Angkor Wat Tips: 5 Things to Know Before Visiting

I have just finished my temple adventure marathon in Angkor, Cambodia’s top travel destination. And I’m glad I’ve done my homework researching a few things about the temple ruins before visiting, as some bad choices could’ve really ruined the trip.

1. Angkor Wat is not as huge as you’d think

Prasat Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Without taking away its greatness, while Angkor Wat is huge it takes you only about 2 hours to explore the temple (especially with many of the pathways being blocked). Some tourists visit just Angkor Wat and that’s it, but the reality is Angkor Wat is just one of the many equally impressive temples around the area.

Budget your time wisely and go explore around more. Make sure you do a little bit of research on the temple options, some of the less popular temples are gems!

2. The distance between temples, though, are massive

Map of Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

[Image Credit: Travvel Sized]

“Look at the map. They don’t seem so far, should I just ride a bike around?”

NO. Many travelers, especially the backpackers, love biking around at their own pace. But this one’s different. Getting to the first temple from the main city in Siem Reap alone takes half an hour… by car. Traveling between temples also take quite some time, especially if you plan to visit some amazing outlying temples like Banteay Srey.

Do yourself a favour and forgo the bike. Even if the above reason doesn’t bother you, then #3 below certainly will.

3. Angkor is scorching hot!

Baphuon Temple, Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

The one temple I gave up halfway ’cause the 2-4 pm sun was a merciless rain of heat.

If you have a few extra days in Siem Reap, don’t burn your neck and go get yourself a long relaxing lunch or afternoon Khmer massage instead. Or at least, go to temples with plenty of shading and indoor walkways. If you want to have a pleasant adventure, don’t plan your favorite temples around late afternoon, obviously. And boy was I happy that I decided to take air-conditioned car instead of tuk-tuk.

The irony of it all? You better pray it stays hot during your visit. Wet, muddy steps are the last thing you’d want in Angkor because…

4. You actually need to CLIMB some of the temples

Pre Rup, Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Yep. The steps are exactly wide enough for the size of one shoe, and you might even need to use your hands to climb some of the temples!

When I was at Ta Keo, a woman was crying to her boyfriend that she no longer have the energy to descend. And her boyfriend? Wasn’t any better, shaky legs and all. While I wouldn’t go as far as to call the temple steps “dangerous”, you certainly need some physical fitness and courage. Make sure you do your research and know your limits.

5. The number of tourists in Cambodia probably outweigh the locals

Sharing your sunrise with hundred other tourists in Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

It’s 5 pm and you’re already sharing your sunrise with hundred other tourists. Some places, like Ta Prohm where the famous tree-temple scene from Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider was filmed, is crazy crowded. Good luck getting a clean shot.

Cambodia receives about 2 million tourists every year. Everywhere you go, you see more Caucasians than local citizens. If you’re expecting a romantic, eerie adventure among the deserted ruins, you’ll not get it in Angkor. Set your expectation right and your trip to Angkor will be a much better experience.

Have you been to Angkor? What are the things that you wish others have told you about Angkor? How would you have done your trip differently?

Book a trip to Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm and Bayon now.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Great post. I will be there April 3/4/5. I am planning to see half a dozen of my favourite temples, but I cannot do anything about the heat. Sun cream and bug spray (how were the mozzies, btw? And did you see any snakes?) is all I can rely on! I cannot wake up that early for sunrise, but I plan to see Angkor Wat at sunset instead. I think the golden sun descending will look good over those temples.


    1. Andrew Darwitan says:

      Hi Lee, I didn’t encounter any snake/mozzie troubles. Not sure if such is the case with Siem Reap or it’s just my luck. As for the sunrise, it was good but the colors weren’t as varied as I had expected (heard Srah Srang is the best spot for sunrise in Angkor), so perhaps going for the sunset could be the better decision. Let me know again, and hope your trip is amazing!


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