A towering stone gate with the Buddas head carving at Angkor Wat temple entrance

Visiting Angkor Wat Cambodia for the First Time

Visiting Angkor Wat Cambodia is a highlight of a trip to Southeast Asia. I spent a week exploring Siem Reap and the ancient temples of Angkor and was amazed by their majesty and size. The Khmer temples in the Angkor Archeological Park are UNESCO World Heritage-listed and draw millions of tourists each year.

If you’ve always wanted to visit Angkor Wat I’ve compiled this guide to help you plan your first trip to the ancient Khmer temples with everything you need to know: why you should go, how to get to the temples, how much it costs, where to stay and much more…

visitng Angkor Wat Cambodia
Sunrise at majestic Angkor Wat in Cambodia

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What is Angkor Wat?

Angkor Wat is the world’s largest religious monument and Cambodia’s most famous tourist attraction. Visitors come from all over the world to see the ancient temples of Angkor and the remains of the Khmer Empire dating back to the 9th century.

Stunning and vast, Angkor Wat is set amongst rice fields and lush, green forest. The Angkor Archeological Park covers a huge area, around 400 square kilometres.

If it’s your first time in Cambodia, you can’t miss visiting Angkor Wat!

Is Angkor Wat Worth Visiting?

Yes, Angkor Wat is worth visiting. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed temples are some of the most important in Southeast Asia. The majestic temple ruins of Angkor are a highlight of visiting Cambodia and should be at the top of the list of places to see in Cambodia.

best of Cambodia Bayon Temple Angkor
Bayon Temple, Angkor, Cambodia

What is it like to visit Angkor Wat Cambodia?

I spent several days exploring the Angkor Archeological Park and hired a tuk-tuk to visit Angkor Wat at sunrise. When I arrived at the car park, the huge temple was hidden in the darkness and already there were crowds of people there to see the sunrise.

I joined a stream of tourists walking through the darkness towards the temple entrance. The ancient roadway was paved with stone and the surface was uneven. I wished I had a torch but managed to avoid tripping over on the rough pathway.

Outside the temple, a crowd had gathered around a large lake. The best spots by the lake were already taken and the area was full of people waiting by the lake for the sun to appear behind Angkor Wat.

Unfortunately, the sky was cloudy that morning and we didn’t see the sunrise but I took a lovely picture of the majestic Angkor Wat reflected on the lake’s surface.

After sunrise, I met my tour guide and spent a few hours exploring the temple and learning about Khmer history. I climbed the steep stairs to the tower to see expansive views of the Angkor complex. I also made a donation to the temple and was blessed by a monk inside Angkor Wat.

Highlights of Visiting Angkor Wat Cambodia

  • Watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious site.
  • Experiencing the serenity and splendour of Bayon Temple my favourite temple in the Angkor Archeological Park with its four-sided Buddha images. The impressive stone carvings welcome visitors from all directions. Bayon was once the centre of the ancient city of Angkor Thom and dates back to the 9th century.
  • Visiting Ta Prohm, the jungle Temple made famous by the film “Tomb Raider” Ta Prohm is the most atmospheric of the temples and the ruins lie hidden in the jungle. Tree roots wind their way around the weathered stonework and seem to grow out of the stone. The jungle is reclaiming the ancient temple and the trees are slowly strangling the ancient ruins.
  • Seeing the intricate carvings at Banteay Srei Temple, the finest at Angkor
Solo travel in Cambodia to Ta Prohm temple Angor
Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor, Cambodia

How to Visit Angkor Wat

Visiting Angkor Wat is usually done over several days and the most common way to get to the temples from Siem Reap is by tuk-tuk. At least 2 days are needed to see the most important temples at Angkor.

The Small Circuit and Grand Circuit tuk-tuk tours cover the most visited sites. To see more of the Archeological Park allow another couple of days.

Tuk-tuk tours can be arranged in Siem Reap or booked ahead of time.

The Small Circuit

Cost: approx. US$18

The Small Circuit Tour is a day trip that includes the most popular and most visited temples: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom & Ta Prohm. Expect these stunning temples to be crowded throughout the day, even at sunrise

The Grand Circuit

Cost: approx. US$20

The Grand Circuit tour includes Bayon, Srah Srang, Preah Neak Poan, and Preah Khan

Allow an additional day or 2 to venture further afield to Bantay Srei Temple to see the intricate stone carvings and Beng Melea, a remote jungle temple.

