One of the most amazing man made structures in the world that I have ever seen has to be Angkor Wat. Located in Siem Reap, Cambodia, Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. But one day will not do this place justice, due to all of the other ancient temples to explore in the Angkor Arcaheological Park. I would recommend that you allow yourself at least 3 days to explore Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples. I spent 2 weeks in total exploring the temples and the surrounding area of Siem Reap. Here’s my ultimate Angkor Wat Guide to help you to make the most out of your visit.
Angkor Wat Guide – How to get to Angkor Archaeological Park
Before you ask, nope, you CANNOT walk around the temples of Angkor Archaeological park – the distance between them is just too great. I would recommend going for a tuk-tuk, and there are a few other options that you may want to consider…
Top Option – Tuk-Tuk
Tuk-tuks are one the most well-known ways to travel around the park. These covered trailers, which are pulled by a motorized bike with a driver, offer protection from the sun while also allowing visitors an unobstructed view of the travel. Like the taxis and motorbikes, drivers will be licensed and wear identification when entering Angkor. Costing around $10 to $20 per day, with additional charges for outlying temples, this is a great way to explore the ruins in comfort. Some drivers, many that speak English, can offer factual information about the famous temples and other areas of the park.
Taxis offer air-conditioned comfort and may be hired for more than one day if you need to. However, it is also a fairly expensive choice, costing at least $25 – $30 per day. Added fees are applied for trips to temples off the main circuit such as Banteay Srey and Beng Mealea. Visitors should be aware that there is less freedom to discover the areas in between the temple when using taxis.
With an environmentally sensitive battery powered by the sun and off-road capabilities, the electric car is also something to consider. A driver will be included in the rental price of $80 – $90 daily. This price includes an extra fee for the taxi plus tariffs charged depending on which temples you are going to visit. This safari-like open-air vehicle is quiet and a brilliant choice for your visit.
Motodops are like motorbikes where the visitors sit behind the hired driver. A driver is required because tourists aren’t allowed to drive cars or motorbikes in Siem Reap (unless you are an expat or there longer term and have a license). Less expensive at $8 – $12 per day rental, the motorbike can get to areas that taxis cannot, but extra charges are added for travel to the further temples.
Also be cautious that sitting on the back of the motorcycle is possibly the least comfy way to get to and round the Angkor Archaeological Park. Also they often don’t have helmets for passengers which is a health and safety risk (this may mean that your travel insurance is invalidated).
Although bicycles are a very cheap transportation choice and a brilliant way to navigate all corners of the area, visitors should contemplate a few things before renting one. The main entrance into Angkor Wat, where admission passes have to be purchased, is around 5 kilometres from the centre of Siem Reap. Temperatures tend to be quite high, so renting a bike must be done early in the morning. Finally, if you choose this option, be sure that the bicycle is strong and well-made to avoid any travel issues.
You will need to be ok with cycling long distances in the heat (personally I prefer to conserve this energy for going round the temples which can be a lot of walking within itself). Many guest houses such as Be Happy Guest House offer free bicycles included in your stay.
Angkor Wat Guide – Getting your Angkor Wat Ticket
There is a total of three ticket options for Angkor Archaeological Park which accommodate for how many days you want to spend there. The ticket counters will also accept almost every credit card apart from from American Express. Entry prices increased largely in 2017, which is the downside to the complex being managed by a for-profit, private organisation which keeps a massive portion of the incoming revenue, and now have been raised to the slightly overpriced entrance fees listed:
One day ticket – $37 USD
Great if you’re short on time, but it is highly recommended to not buy this as you need to be spending more than one day here!
Three-day ticket – $62 USD
This was the ideal choice. It gives you plenty of flexibility to really explore and admire the temples without running around like a crazy person.
Seven-day ticket – $72 USD
Ideal if you’re spending a solid amount of time in Siem Reap and would like to see the historical precinct in depth (but maybe not all in one go), this ticket lets you come and go as you please over 7 days.
Please note that these prices were pre 2020 (Covid) and may have increased since.
