Guide to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park – an Insider's Guide written by writers who live there. Copyright © 2023 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Ultimate Guide to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park – A Detailed Insiders Guide

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Our ultimate guide to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park is an insider’s guide. We’ve lived in Siem Reap for 10 years, 15 minutes from Angkor Wat, and visit frequently, making our Angkor temple guide the most detailed up-to-date Angkor Archaeological Park guide. Our guide covers everything you need to know about Angkor Archaeological Park – how to buy Angkor tickets, opening hours, dress code, what’s new at Angkor, and how to visit Angkor Wat responsibly.

Cambodia’s Angkor Wat is absolutely breathtaking. The UNESCO World Heritage listed 12th century temple city of Angkor Wat and hundreds of Khmer Empire ruins dating from the 9th to 15th centuries within Angkor Archaeological Park near Siem Reap are the world’s most spellbinding archaeological sites. A handful of atmospheric, lesser-visited, more remote Cambodian temples such as Sambor Prei Kuk and Banteay Chhmar are also worth your time.

And there’s never been a better time to visit Angkor Wat and Angkor Park –  tourist numbers are low, so you’ll be alone at many temples, including Angkor Wat (if you’re not, see our guide to Angkor without crowds); 26kms of new bike tracks make cycling to and around the temples much more enjoyable (you might even spot wildlife on the way); and new infrastructure, including a tourist complex with clean toilets, ATMs and breezy cafes that take cards, make the experience a lot more comfortable.

Trust me on this: I live just 7kms from Angkor Wat, I can see the towers of Angkor Wat from our balcony, and I’ve visited Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park more than a hundred times during our decade living in Siem Reap. I’ve visited for pleasure and work, experiencing the temples both as a traveller and travel writer, having covered significant archaeological discoveries for The Guardian, CNN, National Geographic Traveller, Wanderlust, and more.

Only 45,752 foreign tourists visited Angkor Archaeological Park in May 2023 compared to 144,400 in May 2019, and even less visited last month in June, just over 41,000. Aside from ‘the big three’ temples (Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Prohm), and Angkor Wat at sunrise, you’re likely to be the only travellers at many temples in Angkor Archaeological Park if you time things right.

Contrast that with the millions of tourists scrambling European archaeological ruins right now. I’ve visited many of the world’s top archaeological sites in Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Latin America – the Acropolis, Roman Forum, Pompeii, Egypt’s pyramids, Petra, Machu Picchu, and many more – and I assure you that there’s never been Acropolis-like crowds at Angkor Wat.

We update our insider’s guide to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park frequently and do major updates periodically as we’ve just done in July 2023. If there’s something we haven’t covered that interests you, feel free to leave a question in the comments at the end of the post.

If you find this guide helpful in planning your trip, please support the ongoing work that we do to create and maintain this content by using our links to buy travel insurance; book flights, transfers and accommodation on CheapOair, Kiwi.com, Booking.com, Agoda, Expedialastminute.com, ebookers, Wotif, or Trip.com; buy bus and train tickets on 12Go; book tours, buy tickets to museums and attractions, and hire guides on Get Your Guide; or book a cooking class or meal with locals on EatWith. We may earn a commission but you won’t pay extra.

First Published 17 December 2011; Last Updated 15 September 2023.

Guide to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park

Sprawling some 400 square kilometres, the vast UNESCO World Heritage-listed Angkor Archaeological Park is more than a collection of spectacular temple ruins. Those ruins are the remains of the capital cities of Southeast Asia’s greatest civilisation, the Khmer Empire, built between the 9th and 15th centuries by some fifteen Cambodian kings, each of whom oversaw the construction of at least one but often more magnificent temple cities.

Some of the Khmer Empire archaeological sites dominate the forested landscape, such as majestic Angkor Wat and beguiling Bayon, two of the most-visited temples. Others still appear to be held captive by nature, such as Ta Prohm, a hugely popular temple with its stone walls strangled by roots, and, further afield, lichen-dappled Beng Mealea, a dilapidated temple shaded by towering trees. Other mysterious temple remains lie largely buried beneath the jungle floor, such as the ‘lost city’ of Mahendraparvata on Mount Kulen.

The Khmer Empire archaeological sites are significant for their stupendous architecture and exquisite art best exemplified in the masterpieces of Angkor Wat, Bayon and Banteay Srei. Angkorian art, with its elaborate bas reliefs, intricate carvings and handsome sculptures represented a new direction in art, which had tremendous influence across Southeast Asia. Angkor is also important for its advanced infrastructure, from its universities and hospitals to complex irrigation systems and hydraulic structures, evident in the reservoirs, moats, canals, dykes, and reflecting ponds that you’ll find yourself photographing again and again.

One thing that really sets Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park apart from many archaeological sites, which will make your experience here extra special is that it’s a living-breathing place. Angkor is home to Cambodians living in over a hundred hamlets and villages scattered in and around Angkor Park, who still worship at its temples, perform age-old rituals, celebrate cultural traditions, festivals and holidays, ride through the temples on their way to school and work, and live out their everyday lives, from farming rice fields to cooking food.

Another thing that distinguishes Angkor is that it’s set within a sprawling forest environment; one that has been given a new lease of life in recent years with the release of wildlife into the forest, including gibbons, silvered langurs, native deer, otters, civets, leopard cats, and hornbills. Returning visitors will notice a greener Angkor, thanks to an ongoing reforestation programme, including regular community tree-planting activities, most noticeable in the new shady parklands that replaced the dusty car park and market opposite Angkor Wat.

Our comprehensive guide to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park covers everything you need to know, from when to visit (taking into account tourist seasons, weather, time of day) and where to stay (if you want to stay close to the temples) to how to visit (modes of transport), what to pack and wear, how to behave (there’s a code of conduct), and what’s new.

When to Visit Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park

The riverside city of Siem Reap in northern Cambodia is your departure point for Angkor explorations. Angkor Wat is just 7kms from the centre of town. So when should you schedule your trip to Siem Reap?

High Season / Cool Season – December to February

‘Winter’ is lovely from December through February. Temperatures are moderate, humidity low, the sky is clear and blue, there’s no rain, and the sun is always shining. In the cool evenings you may even need a cardigan. However, it’s also the tourist high season when Angkor Wat gets its largest number of visitors, especially on weekends.

Having said that, don’t forget these ‘crowds’ are nothing compared to the massive number of visitors that European archaeological sites get. Angkor Archaeological Park gets a small fraction of the number of visitors that the Acropolis or Roman Forum, plus Angkor is a far larger site at 400 square kilometres.

There are only three sites where you might have to wait for a photo op and that’s Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm, and only for a short time, during a short period of the day. On the busiest days, you could be watching sunrise at Angkor Wat with up to 2,000 other people, but keep in mind Angkor Wat is a massive site – 410 metres from the Western Gate to the temple entrance. You don’t need to stand with the crowd. You’ll also want to return another day; try late afternoon.

Shoulder Season / Hot Season – March and April

March and April are hot and dry. Locals call these months Cambodia’s ‘summer’. Only visit during this period if you enjoy the the searing temperatures of summer in the Mediterranean or Middle East, or you’re acclimatised, having lived elsewhere in Southeast Asia or in Texas, Central Australia, or the Arabian Peninsula.

