A backpacker’s guide to Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world! Its immense structure and ageless preservation over the centuries has made it THE place to visit on a trip to the country.

It was originally built as a Hindu temple of god Vishnu for the Khmer Empire, but gradually became a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century.

The temples are situated about a 15-20 minute Tuk Tuk ride from the Siem Reap city centre. The day ticket price has gone up recently from $20 to $37, but you can get a 2 day pass for $62 which includes the Angkor Wat Zipline.

The day before figure out if you want to book on with a tour group and guide, which could cost around $15-$30 pp, excluding the park’s entrance fee. We decided to just hire a Tuk Tuk for $15 to take us to the inner loop. He offered to do sunrise to sunset but we were only there for 4/5 hours before getting our fill!

Your driver will take you to the ticket office first, which is on the way. It opens at 5am, so if you did want to watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat you can arrive for 5.30am to find a spot for that picture perfect moment. Be warned that this is the busiest time of day and you’ll be competing with thousands of other tourists wanting the same shot. It was overcast when we visited so we opted for a few extra hours in bed and left at 8am. It wasn’t that busy when we arrived, as we missed a lot of the big tour groups.

Bayon Temple

TIP: You’ll be asked persistently if you want a tour guide by people walking around the park or outside it. Don’t accept, as most are money grabbing scams. If you want a guide, arrange through your accommodation.

Your first stop will be the iconic Angkor Wat itself. The grounds are massive and most of it you wont have to queue. However, getting into the main temple always has a LONG wait, so really ask yourself if its worth standing in 30 degree heat for an hour just to be cattled in and out.

The temple’s main occupants are cheeky monkeys with a sweet tooth. Try not to get your grub out in front of them because you’ll have a difficult time keeping hold of it 🙈

Angkor Wat

It’s estimated there are around 100,000 people living within the park, a lot sell food, snacks and souvenirs. We packed a picnic of pastries and water before leaving and tucked in outside one of the temples.

We also visited Angkor Thom (aka Bayon), Ta Phrom where Tomb Raider was filmed, and Phnom Bakheng which has incredible panoramic views of Angkor Wat (great alternative for sunrise).

Here’s our favourite photos and a video from our day exploring the ancient temples…

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