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Angkor Wat

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Angkor Wat

When Is the Best Time 

This is our season guide and a complete list of additional must-know tips for Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples. With our help, you find the best months and time of day to visit the stunning historic site of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Like most of South East Asia, Cambodia enjoys a tropical climate which is warm throughout the year. This means it’s a great all-year destination, as long as you don’t mind bringing out the umbrella or rain jacket on occasion. Here’s a more detailed look at when to visit Angkor Archaeological Park. Hint: We usually refer to the main temple as Angkor Wat and say Angkor Archaeological Park when we mean the whole site. We also  call it 'Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples' or 'the temple complex Angkor Wat'.

Seasons and Months | Weather and Busy Times

Visit either in the wet season with rain and sort of muddy temple sites or in the dry season with hordes of tourists. Most say that dry season between December and March is the best time. However, there are some advantages when you don't mind some rain and mud during the wet season.
 

Dry Season | December–January–February–March

Weather-wise, the best time to visit the temple complex Angkor Wat is in the dry season between December and March. During these months, the weather is warm, and rain is almost non-existent.

Typically, maximum dry season temperatures peak in late March, so be prepared for it to be warm, especially in February and March, the latter half of the dry season. Around this time, average maximum temperatures around 35 degrees Celsius (95°F), and only drop to the mid-twenties (75 - 80°F) overnight. If you don’t like the hot weather, December and January are a few degrees cooler.

Crowds/Busy Times: Aside from the heat, the main drawback of visiting Angkor Wat in the dry season is the crowds. The promise of round-the-clock sunshine certainly brings plenty of tourists, and you certainly won’t be lonely at Angkor Wat and the other temples. Avoiding the crowds in the dry season? You can manage the crowds by visiting the popular temples (such as Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom or Ta Prohm) late in the afternoon when the crowds are at their thinnest. Angkor Wat itself, in particular, is the busiest temple of all in general. While visiting in the late afternoon is great to avoid the crowds, you should still see the sunrise (see our tips below) at Angkor Wat at least on one day, regardless of the crowds. Check out our '3-day itinerary' below.

Special Heat Tip: In the middle of the day in summer, you might actually prefer to head back to your guesthouse to escape the searing midday heat. However, if you’re not scared off by the temperature then it’s a good time to visit the less famous temples (such as Ta Som). Here, you’ll get a much more relaxing – and no less beautiful – experience of the Angkor temples.
 

Shoulder Seasons | April – early May and November


Sunrise over Angkor Wat  by Maxim B. CC BY-SA, cropped

The rain usually arrives fairly suddenly in Cambodia, meaning the shoulder season is relatively short. Nonetheless, it does present a great opportunity to enjoy good weather before (or just after) the heavy crowds arrive.

April (after the dry season): The months of April and early May are usually still dry, and very hot, with average temperatures hovering around the mid-30s Celsius (85 - 95°F). April is the hottest month overall. As a result, you’ll probably want to plan your day so that you are exploring early before the sun gets too intense.

November (after the wet season): Already drier than wet season and not as hot as in the dry season. However, visitors report Maximum temperatures are in the low 30s (85 – 90°F). On the other hand, it can rain of course, but it’s usually clearing. Therefore, as long as you don’t mind bringing a rain jacket or umbrella just in case, November can be a great time to travel to Angkor Wat.

Crowds/Busy Times: Unfortunately, shoulder seasons in April or November at Angkor Archaeological Park don’t mean there are no crowds. But still, it’s at least a little less busy - especially at the lesser-known temple complexes - making both shoulder months a great time to visit.  Just keep in mind, that April is the hottest month.
 

Wet Season | May-June-July-August-September-October


Ta Keo Tempel  by Marco Verch CC BY, cropped

Around late May, the monsoon season arrives in Cambodia, bringing humidity and lots of rain. The rain typically arrives quite suddenly. While the number of rainfall days between May and October seems quite even (check our weather chart above), the months of September and October experience the most overall precipitation. In the wet season, temperatures drop a little from the peaks, but still hover around the mid-30s (85 - 95°F). The humidity can also make the temperatures seem more intense, with humidity above 80% a common occurrence.

