Angkor Wat Sunrise, Cambodia

21 Things To Know Before Visiting Angkor Wat

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Holding the title of the largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat is a stunning architectural wonder on the travel list for millions worldwide. The amount of research you need to do might seem overwhelming before you walk around these majestic ruins. So, what we did was compile a list of all the possible questions that you might have swirling around in your head, like 

  • What are the must-see attractions out here
  • The ticket information
  • The hours open
  • What to eat
  • Where to stay, you get our point. So, let’s start striking off that list one by one.

1. Best Time to Visit

Angkor Wat grand entrance

November to April marks the dry or summer season, with minimal rainfall. The ideal time to visit Angkor Wat is from November to February, offering pleasant weather. However, March and April tend to be hot and humid. On the other hand, the monsoon season falls between late May to early October.

2. Entry Ticket

You can buy tickets for Angkor Wat online or at the ticket office. In a detailed blog, we’ve included everything you need to know about purchasing an entry ticket to Angkor Wat. Refer to that for any further information you’d like.  

3. Ticket Checkpoints

Ticket checkpoints are strategically positioned throughout the area. When you enter for the first time each day, your physical ticket [if you have one] will be punched by a machine. The QR code will be scanned for verification if you have an online pass. Remember to show your pass at all temple entrances. Sneaking past a checkpoint is not an option!

4. Timings

The visiting hours are given below. There are no delays in the opening and closing hours of the archaeological sites. They are followed strictly on time.

  • The Angkor Wat temple and Srassrang are open from 5 AM to 5:30 PM.
  • Phnom Bakheng and Pre Rupp temples are open from 5 AM to 7 PM.
  • All the other temples are open from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM.

5. Commuting Around

The Angkor Wat temple complex is about 7 km from the city center. The other temples are, however, not located close to one another. Public transport and buses are not available in Siem Reap. However, exploring all the temples on foot would be time-consuming and exhausting. Fortunately, various transportation options are available for traveling around the archaeological sites.

  • Renting a cycle – starts from $3 per day per person
  • Renting a two-wheeler – starts from $10 per day, shared between 2 persons
  • Tuktuk – starts from $15 per day, shared among 3 persons
  • Remorque – starts from $20 per day, shared among 4 persons
  • Car & Van – starts from $30 per day

Prices for transportation around Angkor Wat vary depending on factors such as distance, the number of passengers, selected temples, and preferred sunrise or sunset spots. Atchaya traveled solo, opting for a two-wheeler for two days and a bicycle for one day. Detailed information on her itinerary for exploring the Angkor monuments is also available.

Many tuk-tuk drivers know the temples and offer detailed explanations of their history. They often expect a tip if they act as guides. Alternatively, you can choose from half-day, full-day, or customized tours provided by tour agencies for transportation arrangements.

6. Avoid the Crowds

Aerial view of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

With its allure and earthly beauty, Angkor Wat attracts many visitors from all over the world. It is nearly impossible to have the Angkor Wat all to yourself. After all, beauty not being admired is a sin, but we have some tips that certainly don’t hurt. 

Several bloggers suggest that you turn left or right to witness the sunrise but trust us when we say nothing will work. You will encounter a lot of people vying for this beautiful piece of heaven, and you should accept being one of them. Nevertheless, you can choose to see the sunrise from any of the enclosures and enjoy it. 

During the summer, the main temple of Angkor Wat sees heavy crowds from early morning until 11 AM and between 4 PM and 5:30 PM, with fewer people around noon. During the monsoon season, clouds often obscure the sunrise, so fewer visitors arrive early. Visiting this place during the monsoon season is ideal for avoiding crowds.

No matter if you go clockwise or anti-clockwise, expect crowds. For popular spots, visit early in the morning when they open to beat the rush. Group tours typically start at 8 AM, so you’ll have an hour to explore before they arrive.

7. Temple Signboards

Numerous signboards are positioned inside and outside the archaeological sites, offering helpful instructions such as “Mind Your Head” and directions to various temples. Trust us; the mind-your-head one is pretty important. These signs enable visitors to navigate the sites independently, even without a guide.

Information about the history, places of importance, architecture, and excavations (before and after) are kept at prominent spots. These help the visitors to know and understand the place much better.

8. Dress Code

Phimeanakas

All the archaeological sites follow strict dress codes for women. Remember to cover your shoulders and knees when visiting the archaeological sites – it’s part of the dress code. If you’re in shorts, no worries. Just grab a shawl or something long from the nearby shops. Men are allowed to wear shorts. Footwear is allowed at all the places. You don’t have to remove it before entering any of the temples.

9. Tour Guides

The entry tickets do not include the price for tour guides if you would like their guided assistance. You can find multilingual guides fluent in Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, and English, to name a few, and who can be hired.

Most of the guides provide transportation choices. The price starts from $30 per day and varies largely depending on the package you opt for. You can negotiate your way around. Tipping at the end is expected.

At the entrance of Angkor Wat, you’ll find many English-speaking guides offering their services. Hiring one there to start your tour is easy, or you can also book guides online. The authorized tour guides have a license and wear uniforms that are sandalwood in color. You can also spot a tour guide sticker on their full-handed sleeves.

Do you need a tour guide? Well, it is highly subjectable. If you are on a budget but have time to spare, you can read online about the history, watch guided tours, and equip yourself with all the information needed to absorb the full scale of this monument. Visiting the Angkor National Museum also definitely helps.

While we had some information and familiarity about Indian history and Hinduism, we found having a tour guide particularly helpful at Bayon Temple. For other temples, we managed fine without one. The information boards were also useful, ensuring we didn’t miss any important spots.

