DEFINING THE TERMS
Angkor – Site of a network of successive ancient cities from 9th to 16th centuries, across an area of 401 square km. With over 150 significant monuments, this Unesco’s World Heritage site since 1992 is the crown jewel of the Khmer civilisation.
Angkor Wat – Name of the most preserved temple. It means “City which became a Pagoda”. It was built by Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as the Capital and the State Temple. With its broad moat, the total area of Ankgor Wat is almost 200 hectares. Dedicated to Vishnu, this temple is the largest religious monument ever constructed.
Angkor Thom – Largest city in Angkor whose name means “Great City” spans 900 hectares. It was the Capital of the Khmer Empire since the late 12th century, founded by the famous King Jayavarman VII. Within are several temples (notably the Bayon at its center, and the Baphuon) as well as the Royal Palace.
Plan your trip carefully to ensure the quality of visits and to have great memories of Angkor. Peak season is November to March, which means cool, dry days but large crowds. June to October is quieter, but also hot and potentially wet.
Length of visit:
- A one-day visit allows you to see the highlights of the most famous temples but not more.
- Three days are enough to visit all the major temples and a few minor ones.
- Seven days are sufficient to really explore the major temples, visit many of the minor structures, experience some activities and take time to explore the countryside and villages as well.
So if you can, give yourself extra days to discover the Angkor site and its surroundings.
Early morning is generally the best time to avoid the heat of the day, the crowds in some of the temples and to have better lighting for photography. So start at 7 am, or even sooner.
Choose an itinerary off the beaten tracks and the “cliche” routes and use a qualified Cambodian guide holding a license from the Ministry of Tourism to discover Angkor and have a better knowledge of the Khmer civilization.
DRESS AND EQUIPMENT:
Wear light and airy clothes. To show respect in the temples, shoulders and knees should be covered. Have headgear and comfortable and secure shoes. At the end of the rainy seasons trails can be under water, so have trekking sandals if possible. If you are sensitive, wear sun protection cream and mosquito spray. Drink plenty of water.
The temples are too far apart to make foot travel practical. Angkor Wat, the nearest temple, is located at 6.5 km from Siem Reap. Various means of transport are available from bicycles to air conditioned vehicles. Most hotel staff will be able to assist you. To smell the forest and listen to birds and cicadas, discover the temples by 3-wheel remork (tuk-tuk) and bicycle!
- 3-wheel remork: average $12-$15/day (for maximum 4 persons)
- Car taxi: average $25-$30/day (for maximum 4 persons
- Motorcycle taxi (Motodup): average $8-$10/day (not very comfortable especially for long distance)
- Bicycle: average $2-$3/day (many cycle paths, ground flat easy to pedal but pay attention to the heat so start early morning, wear a hat, sunglasses and drink plenty of water)
These are usual rates for one day in Angkor. You have to pay more for visiting distant sites such as Banteay Srey, Kbal Spean or Roluos. To avoid misunderstandings, negotiate the details of the driver‟s services carefully – exact price, what time you expect the day to begin and end, availability during lunch and evening hours, limitations on your itinerary, different prices for petit/grand circuits, number of persons, etc.