Book your Temple Tour in Advance

  • The Angkor Wat temple hopping tour is a full-day tour from Siem Reap that explores the ancient temples at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. It includes sunset at the Pre Rup Temple and a guide so you’ll learn about Khmer history as you explore.
  • Enjoy an evening in the countryside on an Angkor sunset bike and boat tour. Cycle around the Angkor complex in the soft evening light and relax on a Dragon boat cruise on an ancient waterway.
  • Take an Easy Rider Motorbike tour. Get off the beaten track and discover the countryside surrounding Siem Reap on a 6-hour motorbike tour. Ride red clay tracks to discover remote temples and traditional villages, and see parts of Cambodia that few tourists ever get to experience.
Angkor Wat Cambodia

Cost of Visiting Angkor Wat Cambodia

To visit Angkor Wat, you need to buy a Temple Pass from the Angkor Archeological Park office. My tuk-tuk driver arranged this as the first stop. You must carry your ticket or risk a steep fine if caught without one.

Cost to Visit Angkor Wat

1-day Temple Pass US$37

3-day Temple Pass US$62 (valid for 1 week)

7-day Temple Pass US$72 (valid for 1 month)

Free for children under 12 years

The Angkor Temple Pass includes entrance to all temples except Kulen Mountain & Beng Mealea

The Small Circuit private tuk-tuk tour to Angkor Wat from Siem Reap costs approximately US$18

The Grand Circuit private tuk-tuk tour to Angkor Wat from Siem Reap costs approximately US$20

TIP: Expect to pay your driver extra for sunrise and sunset tours. After all, he has to get up before dawn and work extra hours.

Food and accommodation are inexpensive in Siem Reap and throughout Cambodia for tourists travelling from the US, Australia and Europe.

You can stay in a hostel for as little as US$5 per night and eat street food if you want to live very cheaply or stay in a luxurious hotel and eat at high-end restaurants. Siem Reap has options for all budgets.

Opening Hours Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat & Srah Srang are open from 5:00 AM to 5:30 PM (for sunrise)

Pre Rup and Phnom Bakheng are open from 5:00 AM to 7:00 PM (for sunrise and sunset)

Most other Temples are open from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM

When to visit Angkor Wat Cambodia

The best time of year to visit Angkor Wat is during the dry season, from November to March. December and January are some of the busiest months of the year and Angkor Wat welcomed almost 5 million international visitors in 2023.

The worst time to visit Angkor Wat is in April when the weather is unbearably hot and it’s also a good idea to avoid October when Siem Reap sometimes floods.  

Angkor Wat in Cambodia
Visiting Angkor Wat Cambodia

Is it safe to visit Angkor Wat?

I felt safe visiting Angkor Wat and travelling alone throughout Cambodia but it is a poor country so watch out for petty theft and scams. Cambodia is considered safe for female travellers if you take the usual safety precautions.

If you feel a bit nervous about travelling solo in Cambodia these 30 tips for women travelling alone will help you to have a successful and enjoyable experience.

What to Wear to Visit Angkor Wat

Respectful dress is essential for visiting Angkor Wat and all religious sites in Cambodia. Make sure your knees and shoulders are covered or you will not be allowed to enter a temple in Cambodia.

Wear comfortable shoes or sandals for visiting Angkor Wat and expect a lot of walking on uneven stone surfaces.

The weather is hot all year round so take lightweight cotton shirts, skirts, dresses and long pants. Cambodian women dress conservatively with long sleeves and covered legs.

TIP: The hot weather will drain your energy. When visiting Angkor Wat I found it was best to rise early to beat the heat. I spent the morning sightseeing and the afternoon cooling off by the hotel pool.

More Tips for Visiting Angkor Wat Cambodia

  • DON’T MISS – Angkor Wat at Sunrise. It’s worth getting up early but you can expect to share the lakefront with many others.
  • Hire a Tour Guide to learn about the ancient history of Angkor Wat. Ask for an English-speaking guide (or for someone who speaks your language: approximately US$15)
  • Take a torch if you’re arriving at Angkor Wat in the dark. The pathway is rough and uneven in the dark.
  • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated
  • Wear sunscreen and a hat
  • Expect the temples to be crowded even at sunrise
  • Don’t hesitate to book your trip. Angkor Wat is an amazing place to visit.
solo travel in Cambodia Sra Srang
Sra Srang at Angkor Cambodia

How long to stay

Allow at least 3 days in Siem Reap to see the most important sites around Angkor Wat but stay a week if you can. It’s best to take your time and not feel rushed when you visit. The Angkor Temple complex is massive and includes many Buddhist and Hindu temples and a huge, abandoned city dating from AD 802 to 1432.

Getting around in a Tuk-Tuk

I’ll never forget the thrill of my first tuk-tuk ride at Angkor Wat. The excitement just bubbled up when I realized I had arrived and my adventure was just beginning!

For a tuk-tuk ride from the airport to Siem Reap the price is fixed at US$6

For a short ride around Siem Reap expect to pay around US$2 for a tuk-tuk or motorbike taxi.

