Siem Reap is a city located at the north of Cambodia. It has become a city adapted to the demands of international tourism, which comes mainly to visit the world-famous ruins of Angkor.
Ruins covered with trees and plants, in which the jungle has entered and combined with the spectacular temples.
Angkor Wat is one of those places that we all have on our bucket list (if not, after this post it sure will be). Undoubtedly the best thing about visiting this ancient city is that you can enter, explore, investigate and get lost inside its 72 wats (temples).
Visa for Cambodia
You will need a tourist visa to visit Cambodia that can be easily obtained upon arrival. If you arrive by plane, as we did, you will be directed to the queue for tourists. Once you have filled out the Visa on Arrival, you must pay $ 30 fee and present your passport along with a passport photo. If you do not carry a photo, you will simply pay $ 2 as a “fine” (be aware that they will not take the photo). After a short wait, your passport is returned with a tourist visa valid for 30 days in the Cambodia Kingdom.
↠ Your passport must be valid for 6 months (you will not be able to enter the country if your passport expires within 6 months of the scheduled departure date).
↠ Bring your ID photo and you will save 2 $.
↠ It is easier and cheaper to process the visa upon arrival in the country. Although if you prefer you can get the visa online, paying a processing fee. More info on the website of the Government of Cambodia.
Temples of Angkor
The temple complex is built in the area of Angkor, the old capital of the Khmer Empire, during its time of splendor, power and wealth.
Considered as the largest religious structure ever built and one of the most important archaeological treasures in the world. To give you an idea of how big it is, the complex occupies an area of 200 hectares. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1992.
Although initially it was dedicated to the god Vishnu, architecturally the temple combines the Hindu typology with the typology of later periods.
I will not go into details about what temples to visit as there are many guides for it. However, what I do recommend and cannot be missed:
↠ Ta Prohm, one of the temples that are part of the Angkor Wat complex. It has become popular since it was one of the places chosen for the recording of the movie ” Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”.
↠ Bayon. Also known as the Temple of the Faces of Angkor, it has 54 towers with about 200 smiling faces facing the four cardinal points. The most fascinating thing is that none of the faces has the same expression.
Organize your visit to the Temples of Angkor
↠ Opening hours:
The complex opens from 5 am in the morning until 6 pm in the afternoon.
Admission costs $ 37 for 1 day, $ 62 for 3 days and $ 72 for 7 days. It depends on how you want to organize your visit. Personally, I think that you will need more than one day to see the complex. Therefore, get the 3-day ticket, and you will have more than enough time to see each temple without being in a hurry. Keep in mind that you might need to rest and make some stops during the day due to the heat and humidity of the jungle. Refreshments and coconuts are the best to keep you hydrated.
Very important: Admission can only be purchased at the official ticket office. They will take a photo so your entry is non-transferable.
You will need transportation to get to the official ticket office as well as to visit the temples. It is located about 6 km north of Siem Reap.
1. By bicycle. You can rent a bike for $ 2 or $ 3, but you should be careful with the high temperatures and the humidity.
2. By car. Another option is to rent a private car and air conditioning. The driver is usually a guide as well. I do not know the prices although I suppose they will be quite high.
3. By tuc–tuc with driver. It is the option that we chose, as it was within our budget. It will take you to all the temples and you can take the time you want to visit it. The price is $ 18 including sunset.
↠ Get up early. Have a good breakfast and leave as early as you can. The driver will take you to the official ticket office to buy the ticket and sometimes there are queues. It is better to get up early and have some extra time.
↠ There are 2 circuits to visit the temples. The short circuit is for 1-day visits and the long circuit for those who have bought the 3-day ticket. Trust your tuc-tuc driver and the recommended route by him.
↠ Very very important: Take a photo (mental or with your camera) to the tuc–tuc. There are many of them in the parking lots and when you get tired after kicking each temple, all the tuc-tucs will seem the same. Ask him where he is going to park and get his phone number, just in case. We lost him a couple of times, the driver was taking a nap in the tuc-tuc and we did not recognize him.
↠ Carry a lot of water. We visited the temples in April and the humidity along with heat made us sweat like never.
↠ Wear appropriate clothing. You are visiting temples and sacred places, so be respectful. I recommend you to wear pants or a skirt that covers the knees and shirts that cover the shoulders.
Where to sleep in Siem Reap
As a curiosity, we found that most accommodations in Siem Reap include transfers from the airport to the hotel. So it is quite convenient since you will be tired after the plane trip.
We enjoyed our stay at The Boutique Combo Hotel. Great value for money. Spacious and clean room, breakfast included and pool, which is very much appreciated with the heat and humidity. They organize tours in Siem Reap and surroundings and buses to move around Cambodia with quite competitive prices. The hotel is a bit far from the city center but they offer complimentary one-way ride by tuc-tuc. A ride back to the hotel will cost you around $ 2.
I booked through Booking.com because it offered the best price that suited our budget.
Angkor Wat photos