wat: the best tourist trap in the world

Most tourist traps I’ve seen are about a natural phenonomen. The beaches in Goa are a great example: beautiful, but superficial. The tourists who go there fit that profile too.

I’m now in probably the best tourist trap in the world: Angkor Wat / Siem Riep. Sure it has all the bad things of a tourist trap. Sports bars with the English soccer league, more tourist buses than I can count and a terribly busy main street.


At the same time, all these people come to see one of the greatest monuments of our planet. Imagine gigantic temples which were covered for centuries by jungle, (ab)used by the Khmer Rouge as an army base and filled with little hideaways where you can let the natural & human beauty take hold of your soul.

The ‘tourist trap’ side brings even more advantages: want a fish massage? It costs $3. Arrive late on a Friday night without a hotel? In ten minutes and for $10 you’ve got a western quality hotel including breakfast. And no need to feel guilty as wages apparently are higher than in the rest of the country. And as every tourist pays $20 entry fee per day, the restoration work gets funded too.

Isn’t there anything bad about this tourist trap? Sure there is. The guide’s only dream in life was to own a Lexus RX 300 (the car of choice of the rich and powerful in Cambodia). Authentic human-human conversation is difficult to find and the prostitutes probably would have chosen a different job if the would have had a real choice.

Let’s call it the best of the worst.

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