Are you planning a trip to this UNESCO heritage site? Angkor wat temple is among the top places to visit in Cambodia. Continue reading our 3 day Angkor guide to know all about the must visit Cambodia temples as well as our flashpacker tips to beat the crowds and enjoy some moments of peace!
Most people usually think of Angkor Wat temple as the one monument there, but it’s so much more than that. Angkor archeological park is huge and comprises of numerous big and small temples and other structures spread over a huge area and is the bedrock of Cambodia tourism.
Read about our Siem Reap, Cambodia travel guide here⤵
HOW MANY DAYS SHOULD YOU SPEND IN ANGKOR ?
- The entrance pass for Angkor wat complex is available for 1 DAY/3 DAYS/7 DAYS
- The 1 DAY PASS COSTS 37 $ and in my opinion one day is simply not enough to explore this huge site. This pass is used mostly by the busloads of day trippers who are in a rush and just explore a couple of the big temples.
- The 3 DAY PASS COSTS 62 $ and this was the one we bought. I felt 3 days was sufficient time to explore the ruins and most of the important temples at a leisurely pace.
- The 7 DAY PASS COSTS 72 $ and can be used if you are staying for a long time.
Read more about our smart flight booking tips here ⤵
3 DAY ANGKOR GUIDE AND ITINERARY :
- Wake up very early and head over to Angkor Wat temple to catch the magnificent SUNRISE This is undoubtedly the number 1 experience to have in your Cambodia travels. (Continue reading to find out the best spot for sunrise viewing without the crowds ! )
- Read about our Sunrise Experience here⤵
- Instead of lingering after the sunrise, head over to the ancient kingdom of ANGKOR THOM which encloses an area of around 10 sq km. Enter by the SOUTH GATE and observe the “Samudramanthan” scene (churning of the ocean scene from Hindu mythology) depicted as stone structures on the bridge.
- Make sure to swing by the VICTORY GATE which we loved with its stone gate and the jungle surroundings.
- It will be around 7 am by the time you reach TA PHROM , famous as the “Angelina Jolie/Lara Croft “temple. Among all the Angkor temples that we visited over the course of 3 days, Ta Phrom was my absolute favourite! I fell in love with its iconic monstrous tree roots, supporting as well as destroying the temple ruins. At this hour, there were only a few people around and we got to explore the temple feeling like ‘Indiana Jones’!
- After having breakfast, BACK TO ANGKOR WAT to explore the largest Hindu temple in the world. By this time, most of the crowds will have left, so take 2-3 hours to walk around the temple at your own pace.
- By noon, you will be completely tired and ready to call it a day. Don’t over exert yourself and try to cover more sites. Instead go back to your hotel for lunch and a good long nap and make sure to get a foot massage in the evening to soothe your tired feet!
- Rise early (not as early as the previous day though!) and start exploring the BIG CIRCUIT of the Angkor complex.
- Check out the Buddhist-Hindu fusion temple of PREAH KHAN , the small water temple of PREAH NEAK POAN (with its highly eerie lake), BANTEAY KDEI (which I loved because it gave me a very archeological feel), the royal pool SRA SRANG directly opposite it and PRE RUP TEMPLE which is famous for its sunset views.
- After lunch and some rest, head over to Angkor Thom again for an afternoon of exploration.
- There, visit BAYON , one of the biggest and most famous temples in the park and admire its hundreds of enigmatic carved stone heads.
- You can stay on at Bayon for sunset or head over to Angkor wat for that.
Read about our visit to the Stunning UNESCO site of Halong Bay in Vietnam here⤵
- Start the day with a MORNING TUK TUK RIDE through the Cambodian countryside and explore the small temple of BANTEAY SREI (its name means ‘Citadel of women’) which is so called because of its delicate, beautiful carvings.
- Combine this with a trip to the Hindu temple of KBAL SPEAN (with its thousand lingas), located around 65 kms from Angkor, near a waterfall and a jungle.
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FLASHPACKER TIPS TO AVOID CROWDS AT ANGKOR: ANGKOR GUIDE
At such a famous site like Angkor Wat, there is not much concept of an “on/off-season. This is one of the most visited places in the world and as such it is very difficult to avoid crowds here. At any given day, there will easily be thousands of tourists and you cannot dodge everyone.
Even then, we managed to avoid tourists up to a large extent and could enjoy the sunrise alone (as you can see in our pictures!) and these were some of the tips/hacks that helped us.
- The best way is to wake up very early and head over to the temples before people start descending. We had to wake up at the ghastly hour of 3 am to view the sunrise over Angkor wat, but it was worth every moment. Also remember to carry a packed breakfast from your hotel so that you can quickly eat and then explore alone while everyone else goes out searching for breakfast places.
- For the sunrise view at Angkor, most people head to the popular West gate and the lotus pond which becomes filled with thousands of tourists jostling for space and cameras blocking views. Avoid this spot and instead go to the quieter Eastern Gate where we sat alone amidst ancient stone structures while watching the darkness give way to dawn and it was surreal!
- Time most of your temple visits for pre breakfast or post lunch.
- Hiring a local reputed guide cum photographer for a day, turned out to be a great decision for us. He took us to all the quieter viewing sites and also knew the best routes for avoiding crowds. Even though we usually resist guides, this time it really helped us dodge thousands and that’s why most of our shots have no background people!
Now that you have all the necessary info about temples and tips from this 3 days Angkor guide, start planning your trip soon!
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