When you start planning a trip to Cambodia, you will probably be hyped to visit the world famous Angkor Wat temple. With over approximately thousand temples Angkor is the most important archaeological site in South East Asia. At the Angkor temple complex, located just outside Siem Reap, you will discover the beauty in temples like Bayon, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm and of course Angkor Wat.
This guide provides everything you need to know about visiting Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
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Some history about Angkor
Angkor is the world’s largest religious monument with over approximately thousand temples. Most travelers call the whole complex Angkor Wat, but that is not entirely correct. In fact only the most famous temple of the complex is named Angkor Wat. The temple was originally built as a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu during the Khmer Empire. At the end of the 12th century and was gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple.
With over 2.5 million visitors yearly the temples of Angkor are the main reason for people to travel to Cambodia. With so many travelers it is wise to strategically plan your trip to the temples of Angkor.
Angkor Wat entrance fee
The costs you make depends on the amount of days exploring Angkor and which temples you are willing to visit. The Angkor Wat entrance fee comes in three options and has to be purchased in person at the official ticket office. The ticket office opens at 5 am, so make sure to arrive a bit earlier or purchase the tickets a day in advance. It can be handy to bring a passport photo for your personal ticket although they have equipment to make them at the desk.
The three Angkor Wat Tickets
If you are planning to follow this guide a one-day ticket is enough to see the highlights of Angkor. But with so many impressive temples it can be quite a good idea to spend three or sevens days at the Angkor Archaeological Park.
Getting yourself a guide
To get the most out of your time in Angkor it is wise to get yourself a guide. When you reach out to a tuk tuk driver, you will most instantly receive advice and a route depending on the amount of days you are willing to explore the park.
We really had a fun time with our driver named Johnny Chantha, a friendly guy that speaks English very well. We personally liked the fact that we could tell us our preferences and it was easy to talk about alternative routes. Combining his advice with our plan gave us a lot of photography freedom which you would like to have as well i guess?
The costs for an 8 hour guide is $12 and visiting Angkor Wat at sunrise costs $5.
Our custom tour + sunrise at Angkor Wat costed us $20 for a full-day of exploring. If you get yourself a Tuk Tuk try to aim for a price between $12 and $20.
The best temples in Angkor
With so many temples spread over an area of 400 square meter it is good to know which ones are worth visiting. Below you can read about the temples we liked the most. All the temples below can visited in a day if you make a custom route with your tuk tuk driver.
Angkor Wat is the main temple of Angkor and that makes it the number one reason for people to travel to Cambodia. Angkor Wat meaning ‘City Temple’ is the heart and soul of Cambodia and is most mesmerizing when visiting with sunrise.The reflection on the water when the sun rises above the temple is such a great thing to witness if you forget about the other thousand people beside you. Although it is the largest temple at Angkor it isn’t the most spectacular if you ask me.
The Bayon temple is most famous for having 54 towers with each four faces of Brahma on it. With a total of 216 faces it isn’t strange that Bayon is also called the ‘Face Temple’. Plan your trip to the Bayon Temple around lunch time as it will be less crowded. This allows you to have a lot of photography freedom.
At Ta Prohm it is nice to see how nature took over the temples. Try to plan this temple direct after you sunrise mission at Angkor Wat. Ask your tuk tuk driver to take you there so you will arrive before it is officially opened. This temple was used as a filming location for the movie Tomb Raider and is one of the most authentic looking temples you will come along when exploring Angkor.
One of the biggest of the Cambodia temples is Preah Khan. It is the largest flat temple in Angkor meaning that all the parts of the temple are at ground level. Just like Ta Prohm this temple is a good example of nature meets temple. The decorated sandstone temple walls make a good contrast with the large tree trunks.
Ta Keo is a pyramidal structured temple and is 21 meters high. Climbing to the top of this temple can be really hard as the stairs are really steep. With almost no decoration this temple stands out to the other temples with its simplicity. It is also the first temple in Khmer history that is built entirely out of sandstone.
Thommanon is located just outside Angkor Thom and is a single towered temple. The carvings of this temple are really well preserved and the aged temple walls make a nice contrast with the surrounding jungle.
The Victory Gate
One of the two entrances of the eastern wall of Angkor Thom is named The Victory Gate. This gate was used to welcome soldiers that returned from battle when they entered the Khmer Capital.
Other temples that are really interesting
Some other temples where we heard a lot of good stories about are Ta Sohm and Banteay Srei. Don’t mind putting these two in your itinerary for Angkor.
Things you need to know before visiting Angkor
Start with sunrise at Angkor Wat
Start your visit with sunrise at Angkor Wat and let your tuk tuk driver pick you up at your hotel around 4 AM. The feeling of hitting the road when it’s still dark and knowing what is to come is a great part of the experience and we would definitely recommend it.
USING A DRONE at angkor
At the Angkor temple complex it is not allowed to fly a drone without a permit. Getting a permit to fly at Angkor seems to be a difficult task. On this website you can find more information about obtaining a drone permit.
WHAT TO WEAR
All though the weather in Siem Reap can be quite hot, wearing clothes like a tank top, a short or a skirt above the knees is considered very disrespectful in Buddhist culture. Women should cover their shoulders and to avoid any problems men should do this as well. Always try to bring a scarf when you are about to visit temples while on the road.
Another recommendation is to wear comfortable shoes, some stairs are steep and hard to climb. And in some cases the temple floor can be really rugged.
It’s also good to take a hat with you, most temples are in the open sun and it can get really hot during the day. Don’t forget to use sunscreen with SPF, wear sunglasses and drink enough water to stay hydrated.
RESPECT THE TEMPLES
When you visit the temples try to be quiet and avoid talking out loud. Touching the temples and their carvings is considered disrespectful and so is smoking.
Where to stay in Siem Reap
When you plan to visit the temples of Angkor the chance is big you enter Cambodia through Siem Reap Airport. Staying in Siem Reap can be really laid back in between your time exploring the temples. We booked four nights at Bopha Residence and enjoyed relaxing by the pool after a long day of temple running.
One advice, book your accommodation with free cancelation in advance on booking.com. Siem Reap is a popular destination for backpackers.