The Angkor Wat Temples – Your Questions Answered

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The Angkor Wat temples have been a major part of my life while I was living in Cambodia. From visiting the temples to visiting the bar on pub street with a similar name. The Angkor Wat Temples cannot be missed when visiting Siem Reap or Cambodia for that matter. 

The great temples of Cambodia were built by the Khmer empire back in 802 CE when King Jayavarman II declared himself Chakravartin (King of the world, or King of Kings). The ancient city once ruled all the countries in Southeast Asia and today still is one of the most visited UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world! It attracts over 2 million visitors per year, doesn’t include the hundreds and thousands of Cambodians that also visit the Angkor Wat Temples.

Siem Reap - Angkor Wat Temples - Anne Blessing

When should I visit Angkor Wat?

I’d say that weather wise the best time to visit is between November and February when it isn’t too warm and there is usually no rain. 
Be prepared for the crowds. Any time outside the November to February window you’ll either have a massive chance of rain or it’s super hot. It is worth noting that a lot of other tourists also visit Cambodia at this time of year and will also be visiting the Angkor Wat temples. 

March to May = HOT
June to October = RAINY

As for what time to visit. The Angkor Wat Temples usually open from 5 am to 6 pm. I would very strongly recommend to get there as early as possible to see the sunrise. The sunrise usually starts around 5:30, and the ride to the temples plus getting your ticket if you haven’t already will also take up a good hour. Make sure to take this into your plans. Prepare for crowds.

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How do I get to the Angkor Wat Temples from Siem Reap?

There are lots of ways to explore the ancient city! From private air-conned van to riding a bicycle it is up to you and your budget to decide how you would like to travel. 

Option 1: Your hotel or hostel can arrange a tuk-tuk driver to take you to the ruins, costs will be between $15 and $25. Please be aware that the driver only gets a tiny portion of this amount, most will go to your accommodation. 

Option 2: Join a tour company with a private bus. I’ve personally never done this as the costs were just ridiculous. However, if you’re with a big enough group to hire the whole van for the day I’d go for it. Costs will be between $70 and $120 for a private bus. One of the reasons I’d go for this is the airconditioning on the bus!

Option 3: Rent a bicycle or motorbike. A bicycle will cost you $1 or $2 while a motorbike costs $6 to $10 for the day. This will give you lots more freedom to get around. Do take into account that Angkor Wat can be confusing and is big, it is a city after all. You might end up spending more time driving around trying to find places that actually seeing temples. The Ancient city is also far out of town, make sure to take this with you when making plans. 

Option 4: (PERSONAL FAVORITE) Get your own tuk-tuk from the side of the road. Always arrange this the day before you plan to visit and do a little test ride to make sure it is comfortable and doesn’t go to slow. Costs will be between $15 and $20 for the day, but all costs will go to the tuk-tuk driver and his family, yay! 

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For how many days should I go, and what does it cost?

The price for the Angkor Wat Temples was for the first time in almost 3 decades raised in February of 2017. These are the most current prices at the time of writing in September 2018.

1-day pass: $37
3-day pass: $62
7-day pass: $72

The prices above only apply to tourists, Cambodians can go for free. The other only exception is children under the age of 12, they can go for free as well. Make sure to bring their passport though, as you’ll need to show this as proof. 

The three-day pass is by far the most popular choice. Personally, I like the 1-day pass way better as I just can’t do temples 3 days in a row. After a full day, I’m usually templed out! The 7-day pass doesn’t need to be used 7 days in a row. This is the case for the 3-day pass. So if you have a few weeks in Cambodia and think you’ll be coming back for some more temple visits, the 7-day pass might be a good option. 

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You can pay your entrance ticket into Angkor Wat Temples now in cash, but also by card. They accept all major cards such as Visa, Mastercard, UnionPay, JCB, Diners Club and Discover.

Does it matter what I wear?

This is an important one. As in many places in Southeast Asia, you’ll have to cover your shoulders and knees. This is because Angkor Wat Temples are a religious site, and it is seen as disrespectful to show too much skin.

If you plan on wearing a long skirt, please be aware that you might not be able to enter the main tower inside of Angkor Wat. For this you’ll have to climb a steep set of stairs,and the entrance “guard” often won’t let women with skirts three-day. As you obviously can see underneath it when walking up the stairs. 

Don’t wear your best shoes, be prepared to either have them really dusty or muddy. In dry season the dust will blow up your shoes and ankles, while in wet season this will happen with the mud. 

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Should I go see the Angkor Wat Temples at sunrise?

This is really everyone to themselves. Most people you ask will say a definite “yes” though. There are a few things that I can tell you that I’ve learned over my several visits to the temple at dawn. 

