Exploring Angkor Wat

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Exploring Angkor Wat 1

Whilst Angkor Wat is the largest temple around Siem Reap, there are many others some of which in my opinion are better. So you want to take some time and see as many as possible else you’re doing yourself a great disservice.

Angkor Wat Temple Pass

No matter how you decide to view the temples, you’ll need to buy a temple pass to let you in the area. These passes get checked on the road as you enter the temple complex and additionally by a guard before you enter each temple, do not lose it!

The Angkor Wat temple pass prices are:

  • 1 day – $20
  • 3 day – $40
  • 7 day – $60

Travelling Around Angkor Wat

There are 3 main methods of getting around the Angkor Archeological Park and seeing all the temples

Bicycle

Most hotels will rent you a bicycle for around $1 a day so you can cycle around the temples yourself. This is by far the cheapest option but I would only advise it if you are seriously budget constrained. Cambodia is hot and you will have a lot of miles to cover. Most temples do have stalls outside selling water but I’m sure several didn’t so to be certain you’ll have to carry some. This is by far the least comfortable way to see the temples, and I imagine after all the water you’ve bought and drank, to combat dehydration, you’re probably paying a similar price to the next option …

Angkor Wat By Tuktuk

You can hire a tuktuk driver for an entire day for around $12-$15 depending on who you choose. These guys know the area well and can take you where you want to go, there are even established tour circuits you can travel with them. Tuktuk drivers are not tour guides though, they are just drivers, so if you want to learn anything about the temples you’ll need a guide book. The driver will drop you off at one end of the temple and shoot round to meet you at the other end though making the experience easy for you. The roads in the area are reasonable and the ride quite comfortable.

Angkor Wat Package Tour

A package tour of Angkor Wat and all the temples can vary in cost depending if it involves a hotel, food, etc. But you travel in a bus with many other people and one or more tour guides. One problem with this method is you will always be with a crowd of people, who will be in your photos.

Angkor Wat Tour Guide

This is the option I took, I hired an awesome Angkor Wat tour guide called Mr. Chhen Kol for $30 a day and then paid an additional $30 for his 4×4, air conditioned car to take us around in. Expensive compared to all the other options but I love this kind of stuff and wanted to understand it as best possible. Chhen’s English was great and he took me through the history of the temples, the Kings that built them, why they were built and explained the stories carved along the walls. Personally if you can afford it I recommend this option. Even if you can’t afford it, do it anyway!

One of the main benefits of having my own personal tour guide was that I got to escape the crowds. Despite their being no people in my photos the temples were heaving with hundreds of people all over the place. Being independent meant I could wait for a better shot and run about if need be!

For an additional $15 Mr. Chhen will meet you at 5am to get to Angkor Wat for the sunrise. This did leave me exhausted for the rest of the day but it was impressive watching the darkness turn in to a silhouette of the temple before it finally revealed itself. Be warned, several hundred other people will have the exact same idea as you though.

Another way Mr. Chhen shined was the cool box full of ice cold water in the back of the car, I think I drank about 5 liters of water each day which would have cost $5 anyway.

What To Wear At Angkor Wat

Take lots of sunscreen as you could be out doors for a good 5+ hours under Cambodia’s hot sun. I was quite comfortable walking around in flip flops but more appropriate, grippy, shoes, sandals or even Vibram Five Fingers might have been better as some of the steps had sand on them which made them slippy.

The temples are ‘working temples’ and should be respected as such. I got away with a t-shirt and shorts that covered my knees, but saw a myriad of people wearing clothes that ranged from trousers and long summer dresses to hot pants. I’ve heard rumours that some temples will give you sarongs to cover yourself if necessary but never saw anything like that.