It’s hot, but nowhere near as uncomfortable as July in New York, Austin, Milan, or Madrid, or summer in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Doha. The bonus is that while there are still quite a lot of tourists, numbers are starting to reduce, although it gets very busy with local tourists during Khmer New Year, and foreign tourists in Easter and school holidays, but I love the festive spirit.

Low Season / Not So Wet Season – May to August

June and July are the best times to visit Cambodia as far as I’m concerned, as May and August are pretty good too, as sultry as these months can sometimes be. May is the start of the monsoon or wet season and by June-July the countryside is absolutely, gorgeous, lush and green. August is the wettest of the months, although there are plenty of dry periods too.

Visitor numbers are much lower (except during school holidays), with half as many Angkor tickets sold. There are days when you might be watching sunrise at Angkor Wat with a few hundred people; days when there are as little as a hundred or scores; and days when you’ll be able to count the dozen or so other travellers and their guides scattered around you.

In the past, it generally only rained during these months in the late afternoon and overnight, with plenty of beautiful blue skies during the day, although these days the weather is unpredictable. It might rain morning, noon or night for a couple of days, then not at all for a few days. When it does rain, it’s not usually for a very long at this time of year.

After the rain, it really cools down (you might need that cardigan again) and the soundtrack of frogs will lull you to sleep. During the day there’s birdsong and butterflies galore and in the early evening there are dragonflies. Read more in our post on the myths about monsoon season.

Low Season / Wettest Part of Wet Season – September and October

This is the time to visit for slow travellers. You can stay longer, as there are very few tourists around and prices drop to the lowest of the year. Staying longer gives you more time to engage with locals and visit more temples at a slower pace. It also gives you time to get hands on and learn more, whether it’s visiting museums, taking pottery lessons, basket-making classes or doing a cooking course.

The countryside is truly gorgeous at this time of the year, but the downside is that these are the wettest months, which is why it’s so green. It starts to pelt down daily from the middle to end of September and the country gets a good drenching right through October. The upside: you’ll often be alone at most temples, including Angkor Wat. You’ll just need to do your temple touring early in the morning.

As long as you don’t get your camera wet, this is the best time of year for photography as there is so much water around, which means stunning reflections. A risk at this time of year is flooding, but Siem Reap has a brand-spanking new drainage system installed during the peak of the pandemic when borders were closed. Pchum Ben or Ancestors Festival is also on in October.

Best Month to Visit – November

I adore November. For me, November is the best time to visit Angkor Wat and Archaeological Park after June. November is my favourite month of the year in Cambodia, especially in Siem Reap, the surrounding countryside and Angkor Archaeological Park.

By November, the countryside is still lush and green, and although it can still rain early in the month, things are beginning to dry out. While foreign tourists are just starting to return to Cambodia in November, they haven’t yet returned in the large numbers they arrive in from late December through to February.

You’re more likely to see Cambodian tourists at the temples in November, as this is also Water Festival time, when Siem Reap is buzzing with locals visiting from right across the country to celebrate the end of monsoon and harvest time. End of November is a brilliant time to visit Angkor.

Where to Stay Near Angkor Archaeological Park

We often get asked for recommendations for hotels close to Angkor Wat. While Siem Reap is a city, it’s not that large. It takes just 25 minutes from one side of Siem Reap to the other, so you’re unlikely to spend more time than that to get from your hotel to Angkor Wat. Getting back post-sunset is another story and can take 30-40 minutes in gridlocked traffic during high season.

Still, if you like the idea of staying as near to the temples as you can, then check into stylish Templation, the closest hotel to Angkor Wat. The chic, low-rise boutique resort is set amidst sprawling lawns with an enormous swimming pool, an excellent restaurant, and a library devoted to Angkor and Cambodian history.Best of all, Templation is just 10 minutes to Angkor Wat.

Located on the road to the temples, Charles de Gaule Boulevard, luxurious Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor is just 12 minutes from Angkor Wat. Siem Reap’s oldest hotel, built in 1932, it oozes history (it still has its original elevator), and is home to Siem Reap’s largest hotel swimming pool, as well as atmospheric Elephant Bar. Book a poolside room with terrace; my favourite!

Hidden behind high walls in lush tropical gardens shading another stunning swimming pool, Maison Polanka‘s spacious rooms are spread across three traditional timber houses filled with antiques, art and collectibles. You won’t find more hospitable hosts than the French-Cambodian owners, Jean-Pierre and Nathalie. Nor more delicious food! It’s 14 minutes to Angkor Wat.

The Wat Bo quarter is Siem Reap’s coolest neighbourhood and student quarter, home to a handful of universities and high schools, with hipster barbershops, backstreet bakeries, cool cafes, small bars, laneway pubs, and many restaurants dotting its residential streets.

Wat Bo is also the address of Siem Reap’s hippest hotel Viroth’s, a glam urban resort with retro-styled furniture, breezy public spaces, and a palm-fringed swimming pool. It’s equally gorgeous yet more affordable sister hotel, Viroth’s Villa, one block away, also oozes vintage style. Nearby on Wat Bo Road, Maison 557 is a chic little hideaway with two swimming pools and a restaurant ran by one of Siem Reap’s star chefs. It’s 15 minutes to Angkor Wat by tuk tuk from all hotels.

A couple of blocks away on Street 27, the heart of the student district, there’s a handful of clean, comfortable budget-boutique and mid-range hotels with spacious rooms with balconies overlooking swimming pools, set in bougainvillea-filled gardens, including La Niche d’Angkor, Hotel Home Indochine d’Angkor and Ladear Angkor Boutique Hotel.

In nearby Wat Damnak neighbourhood, there’s charming gay-friendly Rambutan with rooms with terraces surrounding a swimming pool; atmospheric Sala Lodges, with its beautiful traditional Khmer timber houses on stilts with verandas and another stunning pool; and Hillock’s Hotel and Spa with spacious minimalist villas and yet another striking swimming pool. All are around 18 minutes by tuk tuk to Angkor Wat.

After you’ve booked your Siem Reap hotel, buy your Angkor Archaeological Park tickets.

How to Buy Angkor Archaeological Park Ticket Prices

Buying tickets to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park has never been easier. But first some clarification: what many visitors to Siem Reap don’t understand due to the abundance of misinformation on the internet is that Angkor Wat is one temple within the vast Angkor Archaeological Park.

That means rather than buying a ticket for Angkor Wat you’re buying a ticket for Angkor Archaeological Park, which covers all the temples within Angkor Park and some temples further afield. It’s called an Angkor Pass.

You Can Now Buy Angkor Tickets Online

The biggest change since the pandemic began is that you can now buy Angkor Archaeological Park tickets online from the official government Angkor Enterprise website. Do this before you leave home, so it’s one less thing to do. Before starting the purchase process, make sure you have reliable internet, good internet speed, have digital passport photos saved on your laptop, and a credit card handy.

You Can Still Buy Angkor Tickets at Angkor Ticket Office

Tickets are still sold at the Angkor Ticket Office on the corner of Apsara Road and Road 60, 4kms from Siem Reap centre. Official opening hours are 5am to 5.30pm, although it’s often possible to buy tickets as early as 4.45am. This means you can still buy your tickets the afternoon before or morning of your temple visit.

Note: Apsara Road is not the most direct route to the Angkor Wat entrance (the West Gate) if you are starting your day with sunrise at Angkor Wat (though it’s handy if you’re visiting in the afternoon and entering by the ‘back door’ (East Gate). You will need to allow 10-15 minutes to get to the ticket office from the centre of town and then another 15 minutes or so (depending on traffic) to get to Angkor Wat.