When to get there? If you’re serious about it and you want to set up a tripod for your camera and are serious about your photos I’d recommend 4 am. This way you’ll have a front row seat. For all others, I’d say arriving around 5 am will be sufficient. You’ll definitely not have a front row seat so be prepared to hold your camera high for that shot that doesn’t have a few dozen heads bobbing at the bottom. 

Where do you stand for the best view? This is a tricky one as this is also the spot that most people will stand. I’d say all the way to the left at the corner of the pond that has the reflection in it. This is the only way you’ll be able to get all five towers (columns) in your shot. 

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Personal tip. Don’t leave too early! Some of my best shots from this spot weren’t taken until 7 am including the one you see above. Make sure you don’t miss out by trying to run ahead of the crowd. 

Which temples are the best ones to visit? 

Angkor Wat (Sunrise)

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This is one that you can’t really miss as it is one of the best places to watch a sunrise in all of Cambodia, and is one of the most famous temples in the world! Don’t worry if you don’t go during sunrise, it’s also pretty incredible at almost every other time of day.

South Gate of Angkor Thom (bridge lined with statues)

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Not really a temple. but definitely worth a stop! The South Gate bridge that leads to the Angkor Thom temple is a true beauty. It is flanked by massive stone statues and a beautiful entrance. Funny fact, the stone statues on the left are depicting the gods, while the ones on the right are depicting demons. 

Angkor Thom or Bayon (Temple with 1000 faces)

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This is my favourite temple in the Angkor ancient city. Angkor Thom, but more commonly known as Bayon is located just after the Angkor Thom bridge and is known for the stone faces that can be seen all over. The temple is known as the Temple with 1000 faces, funny thing is that in reality there are only about 200 faces on the temple! This is also the temple where you can spot an engraving of a dinosaur, or what they say is a dinosaur. No one knows for sure, but, if it really is a dinosaur. How did they know about them? Such a cool little mystery. 

Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider Temple)

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Be like Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider and explore this magical temple covered in massive trees and their roots. Fun fact, paramount was charged $10.000 PER DAY for filming here. They needed seven days to get it all done, so you can calculate how much money Cambodia earned there!

Ta Som (King’s Father)

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This is a smaller temple that was originally built as a dedication to one of the king’s fathers. It is only a one-level shrine that hasn’t been restored yet, but it is a really good temple to check out if the crowds are getting too bad at the other temples. Also, a good spot to find some wild monkeys!

More photos!

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11 Responses

  1. Czickontheroad
    | Reply

    Great info in this article, thank you!

  2. Rhonda Sachs Albom
    | Reply

    It must have been incredible to watch the sun rise over the temple. 4am feels far too early for me though. It’s a beautiful place, I’ve been dying to go for a few years now.

  3. sunsetsandrollercoasters
    | Reply

    Your photos are simply beautiful. I’ve never considered visiting Cambodia before. It’s an amazing location.

  4. kenan
    | Reply

    Im planning on a trip to see this place so this article was just great! I really hope I don’t have to deal with too many people but as Im going during Chinese New Year that probably wont be the case. The temple recommendations are great also. Thanks!

  5. Rebecca RH Razafinjatovo
    | Reply

    I love all the pictures you took! When i went to Angkor Wat, it was so hot and crowded that I couldn’t really enjoy much and take all the pictures I want. But it was a nice trip. Pub street is crazy as well! haha

  6. Drew Hannush
    | Reply

    Thanks for the very clear guidance. I’m not a fan of crowds or heat, so I may get drenched when I go! Ha! Very helpful that you let us know about the religious cultural norms, so as not to offend. Angkor Thom looks incredible!

  7. Yukti
    | Reply

    I am keen to visit Angkor wat temples as they are one of the most oldest Hindu temples. Thanks for sharing all the details about weather, timings of opening, etc. Temple of 1000 faces is really magnificent.

  8. Nic Hilditch-Short
    | Reply

    A great guide to this amazing place, we absolutely loved our visit and went into it with realistic expectations about how busy it was which meant we were actually quite pleasantly surprised.

  9. Karie
    | Reply

    The Angkor Wat Temples are definitely on my bucket list as I’m an architecture admirer.This post is really detailed and informative and will help me when I visit the temples.I will have to work on waking up early to catch the sunrise though. All of the pictures are amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Joshua Schweigert
    | Reply

    BUCKET LIST ALERT. I’ll definitely be seeing the Angkor Wat Temples some day. Thank you for sharing great all-around insight on best practices for visiting the temples as well. Very helpful.

  11. Christine
    | Reply

    I’m jealous to your sunrise pic! I went to Cambodia 6-7 years ago for that sole reason but I was suprised with the amount of people trying to watch it. It was also raining lol. I imagine how more crowded it is now. And wow the price of entrance fee sure experienced a massive inflation. I went there when it was only $20 for 1 day pass.

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