Cambodia – Tips To Make The Most Of Angkor Wat

By | August 20, 2012 at 8:55 am | 43 comments | Advice, Cambodia, Jade | Tags: ,

For most people, the two things that spring to mind when thinking about Cambodia are the regions tragic recent past, and the glory of the ancient site of Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat is just one of the ancient ruins in the Angkor temple complex, but it is the most famous. Images of Angkor Wat feature on the countries national beer, and it even appears on the flag. Built in early 12th century, the temples of Angkor Wat  offer remarkable insight into life during these times.

There are over a thousand temple ruins scattered over the grounds near the city of Siem Riep, and many of the temples have been restored for visitors. When planning your holiday in Cambodia, make sure you do not forget to include a visit to Angkor.

angkor

Temple reliefs offer insight to life during this period

Tips To Make The Most Of Your Visit To Angkor

Tip 1 : Give Yourself Plenty Of Time

The Angkor park covers a lot of ground, and even the most basic temple viewing itinerary can contain dozens of interesting sites. To gain entry into the park, you must buy a pass. Although day passes are available, if you want to get the full Angkor experience, then I recommend buying at least a three day pass.

Angkor

Jade at a temple at Angkor

Tip 2 : Try To Avoid Travelling During The Hottest Season

When you are visiting the temples, you will be spending the better part of your day outside. You will also find yourself compelled to climb hundreds upon hundreds of stairs to visit the tops of some of the temple ruins. If you have flexibility in your planning, try to avoid the hottest times of year fo your visit, as it is not uncommon for visitors who are unused to the heat to suffer from heat exhaustion or even heat stroke.

Tip 3 : Stay Hydrated

You will be doing a lot of walking and climbing, so it is imperative to make sure you drink plenty of water. There are many vendors throughout the park who sell drinking water, so it is always easy to obtain. Also, it is not a bad idea to take along some rehydration salts with you to add to your water, to make sure you are up keeping all your bodies essential salts that it needs to function.

Tip 4 : Arrive Early And Stay Late To Avoid Crowds

There is nothing more sublime then watching the sun rise or set over a backdrop of ancient temple ruins. Also, by visiting at these times, you will be able to avoid the many tourists who visit via tour bus. Try to plan your visit to the temples that interest you the most at these ideal times.

Bayon

The Bayon temple was my favourite at the Angkor Park

Tip 5 : Don’t Overdo It. Hire A Tuk Tuk Driver

One mistake that we made when we visited Angkor, was trying to do the majority of temples by foot. Even though in normal circumstances, that amount of walking would have been fine for me – in the heat of a Cambodian summer it was just too much. I ended up with heat exhaustion, and had a difficult time enjoying some of the temples we visited. So make it easy on yourself, and remember you are on holiday. By hiring a tuk tuk driver to escort you around the temples for the day, you not only help a local small business person, but you also conserve your energy for climbing up more of those temple stairs!

Have you been to Angkor? Do you have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Jade Johnston

Jade is a freelance travel writer from Manitoba Canada. She loves travel and meeting new people has lived in 6 countries and travelled to more than 30. She prefers to travel slowly - taking overland transit or working/ volunteering in the countries she visits. Her motto is that she might never return to this place again, so she has to try to soak up as much as possible. To learn more about the OurOyster project, Google + : Jade Johnston's Google You can also shoot her an email at jade@ouroyster.com

43 Comments

  1. Wends of Journeys and Travels (1 year ago)

    I just love these tips! I had been to Angkor Wat in December last year and it was great experience for me. I have hired a tuk tuk indeed and that save me more on time sightseeing. I also choose to start to sunrise then capped it with a great beer at the Pub Street in Siem Reap.

    I missed it there and the photos you have are awesome! :)

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      Thanks for your comment Wends! I think out of all the tips, hiring a tuk tuk is the most valuable. I think a lot of people underestimate just hot much there is to see at Angkor, and a tuk tuk helps you see more without getting so tired

  2. Escaping Abroad (1 year ago)

    Excellent tips, I think some of these can apply to nearly any popular destination you visit.. I know I would’ve enjoyed Tulum much more if we’d gotten there early before all the other tourists.

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      Yeah, arriving early is a good tip for any popular place… if only it was easier to wake up so early!

  3. Noah Lederman (1 year ago)

    Just left Angkor Wat this week. Aside from how impressive it was, there were three things that I did that made the area very special.
    1. Head to Bantei Srei. From there, visit the land mine museum. The temple is beautiful. The museum is tragic.
    2. Rent a bike. I’m scared of bike riding and I was the only person in Angkor wearing a helmet, but even I had a blast. Plus you can bike around temples that you don’t really care to see.
    3. Talk to the kids selling stuff. They’re awesome when they’re not just saying “please buy from me”

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      The land mine museum is really great isn’t it? And its amazing how the profits from the museum go to helping kids affected by mines go to school and learn skills like english. Such a heart warming place despite all the tragedy.

      haha renting a bike is pretty ambitious! Maybe Im lazy, but I will take a tuk tuk any day!

  4. Mega Eileen (1 year ago)

    I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about Cambodia…not to mention the photos I see post trip. Thanks for making me excited!

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      I just loved Cambodia… such an amazing and resilient country

  5. Bobbi Lee Hitchon (1 year ago)

    We visited last year and followed every tip you mentioned. It’s such a great place to visit, but a lot to take in. We left Siem Reap by tuk tuk at about 5 a.m. and returned home at noon. We barely scratched the surface! Helpful guide for first timers!

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      I think one of the mistakes I made was by trying to push through during the afternoon when the heat was strongest… coming home at noon sounds like a good idea!

