The big and the small tour of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

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Angkor Wat temple
Angkor Wat temple

One cannot simply visit Cambodia without spending at least a few days in Siem Reap. Just a few kilometres from this lively town lies a huge temple complex called Angkor Wat. In our opinion it should be included on the list of the world wonders. We are sure that once you visit you’ll agree with us. Are you planning to take a tour of Angkor Wat? Our post might help you decide which one is the best for you. Maybe you will want to take both!

How to get there?

The interesting thing about this probably largest religious monument in the world is that it was originally Hindu. Only later did it become Buddhist. It represents the Khmer architecture and it was supposed to become the mausoleum of the King Suryavarman.

If you want to take a tour of Angkor Wat there are many ways to get there. The complex lies close the town of Siem Reap. Well, close but probably too far too walk. To get to Siem Reap is probably the easiest thing in the world. There is an airport that connects SIem Reap not only with the surrounding countries. The list of bus companies that bring tourists to Siem Reap is neverending. You can take an organized tour of Angkor Wat or rely on yourself just like we did.

Finding a perfect driver for your tour of Angkor Wat

Tuk Tuk around Angkor Wat
Tuk Tuk around the complex

The best way to explore Angkor Wat is by hiring a tuk-tuk. Why? Because the distances between the temples are enormous and it gets extremely hot during the day. They are everywhere and you can find them literally in the street. In case you have trust issues just visit a forum or one of the Facebook groups (like Backpackers in South East Asia). For sure people will recommend a reliable driver who won’t ask an exaggerated amount of money and make your tour of Angkor Wat really pleasant.

It costs more or less 15USD to hire a tuk-tuk driver for one day. Most drivers are not paid to be your guides but some will do it anyway. They will tell you a lot of interesting information about Angkor Wat and its history. Another advantage of hiring a tuk-tuk is that it can get incredibly hot around the temples and you will surely enjoy a nice shelter from the sun.

Buying tickets

You cannot possibly expect a place like this to be cheap. However, you can choose from three different types of tickets: 1-day, 3-day and 7-day ticket. We suggest going for the three-day option. The reason is simple. Angkor Wat deserves more than one day of your time and honestly, trying to see everything in one day would be simply exhausting. You can check the up-to-date prices here.

Tour of Angkor Wat

Here comes the most part: the two main types of tour of Angkor Wat. We took them both in order to give you first-hand information. So what can you actually see on the small and the big circuit?

Tour of Angkor Wat
Posing in the old temples

Small circuit

  1. Angkor Wat – is there a better place to start your tour of Angkor Wat than the biggest temple of them all? This breathtaking temple complex shows how prosperous the Khmer empire once was. A lot of people choose to come here to watch the sunrise as it is an unforgettable sight. Prepare to find crowds of people here and it will be almost impossible to take a photo with no other tourists in sight.
  2. Bayon – this temple looks different from the rest of them. It is a true labyrinth of corridors, rooms and towers, with faces of Bayon watching you everywhere.
  3. Baphuon temple – together with Bayon it is a part of the Angkor Thom complex. There are much more attractions in this complex and you will need a few hours to walk around. Some other attractions that you will find there are the Elephant terrace or the Terrace of the Leper King.
  4. Ta Prohm – yep, this one is becoming as popular as the Angkor Wat itself. The reason is simple: It appeared in a Lara Croft movie. The disappointing thing is that it is under reconstruction and you will have to find a way to take a pic without any cranes in it.
  5. Ta Keo – an interesting fact about this temple is that local people think it brings bad luck. If you are superstitious you better avoid it!

Big circuit

If you’ve already decided to take just a small tour of Angkor Wat, please read further. The following lines might help you reconsider. One huge advantage of the big circuit is that it is much less crowded than the small one. We were sometimes really tired of all the people around and the big circuit came as a nice surprise. These are a few interesting places you will get a chance to see:

  1. Preah Khan – one of our favourite temples. You will find there similar tangled trees as in Ta Prohm but far less tourists.
  2. Neak Pean – this place is a little different from everything that you’ve seen so far. It is situated in the middle of a water reservoir and it served as a healing spa.
  3. Ta Som – another good example of a place that looks very similar to Ta Prohm but you will have far more space for great undistubed pics.
  4. Pre Rup – it is funny but we actually started our tour of Angkor Wat right here. It is usually the last stop but we decided to go against the flow and like that found most temples half-empty.

Conclusions

Our suggestion is to do both circuits, when you visit the Angkor Wat complex. The temples are quite different from each other, and well worth the entrance fee. Start early in the morning, and take your time during midday in the hottest months. Renting a bicycle can be fun, but it’s very hot after 10-11 AM, so think twice. Angkor Wat is one of the most amazing places we’ve ever seen, go and enjoy the place!

Have you ever been here? Which is your favourite temple? Let us know in the comments!

2 Responses

  1. Rosalind
    | Reply

    Hi guys great article. We visited Angkor Wat yesterday. What an amazing place. Sadly we only had time for the 1 day ticket. Hopefully we can do the 3 day someday. Bayon with the faces was my favourite temple.

    • Enri & Zuz
      | Reply

      Thanks a lot Rosalind! Yeah, Bayon is one of our fav too. Hopefully you’ll have a chance to go back soon 🙂

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