Why Buying Angkor Tickets Online is Best

But buying Angkor tickets online is best if you’re only in Siem Reap for a day or two, you’re going to have a full schedule when you’re here, or you’re arriving after the Angkor Ticket Office closes and you want to see sunrise at Angkor Wat the next day.

The digital tickets bought online can be saved to your phone. There’s no need to print them out. If you’re hiring a tour guide for private temple tours you can share your tickets with your guide. Guides are happy to hand their phones over the ticket inspectors who will do a quick scroll through, saving time and hassles.

Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park Ticket Prices

Officially called an Angkor Pass, tickets for Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park cost:

  • US$37 for one day per person
  • US$62 for three days per person, to be used within seven days
  • US$72 for seven days per person, to be used within one month

Children under 12 years old do not need tickets but you will be required to show their passport to prove their age, so it’s a good idea to carry passport photocopies and bring an extra photocopy for your guide to keep.

The Angkor Pass covers all temples within Angkor Archaeological Park, plus Banteay Srei, Beng Mealea and Koh Ker. You’ll need to buy a separate ticket for Phnom Kulen (US$20).

Note: if you buy your Angkor Pass in person at the Angkor Ticket Office by 4.45pm you can watch the sunset that day and the ticket is valid for the whole of the next day. Aim to arrive at 4.30pm and confirm that you want to do this when you buy the Angkor tickets. You can purchase Angkor tickets with credit cards, debit cards or cash and there are plenty of ATMs at the Office.

Angkor Tickets Do Not Need to Be Used in Consecutive Days

Despite what some travel blogs and websites state, including the outdated Tourism of Cambodia website, Angkor Passes do not have to be used within consecutive days at all. The whole idea of these passes is to encourage tourists to stay longer in Siem Reap.

More Angkor Pass Rules

Tickets are not valid after the expiry date, they are not transferable (they have photos), and if you have bought Angkor Passes from the Angkor Ticket Office you must keep them in good condition and handy at all times. Tickets are checked at the entrance to Angkor Archaeological Park and at all temples and there are fines if you’re caught within Angkor Archaeological Park without tickets.

Angkor Archaeological Park Opening Hours

Angkor Archaeological Park’s general opening hours are 7.30am to 5.30pm. Hours were reduced back in 2016, not increased as many newspapers reported at the time. The exceptions to the general Angkor Archaeological Park opening hours, to cater for visitors who want to savour sunrise and sunset, are:

  • Angkor Wat 5am to 5.30pm, except the Central Tower, which doesn’t open until 7.30am
  • Phnom Bakheng 5am to 7pm
  • Srah Srang (Royal Baths) 5am to 5.30pm
  • Pre Rup 5am to 7pm
  • Banteay Srei, 7.30am to 5.30pm

So how should you experience Angkor Wat and the other Angkor temples? On a guided tour or a self-guided tour? We recommend experiencing the temples both ways.

Hiring a Tour Guide to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park or Self-Guided Tours

One of the most common questions we get asked by travellers is whether they should do an Angkor Wat tour, hire a guide to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park, or go it alone on a self-guided tour of Angkor Archaeological Park using a good guidebook.

While it really depends on your preferred style of travel, we highly recommend that you either hire a tour guide or book an Angkor Archaeological Park tour for your first day at the temples, for a whole lot of reasons.

Firstly, due to the colossal size of Angkor Archaeological Park and the sheer number of archaeological sites, an excursion to the temples can be overwhelming with lots of decisions to be made.

What temples should you visit, when should you visit them, do you only focus on the archaeological sites near Siem Reap or is it worth doing day trips or overnight stays to more remote, lesser visited temple sites?

We provide advice on all of those questions, below, and in other posts on our site, but it’s up to you to decide how you want to spend your time.

Book a Tour or Hire a Guide for Your First Day at the Temples

We recommend booking an Angkor Wat tour or hiring a tour guide for your first day in Angkor Archaeological Park to help you get orientated. Make that decision and it will be the best decision you’ll make.

You’ll have a much deeper experience of the temples on a guided tour. Guides can help you identify the important bas-reliefs, simplify what is a long and complicated history, and explain the symbolism of carvings. They can also provide an insight into local life and culture.

So many tour companies have closed shop since the pandemic started, while some of our favourite tour companies have changed focus, so we now recommend booking an Angkor tour on a site such as Get Your Guide, as it’s quick and easy. We hear great things about this small group sunrise tour, and I’ll provide a full review of that soon.

While we recommend taking a tuk tuk to the temples to enjoy the breeze on your cheeks, if you struggle with the heat and humidity you may prefer hiring a driver with air-conditioned vehicle.

Once you’ve had that introduction with a guide, then you could return on your own to visit different temples or revisit sites you loved with a good Angkor guidebook, such as Michael Coe’s Angkor and the Khmer Civilization.

Although I have to confess what I like about temple tour guides when they’re good is that they keep my head out of a guidebook.

How to Hire an Angkor Tour Guide and What to Pay

You can hire Angkor tour guides on sites such as Get Your Guide while your hotel can also organise official licensed tour guides for you. Just be aware that some hotels will take a commission, so either you’re paying more to cover the commission or the guide is receiving less.

Angkor tour guide fees vary but expect to pay anything from US$25-30 to $30-40 for a short or long day, depending on whether there’s an early sunrise start or not, for which many guides charge an additional fee.

If you’re unsure about hiring a guide, but change your mind once you arrive at the temples, tour guides generally spruik their services at the entrance to temples. The price for a single temple tour typically starts at US$10 but can be higher if you’re in a group and less in low season if the guides are having a slow day.

Only hire official Angkor tour guides who are trained by the Ministry of Tourism and the APSARA Authority, which administers the temples. These Cambodian guides must do a year-long course and study and sit for an exam. They wear a pale apricot or lemon-coloured shirt with official badges and have an official ID card.

You can also book a temple guide through the Khmer Angkor Tour Guide Association or one of the tour guide collectives, such as Angkor Temples Guides or Angkor Tour Guides. If you opt to hire a tour guide from one of the guide collectives, such as Angkor Tour Guides, a one-day package of guide, air-conditioned transport and driver, and icy water is US$70.

Khmer Angkor Tour Guide Association lists packages that include the guide, air-conditioned vehicle and driver, entrance fees, water, cold towels, and lunch, starting from US$269 for a two-day tour for 1-2 people. We’ve not yet tested these out so aren’t in a position to recommend them, but on the maths alone it’s more affordable to hire your own guide and tuk tuk or vehicle and driver, pay for your own tickets, and buy your own lunch.

If you’re hiring a guide at a temple, negotiate two rates. Ask the guide for the rate just to see that temple, and then ask what the rate is for the rest of the day if you decide to use them to visit other temples. You then know what you’re getting yourself in for, and if you don’t like the guide’s touring style, you can politely say goodbye. If you do like the guide’s tour, then you know what it’s ultimately going to cost and you’re not in for a shock.

Transport to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park

We could almost write a standalone transport guide to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park as the options are increasing all the time including a few we haven’t covered here in any depth yet, such as Angkor temple tours on horseback, by e-bikes, and by vesper.

How to Explore Angkor Archaeological Park by Tuk Tuk or Remork

The traditional Cambodian tuk tuks, or remorks/remorques as they were called by the French, are are very different to Thai tuk tuks. Cambodian tuk tuks consist of an open carriage pulled by a motorbike and they are utterly charming.

