Fancy a cool, bird's-eye view of the magical temple ruins of Angkor Wat? For $11 it's yours. The bright yellow Angkor Balloon, tel: (855) 12 520810, is moored a kilometer west of Cambodia's treasured monuments, which were built between the 9th and 13th centuries by the god-kings of the Khmer empire.
While the 10-minute balloon ascent may feel altogether too brief, the maximum altitude of 200 m offers a fresh perspective on how all the temples and waterways of the complex fit together. At ground level, it's not easy to appreciate the extent to which Angkor was fed by the waters of Tonle Sap, Cambodia's huge central lake, about 25 km away. Not even Henri Mouhot, the French adventurer who rediscovered the country's cultural shrine in 1859, got a view this good.
Because Angkor Wat is a World Heritage Site, the balloon cannot fly directly over the monumentsóbut the views are sweeping nonetheless. Passengers can even make out the royal city of Angkor Thom (just more than a kilometer north of Angkor Wat and guarded by statues of 54 gods and devils), as well as the mountain temple on Phnom Bakheng, rising out of the jungle canopy beyond. The Angkor Balloon makes some 30 ascents daily, between sunrise and sunset, carrying up to 30 passengers at a time.