The seventh wonder of the world, this UNESCO World Heritage site is an immense Buddhist temple complex consisting of old passageways, ancient ruins and grand towers.
The Angkor Archaeological Park is a 500-acre site and one of the largest religious monuments in the world. Constructed under the Khmer Empire, it was originally dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992, Angkor Wat (meaning City of Temples) is a miniature replica of the universe in stone and represents an earthly model of the cosmic world.
The central tower rises from the centre of the monument symbolising the mythical mountain, Meru, situated at the centre of the universe. Its five towers correspond to the peaks of Meru.
Siem Reap is the gateway for the Angkor Archaeological Park.
Visitors must purchase an admission pass, also known as an Angkor Pass, to visit the temples in Angkor Archaeological Park. The pass is valid for some other monuments in the Siem Reap area, like Wat Athvea and Phnom Krom.
The Angkor Pass can only be purchased at the official ticket centre, located near Siem Reap town, with operating hours of 4.30am – 5.30pm every day.
Tour guides can provide extra information for tourists, costing around $25 dollars a day.
Entrance tickets can be paid in cash (US dollars, Cambodian Riel or Euro) or by credit card.
Entrance tickets for a one-day visit are issued up to 5pm and tickets purchased after 5pm are valid for the next day.
There are 3 types of passes available:
1-day pass – US$ 37.
3-day pass – US$ 62.
7-day pass – US$ 72.
The 3-day pass is valid for 10 days from the issue date and the 7-day pass is valid for one month from the issue date.
Tip: A 3-day pass enables the ticket holder to see both the small circuit and grand circuit in two days.
Most of the temples in the park can be visited from 7.30am – 5.30pm.
However, Phnom Bakheng, Pre Rup, Angkor Wat and Srah Srang can be visited from 5am for sunrise viewings.
Tuk-Tuks: the most popular way to visit the site, tuk-tuks cost US$10 to $15 daily with additional charges for outlying temples. They can be hailed easily from your hotel or down any busy road.
Bikes: you can rent a bike at the main entrance to the park, by the ticket centre and costs up to US$5 daily.
Taxis: a fast way to tour the park, a taxi costs around US$20 – $30 daily, with further fees needed for temples off the main circuit.
Balloon and helicopter rides are also available at the park to enjoy the amazing ruins and view the surrounding areas.
Visitors to the Angkor Archaeological Park are advised to take the following:
- Light long-sleeved clothing and trousers. Visitors are requested to dress moderately and cover knees and shoulders.
- Comfortable shoes
- Water (lots and lots)
- Mosquito repellent
What to see:
Angkor Small Circuit:
The Small Circuit is 17 km long and covers all the must-see temples in the park.
Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Thommanon, Chau Say Tevoda and Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei, and Srah Srang are all within this circuit.
Angkor Wat is the most famed temple of the park and appears on the nation’s flag. It is famous for having more than 3000 beguiling apsaras (nymphs) carved into its walls.
Angkor Thom is a walled, moated city that has several temple ruins to see. From here you can visit the Bayon, Baphuon, Phimeanakas, Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King ruins.
Ta Prohm, made famous by the Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider film, is a temple overgrown by jungle. Contained by vast roots, this temple boasts a truly atmospheric experience with 39 towers gazing over you.
Banteay Kdei, (Citadel of Chambers) functioned as a Buddhist monastery over the centuries.
Srah Srang (the Royal Bath) is an artificial, 10th century lake located across the road from the east entrance of Banteay Kdei.
Tip: Try to wake up early, around 4.30am, to catch the sunrise over Angkor Wat. Or end your tour at Srah Srang, which offers amazing sunset views over the park.
Angkor Grand Circuit:
If you have a 3-day admission pass, doing the Grand Circuit tour is a great way to see some key temples in the park. This circuit is an extension to the Small Circuit.
Preah Khan is one of the largest complexes at Angkor, consisting of a maze of vaulted corridors to explore and carvings to marvel at.
Neak Pean is a collection of five ponds. The main pond symbolises lake Anavatapta. In each chapel there is a stone gargoyle in a different shape, such as an elephant or a lion.
Ta Som is a small, unrestored temple that has one tower overtaken by a fig tree. It can only be accessed via the East entrance.
East Mebon has a pyramid of receding terraces and animal statues. The elephant is in the best condition and situated in the southwest corner.
Pre Rup consists of a pyramid-shaped temple-mountain with the uppermost of the three tiers carrying five lotus towers.
Tip: It is advised to visit the route in the following order: Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som, East Mebon and Pre Rup. Pre Rup is a great sport to watch the sun set over the ruins.
Things to know:
- Visitors are asked to keep their tickets until they leave the park.
- There are monkeys running around and these do bite, so be careful.
- Children under 12 years old are not required to purchase a ticket, though a passport will be required to show proof of age.
- Stop by the Preah Norodom Sihanouk-Ankor Museum (open 8:00am-5:00am Tuesday-Sunday) that exhibits artifacts from the Banteay Kdei Temple. Admission is US$3.00 and free for children under 12 years old.
Visit Angkor: for Angkor Wat pass prices
Tourism of Cambodia: for more information on all the temples
Checking out C & J