It took over two years to be implemented. The huge success of Angkor temples for foreign tourists has also its negative side. From the 2.1 million visitors that temples recorded last year, they were many cases of bad behaviours: climbing on statues -considered as sacred for locals-, garbage dumping and improper clothing. They were even photos published on social media with tourists being naked posing in front of the temples. The most famous was a series from German photographer Simon Lohmeyer, who shot naked models alluring in their style Apsara (Sacred dancers) sculptures.
This was a step to much for authorities who have been discussing since 2013 a way to control more tourist behaviours in Angkor Wat. A new code of conduct for tourists visiting the temples has now been drafted by Apsara, the coordinating authority in charge of Angkor Wat management and preservation.
From August 4, 2016, visitors will be required to wear pants or skirts below the knees and a T-shirt that covers the shoulders, Apsara Authority spokesman Long Kosal highlighted to local media. This will be compulsory to respect the sanctity of the temples and Cambodian culture. “We will not allow them to buy a temple pass if they wear revealing clothes,” he said. “However, our officials will inform them what they should wear to be able to visit our ancient temples, so they can come back to buy a ticket later after they change their clothes”. In contrary to the visit of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, where tourists can rent a sarong to cover their legs or shoulders, Angkor Wat authorities will not provide such a solution. People will have to come back properly dressed if they want to enter.
The rule will help to minimize the impact of improper behaviour. Climbing, touching the statues and sculptures will also be more severely sanctioned with visitors being asked to leave immediately the temples’ premises. Embassies and tour operators started already to warn visitors in advance to avoid any problems.