The temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom require no introduction. Being pretty much my main reason for visiting Cambodia, I was excited to immerse myself in these spectacular temple ruins (along with 8,000 other visitors!).
Although I enjoy exploring ruins, and the temples of Angkor are epic, both in terms of size and architectural riches, I am not a particularly huge temple geek and so, opted for the 1 day pass over the 3 day or 1 week options. I still wanted to make sure I saw all of the main attractions though, which is possible to do over a day, albeit a very long one.
I set off from near Pub Street at 5am with my private guide and tuk-tuk driver to ensure we arrived at Angkor Wat in good time to nab some choice seats for the sunrise. I was surprised to see just how many other tourists had also come for sunrise, but of course, I really shouldn’t have been at it is one of the top sights to behold in all of Siem Reap.
I won’t go into the full details of each of the sites in Angkor as you will be able to find a lot of other, more detailed resources online. What you’ll find below is a list of the main temples and sites I visited over the course of the day, in chronological order, with a few photos.
Ta Keo and Banteay Kdei
Not pictured here were my final stops at Ta Keo and Banteay Kdei, the latter of which was where I waited patiently for sunset. Banteay Kdei seems to be the most popular place to watch the sunset as it is up on a hill and affords some great views. Unfortunately, the popularity of the place does mean that you will be surrounded by masses of tourists, each jostling for space to get that perfect sunset photo. You have been warned.
- The loop I did above is known as the Grand Tour Circuit. The other 1 day alternative is the Small Tour Circuit which skips Preah Khan, Neak Poan, East Mebon and Pre Rup.
- It is feasible to cycle to the Temples of Angkor from the centre of Siem Reap. Bicycle rentals cost about USD2 for one day. Be ready to cycle in the dark if you want to make it there for sunrise though!
- Once on site, the temples are all linked by roads making cycling around a great option to explore the ruins.
- I opted for a tuk-tuk instead as I wanted to see the Grand Tour sights in one day. Booking through my hotel, I paid USD16 for the full day (the Small Tour costs USD14). It was an extra USD5 to see the sunrise (as we set off at 5am instead of the usual 7am). Sunset is automatically included.
- I also hired a private guide for the day at a cost of USD35 (USD30 + USD5 for sunrise). I would highly recommend the guides as they are licensed and bring the temples to life with their in-depth knowledge. I do not know whether hiring a guide is possible if you decide to cycle around the temples on your own.
- If you are staying in Siem Reap for a few days and want a tuk-tuk driver for your entire time there, try to negotiate a price for multiple days as it will be cheaper. You can get a tuk-tuk driver for 3 full days for about USD40.
- Be sure to bring or wear long trousers and sleeved tops if you want to enter the upper level of Angkor Wat (a holy place).
- A one day pass to the Temples of Angkor costs USD20. A three day and one week pass costs USD40 and USD60 respectively. All passes bought after 5pm allows you entry into the temples for sunset and are valid for the full day the following day.
- There are numerous restaurants and informal stalls outside each of the main temples so you don’t have to worry about going hungry or thirsty.