Visiting Angkor Wat, Cambodia? Here’s everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip!

May 7, 2023

An ancient, lizard-like stone structure that rises out of the mist of the jungle, Angkor Wat (the “City of Temples”) is an incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

What is Angkor Wat? It’s the largest religious site in the world and is best known for its Indiana Jones-esq ancient temples, intricate carvings, and unique architecture. Angkor Wat’s sprawling complex is a fascinating fusion of both the Hindu and Buddhist religions, as it was originally built as a Hindu temple and became a Buddhist temple in the 12th century.

Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, an adventurer, an art nerd, or a religious nut, Angkor Wat is a bucket list destination that will widen your view of the world no matter where you come from.

In this Angkor Wat travel guide, I’ll answer all the questions I had about Angkor Wat before my visit and share what I learned while I was there, including the best time to visit Angkor Wat, how to get there, what to wear, what the “must see” temples are, and more!

Where is Angkor Wat and how do I get there?

Angkor Wat is located in the northwestern part of Cambodia (which is situated between Thailand and Vietnam in southeast Asia) in the town of Siem Reap.

Siem Reap is an interesting small town buzzing with vibrant street food markets, traditional Cambodian dance performances, local Khmer art museums, and the scenic Siem Reap River.

As the gateway to Angkor Wat, also known as Angkor Archaeological Park, Siem Reap takes a lot of pride in its history and you’ll never have trouble finding a tuk tuk or a tour to get there.

We took a busy from Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, to get to Siem Reap. However, the easiest way to get to Angkor Wat directly is by flying into the Siem Reap International Airport. From there, you can take a taxi or tuk-tuk to your hotel or directly to the temple complex.

How long should I plan to stay in Angkor Wat?

Most people spend between 1-3 days exploring the temples of Angkor Wat. The exact amount of time you’ll need depends on your interests. If you want to explore every nook and cranny of the temples, plan to spend at least 3 days in the area. If you’re short on time, you can see the main temples in a single day. I’ll say this— if you try to do Angkor Wat in one day, be prepared for an absolute marathon.

We did a guided tour that included being shuttled from site to site within Angkor Wat, and it still involved a lot of walking and stairs in the hot sun. Even to see just 4-5 temples, you’re talking about a 12 hour day. Towards the end, even though I’d consider myself more enthusiastic than the average bear about history, art, and architecture (and to be in relatively good physical shape), I was dragging and in need of a long break. If I could do it again, I would take at least 2 days to explore Angkor Wat.

When is the best time to visit Angkor Wat?

The best time to visit Angkor Wat is during the dry season, from November-March. During this time, the weather is dry, a bit cooler, and the skies are clear. The wet season, from May-October, is characterized by heavy rain and high humidity. If you do visit during the wet season, be prepared for muddy conditions and mosquitos.

I also highly recommend visiting Angkor Wat at sunrise. Arrive at the park at least an hour before sunrise to get inside and figure out where to go. From the time we entered (after getting tickets and everything) it took about 20 minutes to get to the main Angkor Wat temple famous for sunrise and scope out a spot. There was already a crowd at this time and it was still dark outside, so be prepared to politely elbow your way to the front (joking— kind of).

What are the best temples to visit in Angkor Wat?

The Angkor Wat complex is home to dozens of temples, each with its own unique features and history. Some of the most popular temples include:

  • Angkor Wat: This is the largest and most famous temple in the complex. It was built in the 12th century and is known for its stunning architecture and intricate carvings.

  • Bayon: This temple is known for its huge stone faces that adorn its towers. It was built in the late 12th century and was once the center of the Angkor Thom city.

  • Ta Prohm: This temple is famous for the massive trees that grow among its ruins. It was built in the late 12th century and has been left largely untouched by restoration efforts.

Instagram vs. reality:

What should I wear when visiting Angkor Wat?

Because Angkor Wat is a religious site, visitors are expected to dress modestly. This means covering your shoulders and knees. Lightweight, breathable clothing is recommended, as the weather can be hot and humid. Comfortable walking shoes are also a must, as you’ll be doing a lot of walking on uneven terrain.

How much are tickets to Angkor Wat? Should I book a tour?

Yes, you need tickets to enter Angkor Wat. The Angkor Wat Pass can be purchased online or on site, and the price depends on the type of pass that you choose:

  • 1-day pass – US$ 37;

  • 3-day pass – US$ 62;

  • 7-day pass – US$ 72;

To help make sure that you get the most out of your time at Angkor Wat, it’s easiest to go with a guided tour. I can’t imagine figuring out how to get inside and find the main temple in the dark without a guide to see the sunrise, and it would have been devastating to miss the sunrise after waking up at 3:30AM for this exact experience! This is the tour we took with a local guide— it included pickup and drop off at our hotel, waters throughout the day, being driven in an air conditioned vehicle from site to site, and guided tours (along with free time) in several temples for an extremely affordable price.

Is it safe to travel to Angkor Wat?

Cambodia is generally a safe country to visit, and the temples of Angkor Wat are no exception. However, it’s important to take common-sense safety precautions, such as keeping your valuables secure and avoiding walking alone at night.

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Are you new here? Let’s be friends! I’m Sarah— a solo female traveler (& world’s okayest travel blogger) helping you travel the world, discover surprising destinations, & have a laugh getting off the beaten path. Scroll to the bottom of this page to sign up to stay in touch (I promise not to spam you- just to share the best travel hacks, guides, itineraries, embarrassing stories, and unmissable experiences)!



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