The Travel Ninjas at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap

Angkor Wat 101 – The Basics that you Need to Know Before You Go

Chances are if you are visiting Cambodia you are planning to spend some time at Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is the world’s largest complex of temples. These stunning and archaeologically important Khmer Empire ruins are the highlight of many travelers’ trips to Southeast Asia.  This is a truly wondrous experience.

While you are likely filled with excitement and anticipation about the prospect of visiting Angkor Wat, you might find yourself feeling inundated with information about the experience.

Countless blogs, travel guides, books, and forums exist solely to help you plan your ‘once in a lifetime’ holiday. While this amount of information is certainly interesting, it can also be overwhelming and even frustrating.

If you want to start with the basics; all of the information that you absolutely NEED to know, read ahead for our Angkor Wat 101 guide.

Angkor Wat

This is a vast site

The Angkor Heritage Complex is the world’s largest religious site. A series of temples spread over 200 hectares (500 acres) of jungle and countryside. As a result, you need to plan ahead and book at least 3 days in and around Siem Reap (and even up to one week).

Ankor Wat Heritage Complex

Buying your tickets

Visitors to Siem Reap can buy their Angkor tickets at the Apsara Authority. It is open daily from 5 am to 6am and located at the Angkor Archaeological Park entrance. It is imperative that you present your passport. Prepare to have your photo taken, as your tickets and passes are non-transferable. The passes cost USD $20 for one day’s entrance, USD $40 for any 3 days over the course of a week, and USD $60 for any seven days (valid for one month). If you choose to buy your tickets after 5pm (ideal for a sunset visit) they will also be valid for the next day.

Hire a Cyclo Driver

Angkor Wat Cyclo DriverSome overly enthusiastic travelers think that they will explore the sites on foot, walking between the temples. Under the hot sun, this prospect quickly becomes impossible! Hire a cyclo driver to take you from Siem Reap to the temple location (just outside of town). It is a reasonable cost, and you will be very happy that you can rest your feet between the stops.

Hire a local guide

For at least one of your days at Angkor Wat, you should hire a local guide to accompany you to the main temples and explain their historical, religious and architectural significance. Qualified local guides are an affordable necessity if you truly want to understand the temples. Your hotel can help you to arrange their services.


There is so much more to the area than Angkor Wat

The name Angkor Wat actually refers to only one of the main temples. There are dozens of other amazing sites to see. After Angkor Wat (the temple most often depicted in photos), the most impressive sites is Angkor Thom, the temple city that includes Bayon (marked by colossal carved faces) and Ta Prohm (the temple choked by massive trees and twisted roots featured in Tomb Raider). If you go further afield, ensure you visit Banteay Srey (known for ornate carvings), Beng Melea (covered in vegetation) and Bakong (surrounded by a scenic moat).Angkor Thom

High and low seasons

Many people plan their trips in order to avoid the hottest weather and the monsoon rains, and as a result, the high tourist season is from November to April. That said, the low season (during the monsoon) may be soggy, but it is also the prettiest time of year! The area is lush, green and verdant – and with far fewer tourists.

Take some breathtaking photos

If you want to take some truly amazing photos, the best times of day to visit the sites are sunrise and in the later afternoon. Many people choose to spend the mid-morning and early afternoon back in Siem Reap, taking advantage of affordable massages, delicious food, and naps back in their AC rooms!

Angkor Wat

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  • Imaobong
    Posted at 02:49h, 05 December

    That’s true.
    You always have to move prepared.
    Great reminders.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 02:55h, 05 December

    Hi. Angkor Wat is an incredible place!

  • Karolina
    Posted at 04:55h, 05 December

    We’ve been to Angkor Wat 2 years ago. It’s unbelievable that this temple complex is almost thousand years old! It’s definitely one of the best places to visit in Cambodia.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 05:04h, 05 December

    Hi Karolina. Yes, it’s absolutely incredible! You’re right this is the #1 reason to visit Cambodia everything else is just a bonus. 🙂

  • Divya @ Eat Teach Blog
    Posted at 05:08h, 05 December

    I’ve never been here, but I’d love to visit some day. You’ve got a good eye for photographs. It probably helps that the object you’re photographing is so grand and beautiful!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 05:15h, 05 December

    Hi Divya. You will definitely love it! Oh yeah, I think it would be REALLY hard to take a bad photo here. It is so gorgeous.

