Angkor Wat Detailed Itinerary

Angkor Wat: A Detailed 1/3 Day(s) Itinerary (With Map)

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Angkor Wat is a beautiful group of monuments that rightly demand that you allocate the deserved time to take in their entirety. That being said, planning the route to visit the prime monuments is essential. With a neatly laid out map for each day, this guide serves as an itinerary for 3 days spent exploring or packing it all in 1 day. To keep it balanced, we have fit in interesting temples alongside the smaller ones. Consider visiting the temples in the same order or altering them as you wish. And since a picture speaks a thousand words, we have pictures of each temple, a brief history of its architecture, and any tips you might need! 

Angkor Wat Itinerary

3 Days Itinerary

You don’t have to visit Angkor Wat for three consecutive days. Your three-day ticket allows you to explore Angkor Wat over ten non-consecutive days from the date of purchase. If you want a break from history and crave a change of scenery, Siem Reap has plenty of activities to keep you engaged beyond the temples. We’ve outlined the top 10 activities to enjoy in Siem Reap, so be sure to check them out!

Day 1

Angkor Wat Day 1 Itinerary Map
Day 1 Map

Day 1 begins with a breathtaking sunrise at Angkor Wat, followed by discovering the stunning carvings at Banteay Srei and other temples. We’ll wrap up the day by catching a picturesque sunset from a hilltop with views of the lush rice fields. Ready to dive into our sightseeing adventure for Day 1? Let’s go!

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat Sunrise, Cambodia

Are you arriving early to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat? Expect a bustling crowd no matter where you stand, whether by the libraries, near the pond, or at the entry gates. You’ll still get a great sunrise view from anywhere despite the crowds. Don’t worry about specific recommendations; just find a spot and enjoy the spectacle.

Remember that during the rainy season, clouds may block the sunrise a bit, so your chances of seeing it are lower. Be prepared to walk about 500 meters from the parking lot to the main entrance, but trust us, the colors of Angkor Wat before sunrise are stunning.

While the sunrise is a must-see experience, consider visiting the monument later in the day to avoid the crowds. Imagine the monument filled with everyone who watched the sunrise – it’d be quite chaotic! So, take your time and plan your visit for a more enjoyable experience.

Banteay Srei

Banteay Sri temple Causeway

About an hour away from Angkor Wat lies the Banteay Srei Temple, renowned for its exquisite carvings adorning every part of the temple. Made from pink sandstone, it’s often called the “jewel of Khmer art” and translates to “citadel of women” or “citadel of beauty.”

As you approach, you’ll see intricate carvings on the walls, pillars, and other parts of the temple. These carvings have remained remarkably well-preserved since the temple was founded in 967. Despite its smaller size compared to other temples, Banteay Srei’s charm is undeniable, with two libraries flanking the entrance.

Gaja Lakshmi with three elephants on the lintels
Gaja Lakshmi with elephants on the lintels

The carvings depict various figures and scenes with remarkable elegance and detail. A visit to Banteay Srei offers a unique perspective on Khmer artistry, making it a must-see among the temples in the area.

Prasat Beng Mealea

Prasat Beng Mealea is a hidden gem tucked away in the jungle. Because of its remote location, it is not visited by many tourists. Unlike other temples, it’s less restored, giving you a glimpse of its original grandeur and the effects of time. It’s considered one of the largest temples in the Khmer Empire, with features like a library and three galleries.

Mostly constructed from sandstone, the temple’s history remains a mystery. If the distance seems daunting, you can opt for other attractions like Kulen National Park or the floating river villages. Keep in mind that these may have additional entry fees that are not covered by the Angkor Pass. We’ll delve into these options in more detail later.

Banteay Samre

Banteay Samre temple

Although the precise history of the temple remains a mystery, Banteay Samre is a Hindu temple constructed in the Angkor style. It surprises visitors with its extensive layout, featuring grand corridors and towering walls encircling the central dome. Resembling the towers of Angkor Wat, it also showcases intricate carvings on lintels and pillars. Accessible via a 200-meter causeway, it offers a captivating sight worth exploring!

