Asia has a lot to offer. From virgin beaches to thousands years old history and you can be sure that Cambodia offers both. Let’s be like Indiana Jones while discovering Cambodia history. There is no doubt that the Temples of Angkor are one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. For more than 500 years the area around Siem Reap was the centre of the Khmer empire and still today it is the spiritual heart of Cambodia. This UNESCO area consists of more than thousand temples and even it is not possible to see all of theme when visiting for a couple days I will guide you how to get the most of it even with a limited time.
Temples of Angkor is one of the most visited sites in the South East Asia, that means you will see loads of tourists everywhere. In general, it worth it to wake up with first rays of the sun and hit the road with tuk-tuk as soon as possible. If you are staying in an accommodation with breakfast, they probably won’t prepare it before sunrise but let them know a day ahead so they will hand you a breakfast package.
Yeah I was talking about tuk-tuk for a whole day or for a designated tour (I will be talking about it later) and enjoy all the beauty in the traditional way and I personally love it. Beside that you can hire a car or go by own on a bicycle. When considering bicycle mind that the distances are big and mostly it is hot and humid.
Check prices for tuk-tuk rides at your hotel to have some idea first, then talk to some tuk-tuk drivers while in the city. You will be able to get better prices so book the driver on the street if you are happy with price offered. They will be happy to pick you up at the hotel the next day. Just mind, never pay before the journey. We have booked tuk-tuk driver for 2 and a half day, paid him on the second day and last day he did not showed up. Another benefit of dealing with tuk-tuk driver in the city (and not at your hotel) is that you can deal on much longer time on your journey for no additional cost.
Before going into the area you need to stop by Angkor Ticket Office and buy a ticket. Your tuk-tuk driver takes you there. If you are going early in the morning for a sunrise offices might be closed so buy the ticket in the evening day ahead. There are 3 options in the length of ticket – 1 day, 3 days and 7 days. Mind that your face photo will be placed on the ticket so it is not possible to buy longer one and sell it afterwards. As the entrance fees are higher year by year, for more information and prices please check official Angkor website here.
For more practical information please see the bottom of this article.
We spent there 3 nights and it was enough to see most of the temples and walk around Siem Reap as well. First day is great to get your tickets and discover the city. There is huge number of places to eat and drink as Siem Reap is one of the centre’s for backpackers and nomads in South East Asia.
To cover most of the temples it is great to take both Small and Grand tour (every tuk-tuk driver has the same map) together with sunrise/sunset option. You can ask the driver to stop everywhere on your picked journey. On top of this we added about 2 hours detour to Banteay Srei temple for some extra cash.
The first full day we woke up early to see the sunrise at the Angkor Wat temple. We found out that the most of the people were watching from the left side of the main road and it was crowded when we arrived. Even though the right side was better option and it was easy to get close to the water.
After the sunrise we took the Small tour. Most of the people go from Angkor Wat in the direction to Bayon temple but we asked our tuk-tuk driver to go another way and start with Prasat Kravan temple following by Banteay Kdei.
The highlight of the Small tour is Ta Prohm temple where famous scene from Tomb Rider with Angelina Jolie was filmed. As you can expect this temple is second most crowded but I would say it is far more beautiful than the Angkor Wat and majestic trees growing on the walls add another beauty to it.
Last stop on our way was Bayon temple and we walked for 2 hours in the area to see temples around as well.
It might look as a relaxing journey but you will walk a lot while going up and descending dozens maybe hundreds of stairs on each temple and in the combination with hot and humid weather you will be more than happy to finish your day with a cold beer in the city of Siem Reap. All around the way you can find a lot of shops with clothes, musical instruments and others staff. Believe or not the 100% cotton t-shirt for 2 USD is superior comparing to western retailers.
On our second full day we took much longer Grand Tour with detour to Banteay Srei temple which takes notable 45min one way and believe 45 minutes on tuk-tuk shakes your body like being James Bond’s Martini.
Our first stop on the journey was at Preah Khan temple. If you are the adventurer, you will love this large abandoned temple. What I like in Angkor is that you can go right into the temples and discover it on your own. And this temple has a lot to offer when walking and discovering it’s parts. Some parts are ruins only but I think it adds spirit of this incredible place.
Continuing with Neak Pean which is an artificial island with a small Buddhist temple with four connected pools representing Water, Earth, Fire and Wind. Then we did a quick stop at Ta Som temple and hit a road for 45 minutes to get to Banteay Srei.
Banteay Srei temple is built of red sandstone and you can find there decorative wall carvings that are still observable today. The temple is much smaller than others but extremely popular with tourists. Thanks to the carvings, decoration and ornaments the temple is called “jewel of Khmer art” and is worth for the longer journey.
Our last stop that day was sunset at Angkor Wat. We had some time to explore the temple and the wall carvings are just awesome.
Where are Temples of Angkor?
The Temples of Angkor are just outside the city of Siem Reap, about 150 kilometers east of the Thai border and 250 kilometers northwest from the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.
How to get to Siem Reap?
If you are going internationally, the best way is arrive by plane to Seim Reap. There is a small international airport located near to the city center and most of the hotels are offering free pick up service with tuk-tuk.
If you are going from Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville you can choose between regional airplane, bus or taxi according to your preferences. Check with your hotel for ballpark prices and best option.
Where to stay in Siem Reap?
In Siem Reap you can find accommodation from low priced hostels up to luxury 5* boutique hotels
If you are looking for a budget option, I would suggest Siem Reap Pub Hostel.
For something decent but affordable, check Residence Indochine D’angkor.
As a luxury option I would go for Regency Classical.
And if you are looking for something extraordinary Sokkhak Boutique Resort is for you.
Or you can find a home via Airbnb. Here is a 30 USD credit for your 1st stay.
Where to find more information (cost, opening hours, etc.)?
For more information about entrance fees, passes, hours of opening and more, please check the official website.