Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Five Reasons why I prefer Photographing Sukhothai, Thailand over Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Photographing Angkor Wat in Cambodia last year was a dream come true. It is an amazing place, but I found the ancient capital of Sukhothai, Thailand much more enjoyable to photograph. Maybe it had to do with the name when translated, “The dawn of happiness.”

Sukhothai was the first capital of Siam founded by King Ramkhamhaeng during the 13th Century. The province's temples and monuments have been restored and is now the Sukhothai Historical Park and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Here are five reasons why I enjoyed photographing Sukhothai Historical Park over Angkor Wat.

1) Cost: Cambodia is a very budget friendly country, but admission to Angkor Wat is expensive ($20/day USD). I found Sukhothai ($4-8/day) a much better value.

2) Crowds: Angkor Wat is Southeast Asia’s top destination so be prepared for the hordes of crowds even in the low season (when I visited). Most tourists visit Thailand’s other ancient capitol, Ayutthaya, since it is only an hour from Bangkok. Sukhothai is about a four to five hour bus ride from Bangkok so it doesn’t see as many tourists.

3) Cleanliness: With Angkor Wat’s steep admission price you would think it would go toward the upkeep of this magnificent place. Unfortunately that’s not the case. It was sad to see trash around most of the temples. On the other hand, Sukhothai, with its meticulous manicured grounds, is Disneyland with a Southeast Asian twist (hot and humid).

4) Conveyance: At Sukhothai I was able to rent a motorbike and take it in the park. In the city of Siem Reap, where Angkor Wat is located, they do not allow foreigners to rent motorbikes. As an independent travel photographer I find having a motorbike allows the maximum flexibility for taking photos.

5) Clerks: I was trying to think of a word that starts with the letter “c” that is similar to hawker and clerk was the only word that came to mind. The vendors at Angkor Wat bring persistence to another level. Little girls and boys will besiege you to buy bracelets, water or postcards. At Sukhothai the very few street vendors kindly ask for your business and a simple “no” will signify you’re not interested and you both can walk away with a smile.

This may seem like a bit of a rant against Angkor Wat, but it is not. If you have a chance to visit the temples please do so because you will be amazed.

Just be sure to dispose of your trash properly.

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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