10. Photography & Videography

Trees overgrown on the Ta Phrom temple
Ta Phrom Temple

You can take photos and videos with your camera or phone without restrictions. However, using professional equipment for commercial purposes requires permission from the Apsara department.

Drones are strictly prohibited, and while signboards warn against using 180 and 360° cameras, many people still do so without interference from staff. Tripods are allowed, but please use them considerately so as not to disrupt others’ experiences.

11. Parking Facilities

There’s dedicated parking right in front of all the archaeological sites, and even if there are multiple entry points, each has its own parking area. In some rare cases, you might need to walk a short distance of 100 – 200 m from the entrance.

Parking is completely free of charge, although there have been instances where visitors have been asked to pay. Unfortunately, during our visit to Angkor Wat Sunrise, we were scammed into paying for parking and receiving a ticket in return, as we were unaware and in a hurry.

12. Restroom Availability

Restrooms are conveniently situated throughout the archaeological site, with some near the parking areas and others along the roadside at key locations. Look for signboards along the roads to guide you to the nearest restroom facilities.

  • Foreigners holding a valid ticket can use the restroom for free.
  • 2000 Cambodian Riels for foreigners without a ticket.
  • 500 Cambodian Riels for Cambodian nationals.

13. Where to Eat?

Every parking area has shops offering a variety of refreshments, including juices, fast food, snacks, coconuts, and water. Some parking lots even have sit-down restaurants serving Cambodian or Khmer dishes like rice, noodles, and fried rice. The ambiance is typically simple, and it’s a good idea to check online reviews before selecting a spot to eat. Remember that some vendors might be a bit pushy when inviting visitors to their establishments.

The restaurants located in the archaeological site premises are expensive compared to those found in the city center. Some eateries offer negotiable prices, while others have fixed prices. Most or all of the restaurants accept only cash payments. There are no free drinking water or water refill stations available. You will have to buy bottled water from the shops.

14. Where to Stay?

 

Accommodations near Angkor Park are scarce, so most visitors stay in the Siem Reap city center and travel 7 kilometers to reach the archaeological sites. During our visit, we stayed at the Noni Tree hostel. Here are some other options to consider.

15. Network Connectivity

The network connection with Metfone was inconsistent, ranging from poor to moderate. We advise purchasing a cell card or Smart SIM card, which is known for providing reliable internet access across the Angkor Archaeological Park. Smart is particularly popular among locals and is recommended by us as well. Check out our guide for where and how to buy a SIM card in Cambodia.

16. Visit the Angkor National Museum

Before exploring the Angkor Wat temples, visiting the Angkor National Museum is essential. Split into 6 galleries, the museum is packed with so much information about the history, art, and architecture of the monuments, the rulers and their contributions, religions, and so much more. It’s the perfect place to learn all the essential information about the temples and their significance. Even audio guides are available in different languages at an additional cost of around 5 USD. You can also find a souvenir shop near the museum exit.

  • Timings – 8:30 AM – 6:30 PM from October 1st to March 31st, closes at 6 PM from April 1st to September 30th.
  • Entry Fee – 12 USD per adult and 6 USD for children between 6 and 11 years
  • Duration – A complete tour takes at least 2-3 hours.

17. Temples To Not-To-Be-Missed

18. Planning and Itinerary

Intricate carvings on the lintels
Banteay Srei temple carvings

Crafting your own itinerary to visit all the temples can be overwhelming and time-consuming. We spent three days exploring the Angkor Wat monuments, and we’ve detailed our itinerary for you to follow. Whether you prefer single- or multiple-day plans, you can adjust based on your preference or simply follow our plan to make the most of your experience at the Angkor archaeological sites.

19. Baggage Counter

There is no dedicated baggage counter available in the Angkor Wat archaeological sites. You will have to carry your bags around. Alternatively, you can keep them in the vehicle or leave them at your accommodation.

20. Things to Carry

Here’s a list of essentials we recommend you pack before exploring the Angkor archaeological sites. That’s all you’ll need!

  • Your entry ticket, of course.
  • Cash (either in dollars or Riels)
  • Water bottle. Carry at least 1-2 L of water per person.
  • Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect you against UV rays.
  • Snacks, especially if you have kids
  • Camera and its accessories (optional)
  • A power bank (optional)

21. Archaeological Site Code of Conduct

King Suryavarman || at Angkor Wat
The King Suryavarman || – carved on the base relief at Angkor Wat

Ensure to follow the rules of conduct mentioned below while visiting Angkor Wat.

  • Any act of looting, breaking, and damaging Angkor or exposing sexual organs and nudity in public areas is a crime punishable by law.
  • Touching the carvings, sitting on fragile structures, leaning on temple structures, moving or taking archaeological artifacts and graffiti are strictly prohibited.
  • Angkor is a sacred site. In Cambodian culture, any form of loud conversation, loud noise, or other inappropriate behavior is considered offensive and may disturb other visitors. Please keep calm and be respectful.
  • For your safety and the conservation of Angkor, please comply with all signs on the site and be mindful of your steps at all times. Do not climb on loose stones.
  • As a member of the World Health Organization, Angkor has been a smoke-free site since 2012. Smoking cigarettes and littering here is strictly prohibited.
  • Buying items and giving candy or money to children encourages them not to attend school but to beg. If you wish to help the children, please consider donating to a recognized charity.
  • Monks are revered and respected. If you want to take pictures, please ask for their permission. Women should not touch, stand, or sit too close to the monks.

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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