If you’re making plans to visit Cambodia, HUNDO P you’ve already got Angkor Wat on your list of things to do. And you should. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the single largest and oldest religious monument in the world and no doubt you’ll be speechless the moment your Tuk Tuk turns the corner and you catch even just a glimpse of it.
Angkor WAT however, is only a small (in comparison to the rest of the area) portion of the temple grounds you can visit. At the risk of sounding like an idiot, I’m gonna take a quick sec to explain the difference between Angkor, Angkor Wat, and Angkor Park (since I was said idiot and didn’t realize the difference until we arrived). Angkor is a city, Angkor Wat is a specific temple, and Angkor Archaeological Park is the entirety of the Angkor temples that span 500 acres.
K, so now that we’ve got that outta the way, here’s a list of things you should know before visiting the Angkor Archaeological Park and all the temples inside it.
You’ve got three options:
1 day ticket - $37
3 day ticket - $62
7 day ticket - $72
Note: These ticket prices are accurate only based on the day this post was published. For the most updated prices, check the official Angkor website.
These tickets unfortunately can’t be purchased online. You can only get them at the official ticket center (for cash or credit), which is 4 km outside of Siem Reap, and is open from 5AM to 5:30PM every day. FYI - any tickets purchased from hotels or tour companies (or anywhere outside of the ticket office) are not valid.
Note: Purchasing a 3 or 7 day pass will require your photo to be taken at the ticket booth, which is then printed onto your pass.
These tickets don’t have to be used in consecutive days, but they do expire - the 3 day ticket expires 10 days after being purchased and the 7 day ticket expires in 30 days. The 1 day ticket however, is valid ONLY for the day it is purchased UNLESS it is purchased after 5PM, in which case it’ll be valid for the following day. Confusing, I know, but this works in your favour! Why? Because LOOPHOLE: Buy your ticket after 5PM - from this point, your ticket will be valid for the following day. However, on the SAME evening you purchase your ticket, you can head over to the Angkor Park and watch the sunset for free 😉
Options for places in the Angkor Park to watch the sunset (be prepared for massive crowds waiting for the same epic views - you’ve been warned):
Srah Srang lake
If you’ve been to literally any temple anywhere else before, then you’ll know the rules - same ones apply: shoulders and knees must be covered. This goes for both men and women - anyone who wants to actually enter the temples. If you’re showing a bit of skin, you might not get stopped if you’re just roaming the temple grounds, but try to enter a temple and boy oh boy will you get the looks, the glares, the head shakes, and finally the halt-you-shall-not-pass hand motions before you’re shooed away for trying to enter sacred grounds lookin’ the way you do.
Really, the only thing you need to know here is that you will be ORANGE from the calves down at the end of your day at Angkor Park. So I’d totally suggest sandals or flip flops. And definitely don’t wear any nice shoes, because they’ll be ruined by the orange dirt.
LOL so Kev and I apparently think we’re The Hulk and have an unlimited supply of energy - for some inexplicable reason, we thought we’d be able to WALK the Angkor Park. Yes, ON FOOT. But lemme tell you - it is most definitely NOT walkable. I don’t even think it’s even bicycle-able. You’re walking around so much on the temple grounds already, that there really isn’t any energy left to walk between temples. You’ll have to hire a Tuk Tuk driver or a tour guide (or both), because sometimes it’s a 15 minute drive between temples.
Tuk Tuk drivers charge around $15 USD for the day and tour guides typically charge $30-$40 USD, but you can get the best of both worlds (and at a fraction of the price) by hiring an unofficial tour guide Tuk Tuk driver. YUP, a two-in-one. We scored big time when we hired Smye - he’s a Tuk Tuk driver who was studying to become an official Angkor tour guide. He was charging us on average $20 USD per day, and the only difference between hiring Smey and an official tour guide is that a tour guide would accompany you through the temple, but Tuk Tuk drivers aren’t allowed to go through the temple with tourists. We found our situation with Smye was the best for us because he told us about the temples before we went in and explored on our own, rather than having to follow a tour guide through the whole temple.
Tricks and Tips
Watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat at 5AM. But be prepared for crowds. Like a whole whack load of ‘em.
Another great time to visit the main temple in Angkor Wat is at noon after you’ve visited other temples. It’s super crazy crowded in the mornings (from people arriving early for the sunrise), and also because the main temple is only open at 9:30AM for visitors to start their climb.
Although it’s really crowded basically everywhere in the park, some temples, like The Bayon, are so enormous that you’re able to find abandoned corners with no one around, allowing you to bask in the beauty of the ruins on your own.
Hiring a Tuk Tuk driver is a great way to find out which temples to visit in a day, based off proximity. Since drivers make the route daily, they’re familiar with which temples are well-grouped together.
Bring snacks and water!