If you stay in the centre of Siem Reap you’ll probably do a lot of exploring in Siem Reap town on foot, though tuk tuks are terrific for trundling around Siem Reap in the hottest part of the day and for heading out to dinner at night.

A short tuk tuk ride costs as little as US$1-2 to the Old Market quarter and commercial centre along Sivutha Boulevard. Double or triple that for longer rides, for example, if you’re staying in a hotel on the edge of town. And do tip for good service. The pandemic has been tough for tuk tuk drivers.

Breezy tuk tuks are the best way to visit Angkor Archaeological Park. They’re not only cooler than riding a bike, but they’re better for photography, without the glass windows of an air-conditioned vehicle, getting you up close to the action, whether it be temples, other tuk tuks, monkeys or general traffic chaos.

While many visitors to Angkor Wat hire a guide for the duration of their stay, I’d estimate that most visitors to Siem Reap join an organised Angkor Wat tour or hire a guide on their first day and after that explore Angkor Archaeological Park independently by tuk tuk.

Fees for tuk tuk tours to the temples vary depending on the starting time, tour duration, and distance, but you could expect to pay anything from $20-$30; $20 for a standard 8-hour day to $25 for a longer day (there’s an additional fee if you’re starting out early for sunrise), and up to $30 for a whole day if you’re going to go from sunrise to sunset.

A tuk tuk ride to Banteay Srei, 36 kms or 50 minutes from Siem Reap is going to obviously cost a lot more than a tuk tuk tour to Angkor Wat and the temples in Angkor Archaeological Park near Siem Reap.

The tuk tuk fees above are fair prices considering the distance and time. Don’t be a cheapskate and try to bargain down the tour to $10 as many backpackers like to boast that they do.

Hotel staff can book tuk tuks for you, however, many will quote higher rates and take a commission or they’ll quote the same rates but the drivers will get less. We recommend that you negotiate directly with a tuk tuk driver yourself when you find one you that like so that you know they are getting the full fee that you’re paying them.

We strongly recommend waking in the darkness for sunrise, scrambling the temples until about 10-11am, taking a break of a few hours in the middle of the day to return for lunch, a swim at your hotel, and a rest, and then returning in the afternoon until sunset. If you choose to do this, make sure your driver is very clear about the hours and that you want to return to town in the middle of the day.

Hiring a Driver and Car to Explore Angkor Archaeological Park

We prefer to explore Angkor Archaeological Park in a breezy tuk tuk, which is best for photography and gets you up close to the action, whether it be temples or monkeys.

But if you really can’t stand the heat, you’re ill or elderly, here in the hottest part of the hot season, wettest part of the wet season, or you want to do a day trip to more remote, lesser-visited temples such as Koh Ker or Preah Vihear, you will want to hire a driver with air-conditioned vehicle.

Fees for drivers with cars can start at US$30-40 a day to Angkor Archaeological Park or up to US$70-80 to Beng Mealea. Package tours in air-conditioned vehicles that include extras such as cold drinks, snacks and lunch will cost more.

Using a Motorcycle Taxi to Visit Angkor Archaeological Park

Once the main form of transport for visiting Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park, the motorcycle taxi or motodup – or ‘moto’ for short – isn’t used as much as it used to be. Essentially, it involves you riding pillion behind a motorbike driver, making it more popular with solo travellers more than couples or families.

These days, motodups are mostly used by budget travellers because they’re cheap. Motodups start at US$8-10 for a full day tour of Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park. One big advantage is that they’re brilliant in the sunrise/sunset traffic jams as they can zip around the buses, cars and tuk tuks and go off road when necessary. They’re not so comfortable in the rain.

Hiring a Bike to Explore Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park

Some travellers opt to hire a bike and cycle around Angkor Archaeological Park, which, if your first stop is Angkor Wat is only 6-7 kilometres from Siem Reap centre.

Another big change since the pandemic has been major road improvements in the centre of Siem Reap with the construction of new footpaths, riverside walking trails, and dedicated bike tracks in the city, especially along the riverside, as well as Highway 6.

While the bike ride to Angkor Archaeological Park is straightforward, keep in mind that during high season it can get chaotic competing with tuk tuks, tour buses and vans for bitumen on the way to sunrise. It is then a sweaty slow slog in heavy traffic on the return in the late afternoon; and it is madness once again after sunset when you have to dodge hundreds of tour buses, tuk tuks, motorbikes, and other bicycles.

Low season is definitely more enjoyable for cycling to and around the temples, however, go prepared during the hotter months, with lots of water and electrolytes, sun protection, and light weather protection.

Riding around the park itself is an absolute delight, especially where the roads are flat and less trafficked; it is far less stressful. But even more enjoyable now is cycling along the 26kms of new bike tracks, much of which run through the forest in Angkor Park.

It’s significantly cooler during the hottest part of the day and during the hottest months of the year, as there are plenty of shady paths, and if you time your visit right you can have lunch and a snooze on the stretch of grass beside the moat or by the small lake near Angkor Wat in the middle of the day.

Go prepared – wear a light, long-sleeved cotton shirt, hat, and take plenty of sun block, and drink lots of water. Bike hire starts at as little as $2-3 a day for something basic, more for a mountain bike.

There are some excellent Angkor bike tours around, which have the added bonus of a support vehicle for when the heat gets to you. We will soon be testing out new bicycle trails and cycling tours and expanding on this section, as well as updating an old post on cycling around Siem Reap.

What Temples to See at Angkor Archaeological Park

You’ll undoubtedly have the ‘big three’ at the top of your list: monumental Angkor Wat (and sunrise at Angkor Wat is a must); The Bayon, with its towers of serene smiling stone faces, which is in the temple city of Angkor Thom, also home to the Elephant Terraces and pyramid-like Baphuon with its pretty causeway; and the jungle temple of Ta Prohm, made famous by Angelina Jolie/Lara Croft and The Tomb Raider movie. These can all be visited on the ‘petit circuit‘ (see below).

If you start at sunrise, you can see these in a morning, be back in Siem Reap for lunch (you don’t want to be out in the heat during the hottest part of the day), and spend the afternoon at your hotel by the pool, at a spa getting a massage or a treatment, at a museum, cooking class or shopping. More on all of that, below.

For most people who start out at sunrise, these are enough temples to visit in one day. How many other sites you visit during your trip depends on how interested you are in archaeology, history, architecture, and art, and how much time you have.

There are some 200 archaeological sites that have been restored – there were originally over 1,000 ruins, although most are no longer standing. One day is definitely not enough, and you probably won’t want to see more than a handful in any single day, so aim for at least three days exploring Angkor Archaeological Park.

We also recommend the dilapidated yet sprawling temple city of Preah Khan, set within towering forest, which sees fewer visitors than Ta Prohm and makes a great alternative if you’re here in high season and not coping with other tourists.

There are also a couple of lesser visited temples that are lovely, including ramshackle Banteay Kdei, opposite the baray or royal reservoir of Srah Srang, a mini Ta Prohm with face towers and without crowds, and a beautifully restored and very peaceful Banteay Samre, a mini Angkor Wat, protected by high sturdy walls.

We also recommend getting out to some of the sites further afield in the countryside, such as the petite pink sandstone Banteay Srei, 25 kms north of Angkor and about a 50 minute tuk tuk ride from Siem Reap. This treasure box of a temple may be small but it boasts the most elaborate decoration and exquisite carvings of any temples.

Atmospheric, moss-dappled Beng Mealea, 40 kms east of Angkor Wat, and strangled by vegetation and shaded by towering trees, is another of our top recommendations and one of my personal favourites. The sprawling temple-city of Koh Ker, 90 kms from Siem Reap, is home to many ruins, including an impressive pyramid-shaped state temple, Prasat Thom.

If you don’t want to travel too far, closer to Siem Reap is the Roluos Group of three compact temples, the highlight of which is Bakong, surrounded by a lovely moat.

For even more lesser-visited temples, see our guide to visiting the more remote Cambodian archaeological sites.

The Petit Circuit and the Grand Circuit

When discussing your itinerary with tuk tuk drivers and tour guides they will often talk in terms of the ‘small tour’ or ‘petit circuit or ‘big tour’, ‘grand tour’ or grand circuit‘. These are the most obvious routes around Angkor Archaeological Park and are marked on all the maps and in the guidebooks.

The 17 km petit circuit starts at Angkor Wat, passes Phnom Bakheng (a popular hilltop-temple sunset spot) on the way to Angkor Thom and the Bayon, and then heads east to Ta Prohm via Takeo, before returning to Angkor Wat and onto Siem Reap.

This tour takes in ‘the big three’: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom/Bayon, and Ta Prohm (‘the Angelina Jolie/Tomb Raider temple’, as the guides like to call it), which are the must-see highlights for most visitors.

This route is easily done in a day, including a break back in town or at the hotel for lunch/nap, and is the most popular route if you only have one day, as it takes in the main attractions.

The 26 km grand circuit continues through the north gate of Angkor Thom and heads east, passing Preah Khan and Neak Pean, before turning south at Ta Som and passing East Mebon and Pre Rup, before turning west by Sras Srang and then south at Banteay Kdei for Angkor Wat. This is the route to do if you want to spend time at more lesser-visited temples.

Keep in mind that while the tuk tuk drivers might prefer you do these routes, especially the petit circuit, as it keeps things simple for them and saves them money on fuel compared to if you were bouncing back and forth, and these routes are logical – if you’re riding a bicycle they will probably be the routes you follow – the circuits were created by the French a hundred years ago, well before mass tourism.

If you follow these circuits during high season you are going to be doing the same itinerary everybody else is doing. For a chance of visiting the big three temples without crowds, you’ll need to leave Angkor Wat soon after sunrise, just before the other temples open so that you are the first to arrive.

What Time Should You Start and End Your Temple Days

What time you start out in the morning depends upon how much time you have, how crazy you are about archaeology, how important it is to you to get great photos, whether you’re a ‘morning person’ or not, and how you handle the heat.

Dawn Starts and Dusk Finishes Are Always Best

We always recommend pre-dawn starts (we typically leave at 4.15am to arrive in the dark for sunrise), dusk finishes, and either a picnic and nap in the shade or a retreat to your hotel swimming pool or a cafe for lunch in the middle of the day.

Why? It’s coolest in the early morning and relatively cooler (compared to the middle of the day) in the late afternoon. The early mornings and late afternoons are best for photography, when the light is soft and golden and there’s less contrast and fewer ugly shadows.

Strangely enough, there are fewer people around in the early morning and late afternoon. People are on holidays. Most people don’t want to get up early as they do for work everyday, they want to sleep in.

So that means most tourists are arriving at the temples when Terence and I are heading home. And by the time we like to head out again, people are already returning to Siem Reap because they’ve been out all day in the hottest part of the day, and they are shattered.

Is Sunrise at Angkor Wat a Must?

We believe sunrise at Angkor Wat is a must. It’s sublime, regardless of the high season crowds. For those who no longer appreciate a sunrise, then maybe it’s time to stop travelling?

Even during the quietest period of the wettest month of low season, there will be people gathered in front of the reflecting pond waiting for the sun to rise behind Angkor Wat, it will just be a small crowd of fifty to a hundred compared to a few thousand in high season.

As long as you’re not standing near a bunch of chattering backpackers with selfie sticks and can focus on the scene itself, it’s a very special experience, which you can read about on the link above.

We like to set out from home in the darkness so that we’re at the temple for the astronomical twilight and we like to stay until the sun sneaks just above the temple, then we stroll down the northern side and enter through the ‘back door’ (East Gate).

After sunrise, most tourists, especially those in tour groups, are herded back to their buses and back to their hotels for breakfast and don’t return until around 9am, so that early morning period is by far the best time for exploring Angkor Wat, and any other temples.

In the wettest months of low season, the temples are practically empty at this time. If you stay on after sunrise to explore Angkor Wat, you’ll be leaving as the hoards arrive.

What Time Is Sunrise and Sunset?

We often get asked what the sunrise and sunset times are in Siem Reap, but – and, we’d hope most of our readers would know this – sunrise and sunset times vary throughout the year due to Earth’s orbit and the tilt of its axis. In late winter and spring, sunrise starts to occur earlier and earlier each morning, reaching its earliest around summer solstice.

Simultaneously, the days begin to get longer and sunset occurs later and later each day, with the latest occurring around summer solstice. After this, sunrise starts later each morning and is at its latest around winter solstice, while the sunset occurs earlier each day and is at its earliest just before winter solstice.

For accurate times for sunrise, sunset and the twilight phases of dawn and dusk throughout the year see timeanddate.com.

Alternative Spots for Sunrise and Sunset

Until the Angkor Archaeological Park hours were shortened in late 2015, you could watch sunrise and sunset wherever you wanted. Now, you’re restricted to a handful of spots. With these shorter hours in mind…

Sunrise is possible from the temple mountain of Bakheng, which is open from 5am to 7pm, which is where the vast majority of people go for sunset. It’s also possible to see both sunrise and sunset at the pyramid temple of Pre Rup (open from 5am to 7pm), which has lovely views over the forest.

The royal reservoir or baray of Srah Srang is also a nice spot for sunrise and sunset, although the reduced hours (5am to 5.30pm) mean you’ll miss the sun sinking during summer. The lawns around the moat are a popular picnic spot with the locals, especially on weekends, so even if you miss the actual sunset it’s still a nice place to linger in the very late afternoon.

The late afternoon light and sunset is beautiful at Angkor Wat and it’s virtually empty as most people make their way up to the hilltop temple of Phnom Bakheng to watch the sun set over Angkor Wat.

Keep in mind that the temple itself shuts at 5.30pm, so you’ll be watching the actual sunset from the edge of the moat. This is where Cambodians love to watch it, too, generally on a picnic mat while sharing some cold beers and food.

With its sweeping views, sunset is special up at Bakheng, however, it has become just as much a ritual as sunrise at Angkor Wat, attracting a lot of people and can get crowded in high season. It’s a steep climb up, so take care. If you’re staying for sunset, watch your step on the way down.

Tip: for both sunrise and sunset, we recommend taking a torch or headlamp as you’ll be stumbling around in the dark.

What’s New at Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park

One of the things that distinguishes Angkor Archaeological Park from many other archaeological complexes is that it’s such a dynamic place – partly because it’s so vast and that there are so many temples. As a result, there are abundant opportunities for research and restoration.

Obviously if you only visit Angkor Archaeological Park once you won’t notice, but if you return for a second time, or third time, or make regular pilgrimages, as so many travellers who fall in love with the Angkor temples do, you’ll appreciate the changes.

