No visit to Southeast Asia is complete without seeing the grandeur of Angkor Wat. The biggest religious complex in the world, Angkor Archaeological Park is not doubt a magical place to explore for a few days; with 500 acres under the park domain, and many of the temples built as early as the 12th century, there is no shortage of temples to see and historical sites to explore.
The jumping off point to see Angkor is a sleepy town in Northwest Cambodia called Siem Reap; home to less than a million people, some may find it surprising that the city is equipped with an airport. The town itself feels quite small; with many dirt roads and wooden stilt houses, there is a certain charm to Siem Reap that is unmatched anywhere else. While many believe Angkor is IN Siem Reap, it lies slightly outside of town; it’s about 7 or 8 km from the downtown area.
There are a few options for exploring Angkor; the two most popular are by tuk-tuk tour, or by bike. You can get a tuk-tuk, complete with a driver (who often knows the complex extremely well, and can provide some historical information) for a flat price everyday; this is usually about $20 (you can find a little more, or a little less…it depends on what exactly you want to see). You can book a tuk-tuk at any hotel or travel agency in town. Some choose to see Angkor by bike; it allows for more freedom, and is also cheaper. However, be warned that Cambodian heat is no joke in the summertime, and the bike ride to and from downtown can be extremely tiring.
When you get to the entrance of Angkor Wat (which opens at 5 in the morning, and closes at 6pm), you have a few options for purchasing your entrance fee. One day passes are $20, three day passes are $40, and seven day passes are $60. Your ticket will have your photograph on it, which is taken at the main entrance. Be sure to bring your pass back each day to be checked at the gate; it can also sometimes be checked at various temples around the Park. For more facts read our article: 9 things to know about Angkor.
Best to see at Angkor Wat at Sunrise
No doubt the temple of Angkor Wat is the most famous temple in the complex; it is also the most photographed (the stereotypical lake reflection picture at sunrise is a rite of passage in SE Asia).
However, besides Angkor Wat, there are an unimaginable number of temples to see, many of them just as picturesque. Preah Khan is one of the biggest temples in the entire complex; Ta Prohm is undoubtedly one of the most famous…also known as the Tomb Raider temple, trees have begun to reclaim the temple in amazing ways.
Though after a few days you may be “templed out,” Angkor Wat is sure to be one of the most memorable experiences on your Southeast Asia trip (and possibly in your life!). Be sure to take the time to visit Siem Reap, and see Angkor for yourself!