This is an iconic, sprawling temple complex surrounded by a wide moat and filled with intricate carvings. Angkor Wat is known for its 5 am sunrises behind a floating lotus lake in front of the temple, where you can capture the perfect shot of the beautiful temple as the sun rises. This beautiful Buddhist temple was originally built in the 12th century as a Hindu temple. The temple complex is spread out across 1,312 feet and is thought to be the largest religious monument in the world. Angkor Wat means “temple city,” in the Khmer language. It now no longer functions as a temple but is a tourist attraction commemorating the history of the empire.
The temple complex is 5 miles north of Siem Reap city. When it was first built it was the capital of the Khmer empire ruling the whole region. The word Angkor in Khmer language means capital and Wat means temple, hence temple city. When the king converted to Buddhism at the end of the 12th century, the temple was converted to a Buddhist temple. There are still monks that live in the village nearby who go to this temple to pray and you may see them on your morning visit.
In the province of Siem Reap, there are over 1000 temples. The specific Angkor Wat temple area holds 10 of the main temples that are the most visited by tourists and spiritual pilgrims which is what makes this area one of the most significant religious sites in the world. Among these temples are Angkor Thom, Bayon temple, and Ta Prohm temple, the one from the film Tomb Raider.
Angkor Wat Ticket
There is an official temple pass that you need to buy in order to enter any of the temple ruins in Angkor. You buy the temple tickets at Angkor Wat Ticket Counters, shown below in the map I included. You can buy a 1-day pass, 3-day pass, or a 7-day pass.
Tickets are normally purchased early around 5 am the morning of your temple tour, or can be purchased the night before after at 5 pm. If you buy it at 5 pm for the next day, you can also go see the sunset over the temple when you buy the ticket for no extra fee. You need to plan out how many days you would like to tour the temples since there are so many. It is best to choose which temples you want to see and if you want to do a long temple tour day or explore it over several days. You can pay in cash or with credit card. The ticket counter accepts payment with Visa, Mastercard, UnionPay, JCB, Discover and Diners Club. You will receive a free map as well with your ticket that shows the top 9 temples to visit and gives information about each.
- 1 DAY PASS $37USD per person
This ticket is only valid the day that it is purchased.
- 3 DAY PASS $62USD per person
- 7 DAY PASS $72USD per person
This ticket is valid for a whole month and you get to choose which 7 days of the month that you visit the temples.
****** Tip: Buy your ticket in the evening after 5pm. From this time, onwards your ticket will be valid for the next day. On the same evening, you can also watch the sunset at Angkor Park for free
Hours for Angkor Park and Angkor Ticket Office
- Angkor Ticket Center (Angkor Enterprise): Daily from 5.00am until 5.30pm
- Angkor Wat and Srah Srang: Daily from 5.00am until 5.30pm.
- Phnom Bakheng and Pre Rup: Daily from 5.00am until 7pm.
- All other Temples: Daily from 7.30am until 5.30pm. (Except for Phnom Kulen and Beng Mealea. you will need to buy an extra ticket to visit these.)
***Tip: Visit the main temple in the center of Angkor Wat at noon after you have looked at other temples to avoid the crowd and rush at sunrise.
Ticket Office Location (Angkor Enterprise)
The address is: Street 60, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Angkor Wat Map
The free map the ticket office gives you shows you the top 9 temples as well as locations, information and how to get there. This is a helpful resource.
Tips about your Angkor-Pass & Visit
- Important: Make sure that your shoulders and knees are covered when purchasing the ticket. Otherwise, you may not get one. This is the same for entering the temples. There are some parts of the temples that are more strict than others. It is better to be respectful and dress modestly (no shorts or short skirts for men or women as well as no exposed shoulders and tank tops or dresses with exposed tops)
- The one-day ticket counters are located on the right-hand side of the Angkor Ticket Center. These are normally the longest lines of people.
- The counters for the 3-day tickets are in the middle and those for the 7-day tickets are on the left.
- A photo of you will be taken at the counter for your ticket. Your photo will be checked before you enter every temple.
- The Angkor pass is not transferable to another person hence the picture and passport like ticket.
- Very important: Be careful not to lose your Angkor Pass while you are on the Angkor site because if you are found without a ticket you will either be asked to leave or be fined.
- Beware the monkeys! They are everywhere and are aggressive and will try to take any food or drinks you have on you as well as your bags and cameras. Someone in our group got charged by the monkeys because they wanted her kombucha. The risk of being trendy.
- When you first show up at Angkor Wat in the morning, you will be taken to the pond to see the sunrise. We went in low season and there were still several thousand people and we are told in high season there are even more than that every morning. If that is the case, you can go explore the inside of the temple when no one is inside. We chose this option and were not disappointed. We got to go all throughout the temple before the crowds came in. By the time we came back out at 6:30 am, the crowds had thinned out in front of the pond, and we were able to get a great shot of the temple.
- Don’t miss the libraries. When you are waiting for the sunrise after you explore the temple, exit to the main walkway. Once on it, look toward the main gate away from the temple. From there you will see two small buildings, on either side of the walkway. These used to be the old libraries. Now, they are empty and perfect to be explored. You can get really cool pictures of Angkor Wat from within through the windows and doorways framing the epic temple.