  • Rose
    Posted at 08:19h, 05 December

    It looks like a nice place to visit. I will remember to invest in a ride and a guide. These sound like two good tips. You often find yourself at places and wish you had a guide to tell you more so it’s great to take advantage of it when available.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 08:22h, 05 December

    Hi Rose. Completely agree. We wouldn’t have learned nor seen as much had it not been for the helpful guide.

  • Amber Myers
    Posted at 08:36h, 05 December

    Amazing photos! I’d probably hire a guide. I’d want to know all about it. A massage sounds awesome too!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 08:45h, 05 December

    Hi Amber. Yes, we would definitely recommend a guide as well as the massage. 🙂

  • Briana Marie
    Posted at 09:05h, 05 December

    Looks amazing! I really need to travel more!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 09:10h, 05 December

    Hi Briana. It is quite an experience.

  • Jessica
    Posted at 09:24h, 05 December

    Angkor Wat is SPECTACULAR! My husband and I went on our honeymoon and it was such an amazing place and experience. We hired a guide for the day and it was so special!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 09:35h, 05 December

    Hi Jessica. Oh, how cool! Angkor Wat was a great choice for your honeymoon.

  • Oindrila Sengupta
    Posted at 10:58h, 05 December

    This was such an informative post. Loved the photographs. I hope i would have the chance to visit someday. ☺

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 11:04h, 05 December

    Hi Oindrila. Thank you for the compliments. We hope you get to visit sometime in the near future. 🙂

  • Beth
    Posted at 15:27h, 05 December

    This is great information for those who will visit! Very thorough and interesting post!


  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 15:29h, 05 December

    Hi Beth. Thanks. We hope it helps.

  • Anosa
    Posted at 15:44h, 05 December

    I must admit cambodia has never crossed my travel bucketlist but now I have a new reason to add it. You guys make me so jealous and now I can’t wait to visit.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 15:50h, 05 December

    Hi Anosa. Cambodia is definitely a place to visit. We hope you get the chance someday soon. 🙂

  • Lisa Favre
    Posted at 20:15h, 05 December

    These are all great travel tips. This place looks like somewhere I would love to go with my husband (if we have the extra time!!) Boy, I sure do need a vacation!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 20:20h, 05 December

    Hi Lisa. Thanks for your kind words. Hopefully, you and your husband will get the chance to visit Angkor Wat.

  • Jill Wiley
    Posted at 22:54h, 05 December

    I’ve never thought about visiting Cambodia… These are fabulous travel tips though. It would definitely be an interesting vacation.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 23:03h, 05 December

    Hi Jill. Cambodia is definitely a place to consider when thinking of places to visit. 🙂

  • blair villanueva
    Posted at 04:10h, 06 December

    May I also add – never ever go out without applying sunscreen lotion to your whole body and face and bring drinking water 🙂

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 04:15h, 06 December

    Hi Blair. Oh yeah, you’re ABSOLUTELY right! You will get badly sunburned and dehydrated if you don’t.

  • Valerie
    Posted at 19:32h, 06 December

    What an amazing site. I want to see the inside. I think the price seems reasonable.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 19:35h, 06 December

    Hi Valerie. It is indeed amazing. You would love it!

  • Danijela WorldGlimpses
    Posted at 13:44h, 31 January

    Nice tips, thanks! Angkor Wat is on my bucket list. 😉

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 13:45h, 31 January

    Hi Danijela. Sure thing. Hope you make it to Angkor Wat soon.

  • Eric || The Bucket List Project
    Posted at 16:36h, 22 February

    Great tips! I definitely have Angor Wat/Siem Reap on my Bucket list. I also agree with the idea of using a guide now. I used to be against the idea thinking I could research it all enough before hand. But recently we went to the Taj Mahal and used a certified local guide and the experience was very positive.
    I assume you bought the $40 3day pass or longer?
    Love the pics by the way

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 16:44h, 22 February

    Hey Eric. We feel the same way. Sometimes a guide is great sometimes not.

  • Sandy N Vyjay
    Posted at 19:45h, 14 March

    Angkor Wat holds a special place in my dreams. The largest religious site definitely is fascinating and form me ranks as one of the wonders of the world. Hope to get there some day. Your trips are really very practical and something one should refer to when planning a trip to Siem Reap.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 19:55h, 14 March

    Hi Sandy N Vyjay. We loved it and hope you can see it for yourself. It’s amazing.

  • neha
    Posted at 05:00h, 26 March

    Angkor Wat is very high on my list of places to visit in near future. And your tips are going to be really very helpful. I will come back and refer to them for sure when I stand closer to my trip

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 05:02h, 26 March

    Hi Neha. We hope you do make it to Angkor Wat soon. Its a world treasure.

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