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Why Angkor Wat in Cambodia is So Special

Stunning and vast, Angkor Wat in Cambodia is the largest religious monument in the world and it’s Cambodia’s most famous travel destination. Visitors come from all over the world to see the ancient temples of the Angkor Archeological Park and the remains of the Khmer Empire dating back to the 9th century. Set amongst rice fields and lush, green forest, Angkor Wat is one of the most important sites in South East Asia and it’s huge, covering around 400 square kilometres.

Angkor Wat is also a fabulous destination for solo travel in South East Asia. It’s well set up for tourists and foreign women are generally respected here. I felt safe travelling alone throughout Cambodia but it is a poor country so watch out for petty theft and scams. Food and accommodation are relatively cheap and you’ll find lots of options whatever your budget from street food and hostels to luxury restaurants and hotels.

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

Covid-19 restrictions may apply to travel in Cambodia. Check with your local government for the latest travel advice

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Majestic Angkor Wat in Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat Highlights

Watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat, the world’s largest temple

Experiencing the serenity and splendour of Bayon Temple with its four-sided Buddha images

Enjoying Banteay Srei with its intricate carvings, the finest at Angkor

Visiting Ta Prohm made famous by the film “Tomb Raider”, where the jungle is slowly strangling the ancient Temple ruins

The Ancient Temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Ta Prohm

Within the Angkor Archeological Park, you’ll find the ruins of Ta Prohm hidden in the jungle. Ta Prohm is the most atmospheric of the temples and has captured the imagination of visitors. Tree roots wind their way around the weathered stonework of Ta Prohm as the jungle reclaims its ancient structure.

Bayon

But my favourite Temple at Angkor Bayon dates back to the 9th century and was once the centre of the ancient city of Angkor Thom. Majestic Bayon has beautiful and impressive stone carvings of the Buddha’s face that welcome people from all directions. The Temples at Angkor are a major drawcard for visitors to South East Asia and should not be missed.

Solo travel in Cambodia to Ta Prohm temple Angor
Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor, Cambodia

How to Visit Angkor Wat in Cambodia

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

Book your Siem Reap International Airport Transfer here.

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 absolutely massive and includes many Buddhist and Hindu temples and a huge, abandoned city dating from AD 802 to 1432.

The weather is HOT and will drain your energy. I found it was best to rise early and beat the heat. I spent the morning sightseeing and the afternoon cooling off by the hotel pool.

Temple Tours to Angkor Wat

Visiting the main Temples of Angkor Wat is usually done in 2 separate day trips. Tuk-tuk tours can be arranged in Siem Reap.

The Small Circuit

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 (approx. cost US$18)

Bayon Temple Angkor Cambodia
Bayon Temple, Angkor, Cambodia

The Grand Circuit

The Grand Circuit tour includes Bayon, Srah Srang, Preah Neak Poan, and Preah Khan (approx. cost US$20)

Allow time to venture further afield to explore Bantay Srei with its intricate stone carvings and Beng Melea, a remote jungle temple.

Buy your Temple Pass from the Angkor Archeological Park office before you visit. My driver arranged this as the first stop. Make sure you are carrying your ticket or you risk a steep fine if you’re caught without one.

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

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

solo travel in Cambodia Sra Srang
Srah Srang, Angkor, Cambodia

Tips

DON”T MISS – Angkor Wat at Sunrise

It’s definitely worth getting up early to see Angkor Wat at sunrise but expect to share the lakefront with lots of other people. Take a torch as it’s pitch black and the pathway is rough and uneven in the dark.

Expect to pay your driver extra for sunrise and sunset tours. After all, he has to get up before dawn or get home late.

Hire a Tour Guide at Angkor Wat to learn about the ancient history of the area during your visit and ask for an English-speaking guide (or for someone who speaks your language: approximately US$15)

Don’t hesitate to book your trip. Cambodia is an amazing place to visit and it’s easy and safe for solo travel.

Angkor Wat Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Cambodia

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.

Take a full-day Temple tour in a vintage jeep to explore Angkor and visit mysterious temples such as Bayon, and Ta Prohm.

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.

Travel with a small group to Phnom Kulen Waterfall and discover the Holy Mountain and its religious significance

Take a Tuk-Tuk

I’ll never forget the thrill of my first tuk-tuk ride at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. 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.

Angkor Wat in Cambodia
Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Where to stay near Angkor Wat

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, about 5 km away from Angkor Wat. This hotel is in a good 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 has exceptional reviews for outstanding service, room comfort, lovely pool & spa. The food is fabulous and guests love the Khmer Cultural show.

Travel essentials:

#1. A Travel Guide for Cambodia I rarely travel without a trusted Lonely Planet Guide.

#2. Travel Insurance – I use and recommend World Nomads

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23 Comments

  1. I loved my time there! It was possibly the hottest place I’ve ever been, and also one of the most fascinating. I loved Cambodia, too, and miss all the greetings with a heart-centered bow. Thanks for this wonderful post!

  2. Angkor Wat looks beautiful! I’ve never visited but I’d love to go one day. The temples look incredible, I’d love to explore them! Ta Prohm looks especially enchanting. Thanks for the great guide!

  3. Great post! I enjoyed Angkor Wat & although sunrise is the thing to do, it was amazing how many people were there. I wish I’d read your advice to take a torch beforehand, definitely a top tip! My favourite was Ta Prohm & we arrived early & got it pretty much to ourselves which was even more magical. Great memories!

    1. Thanks for your comments Sue! I loved Ta Prohm too but there were so many people there it was hard to take photos & it definitely affected the atmosphere. I’ll take your advice & go early next time!

  4. I haven’t visited Asia yet, so this blog post makes me want to explore it as soon as I can. Angkor Wat sounds amazing! It was super interesting reading about this ancient monument, and I would love to watch the sunrise there.

  5. Angkor Wat is for sure special. It was one of my highlights on my Asia tour a couple of years ago. Thanks for bringing back some memories!

  6. Wow I didn’t actually know it’s usually done in 2 day trips, this is a super informative guide, thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks Helena, You’ll see the main Angkor temples in 2 full day tours but if you want to get to some of the more remote jungle temples it’s worth budgeting an extra day or 2.

  7. One key thing I learned was that if you wanted to see the lotus in the canals and Tonle Sap reasonably lake-like, don’t go in the dry season at the start of the year!

  8. What great information! It’s helpful to know of the variety of tours offered as well as the methods of transportation to visit a beautiful place with such historical and cultural significance.

  9. I read somewhere it is still relatively “empty” because no Chinese tour groups so now might be a good time to visit, support the economy and see it relatively uncrowded

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