Welcome back to my 5 part Southeast Asian adventure series! I’ll be covering the 2 and half days I spent in Siem Reap. If you’re behind, check out the last 3 posts on Phuket, Krabi, and Chiang Mai & Bangkok. When planning our trip, Angkor Wat was near the top of our list. It’s not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s also the largest religious monument in the world!
Visiting Siem Reap
Since Angkor Wat was the only reason we were visiting Cambodia, we wanted to make sure we did it right. We were ready to spend sunrise to sunset in the temple complex and see as much as we could.
We got in to Siem Reap from Bangkok mid-morning and went through customs quickly. Someone from our hotel picked us up in a Cambodian tuk tuk and we were on our way. Our hotel was pretty great! It was modern with two double beds. The only downside was the tiny lizards on the ceiling so… pretty great with friendly staff and free breakfast.
Finding a tour guide
Luckily, we found out about a tour guide for Angkor Wat while we were in Bangkok. Kosal was very friendly and helpful; he had an itinerary ready for the length of our visit to Angkor but can help you plan multiple days in and around Angkor Wat. I highly recommend him! Just send him a message through Whatsapp to start planning your trip. He drove us to each location based on an itinerary he has and left us to explore. The two of us each paid $10 for the full day tour.
You can also talk to your hotel or contact a certified tour guide online to book a tour. For a place like Angkor Wat with its history, importance, and size, I would highly recommend getting a tour guide. There are also tour guides once you get to temples that will show you around. We opted to explore on our own but it would have been nice to get a little background and context.
Visiting Angkor Wat
The main temple complex opens at 5am so be prepared to be picked up around 4:30 for the sunrise. The first thing you will do is head to the ticket center where you will need your passport and cash. Tickets are now $37 for 1 day, $62 for 3 days, and $72 for 7 days.
I would highly suggest committing two days to Angkor Wat with the second being a half day. If you are able to start your days early, you can make most of your time in Siem Reap. Angkor Wat is the biggest attraction and main thing to do there so it’s worth it to spend plenty of time in the temples. At this point in our trip we were exhausted so we only spent one full day here.
Angkor Wat Etiquette
As with any temple in Southeast Asia, it’s important to respect the culture and sites by wearing appropriate clothing. This means pants or skirts that go past your knees and a shirt that covers your shoulders. Since it was so hot and humid, I wore thin, harem type pants from Thailand and a t-shirt. You could also wear a tank top with a thin scarf over your shoulders. Without the proper attire, security guards could send you away since many are still used by monks. Since you will be walking around a lot, make sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
Food and Water at Angkor Wat
The day before our tour, we made sure to get a liter of water each at a supermarket. Kosal, our tour guide, also brought us a cooler of water bottles which was awesome! We also used Emergen C Electro-Mix packets to make sure we were hydrated in the heat the whole day. They not only came in handy during Angkor Wat but throughout the entire trip!
As for food, there are stalls outside most of the major temples. There is street food, full meals, and packaged snacks throughout so you do have a few options. We also brought our own snacks since it was a lot of walking.
Angkor Wat Itinerary
We were picked up at 4:30am and headed to the ticket center. Once we got to the grounds, we walked in the dark to Angkor Wat for the sunrise. Fortunately, July seems like the relatively low tourist season. As we walked towards the temple, there was a crowd of people around us. After we got there, there was enough room for almost everyone to spread out and observe the sunrise. Unfortunately, it was rainy so there wasn’t much of a sunrise.
Next was Banteay Kdei Temple which was a Buddhist monastery. Much of it is in ruin but the carvings stand out.
Right next door is Ta Prohm. While this is mostly in ruin as well, what attracts most tourists here are the trees that have intertwined themselves into the structure.
Ta Keo is a Hindu temple with a pyramid in the center.
Next, we made our way to the Baphuon Temple.
After finishing up at Angkor Thom and its temples, we moved on to Preah Khan.
Right next to Preah Khan is Jayatataka Baray.
In the center of Jayatataka is Neak Pean. To get to this temple, you need to walk across a bridge through Jayatataka.
On the other end is Ta Som Temple which is restored but vegetation has taken over many areas.
Now we worked our way down to Eastern Mebon which used to stand in the middle of a reservoir. This temple is for the Hindu god Shiva and the parents of the king at the time.
We ended our day at Prae Roup Temple, another Hindu temple.
Our trip to Angkor Wat was definitely one of the biggest highlights from our trip. It’s not only full of history, it’s full of ancient architecture. We spent over 12 hours and were exhausted by the humidity, heat, and walking but it was an amazing part of our trip. If you love traveling and experiencing other cultures, you can’t miss Angkor Wat!
If you’re interested in more from me, follow me on Instagram to see more of what I’ve been up to. Thanks for reading!