There are loads of environmental improvements – ongoing reforestation and tree-planting activities, waterways and tree canopies that have come to life thanks to the release of native wildlife (gibbons, silvered langurs, native deer, otters, civets, leopard cats, hornbills, etc), new landscaping and facilities, new bike tracks and walking paths, and new visiting routes through the temples with new signage and information to enhance your experience, as well as improve the flow of people during high season.

There are also lots of archaeological research projects and temple restoration programmes underway. For returning visitors, that means those piles of numbered stones you might have spotted on your last trip have been returned to their rightful place, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself stumbling upon a ‘new’ structure that’s been rebuilt.

New discoveries from research projects are less tangible, but like the LiDAR findings that we covered back in 2013 and 2015, they can really capture the imagination and offer new ways of thinking about the temples and Cambodian history. A good tour guide who stays on top of the latest research can really bring those to life.

We’ll be sharing a lot more on what’s new at Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park is a separate detailed post very soon, so do bookmark this page and drop back from time to time, or subscribe to our newsletter so you know when that’s published.

Eating and Drinking Guide to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park

If you’re going to Angkor Wat for sunrise, ask your hotel if you can order breakfast boxes the evening before. (I’ve never known of a Siem Reap hotel not to do this.) At minimum, breakfast boxes usually contain a piece of fruit, a croissant or bread, maybe a boiled egg. Boutique and luxury hotels naturally provide something more substantial and maybe even a thermos of coffee. This should sustain you while you’re exploring Angkor Wat post-sunrise.

If you need a coffee, cold drink or proper breakfast after Angkor Wat, there’s a fancy new tourism complex off the main Angkor Wat boulevard on the way to the car park. There are a handful of breezy cafes here serving a wide range of coffees and cooling drinks, as well as snacks and meals, and they take cards and cash. The new toilets at the complex are squeaky clean and there are ATMs.

There are still food stalls dotted around Angkor Archaeological Park, especially near Bayon and Ta Prohm, which are perfectly fine for a breakfast or lunch of Cambodian street food, including noodle soups, such as kuy teav and nom banh chok, pork and rice, barbecued skewers and chicken, and the like, along with fresh coconuts. My idea of perfect temple meals!

Ask your tuk tuk driver to take you to the stalls that the drivers like to eat at, as they are eating here everyday; even better, invite your tuk tuk driver to join you for a meal. I much prefer to eat at these local food stalls than the shiny drink and food vans I occasionally spot. We’ve never been ill from food at any of these stalls.

However, I have been horrendously ill from the coffee van that used to park in front of Angkor Wat, so ill that I couldn’t leave bed for three days (except to go to the bathroom) and had to cancel travel plans. If you’re concerned, and you don’t have a thermos to take your own coffee (these can be purchased for very little from the markets and supermarkets) I recommend taking cans of iced coffee.

I also discourage you from eating at the tourist restaurants where the food is overpriced and mediocre. Some guides take tourists to these because they get free meals and/or commissions.

If you’ve only just arrived in Southeast Asia and your stomach is still adjusting, or you’re only here for a couple of days and are worried about getting sick and ruining the short time you have here, you may want to take your own picnic lunch and snacks. You can buy bread, charcuterie, cheese, and other nibbles at Angkor Market on Sivutha Boulevard and Highway 6 and Angkor Mini Mart on 7 Makara Road.

You’ll also find wonderful fresh fruit, as well as baguettes, pastries, and dried fruit and nuts at Old Market (Psar Chas) in the colonial centre of Siem Reap and Psar Leu on Highway 6. See our guide to Siem Reap markets and Price Check Siem Reap post for more info on supermarkets.

There are shady spots to picnic by the moat overlooking Angkor Wat and Sras Srang. Just watch out for the cheeky monkeys at the southern end of the Angkor Wat moat where the locals like to go and drink beers and picnic in the afternoon.

We also recommend taking electrolytes as well as water. While good tuk tuk drivers will take small water bottles in a cooler for you, responsible travellers take their own refillable water bottles. You can buy cold water in Angkor Park and you are supporting the locals by doing so, but you’re also contributing to Siem Reap’s plastic problem. If you’re a backpacker on a tight budget, you may prefer to buy big bottles of water in town.

While we encourage you to eat the street food you do need to be more careful in Cambodia than, say, Thailand or Vietnam. See our tips for eating street food safely and eating safely in Cambodia.

If you’re heading back to town for lunch, which we highly recommend, see our Culinary Guide to Siem Reap, which covers markets, cafes, street food, Khmer desserts, and more, and our guides to Siem Reap’s best Cambodian restaurants and best cafes (currently being updated).

If you’re looking for a post-temple watering hole where you can quench your thirst and discuss your day, see our guide to the best Siem Reap bars (also currently being updated).

Guide to What to Wear to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park Dress Code

For protection from the sun, wear loose, light-weight cotton or linen clothes, slap on plenty of sun block, take a hat and sunglasses.

Keep in mind that Angkor Wat and the other temples are also religious monuments, so dress as you would to visit a pagoda. Cover up and wear modest clothing, preferably a long-sleeved cotton shirt and a long skirt or light trousers.

In July 2016, the APSARA Authority announced a dress code and regulations forbidding the showing of knees and shoulders and revealing other bits. The dress code remains in place and the dress code applies to men and women, local and foreign. That means no shorts, shoe-string straps, halter-neck tops, bikinis, and no going shirt-less. If you aren’t dressed appropriately will be turned away at the ticket office.

This is an elaboration of the Angkor Code of Conduct, launched in late 2015, which addressed clothing among other issues (see below). It states that “revealing clothes such as shorts and skirts above the knee and showing bare shoulders are prohibited in sacred places.” It also says that “exposing sex organs and nudity in public area is a crime punishable by law”.

This follows a bizarre phenomenon of tourists posing naked for photos at the temples, which they then shared on social media. APSARA first threatened to take legal action after Facebook images were discovered on a Chinese site of female Asian tourists posing in nothing but harem pants and headscarves back in 2013.

A spate of incidents followed, resulting in arrests and deportations, including two American sisters who took photos of their bare buttocks at Preah Khan, three French tourists at Banteay Kdei, and an Italian, Argentine and Dutch guy who let their pants drop at Ta Prohm.

Guide to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park Code of Conduct

The Angkor Code of Conduct is detailed in pamphlets distributed around Siem Reap (including hotels), and is outlined on posters and sign boards at the Angkor Ticket Office and throughout the park at temple entrances. There’s no excuse to not follow the Code of Conduct.

The rules are intended to remind visitors that Angkor is still a living breathing place and a spiritual site with over 130,000 inhabitants who have resided there for generations. The temples are still an active religious place for Buddhists, who can engage in daily worship, prayer and meditation.

The pamphlets and signs explain that one of APSARA’s goals is to “harmonise tourist experiences with public safety and respect towards our community” and then outline the Code. The APSARA Authority’s Angkor website has more information.