Prasat Lolei, Prasat Preah Ko, Bakong Temples

These three sites are known collectively as the Rolous Group of Monuments or Hariharalaya, meaning “the city of Shiva,” as they are all dedicated to Lord Shiva. Prasat Preah Ko (Bull of Shiva) was built in 879 AD by King Indravarman I, followed by Bakong in 881 AD. Made mostly of bricks and some sandstone, these temples once showcased remarkable sculptures, some of which have been restored recently.

Prasat Lolei

Prasat Lolei sits atop elevated ground alongside a Buddhist monastery featuring four towers.

Prasat Preah Ko

Preah Ko originally had six temple towers, though only a few remain today. Bakong, surrounded by moats, is the first five-tiered temple with a central tower. Its entrance is flanked by Naga sculptures, marking a unique architectural feature.

Bakong temples
View from the top of Bakong temple

While Bakong’s central tower was reconstructed in the 12th century, the original architectural style remains a mystery. Visitors can enjoy panoramic views from the fifth level, offering a glimpse of the surrounding area.

Sunset at Phnom Kraom

Phnom Kraom

Phnom Kraom Temple lies 10 km away from Siem Reap. Use Google Maps to navigate to the top of a 140 m high hill where the temple stands. King Yasovarman I commissioned its construction in the late 9th and early 10th centuries atop a natural mountain as a dedication to the Brahmanism deities Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma.

sunset from the rice fields, Siem Reap

You’ll likely encounter locals enjoying picnics with their families and friends during your journey. A Buddhist temple has recently been built atop the hills. Beyond the Phnom Kraom monument, vast rice fields stretch out, offering a picturesque sunset view. Stroll to the other side, where you can observe settlements, rivers, and distant mountains.

The rectangular Phnom Kraom temple features three sandstone towers arranged on a single platform from north to south. Each tower has open gates on the east and west sides, with false doors on the south and north gates. The central tower honors Shiva, the north tower Vishnu, and the south tower Brahma. Over time, the tops of these towers collapsed, and the outer walls suffered erosion, leaving only the platform intact.

Day 2

Angkor Wat Day 2 Itinerary Map
Day 2 Map

Day 2 is packed with sightseeing, ranging from grand temples to smaller ones. You will see a lot today with the ruins, carvings on the lintels, and the apsaras. So brace yourselves. While some temples may seem similar, each holds its own unique charm. Thanks to their proximity and shorter visit times, you’ll easily cover them all on Day 2.

Sunrise at Srah Srang

Sunrise at Srah Srang

Constructed in the mid-10th century, Srah Srang is a vast reservoir known as a baray rather than a temple. It served as a royal bathing pool. You’ll find two guardian lions and naga balustrades at its entrance, featuring serpent heads crafted from sandstone. Descending steps lead to the water, which remains present year-round. You can begin and conclude Day 2 by unwinding near the tranquil waters of Srah Srang and enjoying the sunset from the viewpoint on the opposite side.

Ta Phrom Temple

Trees overgrown on the Ta Phrom temple

Ta Phrom, known by its modern name, is a renowned tree temple within Angkor Wat. Originally called Rajavihara, its most striking feature is the trees growing out of its ruins, which draw many visitors. Witnessing how nature thrives amidst ancient architecture is spellbinding. It was popularly dubbed the “Tomb Raider Temple” or the “Angelina Jolie Temple” after its appearance in the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001).

Commissioned by Jayavarman VII to honor his family, Ta Phrom once housed over 12,500 people, along with 80,000 inhabitants in nearby villages. It was abandoned for centuries after the Khmer Empire’s fall in the 15th century.

Ta Phrom is expansive and surrounded by double moats, but extensive destruction and erosion have occurred over time. Many ceilings have collapsed, with only a few restored, and the temple lacks significant bas-relief structures.

The temple is also believed to have been colored. The green color paintings are visible on the wall in a few places. The species of trees growing on the buildings of Ta Phrom include

Ta Phrom attracts a huge crowd that can ruin your experience. To avoid the crowd for the first few hours, go right after sunrise during the opening hours. More tips here.

Banteay Kdei

Banteay Kdei, Angkor Wat temple complex

Near Srah Srang lies the Banteay Kdei Temple, a Buddhist temple constructed during the reign of Jayavarman VII in Bayon-style architecture. It resembles Ta Phrom but on a smaller scale. Restoration work is ongoing.

