Angkor Wat Visitors Guide
Recently, we were lucky enough to visit the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat and marvel at the beauty and grandness of this well preserved temple complex that amazingly still stands to this day. If you are planning a trip to Asia, you wont want to miss this impressive historical site. We were blown away by how massive the complex was and by how many of the temples were still standing, and in such great condition, after 800+ years. Check our our Angkor Wat Visitors Guide for some handy information to make the most of your visit to this extraordinary historical site.
Angkor Wat, which means “City of Temples”, is the largest religious monument in the world. It draws over two million foreign visitors each year and is the main source of tourism in Cambodia. Angkor Wat was originally constructed in the early 12th century as a Hindu temple. However, it was transitioned to a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. The entire complex spans over 400 acres in size and consists of many temples. The most popular temples include Angkor Wat (the most famous temple), Ta Prohm (the temple featured in the Tomb Raider movie), Bayon (the temple with all the faces, which was my favorite!), and Baphuon.
The ancient ruins of Angkor Wat are located in Siem Reap, Cambodia. If you are planning to visit Cambodia in order to see Angkor Wat, then you will want to fly into the airport in Siem Reap. You will be required to purchase a “Visa on Arrival”. The cost of the Visa was about $40 USD plus $2 since we did not bring an extra passport photo. The currency in Cambodia is the Cambodian Riel, however they accept the USD everywhere, and actually prefer to be paid with US dollars.
Getting to the Angkor archeological complex is pretty inexpensive. From our hotel we hired a private tuk tuk to take us to all of the temples for the day. If you have never taken a tuk tuk, you will definitely be in for a treat! In Cambodia, a tuk tuk is basically a scooter pulling a small cart behind it that can hold 3-4 people. It was the only transportation we used in Siem Reap. I believe it was less then $7/person for our driver to take us to all the temples for the entire day. Our driver dropped us off at each site and was always waiting for us when we were done exploring. Somehow, in the sea of people, he always spotted us right away, which was quite a relief to our tired feet.
Sunrise at Angkor Wat:
Most people visiting the Angkor sites want to get up at the crack of dawn to watch the sunrise over the main temple as it is said be extremely beautiful. We figured we might as well give it a shot, so we got up at 5 AM and went to watch the sunrise. No one told us that every other single tourist in the area would also be there at that time, making it unbelievably crowded. The sunrise was ok, but I wouldn’t call it magnificent by any means. Being there for sunrise with thousands of other people somewhat ruined the experience. If you want to brave the crowds, then by all means go for it! However, if I were to do it again, I would have arrived at 8 or 9, after the crowds had dispersed. Thats when we got our best pictures, without hundreds of other people blocking our views.
Watch out for Monkeys:
There are tons of monkeys running around the grounds outside of Angkor Wat, which was pretty cool to watch. They are not afraid of people though, so use caution! One monkey showed this by jumping on my back and stealing my water bottle. He even knew how to open it. Needless to say, this was quite startling. I much preferred watching them from a safe distance!
Please remember that Angkor Wat is considered a scared place, so be sure to dress modestly as a show of respect. If you want to go inside any of the temples, you will need to follow the strict dress code. Both women and men need to dress modestly and cover their shoulders and their knees. No tank tops or short shorts/skirts are allowed. Covering your shoulder with a scarf will not fly either. We saw many disappointed tourists getting turned away, so don’t let that happen to you and plan ahead. Also, be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes as you will do quite a bit of walking and climbing of stairs!
I am by no means an expert on all the temples within the archaeological park. For more information on which temples to visit, check out this helpful article here: