9 Tips for Making the Most of Your Trip to Majestic Angkor Wat
The Mystique of Angkor Wat Awaits
Even though Cambodia is a relatively small country, it’s home to one of the most fascinating wonders of our world: Angkor Wat. Visiting Angkor Archaeological Park is one of the most magical travel experiences one can come across. It’s almost like stepping into a whole new world filled with extraordinary architectural marvels that will surely take your breath away.
It’s no wonder that Angkor Wat attracts millions of visitors every year. If you’re planning to become one of them, keep reading — here are some tips that will help you make your trip to Angkor Wat unforgettable.
There’s a Lot More to See Than Just Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat is without a doubt the most famous and important structure on site, but the complex contains more than 1,000 temples spread over 162.6 hectares (1,626,000 square miles), making it the largest religious complex on our planet.
Angkor Wat is surely one of the most impressive sites you can come across, but if you don’t visit some other temples, you’ll be missing out on a lot. This leads to my next point…
Do Your Research
It’s strongly advisable that you get familiar with the history of Angkor Wat and learn some things about Cambodia before visiting. As mentioned above, the site consists of more than 1,000 temples and even if you have a guide, the amount of information you get during the tour can be overwhelming if you don’t have any previous basic knowledge of Angkor Wat’s history.
If you do your research ahead of time, this can also help you plan which temples to see during your stay and accordingly plan your schedule. Most people claim that even three whole days aren’t enough to fully explore Angkor Wat. Keep this in mind!
Hire a Local Tuk-Tuk Driver
As someone who has visited Angkor Wat several times and tried different options, I’d say hiring a local tuk-tuk driver is the best option. Tour buses and organized group tours are a no-no for obvious reasons — you don’t want to be dependent on a group, instead you want to be able to go at your own pace.
If you’re fit enough, you might try completing the tour with a bicycle, but keep in mind that the complex stretches across 162 hectares. Tuk-tuk drivers are the most economical option and they will adjust to your schedule. Another reason getting a tuk-tuk driver is a good idea is that they know the area and the best times to visit specific temples. Talking about timings, I’d suggest you…
Skip the Sunrise/Sunset at the Main Temple
I know, most people say this is the highlight of the trip, but it really isn’t. Unless you want to rub elbows with hundreds of people around you trying to get a good picture of the Angkor Wat as the sun rises/sets above it.
There are a lot of other great (not-so-known) sunset spots in the complex. If you’re not sure about it, just ask your driver — he’ll probably know a less crowded place where you can get an equally stunning photo of Angkor Wat.
Bring Enough Food and Water
If you’re visiting during one of the hot summer months, you’ll need a lot of water to survive the long day ahead of you. Do not underestimate the power of the scorching Cambodia summer sun. You’ll also want to get some food and snacks to give you enough energy for the trip. You can find some food stalls inside the complex, but just like every other touristy place, the prices are a bit high (at least compared to local standards).
This is another reason why you should get a tuk-tuk driver. You can keep your food in the tuk-tuk while exploring rather than carrying it with you everywhere. Also, some tuk-tuk drivers even have a small fridge to keep your drinks cold throughout the day.
Prepare for a Lot of Walking
Even if you have a personal tuk-tuk driver, you’ll still have to do a lot of walking. Some of the temples are very big and require a lot of walking to fully explore. Additionally, there are a lot of stairs you’d have to climb to get inside some of them.
This is why it’s very important to wear some good walking shoes and comfortable clothes. All that walking be exhausting, especially during the summer. Talking about clothes, you should also know that…
Angkor Wat Has a Dress Code
Don’t forget that Angkor Wat is also a religious site and, as such, it has its own dress code. This wasn’t the case before 2016, but after a series of indecent exposure incidents by tourists, this changed. If you want to enter and explore the temples now, you have to wear clothes that cover your shoulders and knees.
So if you’re planning to visit Angkor Wat, keep your shorts, tank tops and halter-tops in your luggage! Finally, if you’re visiting during the summer months, it’s also highly advisable that you bring a hat to protect you from the sun.
The Best Time to Visit Angkor Wat
The best time to visit Angkor Wat is between December and January. The weather is dry and mild during this time of the year. The weather heats up around February. The hottest month is usually April when temperatures oftentimes reach 40 degrees Celsius, but the temperatures in May and June are also very high.
Between July and October, Cambodia (and Siem Reap) get a lot of rain and needless to say, this isn’t an ideal time to visit either. However, keep in mind that Angkor Wat is the most visited monument in Cambodia and, as such, it attracts visitors throughout the year.
There Are Other Interesting Things to Do in Siem Reap
A lot of people who visit Angkor Wat spend most of their time exploring the temples but very little time in the city of Siem Reap. You can check out the popular Pub Street (but don’t stay too late if you’re planning to explore Angkor Wat the next morning) or visit Tonle Sap — the river that flows in two different directions (depending on the season).
While in the area, you can also explore the Tonle Sap floating villages and get a glimpse of the authentic life of locals living next to the lake.
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