The main entrance, situated to the east, leads to a 200-meter-long ruined causeway. Within the first enclosure stands a Buddhist statue. Moving forward, numerous dancing apsaras adorn the pillars, walls, and bas-reliefs. The temple stretches from east to west, with moats on both ends. A large tree stands nearby at the western end, and a serpent-adorned causeway is visible. After exploring the temple, exit in the same direction.

Prasat Ta Keo

Prasat Ta Keo

Nestled amidst moats, Ta Keo stands tall as a temple mountain boasting five layers, all fashioned from sandstone. Originally dubbed Hemagiri or Hemasringagiri, this temple, crafted by Jayavarman V, offers a unique architectural flair compared to its neighboring counterparts.

Climbing up to the peak involves tackling some seriously steep stairs. At the topmost fifth level, you’ll find four towers gracing the corners and a towering central structure reaching a lofty 45 meters. The presence of a Nandi statue indicates its devotion to Lord Shiva. You’ll soak in sweeping aerial views from up high, taking in everything from corridors to surrounding forests and moats.

Prasat Ta Nei

Prasat Ta Nei

Follow a short, rugged path to Ta Nei Temple, nestled within the tranquil jungle. Crafted in the 12th century under King Jayavarman VII’s reign, this Buddhist sanctuary is now partially ruined. Of the original four gopuras, only two temple towers remain today, one on the west and one on the east. The archaeological team is hard at work restoring the site with expansive lintels. Most of the stone temple is ruined, and huge boulders lie on the ground. You can go around the temple and observe the vast boulders on which the temple is built.

Thommanon

Thommanon, a temple dedicated to the Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu, boasts a single tower constructed during Suryavarman II’s reign. Unlike neighboring temples, Thommanon’s intricate carvings remain remarkably well-preserved, thanks to the durable sandstone used in its construction, unlike the stone-enclosed wood beams found in other nearby structures.

Thommanon is renowned for its exquisite carvings of devatas, or female divine figurines. Adorned with flower crowns, Cambodian skirts known as sampots, and various jewelry, these devatas showcase different hand postures, or mudras, each gripping flowers in distinct ways.

Gate of the Dead

Gate of the dead - 1
Gate of the dead - 2

Also known as the Khmoch Gate, the Gate of the Dead is one of the five entrances to Angkor Thom, also known as the Bayon Temple. The roads leading to the gate are unpaved and situated amidst dense jungle on the east side. Resembling the architecture of the Bayon Temple, the Gate of the Dead features faces carved into the stone on all four sides of the upper part of the gate.

Northern Gate

The Dei Chhnang Gate, also known as the Northern Gate, is another entrance protecting the Bayon Temple at Angkor Thom. On one side, demons grip serpents, and devas, on the other depict a scene from the churning of the ocean of milk.

The northern gate is less restored than the southern gate and receives fewer visitors. Like the other gates, it features Bayon-style faces above the entrance as decorative elements.

Prasat Preah Khan

Prasat Preah Khan

Prasat Preah Khan, constructed by King Jayavarman in the 12th century after defeating the Chams in 1191, is an expansive temple extending from the center in all directions. Its outer wall is adorned with 72 Garudas holding a serpent, and each of its four entrances features a causeway over a moat embellished with nagas carrying devas and asuras.

You’ll notice the temple’s echoing chambers as you enter through the main east gate. The entrances in three directions are shorter, while one grand entrance is reserved for the King, with the others for common use.

Originally a Hindu temple, Prasat Preah Khan now houses a Buddhist statue of Lokeshwara at its center, along with a stupa and the base of a Shiva Linga. It is said that 430 deities were present on the premises. A few carvings are still intact, while a few have been restored upon renovation. Some carvings remain intact despite its age, while others have been restored. The hall of dancers boasts numerous apsaras carved on its columns, with additional structures visible on lintels and throughout the complex. Many buildings like libraries, courtyards, and galleries can also be seen. 

At one corner stands a two-story building with unique round columnar pillars, a rarity in the Angkor Empire. Preah Khan was once known as Nagara Jayasri, or the city of victory. Take your time to explore this fascinating place at your own pace.

