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Seven Wonders of the World without the Wait

by Isabel Sterne and Dana Fraser

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Crowd source: The 154-square-mile site of Angkor contains the remains of an ancient royal Khmer city in the Cambodian jungle. Its exquisitely detailed 9th- to 15th-century temples once held an air of untouched mysticism, but these days, peddlers push tchotchkes and elephant rides, and tourists (1.15 million in 2010) run roughshod throughout the complex despite its 1992 designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The shortcut: Instead of desperately thrusting your camera in the air to snap a picture above all those bobbing heads, travel writer Christopher Cox suggests that you take the less traveled path. Most tour buses arrive on the west sides of the major temples, clogging their entrances like a "pig going through a python," and following the standard temple circuit of Angkor Wat (the world's largest religious monument), Bayon, Ta Prohm, and Preah Khan. Instead, start at the overlooked east-side gateways to these ruins, where most of the impressive stonework and architecture remain intact. The majority of your morning will be spent virtually alone—unless you count the thousands of parakeets that often descend on Ta Prohm.

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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