Angkor Wat and Siem Reap Temple Tour | Ish Meets Cambodia

The Angkor Wat is one of the most recognizable structures in the world. In Southeast Asia, it is one of the top bucket list destinations. However, not many are aware that the Angkor Wat is actually just one of many similar ancient temples in Cambodia.

Angkor Wat

Siem Reap alone boasts a massive number of temple complexes that are in various stages of disrepair. Some are better preserved than others, but there is no doubt that the Angkor Wat is the largest and most well-preserved structure.

When my friends and I visited Siem Reap, we didn’t have much time but we dedicated a full day to explore Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples. Here are some points to consider:

  1. There is a dress code. If you are enjoying the tropical heat and the chance to escape the chilly weather in your country, that’s fine but don’t wear skimpy clothing. Tank tops are not allowed. Tops must always have sleeves and women need to cover their knees. Wear long, loose pants or a long skirt.
  2. There isn’t much shade so wear sunscreen. I had to bring an umbrella but still got quite a tan.
  3. Keep yourself hydrated. It’s very hot so bring a bottle of water.

Now that you are prepared, let’s talk about the tour. My friends and I visited three major locations namely the ANGKOR THOM (BAYON TEMPLE), TA PROHM (TOMB RAIDER) and the ANGKOR WAT itself.

We also went for a private tour in an air conditioned van. I would highly recommend this because of the heat. Again, the temples themselves are large. You will be doing a lot of walking inside the temple grounds. While each complex is fairly close to one another, it is not advisable to try to walk or bike from one to the next.

A tuktuk is another option, but who really wants to be in a muggy, dusty and slow mode of transport when you can drive from one location to the next? I don’t think there is any need to suffer. Conserve your energy for exploring the temples themselves. Now, let’s start:


The ANGKOR THOM city complex is the home of the BAYON TEMPLE. It is another well-preserved structure and one of the larger temples that still stand in Siem Reap. When you look at touristy photos, this temple is often mistaken to be the Angkor Wat.

You will enter the walled city of Angkor Thom through one of its bridges that lead to a gate. The bridges are flanked by rows of carved stone statues that represent demons on the left and Gods on the right.

After passing through the rows of guardians, you will enter the walled city through one of the gates. Note that the Angkor Thom is a complex that is 9 square kilometers in size. This alone can take up your whole day if you skip hiring a vehicle and decide to explore each structure inside.

Angkor Thom Gate

Once inside, the main attraction here is definitely the BAYON TEMPLE. This is smaller than the Angkor Wat but do not underestimate its grandeur. It has three levels and 58 towers. The temple is known for the numerous face carvings that adorn the towers and walls.

4. TA Prohm

If the Bayon is famous for the carved faces, the TA PROHM is famous for the tress that have grown amongst the ruins. This is also a famous filming location for one of the Tomb Raider movies. This was the second stop of our temple tour.

Some of the trees have been removed to prevent them from further destroying the structures. However, many still remain exactly where they were found and it is amazing to see how nature has reclaimed much of the land. 


3. angkor wat

The final leg of the tour is of course, the ANGKOR WAT. Our guide brought us in through the back door to avoid the crowd. As a result, we were able to take some photos of some areas of the complex before joining the throng of people at the main tower.

The scenic route.
The ruins of the rear gate.
Some parts of the exterior walls remain intact.
Entering the complex through the ruins of ancient gates
Our first view of Angkor Wat from behind

Once inside, you  will immediately see how much bigger the Angkor Wat is compared to the other temples that you have visited. The stairs are massive and each level is raised several stories above ground.




The interior courtyards provide an eerie atmosphere of silence and solemnity despite the fact that thousands of tourists are walking through the temple. Monks still walk around and give visitors tokens of good luck for a small donation.

If your knees are willing and able, you can climb to the top of the main tower to get  good view of the complex and Siem Reap.

Finally, we walked out of the front gate and got the view that has graced millions of postcards that are stuck on refrigerators all over the world.

After visiting temples, we went off to have some lunch at a restaurant that serves traditional Khmer cuisine. It is part of the tour we booked and we were famished after walking around in the heat. At this point, it was early in the afternoon. Our guide wanted to end the tour but I made it clear that we signed up for a SUNSET viewing.

I know that people say that seeing the ANGKOT WAT during sunrise is the best. Frankly, it gets unreasonably crowded at that time and you need to wake up at like 5:00 a.m. I ain’t got no energy for that. The sunset is just as beautiful and there is no need to get up at an ungodly hour.

So after showing him the details of the tour I booked, he finally agreed to take us back to see the sunset. We took a break at the hotel and he picked us up closer to sunset to return to Angkor Wat. I wanted to do the hot air balloon ride but the service was so unreliable. They kept saying that no one was there to operate or there were not enough tourists to fire up the balloon.

In any case, we were able to enjoy the sunset view from outside the gates. Note that tourists are asked to vacate the temple before sundown. No one can enter the complex before sunrise either so you get the same view from outside whether it is in the morning or in the afternoon. Here are some photos that I took with the changing light:

Overall, it was an amazing experience. We were fairly exhausted by the end of the day but the air-conditioned van really helped keep the experience enjoyable. Here’s a link to the tour we got:

Siem Reap Private Full-Day Temple and Sunset Viewing Tour

Make sure that you read all the details and don’t let your guide short change you. It is a good idea to start early to escape the brunt of the heat. However, if sunset viewing is included, make sure you get what you paid for!

If you don’t want to do a tour and want to arrange everything for yourself, you can get tickets at the Angkor Archaeological Park which is close to Angkor Wat.

Passes are sold in one-day ($37), three-day ($62) and seven-day ($72) blocks that must be used on consecutive days. Photo taken on the spot with free of charge is required at time of purchase.

Visiting hours are 5:00AM – 6:00PM. Angkor Wat closes at 6:00PM

Always carry the pass with you.