There are two advantages of visiting in the wet season besides fewer crowds: The truly gorgeous lush green scenery is back and there is more fascinating birdlife to watch.

Crowds/Busy Times: The weather can certainly put a dampener on your travel plans, however, they are also the quietest time to visit. While the Angkor Wat temple itself can still be sort of busy in the wet season, you’ll have much more space to enjoy the intricate beauty of it and the other temples.
 

Time of Day Tips

The popular temples (Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm) are very busy throughout the day, even more in high season (dry season). However, it thins out slightly in the late evening. Keep in mind, that Angkor Wat is also extremely busy in the early morning because everybody wants to experience the stunning sunrise. But still, we recommend being there at least once during sunrise, regardless of the crowds (check our itinerary as well as our sunrise tips below in the main text). Later in the day always means (at least slightly) fewer crowds. The less popular temples are even less crowded in the late evening as well as in the early morning (when everyone watches the sunrise at Angkor Wat Temple). While the temples can only be accessed until 5:30 pm, you can still visit many of them after that time. However, you can’t explore the interior after ‘official closing’ time.
 

Opening Hours

  • Ticket Office: 4:30 am – 5:30 pm (Ticket Office Google Maps Location)
  • Angkor Wat (+ Srah Srang): 5:00 am – 5:30 pm
  • Pre Rup, Phnom Bakheng: 5:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Other Temples: 7:30 am to 5:30 pm

The ticket office is open from 4:30 am – 5:30 pm every day. Note that if you buy your ticket after 5 pm, then it will count as valid for the next day rather than the day of purchase.

Most of the Angkor temples are open from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm every day. However, Angkor Wat itself is one exception! It is open from 5:00 am to 5:30 pm so that guests can watch the sunrise. Srah Srang, Pre Rup and Phnom Bakheng also open at 5:00 am. Special Tip: Even though the temples officially “close” at 5:30 pm, you can still access some of them – and it doesn’t cost you anything!

Discover 
Historic Site
KH
Where  
Cambodia, Siem Reap
Review and Tips 

If you visit Cambodia then you likely plan to go to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. You definitely won't be disappointed! It's one of the most fascinating historical sites on our planet. Besides our season guide and 'best time tips' above, find everything you should know before you visit Siem Reap and Angkor Wat here:

Angkor Wat Tickets and Entrance Fee

In order to visit Angkor Wat, you need to buy a ticket for the entire Angkor Archaeological Park. Within the 400 square kilometer park, there are more than 1000 temples including the famous Angkor Wat, as well as other big names such as the Bayon and Ta Prohm. It is not possible to buy entry tickets to only individual temples; you must buy the park pass. The cost depends on how many days you want to enter the park. The tickets available and their fees are:

  • One day pass ( $37 USD) – Valid only for the day that you buy it.
  • Three-day pass ($62 USD) – Valid to be used for three days within ten days of purchase. The days you visit do not need to be consecutive, i.e. you can choose any three days within the ten days from the date of purchase.
  • One-week pass ($72 USD) – Valid for one month from purchase, for a maximum of seven days. As above, these do not need to be consecutive days.

To buy the ticket, you need to go to the office in downtown Siem Reap (Ticket Center Location Google Maps). They accept cash (USD preferred, although riels are also accepted) and card. You do not need any ID to buy a ticket.

Pass/Ticket Tips:

  • The ticket/pass is given to you as a hard-copy ticket. If you lose it, you will need to buy another one – they will not replace it. For this reason, be super careful with your ticket (a waterproof pouch is a good idea).
  • The admission passes (tickets) are non-transferrable. Your name and photo are printed on it.
  • Children under 12 years don't need a ticket, they can enter for free. ID is required to proof their age.
  • Even when you take a tour (recommended for 1 day, see below), the ticket/pass is not included. That means you always need a ticket.

 

Angkor Wat Location and How to Get There

Location: Angkor Wat Park lies around 6 km (3.7 miles) from Siem Reap, where most of the guesthouses and hotels are located. If you are visiting on a tour, transport will usually be arranged from Siem Reap. We recommend one day via tour and the other 2 days self-guided (see below).

Tuk-Tuk: On the day(s) you’re visiting independently, then you’ll want to arrange transport. The best way to get around the temples is by tuk-tuk. It’s hard to go anywhere in Siem Reap without being offered a trip in a tuk-tuk, and every driver will be able to take you around the temples. Tuk-tuk drivers in Siem Reap wear numbered vests to show they are registered with the official tourism department, and it’s fine to hail a tuk-tuk on the street, however, the drivers’ English varies a lot. If it would make you feel more comfortable or you would like a driver who speaks English, you can also ask your hotel or guesthouse to arrange one for you.

Another option if you’re really not keen on going by motorized rickshaw is that you can get a car or a bus. However, they are less nimble on the windy and often busy roads. Bike riding is also popular, however probably not ideal for the novice rider due to the hilly terrain and temperatures.

 

3-Day Itinerary for Angkor Park |With Angkor Wat Temple

You might be wondering how long to spend at the Angkor Archaeological Park. While you can visit in a day, almost every destination expert will tell you that three days will give you the perfect amount of time to discover the big names as well as some hidden gems.  Seven days is recommended only for temple enthusiasts – most visitors report feeling pretty “templed out” when visiting longer than three days.

The below three-day itinerary has been designed so that the first day can be used as a standalone itinerary, with the second and third days added on if you have more time.

Day One — Itinerary

Temples: Angkor Wat | Angkor Thom | Ta Prohm


Angkor Wat

For your first (or only) day in the Angkor Archaeological Park, it’s highly recommended to take a tour. The sheer size and scale of the temples, such as Angkor Wat, means that it is hard to understand it and take it in without some kind of guide. A guide can bring the carvings to life, explaining their historic and spiritual significance.


Ta Prohm

We recommend this excellent tour that takes in the biggest highlights of the Angkor Archaeological Park. It starts with a stunning sunrise at Angkor Wat, before temple-hopping through Angkor Thom (including the multi-faced Bayon) and the overgrown Ta Prohm temple. The small group tour (10 persons maximum!) covers all three must-visit temples: Angkor Wat Full Day Sunrise Tour (via GetYourGuide with great service)

 

If you are planning to do this itinerary 100% independently (which we don’t suggest), then it’s advisable to visit Angkor Wat early in the morning for sunrise like you would on the tour. However, we recommend heading back to explore the interior of the temple in the late afternoon when it’s a bit less crowded. Ultimately, these three temples are the most popular in Cambodia so are pretty much always busy – but by timing your Angkor Wat visit well, you’ll minimise the crowds as much as possible!

Day Two — Itinerary

Temples: Banteay Kdei* | Preah Khan | Ta Som* | Neak Pean* | Phnom Bakheng


Ta Som

Now that you have crossed off the biggest ticket items on the list, it’s time to visit some of the lesser-known temples of the Angkor Archaeological Park.

The below times are a rough indicator only – the time spent at each temple varies a lot person to person. Your tuk-tuk driver will be happy to wait for as little or as long as you’d like, so don’t feel like you have to rush through to stick to these times.

You might also like to cut out one or two temples if you are feeling any temple fatigue, especially if you are spending three days in the area! Those temples with an asterisk above are probably the most unmissable on this itinerary.

After the early start yesterday, you may like to sleep in a little today and start your temple-hopping around 10 am. If you don’t mind getting up early again, you may also start exploring early with the advantage of less busy temples (most are at Angkor Wat in the morning). Not too far away from Ta Prohm, you’ll find the first stop of beautiful Banteay Kdei temple, which is slightly overgrown but with its beautiful apsaras. It’s worth having a guide here if you can organize it, so they can explain the significance of the beautiful carvings. In total, I recommend spending about an hour here.


Banteay Kdei, Angkor by Juan Antonio Segal, CC-BY

From Banteay Kdei, Preah Khan is just a short tuk-tuk ride away, and is well worth spending another hour or so. It was a centre for education and administration during the Khmer Empire, as well as a temple.

From there, you may want to ask your driver for a recommendation for lunch, if you haven’t brought it. After lunch, there’s also Ta Som, which is a little like Ta Phrom but with more space to get your Tomb Raider on.

