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Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia is regularly voted as one of the best places to visit in the world (recently voted number 1 in the top travel sights by Lonely Planet). Visiting the Temples in Siem Reap was one of the big highlights of our trip whilst we were travelling throughout southeast Asia.
With the help of Green Era Travel, we have created a short guide to visiting Angkor Wat, and also the best temples in Siem Reap that you can visit in one day if you are short on time (in total there are around 72 of them!).
Temples in Siem Reap
How to get to Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat is located 6 km north of Siem Reap city – the temples grounds are pretty massive so walking around them is not really practical.
There are a few options for transportation around the Angkor Wat complex with the best ways to get around being either by private tuk tuk (around $15-20 per day), an a/c private car/taxi for 1-4 people ($20-35 per day), or book onto a small group tour in an air conditioned minibus that includes a licensed guide, and plenty of ice cold drinking water.
We booked the Small Group Angkor Day Tour with Green Era Travel, which takes in the three main temples in Siem Reap. Hotel pickup was around 8am and our group size was nice and small with only 5 people. Our licensed guide was friendly, knowledgable, plus it was great to have someone explain the history of each of the temples and show us the best spots for taking photographs.
Purchasing a temple pass
Before you can enter the Angkor temple complex you need to purchase a pass. The prices are as follows (as of December 2018):
1 day pass: $37 USD
3 day pass: $62 USD (valid to use on non consecutive days for 10 days from the date of purchase)
7 day pass: $72 USD (valid to use on non consecutive days for 1 calendar month from the date of purchase)
The passes need to be purchased from official ticket centres which are open from 5am to 5.30pm every day. Our tour with Green Era Travel included a stop at the start of the tour for anyone who hasn’t yet purchased a pass. You can pay for your Angkor Wat pass using either cash or credit card. Admission passes are not transferable as the pass owner’s name and photo are printed on the ticket.
If you purchase your ticket during late afternoon (after 4.30pm) to use the next day, you will be allowed to use it that evening to watch the sunset – bonus!
The passes need to be shown before you enter each temple so make sure you do not lose it!
Temple opening times
The main park of Angkor is open from 5am – 6pm to allow people to arrive early to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. The rest of the temples are not open until around 7.30am and close at 5.30pm.
How to dress to visit the Siem Reap temples
The temples are Buddhist sites so you need to dress modestly. It is important to have your shoulders and knees covered (actually it is compulsory or they will not let you in). I recommend picking up some nice lightweight pants from the night market for around $2USD.
Be sure to wear some sturdy footwear as a lot of the temple grounds are uneven or in poor condition, plus there are many steps. Do not forget to bring a hat and sunblock (it can be really hot in Siem Reap during the day), plus some mosquito repellent.
1. Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a Wonder of the World. It is the most famous, and impressive (plus largest) of all the temples, and the image of it is used heavily when promoting the town.
It was constructed in the 12th century and is the largest monument of the Angkor group (and best preserved). It was built to honour the Hindu god Vishnu, but was later converted into a buddhist temple.
The central part of the four towers is shaped like a lotus flower, and the structure of the temple is very ornate with intricate carvings.
It was not included in the particular tour we booked, but arriving for sunrise or sunset is extremely popular with tourists. The grounds surrounding the temple open very early and are very crowded with people competing for the perfect spot by the lake for photographing the sunrise at Angkor Wat. This was the main reason we were put off doing this, well… that and the very early 4am start!!
Click here to read our things to do in Siem Reap (besides temples) blog post
Built 100 years after Angkor Wat, Bayon is a smaller but unique and crumbling temple complex decorated with numerous giant stone carved faces. There are around 200 faces remaining across 37 towers – all identical with the same smile and closed eyes – representing the state of inner peace. Some are perfectly preserved, and some are indistinct.
Ta Prohm Temple
After a break for lunch we next explored this beautiful and photogenic temple – famous for being a filming location in the movie Tomb Raider.
The grounds have remained mostly unrestored and are still covered in jungle with gigantic roots of the banyan trees interwined with manmade concrete ruins. You can easily lose your way around in this temple so we were glad we had a guide! This is my favourite of the three temples I saw on the tour.
It is a very popular temple with large buses of tourists so head off the beaten track a bit to find more serene spots.
How to book a tour to see all 3 temples
There are many tour operators in Siem Reap that arrange day trips to visit the temples. I booked the World Wonder of Angkor day tour with Green Era Travel and would highly recommend them.. They also run sunrise tours (which will require a 4am start!) and day trips to other lesser known temples, and interesting places in Cambodia.
Extra time in Siem Reap?
If you aren’t already templed out then we would recommend exploring Cambodia off the beaten path and visit many of the lesser know temples in Siem Reap such as Preah Vihear and Beng Mealea.
Other South East Asia blog posts
- Eating local Cambodian dishes with Siem Reap Food Tours
- Exploring Kulen Mountain in Siem Reap
- A Thai cookery class in Bangkok’s flower market
- Golden Temple hotel in Siem Reap review
- Bangkok Tuk Tuk tour review
Siem Reap Accommodation
We visited Siem Reap twice in 2018 and stayed in 3 different hotels – all of which were excellent and I would recommend if you want to stay in a great location (short walking distances to Pub Street and the night markets).
Golden Temple Hotel / Golden Temple Villa Hotel / Royal Crown Hotel
On a budget?
These backpacker hostels are highly rated and in super locations:
Onederz Hostel / Lub D Hostel / One Stop Hostel Siem Reap @Pub Street
Got some cash to splash?
Here are some super nice places if you really want to treat yourself on your Siem Reap trip!
Angkor Palace Suite & Villa / Park Hyatt Siem Reap / Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor
Download the Grab app
Grab taxis are widely used by both tourists and locals, and the fares are really cheap! Download the Grab app here and use the code GRABCKTRAVELS to earn a free ride when you sign up.
Disclosure: Our Small Group Angkor Day Tour was sponsored by Green Era Travel, but as always, opinions are all our own.
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