Angkor Wat is a famous archaeological park in Cambodia, near Siem Reap. The park encompasses over 45 temples and has an area of more than 400 km2. Visiting this park will help you understand more about the Khmer Empire because you can visit the remains of various medieval Khmer capitals.
The Angkor Wat complex is a melting pot of history and spirituality, so how can you make the most of your visit? Below are ten tips for exploring, having fun, and enjoying your time here.
1. Run the Angkor Wat Half Marathon
Once a year, the temple complex opens up and becomes a fully fledged marathon! This marathon is for people who want to squeeze in some physical exercise along with their sightseeing. The good news is there’s a ride back to town at the end of the day, so you can easily get back to Siem Reap after running around the temples.
If you’re here during the marathon and enjoy running, then this is definitely a great idea to help you get the most out of your visit to Angkor Wat!
2. Visit the Angkor Wat National Museum
If you want a better grasp of the Khmer culture, visiting the temples might not be enough.
The Angkor Wat Museum is filled with gems from the Khmer Empire so that you can put this civilization’s beliefs into perspective. For instance, you will find out that Cambodia’s Buddhism has its roots in India as much as Southeast Asia.
A visit to the museum before visiting the temples can help you decipher the intricacies of Khmer architecture as well.
3. Rent a Bike
Plenty of tourists enjoy riding bikes along the wide paths between the temples, cycling along the hills and valleys. This reduces your visiting time by a lot, but it also adds some excitement into your visit.
Renting a bike is fairly inexpensive, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Cambodia’s temperatures are generally around 35-40 degrees, with 100% humidity. Cycling between Angkor Wat’s temples is exhausting, so you need to hydrate properly and use good sun lotion.
4. Hire a Tuk-Tuk
If cycling isn’t your thing, then you can take a tuk tuk tour of the temples. Bokre Angkor Hostel has many tuk tuks on standby waiting to take you around the temples!
By taking a tuk tuk, you’ll be more rested, and you can enjoy the wind blowing through your hair from the backseat because foreigners aren’t allowed to drive through the park. The driver can even take you a bit further, to other temple complexes, like Phnom Kulen, Banteay Srey or Beng Mealea.
With a tuk-tuk, you can see more places than just the Angkor Wat temples so that you can get a taste of the authentic, rural Cambodia or its surrounding jungles.
Make sure to set a meeting spot with your driver because temples have various entries and exist along with their intricate passageways, so you can easily get lost.
5. Buy a Pass
If you’re interested in buying a pass, you can choose between a 1-day, 3-day, or 7-day option. Neither of them is expensive, but be careful with your money and don’t buy anything from unauthorized people.
If you’re a history buff, consider buying the longest pass, which will give you more time to absorb the local history and explore all the ancient ruins. A longer pass is better if you want to visit more than the temples at Angkor Wat and head to Banteay Srey, East Mebon or Ta Prohm.
The real benefit with longer pass is that you don’t have to go sightseeing during consecutive days. The 3-day pass is valid for a week and the 7-day pass for a month, so you can pace yourself.
Take the time you need to rest and restore your energy reserves because, as you’ll find out in Angkor Wat, temple fatigue actually exists.
6. Start Early
The early bird gets the worm, and the early traveler gets the best experiences. Start your tour before sunrise, at 5 a.m. That way, you can get there before most of the other toursits arrive and enjoy a heart-throbbing sunrise above Angkor Wat from a good spot, with the moon still in the background.
The best tip to enjoy a perfect sunrise and photograph it from any possible angle is to stay close to the water. Otherwise, someone else might bud in and ruin your shots.
Even if you don’t want to see the sunrise, it’s still a good idea to start early. Angkor Wat opens its gates at 7:00 a.m., and you can leisurely explore the temples in the morning breeze rather than having to face the scorching mid-day heat.
7. Hire a Guide
It’s easier to explore the history behind the temples with a local guide, which can also show you the hidden gems of the place.
Bokre Angkor Hostel can help to arrange a tour guide for you, just ask our friendly tour test and we’ll be more than happy to help you.
8. Follow the Dress Code
Your first items on your what-to-wear list should be suntan and mosquito repellent, but your clothes are important as well.
Angkor Wat is a place of worship, with many Hindu and Buddhist temples, so you should dress appropriately. The rule of thumb is covered shoulders and knees or, otherwise, you might not be let inside.
Footwear is equally important, so you should choose sports shoes that support your ankles when you’re climbing to the temples or walking for hours. Some of the stairs could be slippery, especially if it rained.
A wide-brimmed hat with sun protection is a must-have to shield you from the scorching sun.
9. Bring Supplies
Your backpack shouldn’t be too heavy, but make sure you have plenty of water, some snacks, hand sanitizer, wet tissues, and some extra sun lotion.
10. What to Visit
If you get multiple days passes, reserve your first day for exploring the temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. These are immense constructions with plenty of details you don’t want to miss, like the mystical inscriptions and the religious art. Spend your day climbing to the top of these temples, then explore the surrounding jungle.
The Terrace of Leper King, which depicts a 15th-century statue of Yama, the Hindu god of death, in Angkor Thom is thought to have been a prominent cremation site in the Khmer Empire.
Other must-see locations include Bayon, a mind-bending temple richly-decorated with smiling Buddha statues, and the Elephant Terrace with its shady trees, playful monkeys and crystal-clear lakes.
Bokre Angkor Hostel are always happy to help you arrange any tour of the temples you want. We have many different options and can customize unique tours just for you!