Visiting Angkor Wat: Everything You Need To Know

In the heart of Cambodia, lies the magnificent temple complex of Angkor Wat. This ancient city was built in the 12th century and served as the capital of the Khmer Empire. Today, Angkor Wat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. If you’re planning to visit Angkor Wat, there are a few things you should know before you go. Here’s a guide to help you plan your trip and make the most of your visit.

Getting There

The first step in planning your trip to Angkor Wat is to get there. The closest airport is in Siem Reap, which is about six kilometers away from the temple complex. The only direct flights available to Siem Reap are from Bangkok or Singapore, so my suggestion would be to first spend some days in Bangkok or Singapore (depending on where you are from) and then flying to Siem Reap. Siem Reap will be your base for the entire length of your visit to Angkor Wat. Getting around Siem Reap is very easy, there are tuk-tuks everywhere and they are very affordable.

When to Go

Even though, it’s almost impossible to avoid completely the crowds in Angkor Wat, as there are tourist every single month of the year, the best time to visit Angkor Wat is from November to February, when the weather is cooler and drier. But this means also that there will be more tourists. If crowds aren’t your thing, time your visit to Angkor Wat at the tail ends of the season instead, or alternatively plan to come here between June and October when the weather is very hot and and rainy, but the crowds are way less.

As far as timing for visiting, Angkor Wat is open most days from 5am until 6pm. I would recommend getting there for sunrise: you will be mind blown by the beauty and peacefulness of the landscape at this time of the day. If you want to do this right, you will have to wake up at 4am (minimum) so keep this in mind when planning your trip if you are not an early bird!

Going to Angkor Wat by Yourself

It’s completely possible to go around Angkor Wat by yourself although I would not recommend it. As much as you do your own research and reads you are not going to be able to move around the complex like an expert and you will likely miss important stuff. So I would recommend to hire a guide (make sure its an official one they usually wears the official licence in lanyards).

If you are planning to visit the complex for 2-3 days my recommendation is hiring the guide for 1 day to get information about the main temple and then go around by yourself for the other days.

Usually hiring a certified guide can cost from 20 USD to 40USD, so you will have to factor this in, in addition to the price of the ticket.

Entry Fee for Angkor Wat

Obviously, you’ll need a ticket to enter the Angkor Wat temple complex. You can purchase your ticket at the main entrance or online in advance. There are three types of tickets: one day, three days, and seven days. The one-day ticket costs $37, the three-day ticket costs $62, and the seven-day ticket costs $72.

Depending on your plans and how much time you have, I think in order to be able to visit the complex properly you need at least 3 days to visit Angkor Wat.

Must See in Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is a massive temple complex with many different structures and areas to explore.

One of the most iconic structures in Angkor Wat is the central temple, which is surrounded by a moat. This temple has five towers that represent the five peaks of Mount Meru, the home of the Hindu gods. You can climb to the top of the temple for a stunning view of the surrounding area.

The other temples that are in the complex are:

1.Bayon Temple: is located in the center of Angkor Thom, the ancient capital of the Khmer Empire. The temple has 54 towers, each of which is adorned with four faces that represent different emotions. a place where gigantic stone faces seem to follow you wherever you go. It really gives you Indiana Jones vibes.

2. Ta Prohm: Nature and architecture collide in the most beautiful way at Ta Prohm. Giant tree roots snake their way around the temple, creating an otherworldly atmosphere. You will recognize it also because they used it to film parts of Tomb Raider here. You’ll feel like a real-life explorer!

3. Banteay Srei: Prepare to be charmed by the ‘Citadel of Women’. This temple might be smaller in size, but it makes up for it with intricate carvings that are so detailed, you’ll wonder how ancient artisans managed it. The pinkish hue of the stones adds a touch of romance to the whole experience.

4. Preah Khan: This temple feels like a forgotten city being swallowed by the jungle. It’s got a mysterious vibe, with hidden chambers and corridors waiting for you to explore. Plus, the tree growing out of the central tower, That’s a sight you won’t forget anytime soon.

5. Ta Som: Ta Som is like Angkor’s little hidden gem. It’s not as crowded, which means you can soak in the serenity and really appreciate the intricate carvings. The entrance with the enormous fig tree is majestic.

6. Pre Rup: Sunsets at Pre Rup are the stuff of legends. Imagine the ancient temple silhouetted against the fiery hues of the setting sun. It’s the perfect way to end your day of temple hopping, trust me!

What You Need To Know When Visiting Angkor Wat

Exploring the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat is an awesome experience, but it’s essential to do so with respect and awareness. Here are some guidelines to ensure a meaningful and respectful visit:

1. Dress Respectfully: Angkor Wat is a place of reverence, so wear appropriate attire covering your shoulders and knees as a sign of respect for its spiritual importance. Halter-neck tops for women and tank tops for men are not accepted.

2. Be Respectful: This location holds religious significance and is deeply revered by numerous visitors. Act in a manner that reflects this respect. While it might be alluring to engage in adventurous antics in the secluded temples, remember, they are still considered sacred. Avoid running wildly through the ruins or treating the temple as if it was a playground.

3. Stick to Designated Paths: To protect the delicate structures and ensure your safety, stay on marked pathways. Avoid straying into restricted areas to preserve the integrity of the ancient monuments.

4. Take Photos Responsibly: You will meet along the way locals and kids and you will be tempted to take pictures. If you wish to photograph someone, it’s courteous to seek their permission beforehand. Imagine how you’d feel if the situation were reversed. Respect others’ privacy and always ask before taking their picture.

5. Smoke is Forbidden: Angkor has been smoke free since 2012, so refrain from lighting up until you hit a designated area.

6. Show respect to the monks: In Cambodian culture, monks are held in high esteem, so it’s crucial to treat them accordingly. Similar to the previous point about taking photos, always ask for permission before snapping a picture. Additionally, women should be mindful not to touch or stand too close to monks.

7. Pay attention to signs: If a sign indicates “No entry,” it means exactly that – no entry. These signs are primarily for the safety of visitors. Angkor is an ancient site, with buildings that have stood for centuries. Although reconstruction and conservation efforts are ongoing, some areas are deteriorating and may have unsafe structures. Be cautious and adhere to these warnings.

8. Avoid supporting begging: Resist the urge to give in to the requests of adorable kids asking for money, sweets, or food around the temple grounds. While it might pull at your heartstrings, giving in only perpetuates the cycle of poverty and exacerbates the issue, which is a widespread problem in Cambodia.

9. Dispose of your trash responsibly: While the number of rubbish bins at Angkor is gradually increasing, visitors might still find it challenging to locate one when needed. However, this doesn’t justify throwing trash on the ground. Bring a spare trash bag to store your garbage until you find a suitable bin. Leaving no trace helps preserve the beauty of this historic site.

10. Come Well Equipped: Angkor features small street-style restaurants and stalls where you can purchase food, drinks, and snacks throughout the day. However, don’t forget essentials like sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat (and bring plenty of water). The sun can be scorching during your temple exploration, so make sure you’re well-prepared for the heat.

Visiting Angkor Wat is an unforgettable experience that you don’t want to miss. With a little planning and preparation, you can make the most of your visit and explore this ancient temple complex in all its glory. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to embark on a journey through time and history!