No trip to Cambodia is complete without spending time at Angkor Wat, and time is exactly what this spectacular place deserves.

Angkor Wat is a temple complex dating back to the 12th century that stands today as an architectural masterpiece. Originally built by King Suryavarman II for an intended purpose (as told by historians) of funerary requirements, Angkor Wat took more than 30 years to complete. Today this is the largest Angkor monument in the world, as well as a classified 7th Wonder of The World.

In the 12th century when Phnom Penh became Cambodia’s capital, Theravada Buddhists took over care of the complex where it has remained the home of Buddhist monks since. This is a place of peace and spiritual adornment while also being a preservation wonder. Wandering the 500 acres of land of which the complex resides on can include glimpses of bright saffron monk robes as they wander the complex between meditation and teachings.

But It is mostly the preservation of detail that invites such curiosity of travellers today. Angkor Wat’s architecture combines incredible precision, symmetry and proportion which are as evident in the 21st century as they would have been more than 900 years ago. What you’ll notice is spectacular buildings bordering mirror pools, carved monuments and the typical Angkor styling of the error. Testament to the structures age, it is common to find ancient tree roots entangled in some of the entrance ways adding to the sense of wonder that is impossible to mistake.

activities in cambodia
Visiting Angkor Wat deserves the joy of at least two full, relaxing days and being just 4km from Siem Reap makes it easy to spend the night in Siem Reap town, and make your way to the complex via the Western entrance daily. To truly enjoy the experience it is best to hire a bike from Siem Reap town, obtain an Ankor Wat map and stroll at your own pace. This is especially enjoyable given that hovering the front of Angkor Wat is typically a flurry of hawkers, vendors, tuk-tuk touts and general noise. Having an opportunity to enjoy the essence of the complex on your own terms will enhance an Angkor Wat experience.
One your second day at the site spend the evening watching sunset from atop Phnom Bakheng at around 6:30pm. The climb is short, steep and hot under the Cambodian sun, but this is the best place to enjoy an Angkor Wat sunset, despite overcrowding. Angkor Wat tickets can be purchased up to 5pm for same day use and any time thereafter tickets can only be used the following day, so if your intention is to only purchase Angkor Wat tickets to view the sunset, you would need to purchase before 5pm.

A one day Angkor Wat ticket is USD$37 or $62 for a 3 day Angkor Wat ticket. Pay with either credit card, USD, Cambodia Riel, Thai Bhat or Euro and an ATM is available at the site, but don’t purchase Angkor Wat tickets from anyone other than the official ticketing office as they won’t be accepted. Tickets include photo and name so it’s also important you purchase your own and don’t transfer between users.

The Angkor Wat opening hours are from 7:30am – 5:30am but there are two exceptions. Angkor Wat itself and Srah Srang can be visited from 5pm – 5:30pm and Phnom Bakheng and Pre Rup can be visited from 5am – 7pm which coincide with sunrise and sunset.

The sights don’t end with the 7th Wonder of the World though, and there are plenty more interesting Wats scattered around the region. While they are generally lesser maintained structures, it is enjoyable exploring the Cambodian nature in search of more of the countries ancient history.