10 Tips for Angkor Visit

  1. Have Enough Cash for Angkor Tickets- The Government of Cambodia recently took over ticket sales for the Angkor Archeological Park which is great news as there is no longer a need to come super early to avoid waiting in line for tickets . This resulted in a new ticket sale place with many counters, making this process fast and painless. The price has slightly increased- a one day pass to all Angkor temples is now $37, while the the most popular three-day pass is $62. There is one catch- it is CASH ONLY, they DO NOT ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS. So a family of four interested in tree-day passes better have $248 cash on them when going to buy these tickets.
  2. Don't loose Angkor Tickets- You will need to show them all the time, every time you are entering a different temple over the course of your stay. Keep them handy, preferably in a bag or pocket not next to your body-- because of heat and humidity the tickets can become all wet if in a pocket next to your overheating body. 
  3. Angkor Visit - Take it Easy. If you are going during the hot and humid season, you should really pace yourself.  The heat and humidity will drain all energy out of you after few hours and you will stop caring what temple you are seeing.  You will need a driver and maybe a guide. Guide books provide a rather good explanation of what you are seeing, but you can also hire a guide, usually through a hotel, for app. $25-$30 per day. Whether you need a guide will depend on how interested you are in knowing the history of these temples. Our favorite must-see temples that we would like to see again one day are Bayon, Ta Prohm, Banteay Srei, Ta Som and Preah Khan. You have to see Angkor Wat of course, as it is really fascinating, but there is no need to stay there too long.
  4. Tuk-Tuk or Private Car- Many people took tuk-tuks while others opted for a private car. If you are traveling alone, hiring a tuk-tuk driver for the whole day may be more cost effective ($15 per day). It will also depend on the time of year you are there and whether it is unbearably hot and humid, in which case we really recommend hiring a nice car with the air-conditioning ($40 per day). We organized our temple visit through the driver who picked us up from the airport - he took us around during our stay for $40 a day. You can go through the hotel as well, but then they may give you another driver. Our driver (Mr. Perom, tel: +855(0)11343632) spoke very good English and was very nice, and it meant a lot to us to have short break from the heat in a car with AC.  There are many Lexus vehicles in Siem Reap, none of them owned by the drivers, so tip these drivers generously, they mainly live off tips.
  5. Temple Attire: Visitors must wear long pants/skirts and T-shirts. Tank tops are not allowed, although in most places you can just cover your shoulders with a scarf when asked. However, to climb up the main tower inside the Angkor Wat complex, tank top with a scarf combination is not allowed, and if you really insist on going up they may give you a very sweaty and dirty T-shirt to wear.  Try to avoid this shirt at all cost. 
  6. Angkor - Day One: The first day tour usually takes you to Angkor Wat, Ankgor Thom, lunch and then Ta Prohm.  Most people start with the sunrise an Angkor Wat, and then go inside and see the temple. Next stop is usually Angkor Thom, which consists of Bayon temple (the one with numerous stone faces), Baphuon (which we think you can skip), and Terrace of Elephants which sounds better than it really is.  In our opinion, to avoid heat exhaustion, only Bayon warrants your time and attention.  If you have the strength to skip lunch at the time when all the tourists eat (1pm-3pm), you can go to Ta Prohm, the jungle temple made famous by the "Tomb Raider" movie. If not, get some food and then see this amazing temple that is being taken over the by trees. If too tired, leave the last temple for the second day as it merits your time and attention.  
  7. Angkor - Day Two: Visit Benteay Srei (the pink sandstone temple) early and get the place all to your self. It's really wonderful and one of our favorite temples. Then you can visit Pre Rup which is nearby. The view from the top is great, but the stairs are very high and steep, so keep that in mind when deciding whether to go all the way up. After templing, we went to the Tonle Sap lake to see the floating villages. 
  8. Angkor -  Day Three: We left the not so popular temples for the end, and were very glad we did as we loved them. We started with Ta Som, another jungle type of temple, which we really liked. There is lovely gate with a fig tree taking over the gate that is difficult to find. Then we went to Neak Pean, which we remember because of a long causeway and a cute little lake around it. The last stop was the temple we loved the most - Preah Khan. There was just something magical about it. 
  9. Tonle Sap Lake: Everyone said we would need a break from all the temples, and that we should visit the lake, and the Kampong Pluhk Village to see how people really live in these floating villages. ,The ticket for a boat that takes you around the lake is $25 per person, and although not cheap it is worth seeing. If you have been to Thailand floating markets, you will be shocked- this is nothing like it. It is a boat tour where you really see how the local population lives and it is at times heartbreaking. Then you reach the open lake which is really fascinating. Lastly, you will stop for lunch at some make-shift raft/restaurant where you are at first afraid to eat, but then you will relax. The food was delicious and the view of the vast emptiness of the lake is unforgettable.  
  10. Shopping and Bargaining: If you want to buy cotton T-shirt/skirts/pants that Cambodia is famous for, and don't need to try them on, best purchases are in front of the not so popular temples. You should bargain, but not to the point of preventing the seller from making any profit.  If you do need to try things on, go to the Siem Reap's Old Market (Psar Chaa)- T-shirts are app. $3-6, pants $5-$10, dresses $10-$20, bronze statues of apsara dancers $12-$18, wooden masks and wooden apsara dancer wall art $18-$25, and so on. For fancier and rather expensive things, visit Artisans Angkor workshop and the silk farm.