Cambodia: Visit Angkor Temples
Many people call this area “Angkor Wat”, but actually this is just one of the more than a thousand Temples that the entire area has. The Angkor Archeological Park was once a very populated city. Between the years of 1010 and 1220, this city was the home for 0,1% of the global population. What was once the capital of the Khmer Empire today receives around 2 million tourists per year. If you are one of those that would love to see those spectacular ruins from those Hindu temples, read this until the end and get the best tips to make your visit to Angkor unforgettable.
The temples area opens every day from 5:00 am to 6:00 pm. The tickets can be bought near to the Archeological Area Entrance and they are charged in Dollars: $ 37,00 for one day, $ 62,00 for three days and $ 72,00 for seven days. So you can shape which kind of visit you want to do. When you buy the multiple days tickets, you can schedule your visit within a certain limited time, not having to use it on consecutive days.
All the tickets are valid from 5:00 pm from previous day until 6:00 pm of the next day. So if you want to do the best usage of your ticket, you can buy it on the previous day, go for a sunset photo of the Angkor Wat and then go back to your hotel to prepare for the great day.
Very important fact: don’t lose your ticket because to enter each temple you are going to need them and there’s a high fee for those who lose it. Also, your ticket has your photo on it and will always be checked. The tickets are sold only at the Park and can only be paid by cash. If you don’t have the money with you, there are some ATMs where you can withdraw, but finding huge lines is not unusual.
There’s a small bakery at the ticket office as well and they have nice snacks for fair prices. Take something because the lunch pause can take a while.
Before February 2017, the prices where almost half of what is today. One day ticket cost $ 20,00 which we consider a very fair price. We got a little disappointed on how much the prices raised. This almost made us give up on the experience, but we were already in Siem Reap when we found out, so we couldn’t step back after getting so near. So, if you are not updated about the new prices, take your pencil again to add this extra cost.
Getting to Angkor
I never heard of anyone that wanted to visit the Angkor Temples and didn’t stay in Siem Reap. This is the nearest city to the archaeological park and has nice hotels, with very fair prices and a very nice touristic area with bars and a cute night market. If you are planning a visit to the temples, it is in Siem Reap that you should book a hotel.
You have few options to visit the temples:
- – Tuk Tuk Tour
- – Tuk Tuk as a taxi
- – Bicycles
- – Motorcycle
- – Private Car
Of course, you can also walk there, but this might take some time. The temples are around 8 km far from Siem Reap not mentioning all the walking you will have between the temples. The area is huge, it has around 400 km2 and it very warm all year long. Don’t forget that Siem Reap is near to the Equatorian Line, which makes the temperature pretty equal it doesn’t matter when you are visiting it. We were there in April and faced around 35oC.
The most common way of making this tour is using a Tuk Tuk. You can rent them for the day. The tours are divided into two categories: Small Tour and Big Tour, costing $ 15 and $ 17 respectively. If you want to see the sunrise at the Angkor Wat borders, you must pay an extra fee of $ 2 or 3, then the driver will take you to the Angkor Site around 4:30 in the morning. For the tours after sunset, you can schedule the time of your preference, but we highly recommend that you start it very early, because there are many things to see.
The small tour will take you to those temples: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom (and all the small temples there), Ta Keo, Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei and Prasat Kravan.
The big tour will take you to those temples: Angkor Wat, Angor Thom (and all the small temples there), Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som, East Mebon, Pre Rup, Beantey Kdei and Prasat Kravan.
In the end of both tours, you can also go back to Angkor Wat and make a sunset picture around there.
If you have time, you should make the 3 days ticket. You can spread your visiting days as long as they don’t take more than seven days from the buying day. This way you could make the Tuk Tuk small tour for one day. The Tuk Tuk big tour for the second day and for the third day you could rent a bicycle and do a tour by yourself, so you can explore all the area without the pressure of going through all the temples. It is a very special place and having an extra time to see it all can be a great experience. But don’t skip the Tuk Tuk tour. It is quicker to move around with them and they will take you to see the biggest temples.
If you just have one day, make the small tour. It is in a perfect size to see all the temples with time. We had just one day, so we took the small tour. It was really tiring, really warm, but worth it. One day we will be back for more, but we are pleased with what we saw.
The preparation for the tour
The Angkor Archeological Park is a religious place. To walk between the temples the dressing code is more relaxed, but to enter the temples areas you must follow some important rules. Some temples have stronger rules than others, but in all of them, you must have your legs and shoulders covered. I really don’t deal so well if the extremely hot weather, so I decided to go with a T-Shirt, my beloved shorts and I took a sarong so I could wrap around my legs while walking inside the temples site.
Simon had a tank top, so he had to bargain a T-Shirt at the entrance of Angkor Wat. If your dressing code is not good there, you are going to find a great variety of products there, but for the triple price of what you would pay in the city. If you are as good in bargaining as Simon, you will manage to buy a $ 8 T-Shirt for $ 1,50. How? Simply stick with your offer and walk away if the person denies it. The lady who was offering the shirt called us back to sell the shirt for him for what he wanted to pay.
Besides all the clothing preparation, this was not enough to enter the sacred saloon at Angkor Wat. Unfortunately, they didn’t accept my sarong. The rule to that temple was that the lower body clothing must have an elastic or a line to hold it and must go until your upper ankle. This rule is a little bit weird (not to use other words), because there were girls who had the side parts of their skirts completely opened, showing their entire legs when they walked, but I couldn’t enter the area wearing a sarong that went down to my feet and was three times around my body, not showing a single piece of skin not even with long steps. The funniest part was that the security guy suggested Simon that he could go there, come back and give me his pants afterwards. So, in theory, undressing inside the temple is ok, but letting someone go with a sarong covering absolutely everything was not ok.
So, if you want to visit the temples wearing shorts to refresh yourself between them like I did, be sure that you take a long skirt with you. This will not stop you to enter any of the places. The guys also need something that covers the legs. For the upper part, always a T-Shirt. No open back and no decorate.
Date of our visit to Angkor Archeological Park: 03.04.2017