Aside from clothing, the Code covers:

  • Monuments: visitors are prohibited from “touching carvings, sitting on fragile structures, leaning on temple structures, moving archaeological artifacts and graffiti”. Backpacks, umbrellas with sharp tips and tripods are discouraged from being taken into the temples.
  • Sacred sites: tourists are informed that loud conversation, noise, and other inappropriate behaviour are offensive and are asked to “keep calm and be respectful”.
  • Restricted Areas: visitors are asked to comply with all signs for their “own safety and the sustainability of Angkor” and not climb on loose stones.
  • Smoking: Angkor has been a smoke free zone since 2012 and smoking is not allowed.
  • Candy or Money to Children: tourists are asked to donate to a recognised charity rather than give candy or money to children, which encourages them to beg and not go to school.
  • Monks: people should ask monks for permission to take photos first and women are reminded not to touch, stand nor sit close to monks.

How to Get the Most Out of Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park

I frequently overhear conversations between travellers in Siem Reap, complaining about getting “templed-out” after just a day at the temples, and that they can’t face seeing “another pile of rocks”.

If they’re looking at Angkor Wat and the other Angkor temples merely as a pile of rocks then they’re not engaged with the experience, probably haven’t prepared well enough, and don’t know enough about what it is they’re actually seeing.

So how do you prepare for a visit so that you are more fully immersed in the experience? Some quick tips:

Do Some Reading

Invest in a good book on Cambodia’s history and a good temple guidebook to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park and do some background reading before you leave home and during your stay.

We love Michael Freeman and Claude Jacques’ Ancient Angkor; Michael Coe’s Angkor and the Khmer Civilization; and David Chandler’s History of Cambodia. See our Cambodia Reading List for more recommendations.

Make sure to buy books before you leave home. Siem Reap no longer has a good bookshop. Monument Books closed at the start of the pandemic. There’s a shop next to U-Care Pharmacy on Hospital Road that has a small selection of books.

Visit the Archaeological Museum

Don’t miss the excellent Angkor National Museum in Siem Reap for an engaging overview of the history and the chance to see relics, art and sculpture found at the temples. There’s also a souvenir shop which has a small selection of books.

Do a Tour or Hire a Guide

Join an organised temple tour or hire a good archaeological guide to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park for your trip, or at the very least for your first day at the temples, and you’ll get so much more out of the experience.

Get Tips from an Archaeologist

Nobody spends more time at the Angkor temples than a professional archaeologist, so get tips from an archaeologist. Read our Archaeologist’s Guide to Angkor Archaeological Park and part 2 of that interview with Dr Damian Evans on How to Get the Most Out of the Angkor Archaeological Sites for a more immersive experience.

Packing Guide for Angkor Archaeological Park

This is by no means a detailed packing guide to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park, however, this is the important stuff you need to know. Protection from the heat, sun and mosquitoes should be your first priorities. After that, it’s about comfort.

If you’re spending more than a few days in Cambodia, are visiting during the hottest months (March, April, May) or during monsoon (May to October), or are venturing to very remote areas where there may be malaria or dengue fever, then it’s worth investing in some quality products ahead of your trip and coming prepared. While you can buy a lot of things at pharmacies, outlet shops and the markets in Siem Reap, much of the stuff is fake.

Here’s what you need to pack:

  • Sun protection strong sunscreen, quality sunglasses and a hat are essential. Cover up in super lightweight long-sleeved cotton shirts and pants. High-tech long-sleeved shirts and lightweight travel pants with UV protection are a brilliant idea.
  • Mosquito protection – malaria and dengue fever, carried by mosquitoes, are an issue at remote villages and temples, where I strongly recommend you wear long-lasting insect repellant, mosquito repellant bracelets or anti-bug balm, and take towelettes. Long-sleeved shirts and long trousers with insect shield, bug-free hats and long-sleeved t-shirts are also brilliant.
  • Rain protection quality, hi-tech light-weight waterproof rain jackets are a must in monsoon. A well ventilated breathable jacket is far more comfortable than a $1 plastic poncho, believe me. A small, fold-up, quality travel umbrella is enough for light rain. (The cheap ones from the markets here break after one or two days.) A waterproof daypack is a must to protect your stuff. If you get caught in a heavy rain, you and everything your carrying will be absolutely drenched. A small micro-fibre travel hand-towel is also handy.
  • Foot protection – if you’re going to be scrambling a lot of temples or doing some hiking, definitely invest in top quality waterproof walking shoes, hiking boots if you need the extra support, and cushioned socks. Flip flops and sandals just don’t cut it. Your feet will be aching after a few days.
  • Protect your Angkor Pass and valuables  Bring a protective, waterproof plastic pouch to hold your Angkor Pass (if it’s damaged or lost you’ll have to buy a new one), money, and phone, etc.
  • Bring zip-lock bags these are also handy for keeping small things such as your money, phone, and camera dry and are also available locally from Angkor Market and Lucky supermarkets.

Souvenirs of Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park

One of the worst things about the Angkor Wat sunrise experience, which we otherwise love, is being hassled by the vendors trying to sell scarves, postcards, fridge magnets, and the like. We believe all sellers should be prohibited from selling within the grounds of archaeological sites and that a dedicated market should be established. There are

The Code of Conduct also warns visitors against buying souvenirs from kids in Angkor Archaeological Park as earning an income discourages them from attending school. However, you can buy from adults and we encourage you to buy handicrafts you see for sale, which supports local residents. Definitely stop at the stalls selling handmade baskets in the village or Padak/Preah Dak on your way to Banteay Srei.

We don’t recommend shopping at the various Siem Reap night markets where the elephant pants and other tourist tat have come from highly suspect factories in certain neighbouring countries. Instead, we encourage you to be a responsible traveller and buy ethically produced Cambodian made souvenirs to take back home.

Here’s where responsible travellers should shop for ethical Angkor souvenirs:

  • Artisans d’Angkor in the centre of Siem Reap was Cambodia’s first arts and crafts school, which evolved into the successful social enterprise it is today, which continues to train artisans. You can watch the artisans on a short fascinating guided tour through wood carving, stonemasonry, lacquerware, silk-painting, and other workshops. They also have a silk farm that can be visited. The sprawling gift shop is the best place to shop in Siem Reap for stone sculptures and wood carvings of Buddha, Khmer kings, apsaras, and other artworks from Angkor, beautiful lacquerware, silk scarves, clothes, cushion covers, throws and the like, silver jewellery, and plenty of small trinkets. Prices are very reasonable for the exquisite quality, the artisans are paid well and work in good conditions, and you can see your souvenir wasn’t produced in a sweatshop. They also provide reasonably-priced shipping for large works.
  • Made in Cambodia Market near the Shinta Mani hotels should be your next point of call. There you’ll find stalls ran by local artists, artisans and NGOs selling more beautifully handmade and handcrafted gifts, fashion, jewellery, accessories, interior decor, design objects, art, crafts, and artisanal liqueurs, jams, honey, and so on. Open daily noon-10pm.
  • The Phare Circus Gift Shop is a fantastic one-stop shop for souvenirs and gifts by many of Cambodia’s finest artisans, including a range from Artisans d’Angkor and some of the same products you’ll see at the Made in Cambodia Market. Bonus: they also have art works and design products, such as children’s games and cool t-shirts from their arts school in Battambang.
  • Kandal Village, centred along hip Hap Guan Street and parallel streets, is the address of some of the most idiosyncratic and stylish boutiques and concept stores in Siem Reap, such as Louise Loubatieres, Garden of Desire and Sirivan. It’s also home to Siem Reap’s best coffee at Little Red Fox Espresso and authentic pasta at Mama Shop.
  • Beautiful independently owned boutiques and shops offering original, Cambodian-made silk, arts, crafts, fashion, jewellery, and accessories are scattered all over Siem Reap, such as Eric Raisina, Ambre, Smateria and Sirivan at The Aviary Hotel; Graines de Cambodge and Senteurs d’Angkor in the centre of Siem Reap opposite Old Market; OXO opposite Viroth’s Hotel; and Theam’s House Gallery, which is off the beaten track, but good tuk tuk drivers know where it is. See our Local Guide to Shopping Siem Reap and Eric Raisina’s Guide to Siem Reap Style for more details.

