Angkor Wat, an ancient city in Cambodia, is the biggest temple complex in Southeast Asia. It was the center of the Khmer Empire that once ruled most of Southeast Asia. This archaeological complex has been a source of mystery and inspiration for travelers all over the globe. The complex consists of more than a thousand temples, ranging from gorgeous architectural wonders to simple rubble edifices. Most of the temples of Angkor boasts of unique endless corridors, narrow chambers, secretive passageways, and intricate carvings. The most popular temples of Angkor Wat are Bayon, Ta Phrom, and Angkor Thom. The better way to visit Angkor Wat would be to get a multi-day pass so that you can also visit some outer temples that see very few visitors.
We have made a guide for you to help on your trip to Angkor Temples.
Angkor Archaeological Zone strikes first-time visitors with its sheer size, scale, and diversity of each structure. After you start exploring the temple, you will see why this is one of the most popular tourist spots of Southeast Asia. This zone houses some of the most stunning architectural structures of ancient times. As it is the largest temple complex, it is a UNESCO protected site, and an artificial marvel.
Before there was a thick jungle in the complex, however, now you will mostly see tourists hovering around to see the spectacular temple complex. Visiting the temples inside this complex can be overwhelming, particularly when you are traveling on the stifling heat.
As Cambodia is the tropical zone, the weather is warm all year round, with wet seasons at various points of the year. You can visit the temples at any time of the year. But, the best time to visit this temple would be between November and March as this is the cooler season of the year, and the temperature will be moderate. It is also the dry season, so there will be minimal chances of rain. However, remember that this is also the peak tourist season in the whole of Cambodia, so you will have to face huge crowds. As the Angkor temples are very popular, they tend to get very crowded during the peak seasons.
If you want to prevent crowds, you should visit the temples between June and October. Even though this time can be hot, it will be okay if you visit around the early morning or in the evening. In addition, you will get pretty great value in accommodation and transportation during this time.
Source: Lonely Planet
If you are traveling independently around Angkor Wat, the most convenient way would be to hire a tuk-tuk or a taxi for the day. They will cost you between 20-30USD, depending on the places you travel to. But, always make sure you negotiate and fix a price before making your journey. Your tuk-tuk driver also can give you advice on some of the most beautiful temples as they ride around that part every day and are very knowledgeable. You may also find a less visited temple and visit those beautiful temples rather than waiting on crowds to get a look at popular temples.
If you like to explore totally independently, you can rent a bicycle or an e-bike. As the complex is huge, walking isn't really an option, so for independent travelers, bikes are a great option.
Source: Atlas Obscura
Ta Prohm is one of the most beautiful Angkor Temples. The temple got very popular after it was featured in the Tomb Raider film. But it is worth a visit. Here, you will see massive roots intertwined with man-made buildings and crumbling stones. Even though many trees growing from the roots have been removed, it still gives an otherworldly view. However, this place tends to get very crowded, so try to visit in the late afternoon or early mornings.
Angkor Wat is a magnificent site to see and the most popular among all Angkor temples. This temple is also the largest religious monument in the world. The temple is full of beautiful balustrades, chambers, galleries, courtyards, corridors, and porches. You will see gorgeous carvings all around the walls that represent mythological tales. The sunset view from the temples is also enchanting. But as with all popular destinations in the complex, this temple also will be too busy with people.
Bayon Temple stands proudly at the center of the Angkor Thom city ruins and is one of the most attractive temples in the complex. It is renowned for its 216 smiling face carvings, believed to be the mesmerizing state temple of Jayavarman VII. The temple also contains 1.2km of bas-reliefs with over 11000 figures. The temple has three levels; the first two are rectangular with a third, circular floor above. Here, you will also find many Banyan trees dotted around.
Source: Angkor Kingdom Tours
Pre Rup is famous for its enchanting sunset. However, the sunset is not only that's spectacular about the site; the temple itself is gorgeous. The temple was once at the center of the Angkor Thom City and is designed very similarly to that of the main Angkor Wat Temple. If you climb three steps up to the three tiers of the pyramid, you can get a stunning view of the area. The place is great for capturing some pictures of the sunrise and sunset. The temple is pretty empty during the early morning, but in the evening, you might not even get a place to stand.
Source: Julia's Album
Banteay Srei is more than 30km away from Siem Reap but is worth the visit. The drive to this temple will allow you to see the countryside of Colombia. Here, you will get to see a unique red sandstone that sets it apart from the other temples of the Angkor temple complex. Also, you will see its miniature scale and thousands of tiny female deity carvings. The temple looks like it came right out of a fairy tale. The temple has many nicknames like the 'lady temple,' 'citadel of women,' and 'citadel of beauty.'
This temple lies on a hill and overlooks the Angkor Temples from a distance, so it is quite famous as a sunset spot. From this temple, you can get a distinct perspective on the main temple. Make sure you bring a camera with a decent zoom, as you will get some stunning pictures of the Angkor temples. Make sure you get to the temple as fast as possible as they only allow 300 people in after 5:30 pm.