15 Apr Angkor Wat Travel Tips
My impression of Angkor Wat: Yes, all the stories are true. The Angkor Wat is spectacular. However, one thing I wasn’t prepared for is how large the Angkor Wat complex is. It is the largest religious monument in the world and covers 402 acres. There are 72 major temples and structures in the main Angkor Wat complex (and several hundred additional minor temple sites scattered throughout the surrounding areas).
Angkor Wat Travel Tip: As a tourist, it is impossible to see it all and you have to choose how many days you want to spend exploring Angkor Wat. As of writing this, you can buy a 1-day, 3-day or 7-day pass. If you want to see it at a leisurely pace, then get the 3-day pass. If you are a serious Khmer-Cambodian history buff, then, of course, go for the 7 days! On the other spectrum, if you are pressed for time and want to do a survey of the main sites, then 1 days pass is enough.
What I did: I bought the 1-day pass and spent the whole day there. If I had more time, I would buy the 3-day pass and see it at a more leisurely pace. But seeing in one day (albeit one long day) was just fine also. The next day, I hung out by a fantastic pool in my hotel and relaxed.
Angkor Wat Travel Tip: Bear in mind when you go (click here to read ‘When to Go’ on the Cambodia Travel Tips page). If you go when temperatures are scorching, then you may want to get the 3-day pass. See the sites early in the mornings, have lunch and then relax (preferably) by the pool when the afternoon sun is at its hottest. This way you can see more and at a leisurely pace.
Angkor Wat Travel Tip: Regardless of how much time you spend, hire a guide. Because how large the Angkor Wat complex is, and because it is a historical site, and therefore, it has tonnes of history, I would highly recommend hiring a guide. A guide will be able to direct you where to go and explain the history behind the complex, which will make your trip more meaningful.
Be a responsible tourist. And there is another important reason to hire a guide. Cambodia is a poor country, partly because of colonialism, civil war and corruption. Like many towns in Cambodia, Siem Reap is also a poor town and the vast majority of people earn their living from the tourism industry. Hiring a local guide is a form of ‘responsible tourism’.
Angkor Wat Travel Tip: How to hire a guide? And how much to pay? You can hire a guide from your hotel or find a reputable tour company on Tripadvisor and hire a guide through them. You can hire a guide, without a vehicle, for $10-$20 USD per day. But be diligent if you hire one of the guides outside the Angkor Wat complex.
Angkor Wat Travel Tip: Don’t hire just any guide. Stay away from those randomly coming up to you near the ticket office. These guides may not be licensed tour guides or be of poor quality. Usually, younger tour guides have a better grasp of English. It is a very good idea to tip your travel guide unless the quality is abysmal. A few extra dollars or euros go a long way when covered into local currency.
What I did: I hired a car and guide from the hotel that I stayed at. Albeit pricier, major hotels only work with licensed guides so you know the quality will not be compromised.
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