Published on February 10th, 2016 | by Travel Textbook
Turn down: your ultimate guide to Angkor wat
Read time: a bit over 4 minutes
At the end of Tomb Raider filming, Angelina Jolie unfortunately did not stick around at Angkor but there is so much to see there that is even better looking (if you’re into temples). The Angkor Archaeological Park is just North of Siem Reap and has the remains of what was once the largest city in the world. The Park spans 400 square kilometres and has many different temples, monasteries and much more. Not only is the park huge, but it also has a colossal number of tourists (and their accompanying selfie sticks) coming in every day, so you will need the know-how to get the most out of your time.
Angkor might be dated from the 9th to 15th centuries, but the ticket prices are definitely modern day and non-negotiable. You can get different ticket types to suit your needs:
- 1 DAY: $20USD
- 3 DAY: $40USD
- 7 DAY: $60USD
There is so much to see in the Park that it may be worthwhile getting one of the larger tickets and taking your time to see areas off the main track. The passes will have a photo of you on them so you cannot resell your ticket or pass it to a mate (upsetting). Of course, if you’re travelling on a Geckos group tour, your park pass is already included. Bonus.
Hot Tip: if you get your one-day ticket in the evening from the booth, you can enter the Park after 5pm to see the spectacular sunset the night before.
GETTING TO AND AROUND ANGKOR
There are lots of options for transport around Angkor, but generally it is not cheap. It is important to keep in mind that the Park is really big, so walking is not always a practical option.
Bicycles can be hired from Siem Reap and range from $2USD – $10USD a day depending on the quality of the bike and your bargaining skills. This is the cheapest way to get around and will help you burn off the calories from one too many beers on Pub Street.
E-bikes can be grabbed in Siem Reap for around $10-$12USD and are a fast way to explore the Park.
Tuk tuks are everywhere in Siem Reap and people will greet you with “Tuk Tuk?” instead of “hello”. Depending on where you want to go in the Park, tuk tuks will charge different rates. The tour options are: small tour (~$15USD), big tour (~$20USD) and grand tour (~$25USD), and adding a sunrise will be an additional $2USD. These prices can probably be negotiated though, but this is the going rate. Your tuk tuk driver can also double as a guide which is always handy.
Driver or tour
You can hire a car or driver for a larger price (depending on which areas you wish to visit), or join a tour for around ~$12USD. You may as well hire a tuk tuk for the same price and have a bit more freedom.
If you like challenging yourself and saving money but seeing minimal amounts, then walking is for you. But yeah, probably don’t.
TOO MANY TEMPLES, NOT ENOUGH TIME?
There is SO much to see in Angkor and if you are strapped for time or incredibly tired from the previous night’s shenanigans, here are the must-see temples:
This is the most famous temple and is deserves all the hype. There is so much to see at Angkor Wat, from the majestic stone spires, to the interesting wall carvings. You will be sharing this with thousands of other tourists and their thousands of expensive cameras, but it is a must-see. There are areas off the tour-group path which are more peaceful to sit and observe.
Once the largest city in the world, What Thom contains many different temples and other ruins. It includes the stunning Bayon Temple with amazing carvings which depict the history of Angkor, plus some chess and cockfights for good measure.
This temple was made famous by Tomb Raider and is spectacular, with big tree roots winding their way through the roofs and ruins.
HOW’S THE SERENITY? HERE ARE SOME QUIETER TEMPLES…
If you want to escape the typical tourist route and explore temples with a more of an ‘abandoned’ feeling, then some of these might be for you:
Further out from Angkor Wat, Preah Khan is full of crumbling beauty. With tree roots snaking their way through the ancient walls and columns, your imagination is taken away here – and there are hardly any people around to bring you back to reality!
This Buddhist temple is in the southeast of Ta Prohm and was previously a monastery containing many rooms and chambers where monks used to reside. The architecture is quite similar to Bayon Temple but it does not draw such large crowds. Although it is in a state of disrepair, this is a temple that will help you to envisage what life would have been like for monks in centuries gone by.
Ta Keo is often just an image in the rearview mirror of a tuktuk as people speed past between Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm, but we would recommend stopping and having a look around. It is thought that this is the first entirely sandstone Khmer temple and you can climb it to dizzying heights of 45m.
It is a great experience to look around some of the quieter temples and monasteries, as you will be more or less alone with your thoughts. Going to some of the larger ones can sometimes feel a bit like being on a conveyer belt of people complete with humungous cameras, tour flags and nametags. So it is very worthwhile to take a break and see some of the more hidden Angkor.
Angkor is a spectacular place to visit and you can see as much (or as little) as you want. The options for exploring the Park are endless and it is important to find a style that suits your wishes and budget. No matter how long you spend at Angkor Archaeological Park, you will turn down for Wat.
Do Angkor right. Check out our Geckos Cambodia adventures.
Feature image c/o Brett Lewis, Flickr