Angkor was the impressive capital city of the Khmer Empire (9th to 15th centuries) and is located in the province of Siem Reap, Cambodia. Khmer emperors constructed breathtaking temples and palaces to display their power, wealth, and religious devotion and (luckily for us) many of these structures are still standing today. Angkor Wat is the most famous temple complex constructed during this time period and it’s also the largest religious monument in the world! Before visiting the Angkor temples there are a few things to know that can help you get the most out of your experience. Check out my top tips below and make sure to visit my post on things to know before visiting Siem Reap too.
The best time of year to visit Angkor temples
According to our tour guide, the best weather and busiest time to visit Cambodia is in October, November and December. Dry season lasts from November to April and temperatures range from 68°F (20°C) to 95°F (35°C). Despite this being the “dry season” expect humidity to keep consistent at around 75%.
We visited Cambodia during the rainy or “green season” in August. It was extremely hot and humid (85%+ humidity) with temperatures ranging from 75°F (24°C) to 100°F (38°C). During this time of year it’s usually cloudy and you can expect occasional downpours. We chose to visit the Angkor temples in August because it’s when we have vacation in Spain, 😉 but also because there are less tourists in summer. Personally, I didn’t mind the clouds or random showers…we had some of the temples completely to ourselves and the rain was refreshing after a few hours in the heat! Just bring your rain jacket and an umbrella and you’ll be fine—the rain rarely lasts more than an hour and most of the time it stopped after just 10 minutes.
If I had to do it again I would still choose to visit Cambodia in summer when there are less tourists. However if you are sensitive to high temperatures then you should opt to go during the dry season instead.
Getting your tickets
You must purchase your tickets (cash or card) at the Angkor Archaeological Park to visit Angkor Wat and all other temple complexes. Apparently you cannot purchase these tickets online, so if you see any websites offering to sell them it’s a scam! You will have your picture taken when you purchase your Angkor-pass and the ticket will look like this:
You will need to show your pass at the entrance of each site, so my advice is to buy a waterproof case with a lanyard and wear it around your neck. Also, make sure to keep track of your pass because if you lose it you’ll have to purchase a new one!
Angkor temple ticket options
- One day visit = $37
- Three day visit (valid for 10 days) = $62
- Seven day visit (valid for one month) = $72
- Children under 12 can visit for free (they’ll need to show their passport).
We purchased the three-day pass and saw the following temples: Takeo, Ta Prohm, Krovan, Bayon, Phimeanakas, Angkor Wat, Banteay Srei, Banteay Samre, Pre Rup, Mebon, Preah Khan. My favorites were Ta Prohm, Bayon, Angkor Wat, and Banteay Srei.
I think three days is enough time; we visited two to three temples in the morning and two after lunch. We planned our visits from 8am – 12pm and 2pm – 5pm each day and we still had plenty of time to enjoy lunch and shopping in the evening.
Dress code for visiting Angkor temples
Men and women should wear clothes that cover their legs/knees and shoulders. This dress code is strictly enforced. Some park officials are more uptight than others so I brought both a scarf and a light sweater (just in case).
Interacting with monks
Women should not touch or stand too close to monks. I did see many monks chatting and practicing different languages with tourists (men and women) during our visit. Keep in mind you can also take photos with monks but should ask permission first.
Extra tips for your trip!
- As with the Acropolis, I would recommend visiting the museum BEFORE the attraction—it’ll make it easier to recognize and appreciate the design elements and history of the temples when you see them in real life.
- I would also 100% recommend hiring a local guide to accompany you while visiting the temples. Our tour guide was named Nguon Sarath (we called him Sarath) his number is (+855-12) 97 47 37. He only speaks Spanish, but he knows a bunch of other local guides who speak different languages. You should reach out to him if you’re planning to go—the experience would not have been the same without him.
- Always bring an umbrella when visiting the temples; it’ll protect your from the rain or sun!