Purchasing your Angkor Pass
You can purchase entrance tickets to the Angkor Archaeological Park only from the Angkor Ticket Office (Angkor Enterprise); those bought anywhere else are invalid. It is recommended that you organise your tickets for the following day from 5pm the evening before you want to enter. Trying to sort out a ticket at early morning/ sunrise when everyone else is there is guaranteed to be an annoying, frustrating process. You will also need to visit the office in person because your picture will be digitally printed onto your ticket. Be sure to carry your ticket with you at all times, as it’s common to have these checked multiple times by security guards at the entrance of certain ruins.
Angkor Wat Guide – The Best temples of Angkor
Let’s start with one of the favourite Angkor Temples – Ta Prohm. Ta Prohm is a well-known temple on the tourist route because it was starred in the Tomb Raider film. But for once, it is worth every bit of the hype. Massive roots are intertwined with man-made structures and crumbling stones will crowd lengthy corridors. It’s the kind of place that will make you want to play hide and seek with the sun and shadows. The magical stones make you wish you knew the stories embedded in them, the enigmatic tales that we will never know.
One of the slightly smaller Angkor temples, Prasat Kravan was built in the 10th century. Its facade consists of symmetrical towers made of red bricks. The muted colour of the stone lends it an incomparable beauty. Prasat Kravan is normally the first stop of the ‘big tour’ of the Angkor temple complex.
Restoration work is being done here, but the obstruction can’t dampen the pure beauty of this temple. This large three-tiered temple is dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. It is laden with intricate carvings and sculptures of guardian elephants and lions at gateways. It is very easy to spend multiple hours at East Mebon and not get bored. It’s one of my favourite temples!
Of all the Angkor temples, the best of the lot are the root temples. Ta Prohm is unique, but the ‘Tomb Raider’ hype makes sure it’s always crowded. The alternative? A small root temple named Ta Som which is equally special, if not even more. The superb entrance alone is enough to cause your heart to skip a beat. As you delve deeper into the temple one discovers untouched corners left to nature, secret crevices, and roots. At the end of the temple are kids selling souvenirs to visitors. Just make sure you wear covered shoes as there is red sand everywhere.
Preah Khan is one of the most captivating in the Angkor temple complex. Preah Khan literally translates to ‘Sacred Sword’. In keeping with the name, this temple is littered with phallic symbols everywhere such as lingas, giant serpents at both east and west entrance, and garudas holding ‘nagas’ (snakes). Its majestic statues have been vandalised and disfigured over the years by various religious sects – these layers of history lend an impenetrable aura to Preah Khan Temple. Don’t miss it. Preah Khan is one of the most photogenic and mystical temples in the Angkor Complex. You can easily spend over an hour getting lost in the tunnels of Preah Khan.
Bayon and Baphuon
These 2 adjacent temples are overwhelming. Bayon is categorised by gigantic faces which are full of intrigue. It’s amazing how inanimate structures can give rise to a range of feelings – from intrigue to horror in the visitors. The enormity is stark and needs to be seen to be believed. Be sure you walk to the giant Buddha entrenched between the two temples. You definitely need to see these temples, particularly Bayon.
This temple is around 35 kms away from Siem Reap. The drive will take visitors through the fascinating Cambodian countryside so you will see farmers going about their work, little children playing and men and women creating palm-sugar candy by the roadside. Once at the temple, you can’t help but gasp in disbelief. The complexly carved buildings, made from a subtle pink sandstone, look like a tapestry. This miniature temple would definitely not be out of place in a fairy tale.
Angkor Wat Guide – What to wear for Angkor Wat?
It’s key to note that at Angkor Wat, there is a specific dress code which must be abided by. You’ll need to wear preferably light clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. The sun is likely to be fairly strong, so it makes a lot of sense to bring a sun hat, and you should wear some good-quality walking shoes or boots. Finally, you will want to carry around or pack a thin lightweight raincoat as the weather can be a somewhat erratic (especially in rainy season) and you don’t want to be walking around in wet clothes all day.
Angkor Wat Guide – The Best Angkor Wat Tours Online
It is possible to see the temples on your own with a private tuk-tuk as I have mentioned, but an Angkor Wat guide will help you to learn more about the temples and the history when you are there. You can book a guide for Angkor Wat and other temples when you arrive, or book Angkor Wat tours online with Get Your Guide and Viator Travel. Most hotels and hostels also offer temple tours, so you don’t have to book in advance – you can just book when you get there.
