Angkor Wat is one of those must see destinations when traveling in Cambodia and watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat is an iconic travel experience.
The Angkor Wat Archaeological Park is home to hundreds of temples and religious structures throughout the 400-sq km site.
Early in the morning the road from Siem Reap to Angkor Wat is filled with a steady stream of travellers with cameras in hand ready to capture a breathtaking sunrise over the ancient temples.
Getting There: TukTuk is the most popular form of transport when traveling from temple to temple. This is the option we went for. We organised our tuktuk through our hotel and it cost 21USD for the entire day.
If you are in a larger group private vehicles and taxis can also take you around the park. You will need to book through a travel agent or ask your hotel to order you a car.
For those who are looking for something more adventurous there are many bike rental companies around the park grounds.
Private and group tours are also available.
Tickets: You can only purchase tickets at the main entrance which is located on the road to Angkor Wat. The ticket office is open from 5am – 6pm. Three ticket options are available:
- 1 days pass: $37
- 3 day pass: $62 (eligible for any 3 days in a one week period)
- 7 day pass: $72 (eligible for any 7 days in a one month period)
We opted for the 1 day pass. Note: always carry your ticket with you, as it’s common to have these checked again by security guards at the entrance of the temples.
Tour: Our morning began with an early 4:30am pick up. Our tuktuk driver met us in the reception of our hotel. We first drove to the ticket office where we purchased our 1 day pass. It was a quick and easy process.
There are thousands of temples in the Angkor Archaeological Park, with more being discovered each year . Unless you are a keen archaeologist, you will probably not be visiting them all.
Here is a suggested itinerary for one day of exploring Angkor Wat:
Angkor Wat is the most famous temple in the park and namesake of the Angkor Park. It is a truly impressive ancient site. It is an imposing structure and beautifully preserved, not to be missed.
We entered the Angkor Wat temple via the west gate entrance in the complete darkness with only the light from our phones to guide us. We arrived with about 30 minutes to spare before sunrise. A lot of people had already gathered around the lotus pond in front of the temple. We picked a spot on the grass and made ourselves comfortable.
Finally, the sun began to rise and the sky transitioned to beautiful shades of purples and blues. The shadow of Angkor Wat appeared backlit by the sun and eventually the temple was fully illuminated by the morning light. The silhouette of Angkor Wat reflected in the lotus pond.
Moments after the sun had risen the large crowd of tourists dispersed to begin their day of sightseeing. We made our way to the main entrance of the temple and spent nearly two hours exploring the magnificent site.
We made our way back to our tuktuk driver for our next stop Bayon Temple.
Bayon Temple is a beautiful site located in the heart of the Angkor Thom city ruins. This temple is famous for its 216 smiling face carvings. This is a beautiful temple and not to be missed when exploring Angkor Wat.
Ta Keo Temple
This was the third temple we visited and the site was a lot quieter then the previous two stops. Ta Keo temple is an impressive towering structure. In order to get to the top you will have to climb some pretty steep stairs, however it is worth it! Once you reach the top the view are spectacular.
Ta Phrom Temple
AKA ‘Tomb Raider’ temple! Ta Phnom temple as been dubbed the Tomb Raider temple as it was used as a backdrop in the 2001 hit movie staring Angelina Jolie. The root tangled structures are stunning and give a sense that this temple has been swallowed by the jungle. The silk cotton trees and large vines have woven their way around the temple.
Bantay Kdei Temple
Known as the ‘citadel of monks’ cells’, this Buddhist temple is similar in design to Ta Phnom. The main difference it is a lot less busy! This temple is so beautiful and so peaceful it is defiantly worth adding to your list!
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