Negotiate the price before you go if you are picking up a ride on the street, or you may get ripped off.

From the airport getting a tuk-tuk to Siem Reap is easy. I bought my ticket at the counter outside the airport near the taxi stand and I paid in US dollars.

TIP: Book your Siem Reap  Airport Transfer to your hotel and take the stress out of your arrival in Cambodia.

How to get to Angkor Wat

Siem Reap is the jumping-off point for visiting Angkor Wat in Cambodia and you can fly directly to the international airport in Siem Reap.

TIP: Book your flights, bus, train and ferry tickets with 12Go Asia. It’s easy and convenient. You pay a small booking fee and receive your e-ticket by email.

Temple at Siem Reap Cambodia
Wat Preah Prom Rath, Siem Reap Cambodia

Where to stay in Siem Reap

Budget: Onederz Hostel Siem Reap has a rooftop pool, a good lounge area and a bar. The great location near the Pub and the market is a winner.

Mid Range: I stayed at The Kingfisher Angkor Hotel in Siem Reap and liked the location away from the noisy nightclubs of Pub Street but just a short walk to restaurants, the night market and all the action. My room on the top floor was spacious with a huge bathroom & balcony. I loved the pool area too but the lift was sometimes out of service & the front rooms were a bit noisy.

For a more upmarket option try The Night Hotel. It has a great location and gets exceptional reviews.

Luxury: Metta Residence and Spa get exceptional reviews for outstanding service, room comfort, and the lovely pool & spa. The food is fabulous and guests love the Khmer Cultural show.

What else is there to do in Siem Reap

Aside from visiting Angkor Wat, Siem Reap is a great place to stay with many options for activities. Here are some things to do in Siem Reap besides visiting temple ruins.

  • Take a Khmer cooking Class – I enjoyed spending a day preparing and eating delicious Cambodian dishes like Amok chicken and fresh spring rolls.
  • Visit the local Buddhist temples like Wat Preah Prom Rath, Wat Damnak and Wat Bo
  • Shop at the markets – I like the night market best and bought a beautifully carved wooden Buddha’s head.
  • Visit Artisans Angkor, watch local craftsmen at work and shop for souvenirs. The shop sells quality silk clothing, arts and crafts and homewares. I bought some gorgeous raw silk cushion covers here.
  • Watch a Phare Circus Performance. I can recommend this as a fun evening out
  • Watch a traditional Cambodian dance performance
  • Visit the floating Village on the Tonle Sap River and see the houses on stilts
  • Visit the Angkor Silk Farm
fire throwing at the Phare circus Battambang in Cambodia
The Phare Circus in Cambodia

Where Else to Go in Cambodia

Cambodia is a fascinating country to visit and has much more to offer than Angkor Wat. You can see the highlights of Cambodia in 10 days including the busy capital Phnom Penh and the stunning tropical islands of Sihanoukville.

With a longer Cambodia itinerary, you can also visit the regional city of Battambang and the laidback coastal towns of Kep and Kampot.


Can you visit Angkor Wat on your own?

Yes, you can visit Angkor Wat on your own. I travelled alone to Siem Reap in Cambodia and booked a tuk-tuk to visit Angkor Wat as a solo traveller. My driver dropped me at the ticket office and waited in the car park at each of the temples. The temples are a fair distance apart and the Angkor Wat Archeological Park is around 5 kilometres away from Siem Reap, the closest town and easily accessible by independent travellers.

How many days do you need to visit Angkor Wat?

You need at least 2 days to see the main temples at Angkor Wat but the site is so big it’s best to allow 3 or more days to explore the Archeological Park. There’s so much to see and do you can easily stay for a week.

Is Angkor Wat really worth visiting?

Yes, visiting Angkor Wat is a highlight of Cambodia and should not be missed. Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world and the temples of Angkor are the most important in Southeast Asia. The Angkor Archeological Park is massive and the site is UNESCO World Heritage-listed.

Can I wear shorts to Angkor Wat?

No, you can’t wear shorts to visit Angkor Wat. The temple is an important religious site. Visitors must dress respectfully with their knees and shoulders covered to visit Angkor Wat and all temples in Cambodia or you may not be allowed to enter. If you want to wear shorts take a sarong to tie around your waist for visiting the temple.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Angkor Wat Cambodia

I loved visiting Angkor Wat and was amazed by the size and splendour of the ancient temples. Majestic Angkor Wat was on my bucket list for many years and I was so glad that I finally went to see the UNESCO World Heritage ruins.  

Cambodia is a fabulous destination for solo travel in South East Asia. The country is well set up for tourists and it’s easy to get around. It’s also a safe destination for women travelling alone and foreigners are generally respected here.

Don’t hesitate to book your ticket!

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