Angkor Wat Full-Day Sunrise Tour
Start the day with the Angkor Wat sunrise and spend an entire day temple skipping with a local guide. Gaze at some of the most imposing monuments created by mankind. Discover the interior of the large temple at Angkor, from its central chambers and corridors to the upper terraces. Your guide will tell you plenty of stories behind the bas-relief carvings and offer insight into life during the peak of the Khmer Empire. Continue to Angkor Thom City and the Bayon Temple. Towards the end of the afternoon, see the jungle-enveloped Ta Prohm, one of the most impressive of all the temples in Angkor.
Angkor Wat Hopping Temple Tour with Sunset
Go back to the 12th-century Khmer Empire and see the amazing monuments of Angkor Wat, where the temple complex tells the Buddhist and Hindu history of the ancient city. Cross the moat and gaze at the towering outer wall. Walk along the rectangular galleries and get right up close to the bas-reliefs which are carved into the sandstone walls. Continue on your journey to Angkor Thom to enjoy the last capital city of the Khmer Empire. Appreciate the stone figures which acknowledge you at the southern gates, and then walk towards the Bayon temple to respect its upper terrace with the etchings of beaming faces at its central peak. Visit the Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King. Enjoy lunch before visiting the one-of-a-kind temple of Ta Prohm, renowned for the remains of temples with trees that are growing out of the ruins. See the sunset at the Pre Rup temple before finally getting dropped off at your hotel in Siem Reap.
Full-Day Small Group Siem Reap Temples Tour
Angkor Wat is the world’s biggest sacred building and an architectural masterwork. Constructed in the 12th century, the temple took around 30 years to finish and represents Khmer civilization at its highest. You’ll also see the southern gate of Angkor Thom, which is bordered by a row of a total of 54 stone figures on each side (demons to the right and gods to the left), and the heartened city of Angkor Thom.
At the 12th century Bayon temple, you’ll get to admire its beautifully constructed central towers covered with at least 200 enormous faces, and then go by the well-known Terrace of the Leper King and Elephants. Following a rest break and some lunch, you’ll set out on your journey to see the jungle-enveloped Ta Prohm, a very special temple in Angkor. Previously home to 2,740 monks, the temple today looks a look like it did in the early 1850s, when the French explorer Henri Mouhot revived this crumbling site.
Angkor: 4-Course Gastronomic Experience and Temple Day Tour
Be picked up by comfortable vehicle, and visit Angkor Wat, the Angkor Thom complex containing Bayon temple and also Ta Prohm (Tomb-Raider) Temple. The automobile transports guests the short distances between the temples. Experience either the sunset at Phnom Bakheng or the sunrise at Angkor Wat depending on the option chosen. Phnom Bakheng has a limit of 300 people at the peak, so guests tend to arrive at the mountain fairly early and unfortunately, there is a quite a lengthy wait.
If the weather is extreme, the Bakheng visit could be replaced with a visit to a different ancient monument. During the tour, enjoy a calming stop at Sala Russey Lakeside Restaurant for an included delicious 4-course Khmer meal. A typical Khmer lunch or breakfast includes a wide range of Cambodian favourites. American breakfast is also available on request.
Siem Reap Jeep Tour 1-Day to Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm
Take a remarkable jeep adventure and see some of the most impressive temples in Cambodia. Discover each one for as long as you please and stop at any spot which you find interesting along the way. Have the freedom of traveling in the open air and put your adventure cap on! Start your amazing adventure at one of the biggest and most stunning temple complexes in the whole world – Angkor Wat. Enjoy the mystical charm of Angkor Wat and the beautiful sculptures within it. Take a gentle walk through the 110 temples before enjoying a short break to have a soda or fresh coconut water. Then move on to Angkor Thom where you will see the Bayon temple with its incredible 54 Buddha head statues. And to end your fun journey, see the well-known Ta Prohm temple, starred in the movie Tomb Raider, and then walk through the gigantic roots and overgrown trees which have become a big part of it throughout the years.