Next, make Neak Pean your stop once the golden hour has arrived – it’s particularly magical in the warm light. It’s famous for its manmade lake, which creates a beautiful and tranquil scene. If you’ve still got time before sunset, then you may like to drive the 10 kilometers or so to Phnom Bakheng. This temple, which was originally Hindu, is another popular sunset spot and stays open until 7 pm. Alternative: Get back to Angkor Wat (also about 10 kilometres from Neak Pean) and explore the interior again, but this time with less crowds. It always thins out a little in the late afternoon.

Four or five temples are usually plenty to see in a day so as to stave off becoming templed out”, however if you’re an enthusiast, you’ll also find Kraol Ko and Kraol Romeas close by.

 

Day Three — Itinerary

Temples: Pre Rup |Banteay Srei


Banteay Srei

Today is a shorter day, mainly because you’ll be venturing to the further-out Banteay Srei temple.

Start the day watching the beautiful sunrise from Pre Rup. Although this temple is much smaller than Angkor Wat, it offers stunning views and is a favorite to many. It’s a peaceful and beautiful way to enjoy your last day temple-hopping.

From there, it is a 35 kilometer trek to Banteay Srei – but it is totally worth it. This intricate and rose-tinted temple is easily one of the most beautiful. We recommend slowly making your way to Banteay Srei, as the scenery is lovely. You’ll also likely see plenty of scenes from traditional village life in Cambodia as you make your way to the temple. Once you’re at the temple, you’ll probably want to spend at least a

Depending on how you’re feeling, you might like to call it a day after visiting Banteay Srei. However, if you’re still in the mood for seeing more temples, then now is a great time to unearth some hidden gems. Some suggestions include:

  • Koh Ker, a beautiful and impressive pyramid temple – the catch is that it’s about 100 kilometers away from Siem Reap.
  • Ta Nei, a beautiful but modest 12th-century temple that is, surprisingly, almost completely overlooked by visitors.
  • Prasat Chrung – four well-preserved temples that are clustered together, Prasat Chrung is only accessible by foot or bike, so it is very quiet.

 

10 Must-See Angkor Temples in the Park


Angkor Thom

With over 1000 temples in the Angkor Archaeological Park (the Angkor Temple Complex), narrowing them down can be a challenge. Here are ten of the most beautiful temples to visit in the area.

Angkor Wat

This one really needs no introduction. Built in the 12th Century and covering an impressive 162 hectares, it’s the largest religious structure on earth, and totally unmissable.

Angkor Thom

Although it is often described as a temple, Angkor Thom is actually its own complex rather than one temple. Therefore, you can easily visit several different temples here, and it’s worth leaving a few hours to explore it. Here are three of the most unmissable sites at Angkor Thom.

Bayon
The stunning Bayon is one of the most unforgettable temples, with its many wise stone faces. It can get busy, but it’s an absolute must-see while exploring the Angkor Thom area.

Terrace of the Elephants
Technically it’s not a temple, but a platform from where King Jayavarman VII would address his victorious army. Nonetheless, its grandeur, enormous statues and intricate carvings make it a must see at Angkor Thom.

Baphuon
This sprawling 11th century temple was first dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva, before converting to a Buddhist temple. It has been painstakingly restored, making it one of the best preserved of the Angkor temples.

Ta Prohm

You’ll almost certainly recognise the overgrown temple of Ta Prohm from a little film called Tomb Raider. It’s one of the most popular temples in the Angkor Archaeological Park.

Banteay Srei

One of the prettiest temples of all, Banteay Srei is famous for its intricate carvings and rose-tinted colour. As it is further away than the other temples, you’ll also pass through traditional villages on your way to see it.

Pre Rup

This is one of the oldest temples in the Angkor area, having been built in 961 AD, likely to host funerals. It is sometimes referred to as “miniature Angkor Wat” due to its distinct style and is a wonderful place to watch the sunrise.

Ta Som

Another beautifully overgrown temple with roots growing throughout is Ta Som. As it hasn’t starred in any films, it’s a lot quieter than Ta Prohm, making it a great temple to add to your itinerary.

