Angkor Wat in Cambodia is one of the most dreamed about travel destinations. To help those who are planning a visit to the alluring ancient temple, we asked members of the TripAdvisor community to give their advice on how to take full advantage of what this world wonder has to offer. From when to go to what to expect when you arrive, these tips will help make your trip to Angkor Wat unforgettable.
1. Do your research so you are familiar with the basic history of Angkor Wat. This will help you appreciate it more when you see it in person and free up more time to learn about it in-depth.
2. Be prepared to walk–A LOT. The complex is very vast and a lot of the temples and sights are relatively far apart from each other (and may require a little bit of climbing), so don’t forget to wear your sneakers!
3. Bring a lot of water. It can get very hot and humid, especially from April through May, and you’ll want to stay hydrated during all of the walking and trekking.
4. The best time to visit is before sunrise, which means you should aim to be there around 5 a.m. Many travellers have said that this is the most opportune time to explore the temples, as watching the sunrise is an indescribable experience–it’s also an ideal time for picture taking. Also, you’ll be avoiding the tourist rush and will therefore get the chance to fully enjoy the serenity of the temples.
5. If you’re going during the hottest months, definitely visit the temples before 11 a.m. Temperatures can reach a staggering 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the middle of the day.
6. Don’t miss the reflection of the main temple from the water at sunset–the colour of the sky is one you won’t be able to rid your mind of for years to come.
7. Plan which temples you want to see ahead of time and buy a pass for at least three days to save you a lot of time and stress. Many travellers have noted that three days is enough time to explore the complex, and tickets for entry into the temple are valid for a full week and can be used on any of that week’s three consecutive days.
8. Bring an umbrella when you’re walking around the complex to help block some of the harsh sunrays.
9. Book a hotel that has a pool. You won’t regret if after a full–and oftentimes hot–day of sightseeing!
10. January brings some of the best weather. If it’s possible, try to book your trip for this month.
11. Book a tour guide to really make the temples come to life for you. Knowing the history of each temple will allow you to truly appreciate just how significant they truly are. You can browse a full list of Angkor Way tours that are bookable on TripAdvisor here.
12. Wear respectful clothing, since all of the ancient temples are active sites of Hindu worship. This includes covering your shoulders with sleeves and wearing long pants.
13. Be aware: Children under the age of 12 won’t be able to enter certain areas of the complex. If you’re travelling with kids, research ahead of time and plan accordingly.
14. Hire a private driver for two or three days. Most hotels will have them at standby. What’s even better is that a lot of drivers will customise the days for you and have water coolers and cold towels readily available to help you combat the extreme temperatures.
15. Or, get a bike and ride it around for a couple of days if you have the time. It’s a fun and adventurous way to see the temples.
16. Buy souvenirs at stores that are closer to the temples to save money. Gifts at these shops tend to be cheaper than those that are sold in the markets.
17. For cheap and yummy food, eat in the Siem Reap indoor market rather than a restaurant. The food is also cooked in front of you, so you know it’s fresh.
18. Travellers report that all you need is 30-40 USD dollars per day, which includes tuk tuk rides and food. Dining out in Cambodia is fairly inexpensive.
19. And last, but certainly not least, make sure to spend enough time at all the temples to fully comprehend the individuality of each. They are all special in their own way, and your trip won’t be complete until you become well acquainted with their uniqueness.