 Responsible Travel Guide to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park

Aside from respecting the local culture and religion by dressing appropriately, as outlined in the Code of Conduct, there are many other things you can do and choices you can make as a responsible traveller to Siem Reap and Cambodia. Read our post on why travelling responsibly in Cambodia matters and our Guide to Responsible Travel in Cambodia.

If you have any questions or suggestions for our Guide to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park or tips you’d love to share with our readers, feel free to leave them in the comments below. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Also check our Siem Reap and Angkor Wat Frequently Asked Questions.

LAST UPDATED: July 2023

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A travel and food writer who has experienced over 70 countries and written for The Guardian, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Feast, Delicious, National Geographic Traveller, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, DestinAsian, TIME, CNN, The Independent, The Telegraph, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, AFAR, Wanderlust, International Traveller, Get Lost, Four Seasons Magazine, Fah Thai, Sawasdee, and more, as well as authored more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Footprint, Rough Guides, Fodors, Thomas Cook, and AA Guides.

15 thoughts on “Ultimate Guide to Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park – A Detailed Insiders Guide”

  1. Hi Lara, Thanks for posting such a precise and painstaking article….It will work as a reference guide for the travelers to Angkor wat… bookmarked it…

  2. Thanks for your kind words, Rahul! Apologies for taking so long to acknowledge this. Overlooked this one – may have been sipping champagne at the time ;) Thanks for dropping by!

  3. Hi Lara and Terence, been a long time! Sounds like you are still having fun globe trotting. After Pol Pot was no longer in the picture gave my job up in Paris and decided to spend 3 months doing voluntary work in Cambodia in Siem Reap. I had a couple of Cambodian friends when I lived in Paris and wrote some university papers on cultural tourism in Cambodia using the theme of water. So I was on a mission to go see for myself. I am often not as enthusiastic as some on seeing renowned land marks, but Angkor Wat and the temples were breathtaking for me. They made such an impression on me that tears would well up! I would spend days on end at different spots just soaking up all the wisdom and beauty! I can also still smell the different fragrances and “odors” exotic to my western nose…taste the dishes of scrumptious local food…and much more. I dream of going back and would love to do so with my family. My husband also went to Cambodia (in fact twice for design projects and also during the 90s). We have 2 young girls of 7 and 9 so maybe when they are a little older we’ll make it back. Warm regards from me Monique and the BOKAAP ladies of the andulela network (ps: perfected the samosa folding yet?)

  4. Nice piece, but you should also advise people to absolutely NOT miss the temples at Beng Mealea & Koh Ker. Both more interesting than Ta Phrom and Banteay Srei, and far fewer tourists there too. Went to both in 2010 and I was the only person there.

  5. Hi Tim – thanks for your comment. We totally agree with you. We’ve written half a dozen stories (and more to come) for magazines and newspapers (The Guardian, CNN Travel, Wanderlust, National Geographic Traveller etc) over the last six months on more off-the-beaten-track temples like Beng Mealea and Koh Kher, as well as Phnom Kulen, following the confirmation in June of new discoveries resulting from the LiDAR survey, so we agree 100% that they’re amazing and worth visiting.

    For us, Beng Mealea is the most atmospheric of all and we love the sprawl of Koh Ker – so many temples to explore! – and every time we’ve visited them we’ve been the only people there. I lie. When we visited Koh Ker there was a Japanese couple with a guide who seemed to arrive at each temple just as we were about to leave. So, yes, actually we were the only people there. We’ll be writing much more about those and other temples on the site.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  6. I’m really looking forward to visiting later this year. Thanks for the detailed information; it’s a good guide to start temple-touring with!

  7. Currently staying in Siem Reap – went to Angkor Wat yesterday. Would definitely recommend getting a tuk tuk, our driver (Narrow – apologies for onomatopoeic version, unsure of real spelling) was great, his English was very good & he knew the site very well, pointing out locations, suggesting when to stop for just photos or more of an exploration. He also planned where to go to try to avoid the crowds & was very informative about the different sites. Great views & natural air conditioning from the tuk tuk, he also provided water during the trip. Would recommend doing your visit independently, if you go on a coach then you’re already dealing with a crowd every stop you make from your own transportation!!! We didn’t get a guide but the official guides (in apricot) we passed seemed very informative. We avoided sunrise but still made sure we got their early, it gets very hot!! Buying tickets at the ticket office is quick & very well organised. Support your local tuk tuk drivers – they have the best local knowledge & are really friendly, but it appears are being overlooked due the larger tour operators ?

  8. Hi Kelly – thanks for dropping by to share your experiences with our readers. So pleased you agree with using tuk tuk drivers. The problem is that so many people book trips from their home countries, so not only are they using large operators, they’re using large foreign operators, which does very little for the local economy when they get dirt-cheap agency rates. We always advise people to book their tours once they get here so the income goes to local companies and the small tour companies use tuk tuks over buses. If you’re here for a bit longer, strongly recommend you see sunrise. It’s absolutely magic. I’ve seen it scores of times and I never tire of it. Hot??? This is actually our cool season :) I hope you’ve also been enjoying our unseasonal rain. Thanks for dropping by! Let us know if you need any tips although we’ve got loads of stuff here on the site.

  9. Hi – we’re potentially staying a month in Cambodia, apart from the three cities you mention are there any other locations you would recommend? We are open to suggestions & also considering making our way to the south coast for some beach & snorkelling time

  10. I love Banteay Chhmar, not just because of the temple, but you get to experience village life and do a homestay: https://grantourismotravels.com/2016/01/18/banteay-chhmar-homestay/ You could potentially go up there on your way to Battambang and stay overnight.
    Try to get out to some of the more remote temples like Preah Vihear and Sambor Prei Kuku if you haven’t been yet: https://grantourismotravels.com/2016/06/15/remote-cambodian-archaeological-sites/
    And also get up to Phnom Kulen, not just to swim by the waterfall and to see the giant Buddha, but get on the backs of the boys motorcycles and ask them to take you to see the elephant statue and some of the old city ruins: https://grantourismotravels.com/2014/01/31/exploring-the-lost-city-of-mahendraparvata-at-mount-kulen-cambodia/
    And of course Kampot and Kep are musts, and then you can head to the islands.
    That should keep you busy for a month! Enjoy!

  11. Change of plan, heading to Kep instead. Thanks for top tips for Siem we loved it & will hopefully return ?? ps stayed at the Elegant Angkor Resort & Spa – it’s small & intimate with good sized pool for cooling off in, would recommend it

  12. Hi Lara, this is the absolute best Angkor temple guide! Amazing work! I know you guys live there but I also have a blog so know how much effort and time goes into this. Printed it and highlighted practically the whole thing LOL! Will book as much as we can with your links. Thank you!!!

  13. Hi Lina, that’s what we love to hear. Really appreciate it — both the kind words and you using our links. Thank you for taking the time to drop by and leave a comment. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions. Happy to help. If we don’t hear from you, have a great time here! :)

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