Neak Pean

Although the temple itself is quite small, it is unique as it is surrounded by a large man-made lake. It has a peaceful atmosphere and is a favourite amongst photographers.

Banteay Kdei

You’ll see much of the best of Angkor temples at Banteay Kdei. Although the temple complex is slightly overgrown and reminiscent of Ta Prohm, you can still easily make out the absolutely beautiful apsaras (traditional performers) and carvings.

 

Sunrise or Sunset at Angkor Wat | Must-Know Tips

Angkor Wat is magical at any time, but it’s got that extra WOW factor during sunrise. It’s definitely worth getting up early to experience this, regardless of the ‘sunrise crowds’! Here are a few tips so you get the most out of it.

  • The sunrise generally happens between 5am and 6am (depending on the season), so you’ll want to be up and leaving Siem Reap around 4.30am. If you’re not sure what time it is, ask your guesthouse – you definitely don’t want to miss it!
  • As it’s so early, you’ll want to buy your ticket the day before. If you forget, the ticket office opens at 5:00am – but you’ll be cutting it VERY fine for the sunrise.
  • Do check the weather forecast before you go, especially in wet season. When it is wet the sky is hazy, and the colours are less impressive.
  • Another option is to take a hot air balloon ride for an amazing view as the sun comes up over the temple park.
  • One the sun has risen, typically most visitors rush in to start exploring the inside. However, it’s a beautiful time to admire the exterior when it’s baked in a golden light.

Another option is to visit Angkor Wat at sunset, which is also great and definitely less crowded compared to sunrise. Another big plus of this is, it is free to enter the Archaeological Park after 5:30pm, although you can’t actually explore the interior of the temple. Of course, if you’re spending three days then there’s time to do both.
 

7 Top Tips for Visiting Angkor Wat

  1. Act Respectfully: Many of the temples, including Angkor Wat, are still in use today by devoted Buddhists. Keep this in mind and act respectfully, such as by keeping your voice down and avoiding no-nos such as touching the monks.
  2. Clothing | Dress Code: In recent years, temple guards have become more serious about enforcing the dress code. Visitors of all genders are requested to cover their shoulders and knees when visiting. Nudity is definitely not tolerated – and has landed several travelers in big trouble!
  3. Begging Children: While visiting the temples, you’ll likely encounter children selling and begging. Although they are charming and it can be difficult, it’s advisable not to buy from them as it encourages them to stay away from school. Instead, consider donating to a reputable NGO.
  4. Photography: You’ll get one of the most iconic photos of Angkor Wat from in front of the ponds near the entrance to the temple. It’s particularly beautiful around sunrise when the light is golden, and there’s an amazing reflection in the water.
  5. Guided Tour: As mentioned, a tour for at least one day or a couple of hours is the the best way to see the temples and take it all in. A licensed guide explains the significance and symbolism which makes the whole experience so much better.
  6. Sun and Heat: It is hot pretty much all year round in Cambodia, so definitely be prepared. Sunscreen and (bottled) water are  musts, while in the wet season you’ll also want to come prepared for sudden rainstorms.
  7. Shoes: Please be careful at the temples and wear good shoes. Although you can walk around and, in some cases, through, the temples, just be aware of hurting yourself or damaging these historic sites. Be sure that you come back in one piece, and future generations can also enjoy the temples!


Place originally created by Umamisky. All gallery images below by Umamisky. Thanks!

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Comments

Nov 03, 2019

Be aware that a visit during sunrise brings a lot of crowds. However, you wouldn't want to miss the scenery - it's just magical. In order to avoid the heavy crowds, arrive in the afternoon, and instead enjoy the sunset before the temple closes. Following the typical weather patterns for much of Southeast Asia, the best time to visit Angkor Wat is during the dry season from late November to early April.

We got a Tuk Tuk driver from our accommodation and started at around 5 am to see the sunrise over the main entrance temple. The buildings and surroundings are stunning and definitely worth seeing. Make sure you're dressed appropriately and have plenty of water with you (although both clothes and drinks can be bought from local vendors). The site is huge, so better grab a two days ticket. The heat and humidity in a jungle environment make it a bit tired. Good and comfortable shoes with a good grip to climb over several temples are highly recommended.