Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world. The name literally translates as “Capital Temple”.
It was originally constructed in the early 12th century as a Hindu temple for the Khmer Empire, but was gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the century.
The temple is the heart and soul of Cambodia and even features on their flag. It is a part of the Angkor Archaeological Park which stretches over 400 square kilometres and contains the amazing remains of several capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th centuries.
CAN I DO ANGKOR ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK IN ONE DAY?
With the increase in price of entry tickets to Angkor Archeological Park a lot of people are asking themselves (including me), can I do it in one day?
But what you should really be asking yourself is, what do I want to see?
If the answer is just the main temples, then yes, you can do it in one day! If time and money is not an issue though you should go for the three day pass.
1 day pass: 37$
3 day pass: 62$ (which is valid for any days over the course of one week)
7 day pass: 72$ (which is valid for any days over the course of one month)
TOP TIP: 1 day passes are valid on the day of purchase, unless you buy it after 17h00 the day before (ticket office closes at 17h30). I would 100% recommend doing this as then you don’t have to worry about getting it in the morning, and it’ll save you precious time! You can also then watch the sunset from within the Angkor Archeological Park!
THE MAIN TEMPLES
So you’re going for the 1 day pass, luckily all of the main temples are within the same area so it shouldn’t take you too long to move between them.
You cannot visit the Angkor Archeological Park without seeing this iconic temple!
Over a thousand tourists pour into Angkor Wat each morning to watch the sunrise. Personally I found that this experience did not live up to the hype, partially due to the sheer number of people battling to get the best view and also partially due to the sunrise itself (it was super sandy/polluted so hardly any colours – my photo below is heavily edited).
If I had the chance to redo my day I would have woken up a bit later and then just gone early to another temple, like Ta Prohm, to beat the crowds there.
In terms of visiting the interior of the temple I would advise going around lunch time. It is super hot but there are a lot less people! We didn’t even have to queue to get the stairs up to the top (note: the stairs don’t open until 7:30am).
There are a few things you can’t miss out on at Angkor Thom:
– The 5 entry doors (the one in the South is the best preserved).
– Bayon Temple (so many faces!)
– The elephants’ terrace
TOP TIP: most tourists seem to go in a clockwise loop of the temples, thus going to Angkor Thom fairly early on in the morning. We went around 11:30am and it wasn’t too crowded then.
The area around Angkor Thom is huge so luckily the tourists are mostly spread out
Just the coolest temple ruins! The tree roots intertwining with the stone makes it easy to understand why they filmed Tomb Raider here!
The downside is that it’s quite ‘closed’ and the hoards of tourists seem to fill up every space.If you are not too bothered with watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat I would make these temple ruins your first port of call.
If you hire a tuk tuk or go on a tour, generally they will already have a route picked out. This will feature the main temples as well as a number of smaller ones.
Definitely make sure you check out Banteay Kdei Temple. It’s like a less commercialised version of Ta Prohm. It also has an awesome entry gate with 4 heads!
The different ways to visit the Angkor Archeological Park are (in order of price):
- Private Tour with guide (around $70 total)
- Group Tour with guide (from around $20 per person)
- Tuk Tuk ($20 total with sunrise pick up, otherwise $15 total)
- E-bike ($10 per bike)
- Bike (around $2-5 per bike)
We opted for the tuk tuk with a driver recommended by our hotel. He also spoke perfect English and was able to act as a sort of guide giving us history about the local area and temples.
Which ever option you go for make sure you organise it the day before! Most e-bikes and bike shops won’t open that early. If you are thinking about taking a bike make sure you take into account the fact that the park is 7.5km from Siem Reap and the heat rises a lot during the day.
Another amazing temple to visit, that isn’t a part of the Angkor Archeological Zone ticket and thus you can visit on another day, is Beng Mealea. Located 60km out of Siem Reap it will cost you around $35 in a tuk tuk and $5 entry fee.
Similar to Ta Prohm, Beng Mealea is full of rubble and epic trees. But contrary to Ta Prohm there are a lot less tourists!
In conclusion it is possible to visit the main temples of the Angkor Archeological Park in one day, and admire the ultimate expression of Khmer genius that is Angkor Wat itself.
If you’re in Cambodia, make sure you head down to the coast to experience their paradise beaches!
If you’re interested in learning more about my spendings for my 7 month trip, check out my blog “How to Travel on a Budget in Asia“.
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