Neak Poan

Neak Poan

Neak Poan, built initially as a hospital by Jayavarman VII, sits on the Jayatataka Barrey, encircled by water on all sides, creating an artificial island. Visitors can stroll along a floating walkway adorned with blooming lotus and lily flowers, adding to the picturesque setting.

At the temple’s base, two nagas named Nanda and Upananda are prominently displayed. The pools within the temple’s design represent the elements of Water, Earth, Fire, and Wind, following ancient Hindu beliefs of balance and harmony. Connected by stone conduits, these pools symbolize the four cardinal directions, each associated with an outstanding animal—elephant, bull, horse, and lion.

Ta Som

Ta Som temple, Cambodia

Near Neak Poan, Ta Som is a tiny temple constructed by Jayavarman VII in the 12th century. Its main entrance gate features four faces carved in the Bayon style. On the opposite side, the eastern gate is enveloped by a tree called the sacred fig (Ficus religiosa), which grows all the way to the ground.

Eastern Mabon 

The East Mabon Temple, or Eastern Mabon, was built by Rajendravarman in the 10th century and is dedicated to the Hindu deity Lord Shiva. Situated within the East Barray reservoir, the temple was once accessible by boat, though it’s dry now.

Remarkable sculptures adorn the temple, including two-meter-tall stone elephants at the corners and lion guardians at the entrances in each direction. You’ll find depictions of Indra riding his three-headed elephant, Airavata, and Shiva seated on his sacred bull, Nandi. The intricate carvings on the lintels are particularly striking. Look from the upper level and imagine the vast expanses of water that formerly surrounded the temple.

Pre Rup Temple

Pre Rup temple

King Rajendravarman built the temple in 961. Pre-Rup and the Mebon temple share similarities; both were constructed in the center of dry barays around the same period. The central tower once housed a linga named “Rajendratrekvara,” which is no longer present.

Pre Rup’s distinctive reddish hue comes from its extensive laterite and brick construction. 12 small shrines encircle the base, while five towers form a quincunx at the top, with one at each corner and one in the center. The final pyramid rises in three steep tiers to a 35-meter square platform.

A stone inscription in the National Museum of Phnom Penh recounts the temple’s construction and consecration, representing one of the longest-known Sanskrit texts from the ancient Khmer period. The second day involved a lot of sightseeing. Relax by watching the sunset near the waterbodies from the sunset viewpoint at Srah Srang.

Day 3

Angkor Wat Day 3 Itinerary Map
Day 3 Map

Day 3 is a bit easier compared to Day 2. You’ll get to explore two significant temples: the Face Temple, Bayon, and the much-anticipated Angkor Wat. After that, we’ll head to a small hilltop for a bird’s-eye view of Angkor Wat. Are you ready for Day 3?

Southern Gate

Southern Gate (Backside)

The Tonle Om Gate, also known as the Southern Gate, is a popular tourist spot because of its terrific location. It’s the main entrance leading to the Bayon Temple. As you approach, you’ll see a moat on each side of the causeway. On one side, there are demons, and on the other, gods are holding a seven-headed naga named Vasuki. This scene is from the story of the churning of the ocean of milk.

If you visit early or late in the evening, you’ll encounter fewer people at the gate. However, as it’s a popular tourist spot, it tends to get crowded as the day progresses.

Angkor Thom – Bayon Temple

Bayon temple backside view

Established by King Jayavarman Ⅶ, the Bayon Temple covers 9 square kilometers. It’s also known as Angkor Thom, Yashodhara, or Nokor Thom, meaning “big city” in Khmer. A stone inscription reveals its original name as Chey Kiri, meaning “triumphant mountain.”

Tourists often call Bayon the “face temple” because of the towers adorned with enigmatic human faces in all directions. The meaning of these faces remains a mystery, with some believing they depict King Jayavarman, while others suggest they represent the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.

Unlike many other temples surrounded by moats, Bayon has five imposing gates guarding the cardinal directions, with moats outside the gates. The city walls, made of laterite, stand between 7 and 8 meters tall and stretch for 3 kilometers. Each corner features a small temple called Prasat Chrung.

