Angkor Wat, the temple complex in the heart of Cambodia, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country and the rest of Southeast Asia. There’s a good reason why Angkor Wat is so famous. It is a stunning site, with breathtaking views and a wonderful mix of ancient temples and steamy jungle.
Angkor Wat is a huge site, and it can be difficult to manage if you do not plan your trip well. The place is full of wonderful sights, including the most popular temple of Angkor Wat itself, the Bayon temple, Ta Prohm, and the smaller Angkor Thom. It is a good idea to get a multi-day pass so you can see the attraction at its very best. Here is a short guide to visiting Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Where to Stay When Visiting Angkor Wat
The town of Siem Reap is the most convenient place to stay when visiting the temple complex, and most people staying here will be visiting at some point. You can find a wide range of accommodation options in Siem Reap, from budget dorms with shared bathrooms to plush luxury hotels.
You can also find a wide range of food options in Siem Reap from street food for travelers on a budget to western cuisine and a great variety of Asian foods. There are pubs, bars, and cafes – everything you need to relax and wind down after a hard day touring the temples.
Getting to Angkor Wat
You’ll find cars, tuk-tuks, and drivers to hire in Siem Reap. Once you pay your fee your driver will act as your guide for the day, taking you around the temples (you’ll need transport as they are a good distance apart) and back to your hotel. Prices vary and depend on the service you get. It is generally cheaper to get a guide in Siem Reap rather than one inside the park.
Everyone visiting the park will need to buy a permit. You can buy permits that allow you to visit one, three or seven days. If you are staying more than a day in Siem Reap it is well worth getting a three day or seven-day pass as there is such a lot to see.
Remember that your permit allows you to access the temple complex the night before at 5 pm so you can go first to catch the sunset over the famous Phnom Bakheng.
Best Things to See and Do at Angkor Wat
Often confused with the name of the temple complex itself, Angkor Wat is actually a large temple and is the largest pyramid in Asia. The temple is more than 200 feet high and it is built into different layers. There are four towers in the center which form a lotus flower shape. It is a wonderful time to view from afar, but you will also want to get close and explore the reliefs on the walls which depict famous battles, legends, and myths.
Located in the center of Angkor Thom, this temple has 54 towers and you will see some of the 216 faces of Avalokiteshvara on the walls. It is a good idea to visit here as the sun is setting when the sunshine is lighting up these faces. There are numerous small rooms to explore.
This temple in the middle of the jungle has been left as it was found and it is a wonderful example of how these historic temples looked when they were rediscovered. This is a wonderful place to explore but it can get very busy so try to come early here before the crowds.
A wonderful terrace made up of hundreds of elephants carved into stone, this site is an iconic one in the Angkor Wat complex and is popular with the tourists. Visit late in the day when most tour groups have gone home.
Terrace of the Leper King
This temple has seven layers and also contains a secret passage that runs across the structure. It was named after the underworld god, whose image is carved on top of the temple.
Located around 12 miles away from Angkor Wat, this temple is a beautiful pink sandstone building and one of the highlights of an extended trip to the Angkor Wat complex.
This is one of the largest buildings and temple sites in the complex. It is believed to have been a Buddhist university in the ancient past, and it is largely left as it was found with a number of large trees growing through the stonework.
The complex of East Mebon has five towers and you can see some fine example of stonework as you climb the central platform in the temple.
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