Visiting Angkor Wat is top of any travellers bucket list when in Cambodia. Angkor Wat 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. In Khmer, Angkor Wat simply means City of Temples which basically explains the entirety of Angkor Wat from the entrance to the exit.
Originally constructed as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu for the Khmer Empire, it was gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. The area was also the centre of the Khmer empire that once ruled most of Southeast 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.
A visit to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat complex is understandably high on the list for many travellers and when I visited Angkor Wat a few years for two days – it simply wasn’t long enough. I could have explored this beautiful place for even longer. I cannot wait to return again soon!
The most popular temples are Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Phrom, and Angkor Thom. I would recommend getting a multi-day pass so you can visit some of the outer temples where there are fewer visitors. And maybe book in three days to visit Angkor Wat, so you can really explore this amazing area.
Here is my guide to visiting Angkor Wat Cambodia…
READ MORE: 7 Things to do in Siem Reap
Visiting Angkor Wat
What should I wear to Angkor Wat?
It’s important to remember at all times that Angkor Wat is a temple, and is a religious area. This means that there is a dress code that must be abided by at all times. You’ll need to wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees, so avoid strappy dresses and shorts, despite the hot weather. I would wear floaty dresses with short sleeves, and take a sarong with you in case you need to cover up more. The sun is likely to be quite strong, so bring a hat!
Visiting Angkor Wat
When is the best time to visit Angkor Wat?
The best time to be visiting Angkor Wat is from November to February, simply for the weather. I visited in June and July and although hot, the rain did come and it was quite dull. The sunshine is best in the spring and outside of monsoon season. However of course, as this is a popular time to visit Angkor Wat, it will be quite busy.
Visiting Angkor Wat
How to Get Around Angkor Wat
There are two ways for you to and from Angkor Wat (and around the complex):
Cycling – If you are feeling fresh and fit, cycling around Angkor Wat is a great way to see the temples. You can find rentals for about $2USD/ per day but remember Angkor Wat is pretty big so you may get tired after hours of cycling in the heat.
Tuks-Tuks – We opted for hiring a tuk-tuk when were visiting Angkor Wat, and we hired our tuk-tuk for two days. They can be found all over Siem Reap and at the entrance to Angkor Wat. Your hostel or hotel should be able to help you find one if you can’t and cost $20USD /per day.
Heading to Southeast Asia for longer? Check out this guide to this 3 Month Southeast Asia Itinerary
Visiting Angkor Wat
How much does it cost to visit Cambodia
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. Cambodia uses USD. There’s no real need to carry the local currency, Cambodian Riels (KHR), unless you paying for really small things on the street, but for the most part, use USD.
Accommodation in Angkor Wat
- 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 at Angkor Wat
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).
Transportation costs at Angkor Wat
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 at Angkor Wat
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.
Visiting Angkor Wat
Where to stay in Angkor Wat
Most travellers and backpackers stay in Siem Reap when you are visiting Angkor Wat. My suggested places are:
The Amazing Residence – Avg. price/night: £42
The Khmer House – Secret Oasis – Avg. price/night: £34
The Thirdfold Residence – Avg. price/night: £38
The Night Hotel – Avg. price/night: £46
Secondfold Residence – Avg. price/night: £42
Home Indochine D’angkor – Avg. price/night: £27
Visiting Angkor Wat
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 Cambodia. 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.
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