- Mario Ng
Helicopter Tour over Angkor Wat
When in Siem Reap, a visit to the world-famous Angkor Wat is necessary. It is simply a must-do activity when you are in town. However, we wanted to find another way to explore this place. More so, we wanted to do something unique and not commonly done or appreciated by visitors.
A quick search showed that a helicopter tour was available! Boy, are we excited about this! For one, we love flying, and cruising around in a chopper is highly desired!
We contacted Helistar Cambodia, who then provided us with some available dates and timings to choose from. It was relatively fuss-free, as we simply had to choose the appropriate timing to suit our needs. (Click here to find out more about Helistar Cambodia!)
On the day of that tour, a bus arrived at our hotel to pick us up. The helicopter will be taking off from Siem Reap International Airport, although we will first need to head to their office to complete the payment and sign an indemnity form.
Shortly after, we continued our short trip down Siem Reap to the airport. Take note! This tour uses a different entrance, and the use of a passport or immigration facilities is NOT required! Hence, it is advisable to get the tour agency to pick you up, rather than meeting them straight at the airport.
The weather was not too good on the day of our tour, as dark clouds loomed ahead. While we were still in the sun’s rays, we were afraid of impending bad weather. However, the pilot seemed to be unaffected by it, and assured us that the tour is good to go!
At the airport, we filled in the customary forms, including our weight. Make sure you fill this up accurately! This is actually used by the pilot to allocate seats in the helicopter. This helps to balance out the weight distribution and is a necessary measure to prevent the helicopter from being too heavy in the front or at the back. Make sure you tell the truth!
The pilot then directed us to take the mandatory tourist photos with the chopper. After all, how often does one pose beside a helicopter, and a good-looking one at that? We gladly obliged, and further took more pictures with it on our own. What a nice pilot!
Very quickly, the pilot started the engine and after a brief warm-up, we took off! It was smooth, and we became airborne. It was truly a lovely feeling, one that cannot be described with words. All we can say is that we have been yearning for another helicopter ride ever since.
As we neared Angkor Wat, the weather took a turn for the worse, and raindrops began appearing on the helicopter. It was quite clear that the clouds were heavy with rain, and it looked gloomy. The pilot did not seem worried though and continued about his duties, as well as giving us anecdotes on Angkor Wat. We are pleased to state that throughout the journey, the helicopter did not shake not vibrate. It was basically as though there was no rain at all. Now, we are no aviation experts, but we believe this made us feel safer. Bravo to the pilot! Rather than thinking that the rain spoiled the ride, we felt that it gave us another unique experience. How often does one fly in a helicopter, in the rain, visiting a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Not often, we must say!
As the airport is quite near to Angkor Wat, we were soon above the majestic structure. It really looked very grand from above, as it was the sole structure around what seemed like a jungle and lots of trees. We could also roughly see the spots where we were a day earlier, as we traced back the steps we took at Angkor Wat. The pilot slowed down a little to give us some information about Angkor Wat, and the surrounding places around Angkor Wat.
We next headed towards the other temples. Admittedly, we do not know much about the other temples. However, we were expertly informed by the pilot on these temples, which included Bakheng Mountain, Srah Srang, and Banteay Samre Temple. All of them looked wonderful and offered a different perspective of how the temples look. It was a different experience, and cannot be replicated from the ground. The pilot was very well-informed on these temples, and gave us anecdotes on certain explorations that happened, and what some of the structures meant or represented. It was, besides being a helicopter tour, also a learning journey!
Finally, we headed back towards the airport. This time, we chose to snap fewer pictures but instead take the time to enjoy the view. It is breathtaking, to say the least, and it was actually quite enjoyable and carefree without needing to worry about the need to snap more photos. As ever, as we neared Angkor Wat, the aura of being near the structure struck us, and our eyes were glued towards the majestic structure.
Intriguingly, the helicopter cannot fly over Angkor Wat, which means that you are never really directly above the UNESCO World Heritage Site. This rule applies to all other flights as well. If you notice, your flight into Siem Reap would never fly over Angkor Wat. This is also why flights would touch down from the other side, opposite Angkor Wat instead. Similarly, flights would also take off towards the other side, ensuring that planes would not fly directly above Angkor Wat. This piece of information was given to us by our friendly helicopter pilot!
By the time we neared the airport, the weather cleared again. It looks like the pilot was not affected by the adverse weather at all. Expertly, the pilot did a C-shaped curve as he lowered the helicopter onto the tarmac. Just like that, we landed efficiently. No time-wasting hovering about the tarmac nonsense. Kudos to the pilot once again!
The agency offers different types of tours at different prices. The most affordable one is just US$90 per person and offers the participant an 8-minute tour to Angkor Wat. If one can afford it, you can even choose the 48-minute tour, which takes you all the way to Siem Reap town, and the far-flung Kampong Khleang!
We chose the 14-minute tour, costing US$140 per person, which takes us to the surrounding temples besides Angkor Wat. The tour did not feel short at all, as the pilot was communicating with us constantly with fun facts and interesting anecdotes. We enjoyed our conversations with the pilot (although it was really just one-way talking), and definitely believe that he made a difference to the flight. We highly recommend this tour to visit Angkor Wat from another perspective!
Please note that this article may contain links to websites, where any subsequent purchases made may provide straitstravellers with a referral commission. This in turn helps supports the running of this website. We appreciate your support thus far. Thank you!