The king, his family, officials, military officers, and priests lived within the city walls, while others resided outside. Only the stone structures remain today, as the wooden ones have decayed over time.

As a Mahayana Buddhist Temple representing Mount Meru, Bayon contains Buddha statues that are worshipped inside. According to the inscriptions on the doorposts, the names of various deities in Buddhism and Brahmanism lead us to understand that the Bayon Temple is considered the Dhammapada as it is the center of deities of both Mahayana Buddhism and Brahmanism religions.

King Jayavarman and hospital scenes at the bottom
King Jayavarman, waiting for his queen. At the bottom, patients getting treated at the hospital

The intricate bas-relief carvings on the walls of Bayon’s second enclosure depict scenes of Khmer and Cham armies gathering for religious ceremonies in all four directions of the temple. Descriptive boards nearby help visitors understand these carvings.

On the outer walls, the bas-relief carvings depict diverse war scenes of the Khmer empire and Cham, small stalls at the marketplace, construction workers plotting a road, women preparing fish on skewers, and women suffering from unidentified sickness – such varied scenes eloquently portray the daily life of the people. While no explanatory descriptions exist for these carvings, guides can be hired at the entrance to provide insights.

Park near Bayon Temple and explore nearby attractions on foot, such as Baphuon, Phimeanakas, the Terrace of the Elephants, and the Terrace of the Leper King.

Baphuon

Bapuon temple

Baphuon, also known as the Golden Mountain, is a three-tiered temple adorned with carvings on every surface. Much of the temple has been damaged or worn away, leaving very few carvings intact. After 51 years of restoration, the temple features wooden and steel steps for easier access. From the top, you’ll enjoy a breathtaking view of the surroundings, including the giant causeway, demolished walls, and surrounding forests. Enjoy exploring the ruins and soaking in the bird’s eye view.

Phimeanakas 

Phimeanakas

Phimeanakas, built at the end of the 10th century under Rajendravarman’s rule and completed by Suryavarman I, is a three-tiered pyramid-shaped structure. Serving as Suryavarman I’s capital, it was surrounded by a moat and wall and had a tall central tower. Unfortunately, entry to Phimeanakas is restricted, but you can still admire it from a distance.

Terrace of the Elephants & the Leper King

Terrace of the leper king
Terrace of the elephants

The Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King are part of Angkor Thom. Carved bas-reliefs on these terraces depict elephants and Garudas in standing positions. The intricate sculptures on one end are particularly impressive, giving us a glimpse of their grandeur centuries ago.

These adjacent terraces were once a venue for royal ceremonies. The 350-meter-long Terrace of the Elephants was a massive reviewing stand for public events and the base for the king’s audience hall. King Jayavarman also watched his returning armies from here. Across the road, you’ll see 12 towers.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat backside entrance view

Since this blog is lengthy, we’ve prepared a unique guide dedicated solely to Angkor Wat, complete with more pictures. Be sure to check out the Angkor Wat guide.

Sunset at Phnom Bakheng

Aerial view of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Phnom Bakheng, dating back to the 9th century, served as Yasovarman’s state temple. Perched atop a natural hill, it offers the only aerial view of Angkor Wat. A brief hike takes you to the temple and its viewpoint.

Sunset draws large crowds here, especially between November and March. Remember, only 300 visitors are permitted at once, so aim to arrive before 4:30 PM.

1 Day Itinerary

More than one day is needed to fully appreciate Angkor Wat’s beauty. However, if you’re pressed for time and want to make the most of it, here are our top suggestions. Check out the details above for each place.

Commuting Around and Other Information

We rented a two-wheeler for the first two days and a cycle on the third day. There are also other modes of transport available for visitors in Angkor Wat. You can rent a tuk-tuk or an air-conditioned four-wheeler daily. For more information on how to commute between the temples, guides, tips to avoid crowds, codes of conduct, and so much more, refer to things to know before visiting Angkor Wat guide.

If you have any questions, comment below. We’ll do our best to answer them. Also, if you’ve found this blog helpful, comment below! And if you’re eager for more extensive hiking guides and travel tips, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and give us a follow on social media – find us on Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.

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