Private 2-Day Tour of Angkor Wat Temples with Sunrise & Sunset
Day 1: Angkor Thom, Neak Pean, Bayon, Bantreay Srei, Pre Rup Temple and Banteay Samre
See the southern Gate of Angkor Thom with stone figures gods to the left and demons to the right and the lovely city of Angkor Thom. You will see beautifully crafted central towers at Bayon and then explore the famous Terrace of the Leper King and the Terrace of Elephants. Go to Neak Pean, a man-made island with a Buddhist temple and then see the intricately carved and well-preserved Banteay Srei. The detailed reliefs on this smaller sandstone structure are regarded as the finest, most skilfully crafted in Cambodia. On the way back, have a quick stop at the well-preserved Banteay Samre, a structure which once featured internal moats. End your encounters with a walk for sunset at Pre-Rub temple.
Day 2: Angkor Wat at sunrise, Ta Nei, Preah Khan & Ta Prohm Temple
Start with a pre-dawn departure for sunrise outside of Angkor Wat. Enter the great temple in darkness (please bring a torch) from the little-visited eastern side, and creep along hoary cloistered corridors past the longest stretch of bas-relief carvings in the world. Complete your touring at Angkor with nice traditional breakfast outside the temple. Continue onwards by moving on to the old Preah Khan temple, a ruined but very atmospheric concoction of tree roots and stone structures crumbling in front of your eyes. As the morning comes to an end, go back to your hotel for lunch, and then go on your afternoon drive to Ta Nei, a late 12th Century temple situated in Angkor. Move on to the jungle-enveloped Ta Prohm – one of the most atmospheric temples in Angkor, once home to 2,740 monks.
Zip Line Adventure Angkor Wat Park in Siem Reap
You simply can’t visit Siem Reap without a trip to the Angkor Wat Archeological Park, but the amazing temples aren’t the only highlight. Get an adrenaline pump on this half-day zip-line escapade and fly through the Angkor rainforest on a set of 21 zip lines, abseils and sky bridges, enjoying insane views over the jungle.
- 5-hour Zip line adventure over Angkor Wat Park from Siem Reap
- Soar through the rainforest canopy on a thrilling cable zip line course
- Admire the views of the UNESCO-listed Angkor temples and rainforest
- Feel a massive rush of adrenaline as you go across hanging sky bridges, rappel down to the forest floor and scramble into a treehouse
- No experience necessary: full instruction provided
- Personal choice of departure times is available throughout the day
- Top-value packages include hotel pickups, Khmer-style lunch and round-trip transfers
Discover Angkor Wat, 3-Days Private Tour Floating Village and 1000 Linga Carving
Visit the Angkor Wat complex, the famous Unesco World Heritage Site, considered one of the most significant archaeological sites in South-east Asia crafted by the great Khmer King Soriyavaraman II in the early 12th century and devoted to Vishnu God Hindu religion. Go on this private tour to explore and discover the enigmatic and magnificent Angkor Wat temples. It is definitely worthwhile going there at sunrise, even if the weather isn’t ideal as the crowds tend to be smaller, and the temperatures are a lot more comfortable. Take some time to study about the culture before you visit so you don’t insult the locals. The tour guide will also lead you through the temple to avoid the large groups.
Private Tour in a Tuk Tuk of Angkor Wat
See the Royal city and the former capital of the Khmer Empire; Angkor Thom which has several temples. Go into the city through the striking South Gate and drive to the Bayon temple, which has hundreds of smiling faces. At your first glance the temple may seem like a large shapeless mass of stone, but further inspection reveals mysterious endless smiling faces which look into every direction.
Carry on your exploration with a trip to the Terrace of the Elephants, which once aided as a platform from where the King would view the triumphant return of his army. After this, see the Terrace of the Leper King with thorough carvings winding along a thin passageway which leads to the Phimean Akas temple and Baphuon.
Continuing onto the afternoon, see some of the amazing wonders of the modern world, Angkor Wat, crowned as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and the largest religious monument. It was originally constructed between the 9th – 13th centuries and is the biggest Hindu structure in the world. The temple has hundreds of fine carvings of Hindu and Apsara mythology. Walk around the giant hallways to explore small shrines which are still in use today by the locals. Return to your hotel after tour or any requested drop off point within the city centre.
Angkor Wat Guide – Further Reading
If you enjoyed this Angkor Wat Guide, you might also be interested in reading in more detail about some of the best temples of Angkor Wat including Banteay Samre and the Roluos Group temples.