We all want to travel to Cambodia for one same reason: to visit Angkor Wat.
Angkor is a complex of Hindu and Buddhist temples located in the city of Siem Reap in Cambodia. Angkor was the capital city of the Khmer Empire, which dominated Southeast Asia from the 9th to 15th centuries. The site was declared world heritage by Unesco in 1992. Angkor Wat is just one of the many temples and monuments that exist in the complex, but it is the most known because it is the main temple and the best-preserved temple at the site. Angkor is a place with a lot of history. I suggest you read about the culture of the Khmer Empire before going, in order to understand what you are seeing. You can buy a guide of Angkor Wat, or just buy a book on the site.
- Useful info
-Cambodian Visa: It is necessary to get a visa to enter the country. You can get it at the airport upon arrival. It costs around $39.
-Siem Reap: Siem Reap is the city where Angkor is located. It is a city made for the tourists that visit Angkor, with the famous Pub Street full of restaurants, bars and markets. There are many options of hotels and hostels. You can get a place from as cheap as $5 usd. I stayed at Pura Vida Boutique Hotel, a comfy and well located hotel.
-Currency: The official currency of Cambodia is the riel ($1usd = 4061 Rails). You don’t need to change money at the airport, as everything is in dollars. You can use us dollars to pay taxis, tuk tuk, the entrance to Angkor, restaurants,etc.
-Dress code: Angkor is a complex of religious temples. You need to to cover up in some areas because temples are still considered sacred. Knees and shoulders should be covered.
–Tip: Bring water. Cambodia is too hot, no matter the time. You will be going up temples, stairs, walking a lot, so make sure you pack water.
Angkor is a really impressive place. Not only because the ruins are huge and have more than 1000 years old. The fact that the temples are immersed in the Cambodian jungle makes the place magical. Angkor is beautiful, but you have to be prepared to see Cambodia. Angkor was once the capital of one of the most powerful empires,and is now one of the poorest countries in the world. You will be harassed by taxi drivers offering to take you to the temples, you will see children begging for money or selling things inside and outside the temples,etc. It can be hard, but is the reality of the country. You can also read: Travel around Cambodia in two weeks.
There are three types of passes which depend on how many days you want to spend visiting the temples: one day ($37usd), three days ($62usd) and 7 days ($72usd). They must be used on consecutive days. A 1 day visit is enough to see the main temples, 3 days is great to see some other temples and at your own pace, with no hurries. 7 days seems too much for me but it will allow you to explore all the complex in detail. Passes may be purchased at the main entrance on the road to Angkor Wat. Keep the ticket because you will be required to show it at each temple.
Transport to Angkor Temples
The temples and monuments of Angkor are scattered in a wide area.You can’t simply walk from one to the other because the distances between some of them are huge. There are different options to move around Angkor:
- Bike: If you are looking for some exercise, rent a bike. For this option you will need the 3 day pass. There is no way see all the temples in one day by bike.
- Tuk-Tuk: You can hire a tuk-tuk the previous day at the hotel or in the street. The tuk-tuk will take you to Angkor and spend all day with you. Cost: between $15 and $30usd per full day. This is the option I chose.
- Rent a private car/taxi/tour
Temples open at 5 am. You have probably seen the famous pictures of the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Yes, it is amazing and beautiful, but also very touristic. In my opinion, it is nice to see the sunrise at Angkor, but it is not essential. If you go cycling or by tuk-tuk, prepare for the road at 5 am which is so dark! Still, I suggest going early to be able to walk around the temples with “few” people and with orange tone of the dawn.
Temples in Angkor
Each temple is different and has something unique. Initially Angkor was a Hindu complex and then became Buddhist complex so you’ll see different Hindu gods carved on the walls of the temples and also statues of Buddha. It is really incredible to think of how a civilization once built Angkor so many years ago.
There are two main circuits, which you can see in the picture: Red is the short one and green is a little more extensive and includes other temples. In general, the circuit starts in Angkor Wat to see the sunrise. You can choose different routes to avoid the crowd but you will always see people. Angkor is one of the most popular tourist sites in the world and you are probably never going to have a whole tempe for yourself.
Ta Phrom – aka Tomb Raider Temple
Are you planning on visiting the temples of Angkor soon? Have you been there? Let me know in the comments!