How to get to Angkor Wat
Getting to the temples and temple complex is easy since there is an abundance of tuk-tuks in the city sitting on every street corner waiting to take you to the temple. You can take your own tuk-tuk or go with a tour group, depending on what you are looking for. If you want to hear and learn about the local history and know more about the temples and faith of the country then it is best to go with a tour.
Others who want to go at their own pace, take pictures, and pick and choose their itinerary may choose to go independently. If you are taking a tuk-tuk independently it is probably better to arrange the evening before with a driver so they will pick you up early in the morning at your accommodations, otherwise, it could be difficult to find one that early in the morning. The tuk-tuk ride is around 40 minutes outside the city center. There are security stops to check your temple ticket and that your picture matches who you are.
Price: A day’s hire of a tuk-tuk from the town around the major temples at Angkor Wat and back should cost around $15-25 USD. For a guided day, expect to pay closer to $25 USD.
Adventure Travel Co.
Adventure Travel Co. is the tour company we used for our tour of Angkor Wat temple. We did a 1-day temple ticket pass and a 1-day tour. Adventure Travel Co. leads tours from Lub D hostel in downtown Siem Reap.
Our guides name was Saroeun, and he was a licensed temple guide. He spoke amazing English and was very knowledgeable! He taught us so much about the ancient and modern history of Cambodia. Seriously, I recommend going with one of the guides from Adventure Travel Co. Our guide knew what he was talking about and made the tour a worthwhile experience where we got to learn about another culture. When you reserve a tour with Adventure Travel Co, you get a guide and transportation included as well as water and snacks. The cost of the temple entrance ticket ($30-70USD per person) and your breakfast ($5USD) are not included.
Website: Tour info and booking here
Price: $18USD per person
When: Sunrise temple tours are everyday from 4:30am-12:30pm
- Leave the hostel at (4:30 am)
- Buy tickets to see the temple (5:00 am)
- Arrive at Angkor Wat (5:30 am)
- Free time to explore the temple or wait at the pond to see the sunrise (5:30 am to 6:30 am)
- Explore the temple with the guide giving a brief history (6:30 am to 7:30 am)
- Travel to Ta Prohm Temple (7:30 am)
- Arrive at Ta Prohm (7:50 am)
- Explore Ta Prohm and hear brief history of the temple (7:50 am-8:40 am)
- Breakfast break. You stop at a simple, local restaurant. They serve mostly local food, but they do have a few western options. We recommend the stir-fried broccoli with pork or the stir-fried peppers and pineapple with pork. The prices are about $5-$6 a plate. (8:40 am-9:40 am)
- Explore a small Buddhist unnamed temple (9:40-10:20)
- Explore Bayon temple (10:20 am-11:00 am)
- Head back to the hostel around (around 11:00 am)
- Arrive at hostel (around noon)
What to bring
- Snacks because you won’t eat until roughly 9 am
- Appropriate clothing. Long pants and shirts that cover your shoulders are safe. Dresses or tank tops with exposed shoulders, shorts, and skirts above the knee are not appropriate clothing for the temple. They are pretty strict in one specific portion of the temple. One guy in our group wearing shorts was asked to pull down his shorts by a worker.
- Toilet paper
- Bug Spray
- Cash to pay for lunch and your temple ticket (not covered by the tour)
- Water is provided throughout the tour, just ask your guide
- Fresh fruit is provided as a snack on the ride home
Angkor Wat is the largest and most famous of the temples, which is likely why the whole complex is referred to generally as Angkor Wat. The large building is compromised of three main levels. Remember the hallways of this temple are quote a labyrinth, so be careful not to get lost. Inside the first level, you can find massive hallways, detailed carvings, and open sunlit courtyards. If you explore the different courtyards long enough, you may even be lucky enough to see monks meditating who walked from the nearby monasteries.
Even though it isn’t an active temple anymore, they still often go there to meditate. On the second level, you will find a massive stone courtyard. Some of it was under renovation when we went. There aren’t many views from the second level because you are behind large stone walls. If you want good views, then you need to go to the third level. This will require you to be appropriately dressed and to climb a steep set of stairs. But when you get to the top, the views are worth it.
Ta Prohm Temple
Ta Prohm temple is famous for the filming of the Hollywood classic, Tomb Raider. This temple is amazing with the different shades of green moss growing across the volcanic rock The whole temple looks like some out of myth and legend. It’s a surreal experience to walk through the grounds and see where tree and rock have become one over years and years of growth.
This temple’s name has yet to be discovered. According to experts, it is a Buddhist temple, which has been ascertained through the carvings. It has hardly been renovated, which means you really need to do some climbing to get in. What it might lack in refinement, it makes up for in its lack of crowds. The place is very quiet and remote, making it a great place to walk around and explore the ancient ruins in peace.
Besides Angkor Wat, this temple is probably the second most grand. The entry to the temple is walkway lined by tall pillars with a long stairway head up to the tallest spire in the middle. standing grand showcased by the pillars on either side. There is a lookout tower you can climb up to once you get to the main level of the temple. What really sets this temple apart is the multitude of smiling, stone faces. They are really amazing. If you are go with Adventure Travel Co., your guide will take you to a spot where you can get a picture nose-to-nose with one of the faces.