  6. Gina (1 year ago)

    In addition to a tuk-tuk driver, my husband and I hired our own personal guide. For only $20 we had someone who regaled us with stories about the temple and the current culture in Cambodia. It was a really great experience and we learned so much!

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      Thats a really great tip! It is always best to get the first hand information from someone who lives there every day

  7. Tracey - Life Changing Year (1 year ago)

    You went around Angkor Wat on foot?? I can hardly believe that! No wonder you suffered. We spent 2 full days there with a tuk tuk and could barely move each night when we returned to our beds.

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      I think we way overestimated our abilities! We tried to do the small circuit by foot, and probably made it about half way before I refused to move another step!

  8. BlogDaz (1 year ago)

    Must make an excuse to go there, been promising for years now that I would visit Angkor Wat.
    How much is the 3 day pass ?,

  9. A Montrealer Abroad (@amontrealer) (1 year ago)

    Heat stroke are SOOO sneaky. I definitely won’t visit Cambodia during hot season, that’s for sure!

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      If you do end up there in the hot season, just make sure to be prepared and drink lots of water, and try to avoid strenous physical activity at noon :)

  10. Angela (1 year ago)

    I see you sorted out your problems with your site, great pictures, Angkor Wat is very high on my travel list!

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      Thanks! Yes it was difficult but now everything seems to be running smoothly!

  11. Cheryl (1 year ago)

    Awww, so sorry to hear you got heat stroke. Will definitely take these tips into consideration when I visit. :)

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      It wasn’t that bad – I was also all templed out so it was a good excuse to go back to Siem Riep and have a nap

  12. Holly (1 year ago)

    Yep, definitely get a tuk-tuk! Although my tip would be to hire one recommended by your hostel or guesthouse – we had a fairly poor experience on the first day that wasted a lot of our precious time. Ana amazing place!

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      We lucked out with our tuk tuk driver. He was the one who picked us up from the bus, and said he would take us to the cheapest hostel if we hired him the next day. It worked out great – we got a $1 double bungalow and he got business the next day!

  13. Alex Kennedy (1 year ago)

    Great tips. Hiring a tuk tuk driver is absolutely essential. Another great source of tips I found is a Kindle book called Angkor Essential, which has four articles specifically about Angkor and how to make the most of a visit there. It was written by a novelist who wrote a book set in ancient Cambodia.

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      Great tip. I love reading about the place I am currently visiting!

  14. Abby (1 year ago)

    I am so jealous!! I’ve always wanted to go there, and it is so far from happening. You look absolutely adorable in that photo!

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      haha thanks! that was a long long long time ago!

  15. Ayngelina (1 year ago)

    We got a tuk tuk driver when we were there, woke up for dawn to take the obligatory photo and then walked around until 10am then went back to nap during the heat and came back for the last few hours til close. It was a recommendation of our hostel and a good one.

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      Yeah that is a good idea – avoid the mid day heat! We didn’t do that and I think that was our downfall

  16. Turtle (1 year ago)

    I went there about eight or nine years ago and it was pretty crowded then. But you could see all the huge hotels that were in various stages of being built and you knew an influx was coming. I can’t imagine how busy it gets there these days!!

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      I didn’t find it any more busy than any other popular tourist attraction around the world – in fact I found it less crowded than some European cities – with all the corners and angles provided by the temples it is still possible to escape the crowds a little bit

  17. Mary @ Green Global Travel (1 year ago)

    These are great travel tips that can be applied to many different tourism attractions. After Bret’s episode with heat exhaustion in the Amazon. We made darn sure to stock up on electrolyte tables. If we didn’t have those tablets in our water, we would have surely passed out on our 8 mile hike through the Jordanian Desert.

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      Electrolytes are a MUST for travel in hot destinations… hmmm… I think I smell a post coming from that! But really – dehydration is a serious illness and more travelers need to be aware of it and how to combat it

  18. Jeremy (TravelApprentice) (1 year ago)

    You’re spot on with not wanting to travel during the hottest time of the year… I was one of them last April when the temperatures reached into the 40′s! Too hot… even the locals were complaining about the heat lol… I wanted to travel at this time of year so we dealt with it and survived but we could have done a lot more if the temperature was a little milder…

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      I did the exact same thing! We went in April as well – big mistake. If I plan another trip back to this region, I will try to go in a slightly cooler season. Hot weather really exhausts me, which means I don’t have the energy to explore as much as I would like

  19. Katie (1 year ago)

    Angkor Wat is very cool to see at sunrise. It’s not as hot as the afternoon. Went in the afternoon and it was scorching. If you go at sunrise, it’s beautiful but may be more crowded.

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      Sunrise wasn’t too crowded when I was there – it got more crowded throughout the day when the tour busses began to arrive

  20. Katie (1 year ago)

    Agkor Wat is so cool and Cambodia is awesome. If anyone reading this ever makes it to Cambodia, definitely take some time to learn about its recent and tragic history. Such sad historical events.

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      There is land mine museum near Angkor wat as well which is a really good place to go to learn about how Cambodia’s past still affects people today

  21. Wally (1 year ago)

    Have respect for the culture you are in. Don’t expose your shoulders like a first time tourist would. The Cambodians are polite and won’t tell, you but you are offending them by prancing around like a Western Ho. A thin scarf when you visit the temples f you must wear a tank top because you’re hot.

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      That’s a great tip! I didn’t know that exposing the shoulders was disrespectful. It’s great to have some local perspective as well!

  22. Passionate Tripmaniac (6 months ago)

    Still dreaming of it… wow…
    Angkor has such finely detailed carvings. Impressive!

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