A beginner’s guide to explore Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Stunning and fascinating archaeological sites are treasures of Angkor Complex that dates back since 12th century in Siem Reap, Cambodia. As a result, millions of travelers head towards this small South East Asia nation to explore Angkor Wat annually. Let’s together find the mini guide to quickly plan for your amazing Angkor Wat discovery.

 

Angkor Complex
The panorama Angkor Complex

Angkor Wat facts

  • Its name is actually “The City of Temples” or simply “Temple City”.
  • Angkor Wat Temple is the most famous one for travelers; but the Angkor Complex is a home to hundred of temples dotting about 400 km.
  • Ta ProhmAngkor Thom, Bayon are another favorite names for travelers.
  • Angkor Wat was first a Hindu religion temple and later it was changed into a Buddhist one.
  • Angkor Wat is the world’s largest religious monument and the most visited religious site.

Best time to visit Angkor Wat

There are three different periods that can affect your travel experiences in Siem Reap:

  • November to March: good time to enjoy the mild and dry weather. The weather is pleasantly cool but it is absolutely the peak tourist season from December till February; so you may find it more crowded everywhere with higher service prices.
  • Late March to early May: the hottest months of Siem Reap, temperature ranges from 30 – 40 degree Celsius; so any outdoor activities such as temple sightseeing or cycling should start early morning and end late afternoon.
  • May to November: the rainy season occurs with daily pour for an hour or two that tackles your trip; but you may find less tourists at temple sites and the surrounding tropical landscape is at its full beauty of refreshment.

 

Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat in rainy season

Apart from the weather features, there are special occasions that you should consider to go or not to avoid the crowd:

  • Lunar New Year Festival: including Chinese New Year, Vietnam Traditional New Year; mainly in late January or mid February depending on each year. This holiday can last for 1 – 2 weeks when a huge number of Asian tourists may travel abroad.
  • Khmer New Year Festival – called Choul Chnam Thmey, as known as the Songkran in Thailand, happens in the mid April annually so this is good to enjoy the unique atmosphere of the festival if you are interested.

Things to do

Angkor National Museum – a great stop before exploring Angkor complex

You may have chances to:

  • Learn all about the Golden Era of the ancient Khmer Kingdom through a state-of-the-art showpiece on the majestic history of Angkor.
  • Discover the origins of Khmer art, culture, and architecture to enhance knowledge about the customs, traditions and different beliefs of the ancient empire.
  • Get a deeper understanding of the Khmer empire, optional audio guides are also available in the museum for an additional cost.
  • Opening Hours: Mondays-Sundays: 8:30am-6:00pm
  • Address: The Angkor National Museum is located at Charles De Gaulle, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • Entrance tickets: US$12/person and an extra US$3 for your camera inside.

See the Angkor Wat sunrise/sunset

There is no doubt that watching sunrise at Angkor Wat is one of the must-do things in Siem Reap.

The expected time to show up is around 05:00 to find the best place for you and your camera. If you are unsure where to go for the nicest photos, just book a tour guide a night before to know exactly the timing.
Normally, the light soon started changes from 05:30, when the sky turns from dark to pink and quickly shines up the temple of Angkor Wat making a gorgeous view and reflection of the lake in front.

 

sunrise at Angkor Wat
The gorgeous sunrise at Angkor Wat

Some of guests prefer the sunset as it does not as many people as sunrise. But you may find it worth to catch the last sunlight of the day if standing in the centre of Angkor Thom and take the photo of the Bayon Temple. This is famous for the gigantic smiling faces on each of its towers. A dozen of huge faces reflected by the sun will result the best photographs in Angkor Complex so just do not miss it.

Follow a suggested Cambodia itinerary to make the most of your precious time

Surely the main temples can be seen within a day such as Angkor Wat, Angor Thom, Ta Prohm but it can only allow for a quick glimpse of its architecture highlights. Thus, if your time permits to 2- 3 days, here is the most recommended itinerary:

  • Day 1 – The Small Tour Circuit: Pre Rup, East Meban, Ta Som, Neak Poan and Preah Khan.
  • Day 2 – The Grand Tour Circuit: Angkor Wat sunrise, Bayon, Phimeanakas and Royal Palace, Elephant Terrace, Leper King Terrace, Thommanon, Ta Prohm.
  • Day 3 – Exploring Further: Kbal Spean, Banteay Srei and Banteay Samre.

 

Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei – one of the most popular temples in Siem Reap

>> Suggested Angkor Wat tour: Classic Angkor 4 Days

How to get there

Depending on how you would like to travel from Siem Reap to Angkor Wat, there are many kinds of vehicles for your Angkor Wat tours; such as hiring a bike, a tuk tuk or a mini van with a local guide.

How to buy the Angkor Wat ticket

Besides booking Cambodia holiday packages with well designed program and local tour guides just to take care your trip, you can choose to travel on your own by purchasing tickets and hire the on-site guides from the official ticket booth on the road, that connects Siem Reap city to the archaeological site. For early morning visit, you should appear since 05:00 when the Angkor is open to save the queuing time. For the late afternoon ticket purchasing, do not come later than 18:00 when the site is close.

There are 3 types of tickets and Angkor Wat entrance fee below:

  • 1-day pass – US$37
  • 3-day pass –US$62 (used within a week)
  • 7-day pass – US$72 (used within a month)

The issued tickets may have your name and photo on it; so please carry it with you while visiting just in case the security may check it when your enter the ruins.

 

Angkor entrance ticket
Taking photo at the official ticket booth for Angkor entrance ticket

Now, have you already chosen the best time to visit Angkor Wat for your Cambodia tours? Let’s have a look at these suggested tours below, you will surely have the best experience Indochina tours ever.

 

Linh Chu – Travel Specialist

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