THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ANGKOR WAT

Need a guide to Angkor Wat? Anyone who enjoys adventure will have a field day exploring these ancient temple ruins consumed by dense jungle – or even better – feeling like Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom. But if you think you can just valse in there and take one temple at a time, you’re missing something. Angkor Wat has over 1,000 temples and there are lots of things to be aware of, like when to go, prices, must-see temples and the HUGE lurking spiders.

Just kidding.

In this post you’ll find a guide to Angkor Wat including my tips for making the most out of your visit. If you think spending more than 2 days is overkill, check out my other post about how to visit Angkor Wat in 2 days.

ANGKOR WHAT?

Maybe you already know this, but Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. It contains the remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to the 15th centuries. Plus, it’s a UNESCO heritage site and considered the 7th wonder of the world.

Bayon temple

Angkor Wat
Temple of Angkor Wat

HIRE A GUIDE

Okay, so first of all, you should consider hiring a guide. We rented one the first day and then the next day we explored on our own. A guide will not only give you the story behind the temples, he will also show you the best spots for photographs! If you don’t want to pay for a guide, ask your driver for advice. He might have some tips.

An English-speaking guide costs $20-$30 per day.

MUST-SEE ANGKOR WAT TEMPLES

As I mentioned, Angkor Wat consists of more than 1,000 temples so logically it’s impossible to visit them all. You’d probably want to know which temples have trees growing into them, which ones have unique face carvings, and where you can watch the sunrise and sunset, right? You’ll find all that below.

Note: This is a temple site so make sure to dress modest. Long pants or leggings, scarfs and hats help guard against the sun as well as local sensibilities.

Bayon temple

Bayon temple

The Bayon temple is known for its special face carvings. The temple has 37 towers and almost every one of them has four carved faces. This is one of the most photographed temples at Angkor Wat.

Baphuon temple

Baphuon temple

The Baphuon was built as a state temple of King Udayadityavarman II. It is located close to Bayon temple in the old Khmer capital city Angkor Thom.

Preah Khan temple

Preah Khan

Preah Khan is a monastic complex that originally served as a Buddhist monastery. Like Ta Prohm, many of the ruins are overgrown by trees.

Ta Som

Ta Som

Ta Som is a small, but not-to-be-missed temple. It is unique for the dense jungle surroundings, but also the huge tree growing into one of its doors.

Ta Prohm temple

Ta Prohm

You might recognize this temple from Tomb Raider. It is bound by massive roots of huge trees and is one of the most popular temples.

The temple of Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is the centerpiece of any visit to the temples of Angkor. The three-tiered pyramid is crowned by five lotus-like towers rising 65 meters from the ground.

PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

Timing

The best time for photographing the temple of Angkor Wat is sunrise and sunset. Some of the other temples like Bayon and Ta Prohm are covered by dense jungle so they’re best photographed in the afternoon.

Bayon

Secret photography spot at the Bayon

Great spots

You’ll find lots of hidden spots for photography all over the temple site. Make sure to ask your driver or guide for his advice. You will find great spots at Bayon and Ta Prohm.

WARNINGS & DANGERS

Dangers at Angkor

Steep steps

Angkor Wat is ancient and some of the structures are in poor condition. Watch out on the steps – they’re steep and narrow.

Landmines

Landmines

According to locals, there are no landmines at Angkor Wat, but stay on marked paths just to be on the safe side.

Ta Som temple

Health issues

All travelers should get these vaccines: hepatitis A and B and typhoid fever. Beware of Japanese encephalitis and Dengue fever.

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Bring water and sunscreen

It gets scorching hot and humid at Angkor Wat so remember to bring sunscreen and plenty of water (1,5 – 2 liters).

Child vendors, Siem Reap

Children selling souvenirs

Avoid buying postcards, etc. from child vendors. This is organized begging controlled by local criminal groups.

Tuk-tuks in Siem Reap

Traffic selling souvernirsa

Driving in Cambodia is chaotic at best so if you’re touring Angkor Wat on bike or foot, beware of traffic.

PRICE GUIDE TO ANGKOR WAT

If you’re planning on staying more than 1 day, I’d advise you to buy a multi-day pass. These are your options:

One day: $20

Three days: $40

One week: $60

Note: Although Cambodia has its own currency, most things are shown in US dollars. You can withdraw US dollars from the ATMs.

Three-day pass

A three-day pass

HOW TO GET AROUND

The Angkor Wat covers an area of 400 km2 so walking around is pretty much out of the question. I’ve tried tuk-tuks and taxi and I personally prefer tuk-tuks.

 Bicycles: $1 to $3 per day

 Motorbike taxi: $6 to $10 per day

 Tuk-tuk: $10 to $15 per day

 Taxi: $20 to $30 per day

WHEN TO GO

You can visit Angkor Wat all year round. I’ve visited both during high-season (in february) and low-season (in July) and there were pros and cons of both timings.

High season runs from November to March. In this period, you will get cool, dry days, but also lots and lots of people.

Low season runs from June to October. In this period, you can avoid the crowds, but you’ll also get hot and potentially wet weather.

 The complex opens at 5am and shuts at 6pm.

Avoid visiting in April: it is boiling.

HOW NOT TO BE TEMPLED OUT

Divide it over several days. What worked for me was visiting Angkor Wat in 2 days. But if you only see two temples, don’t beat yourself up. You’re there to have a good time, not to force yourself through hours of temple-seeing.

Have some fun and check out the monkeys while you’re at it. They’re found on the road to Angkor Wat.

Cambodian monkeys
Cambodian monkeys
Cambodian monkeys

Have you been to Angkor Wat? Do you have any tips?

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The ultimate guide to Angkor Wat

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Miriam

Travel blogger at Adventurous Miriam
I’m Miriam Risager, and this site has been my scrap-book, playground and home since 2013. I launched this blog as a way to share my journey, as well as share the hows, whys and wheres for other travelers.