There are some places in the world that I could write about for days, and there are others that are best seen in photos. Angkor Wat is the latter. Constructed in the 12th century, this once Hindu temple was later converted to a Buddhist temple. It’s now a major tourist attraction and the largest religious monument in the world. Angkor Wat is actually the name of the main temple, but the surrounding areas feature over 50 smaller temples. In the western world, this place is most known for being the backdrop of the movie Tomb Raider.
We opted to get the three-day pass, which costs $62. Being on a budget is really hard in Siem Reap. If I were to do it again, I’d get the one-day pass for $37 and jam everything into one day. Start the day at sunrise in front of Angkor. After the sun is up you can explore the main temple. This part of the tour shouldn’t cost more that $8 for a tuk-tuk from the city and back. Your driver will wait for you outside the temple. We grabbed a quick bite to eat nearby instead of going back into town, and then headed out onto the “small loop.” The small loop shouldn’t cost more than $16. In this section, you’ll see all of the main temples. A lot of people finish this tour around 1:00pm and then call it a day. It’s pretty exhausting, especially in the Cambodian heat.
To get the most out of your money and day ticket, I’d recommend grabbing a nice long lunch. Sit back, relax and then have your driver take you on the “big loop.” This loop is usually more expensive, but you’ve already seen half the temples so you shouldn’t pay more than $14 for this. This price should also include taking you back to your hostel. If you’re going to do a whole day with one driver, you should be able to negotiate the whole price down below $25 for the big and small loop. Since we did it over two days, the price was higher.
The small loop has some of the most famous temples, but I actually enjoyed the long loop more. The temples were just as beautiful but a lot less crowded. They also had some interesting scenery around them since they weren’t in the main area.
Last, you’ll want to see the sun set. There’s a great lookout point on a hill across from the main Angkor temple. It’s a bit of a hike, but it has a beautiful view. If you do a one-day pass, you’ll probably be exhausted by this point. The sunset was nice, but you won’t miss much if you decide to sleep instead. If you buy your day pass at 5pm the day before you see temples, you can see the sunset the night before for free.
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Michelle Della Giovanna
Writer at Full Time Explorer
I’m just your average New Yorker who quit her job in the fashion industry to explore the world. Come find out what it’s like to trade in five-inch heels for squat toilets.