In Khmer, Angkor Wat simply means City of Temples which basically explains the entirety of Angkor Wat from the entrance to the exit. The complex is the largest religious monument in the world and was originally constructed as a Hindu temple for the Khmer Empire, gradually transforming into a Buddhist temple toward the end of the 12th century. The area was also the centre of the Khmer empire that once ruled most of South East Asia but since the ruling of the Khmer the temples the buildings have become overrun by the jungle and are now Cambodia’s most visited tourist attraction.
I visited Angkor Wat for a day and it just wasn’t long enough so I cannot wait to return again soon! Here is my guide to visiting the Angkor Wat temples.
FYI: The interest on money in Cambodia is high meaning you can literally be a millionaire with £200 in your pocket. The exchange rate is approx. £10 = 60485 Cambodian Riel
- Luxury hotel prices – Rooms will set you back about 60,000-100,000 KHR approx. £12 per night. The rooms will also be luxurious and 5*!
- Budget hotel prices – Hotels with air-con, hot water, and T.V. will cost around 50,000 KHR (£9) per night for single, 60,000 KHR for double. A place with a pool might cost around 80,000 KHR (£12) per night.
- Hostel prices – Rooms will range from 5,000-40,000 KHR per night for fan and cold shower rooms. For a private bathroom with hot water, expect to pay closer to 50,000 KHR approx. £9.
Average cost of food
There are tons of food options within the temple complex. You will be able to eat a nice meal in a restaurant for less than 41,300 KHR (£7) and easily find restaurant meals in the 20,000-29,000 KHR (£3) price range as well. Around the temples, you will find little stands with cheap meals for about 8,200-12,400 KHR (£2).
Tuks tuks and hired drivers can be found all over the place and they are so incredibly cheap as well. It is worth hiring a personal driver for the day and getting them to pick you up from your accommodation and then driving you around Siem Reap and Angkor Wat for the day. You can hire a car and driver, who will act as a tour guide, for 103,000 KHR per day (approx. £16)
Access to the temples
Angkor Wat permit – In order to get in to the temple complex you need a permit. Head to the main entrance jump off your tuk tuk and get a photo pass for either one day or three. There is a 7 day pass but you really don’t need that long, unless you are a massive fan. You need a pass to enter the Angkor temples unless you are Cambodian or related to a Cambodian. A 1 day is $20 USD, 3 day is $40 USD, and 7 day is $60 USD.
Top Things to See and Do at Angkor Wat
This temple was built by Suryavarman and is considered the biggest Asian pyramid. It is over 200 feet high and divided in several layers and is undoubtedly the most famous of the Angkor temples. The colossal temple is the world’s biggest religious monument and certainly is impressive. The central part has four towers in the shape of a lotus flower and has 2,600 feet of bas-reliefs, including famous battles and Buddhist scenes like the Battle of Kurukshetra, the Army of Suryavarman II, Heaven and Hell, Churning of the Ocean of Milk, Elephant Gate, Vishnu Conquers the Demons, Khrisna and the demon King, Battle of the Gods and the Demons, and the Battle of Lanka. Angkor Wat is, above all, a microcosm of a Hindu Universe.
FYI: Also go and see the famed sunrise at Angkor Wat. It is a spectacular sight!
The temple is a wonder world of towering rocks and you ccan see that this temple was magnificent in its prime and was created for the Hindu God Shiva. The temple was originally encircled by water and was like an island, there was no need for enclosures or moats that became customary for temples in Angkor. East Mebon has five towers from the central platform so it is easy to spend hours at East Mebon and not get bored in the slightest.
Preah Khan is one of the largest sites in the Angkor temple complex and possibly one of the most magnificent. It is one of the most fascinating temples on the complex with trees growing around the ruins and mossy stones left laying everywhere. Get yourself in a good position and you become completely overwhelmed by the temple with its towers, steps and beautiful stonework.
Built by Jayavarman VII, the temple stands in the center of Angkor Thom with 54 towers and 216 faces of Avalokiteshvara. The temple was built on 3 levels with the first 2 in a rectangular shape, whilst the 3rd is circular. You can spend a lot of time here wandering through the corridors and passageways.
Still covered by the jungle, this place is exactly as they found it. Ta Prohm makes it easy to imagine how the whole complex looked when it was re-discovered in 19th century. Ta Prohm is a popular temple on the tourist route because it was featured in the Tomb Raider film. Gigantic roots are intertwined with manmade structures and crumbling stones crowd lengthy corridors.
This temple has the same style, structure, and founder as Ta Phrom but on a smaller scale. The major feature that sets it apart is a huge tree that grows atop the eastern Gopura. The tree is slowly but surely destroying the building, but it makes for amazing photo opportunities with all the roots growing in to the stone work. The magnificent entrance alone is enough to make you look up and admire the views…
The name simply means “Citadel of the Women” and refers to the size and delicacy of the decoration in the complex. Unlike the major sites at Angkor, this was not a royal temple but it doesn’t mean they scrimped on decoration as it has some of the most beautiful carvings in pink sandstone.