The Ultimate Angkor Wat Travel Guide

The temples of Angkor have to be seen to be believed. Angkor sits on some 400 square kilometres, and is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia, as it contains the incredible remains of the Khmer Empire from the 9th-15thcentury.

It includes some of the extremely famous temples, and it is truly a magnificent site to see. Experiencing Angkor is an insane experience, and the reason that most people travel to Cambodia (although, there is so much more to see, read my blog on Why you need to visit Cambodia here!).

The amount of time you spend at the temples is completely up to you – it’s easy to cover the small Angkor Circuit and all of the main temples in a day, allow another day if you wish to venture further out. For me, I found a day to be perfect – there was so much more to see and do in Siem Reap that I decided on one day, which turned out to be plenty of time to see everything I wanted to at the temples.

In Angkor Wat travel guide I will cover the temples you can’t miss, getting there, tickets, etiquette and more (be warned – this will make you want to visit Angkor Wat even more!)

11 Temples You Do Not Want to Miss in Angkor

Angkor Wat Temple

Angkor Wat Temple

Angkor Wat is arguably the most famous of the temples, thanks to being stunning, both in its grand size and its incredible detail. It is the heart and soul of Cambodia.

It is the best spot for the sunrise, as the temple sits just behind the shores of a lake, and creates a beautiful reflection on the lake. This should be your first stop of the day, and you should also allow another hour or two to explore the inside of the temple and its surrounds following the sunrise (the temple opens at 6:30am).

Bayon Temple

Bayon Temple

Bayon Temple is the heart of Angkor Thom, the ancient city that was the symbol of the Khmer Empire and is often called the smiling Buddha Temple. The mesmerizing temple features 216 smiling faces across its 54 gothic towers.

Unlike Angkor Wat, which looks stunning from afar, you can’t really appreciate the detail and beauty of Bayon until you are up close and personal. In addition to the countless smiling faces, you can also find numerous carvings in the stone walls as you explore the temple.

Head to Bayon Temple early to try and beat the crowds. Opening at 7:30am, it is the closet major temple to Angkor Wat.

Bauphon Temple

Bauphon Temple

Just a short walk from Bayon Temple, Bauphon temple is often missed by travellers just trying to see the ‘Big 3’. Referred to by locals as a ‘temple mountain’, the steep stairs up the side of the temple (not for the faint of heart!) lead to a terrace at the top to some of the best views of the Angkor Site.

The approach to the temple is also incredible, as you walk along a 225m elevated sandstone walkway as the temple looms overhead. Said to be one of the most impressive of the temples in its day, Bauphon was almost destroyed but has been successfully restored, although not to its full glory. Visit Bauphon Temple either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, as there is no shade and the stairs can be taxing.

AKA Tomb Raider Temple

Ta Prohm Temple, AKA Tomb Raider Temple.

Look I’m going to be honest, Ta Prohm is crazy and clearly the most popular of the temples. It constantly has a line and it’s so crowded inside that it’s almost impossible to get a photo without anybody in it. It still can’t be missed.

When the temples were rediscovered early in the 20thcentury by French Archaeologists, none had been overgrown as spectacularly as Ta Prohm. Soaring to popularity after being featured in the Tomb Raider movies, Ta Prohm is spectacular thanks to its incredible architecture overgrown by the Cambodian jungle. Be patient when visiting Ta Prohm, it’s crazy and busy and takes some time.

The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Angkor Wat

The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Angkor Wat

Getting there & around

So, first things first, you need to organise how to get to the temples, and how you will navigate around during the day. My advice is to get either a private driver or tuk tuk for the day (I did the later, and it was so worth it just for the air-conditioned car between temples).

Organise this the day before. You can do this through your hotel, a tour company, or if you are game, walk along pub street and see what offers you get, then bargain your price from them. Organising a driver for the day makes the experience much easier, as most of the temples are some distance from each other.

Your driver will drop you at any temple you want to visit and wait for you until you are ready to move on. Typically, you can expect to pay around 30-35 US dollars for a driver in a private car, and a little less for a tuk tuk.

Arriving for the sunrise

Up and at it early, you don’t want to miss the sunrise over Angkor Wat. Ask your hotel for a packed breakfast and take it with you. If you are buying a 1 day pass, you need to accommodate time to stop at the ticket office to purchase your pass. Depending on your hotel location, I recommend leaving around 4:30am.

This gives you enough time to get your pass and get to Angkor Wat early enough to get a good spot for the sunrise. Thousands of people flood the banks of the river in front of the famous temple every single morning, so keep this in mind and get there a little earlier if you want to take some good photos. We arrived at 5:15 and snagged a great spot right at the front.

Temple Etiquette

The temples of Angkor represent a sacred religious site to the Khmer people, and as always when travelling, ensuring we do so respectfully should always be of the upmost importance.

Visitors should dress modestly, and some parts of temples will not let you in without shoulders and knee’s covered. Make sure to follow the visitor code of conduct, which includes dressing modestly, not sitting or climbing on structures as well as just being all round respectful. It isn’t hard.

Dealing with the heat

The heat and humidity at Angkor is next level. With little to no shade around, it can get very hot and uncomfortable very quickly. Come prepared with lots of water, sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. Often private drivers will keep cold water in an esky in the car for you to have throughout the day.


Prices are currently as follows:

  • $37 US for a single day pass
  • $62 US for a 3 day pass
  • $72 US for a weeklong pass

Tickets can only be purchased at the at the Angkor Ticket Centre. One day tickets need to be purchased on the day of use. Your tuk tuk or driver for the day will take you to the ticket centre before heading to Angkor. You can find more ticket info here.

Getting to Siem Reap

You can get direct flights to Siem Reap from a number of places nearby, most commonly Ho Chi Minh City. Flying from further away you can expect to have a short stopover in Ho Chi Minh.

Visiting the temples of Angkor is truly a magical experience and something everyone should see in their life, and I hope this Angkor Wat travel guide has inspired you! Cambodia also has so much more to offer, so why no extend your stay in this beautiful country?

Spend a week in Siem Reap experiencing the culture (read my ultimate guide to Siem Reap here), before heading out to one of the islands to relax (Read my ultimate guide to Koh Rong Samleom here). I also recommend the Lonely Planet travel guide for Cambodia, which has details regarding the history of the temples, as well as everything you need to know about travel in Cambodia.

Happy travelling!