How to choose temples to visit in Cambodia
Ta Prohm inside
Cambodia’s Siem Reap province has more temple ruins than we thought, it was certainly not easy for us to pick out of such numerous choices. We were interested in knowing historical facts and didn’t want to miss the best ones. So, we gave it time to thoroughly read about all, browsing pictures on the web, then dropped some emails to various tour organizers for advice.
Aspects to consider
The aspects that inspired our choice were; temples with noteworthy carvings, related historical findings, facts and stories, travel time between temples and hours required to explore each temple, similarities or unique facets, how much is there to really see?
Timings are really important
Bantey Srei, Cambodia
The below temples look stunning at specific time of the day:
- Bantey Srei : Sunrise or around 4pm
- Kbal Spean: Early morning or at noon
- Angkor Wat: Sunrise or sunset
- Ta Prohm: Early morning
- Koh Ker: Late afternoon
- Bayon: Early morning
How many temples can be visited in a day?
On an average 5-6 temples in a day are possible if you start your day early in the morning. We recommend an entire day at Angkor and surrounding temples as the premises is really vast and distance between temples is big.
Buying appropriate pass
We recommend to go for at least a 3-day pass as this can be used to visit any 3 days in a week’s time. Also, if you are in Siem reap for longer and wish to visit more temples then go for a 7-day pass.
The passes available currently are:
- 1-day pass – US$ 37;
- 3-day pass – US$ 62;
- 7-day pass – US$ 72;
- The pass/ticket to the Angkor World Heritage listed area (Angkor wat and surrounding temples) includes entry to all temples and other related sites within that area and also to some outlying/more distant sites such as Bantey Srei and Kbal Spean.
- The pass does not include Beng Mealea (USD 5), Koh Ker (USD 10) or access to Phnom Kulen, which are well outside the archaeological park.
- We bought a 3-day pass on the very first day early in the morning, the ticketing booth opens around 7 am, we never saw any crowd that time. They took our picture and printed on the ticket.
Do we need both guide and driver?
Most temples in Cambodia have a huge premise to walk around and sightsee. If you hire a car, the driver will drop you at the entrance of each temple as they are not allowed inside. A lot of people prefer tour guide to show them around, tell them stories and historical facts, some prefer to read books and explore temples at their own pace.
We preferred exploring the premises on our own without a guide since we wanted more flexibility and time. It is very common that you will be approached by local guides inside the temples who offer to click pictures and become your guide before you realize it, they later ask for payment.
We recommend hiring an Air-con car with driver if you are visiting multiple temples in a day as it is better to cope with long distances in hot weather. Getting in a car is a relief after extensive walks inside temples.
Some tourists prefer tuk-tuk for visiting temples, however it might get exhausting as due to heat riding on one.
Who we hired?
We are glad to share contact details of driver we hired for 2-day temple tour in Siem Reap. Mr. Sok Phat was the contact person for all our communication and Mr. Leng (speaks good English) was our driver. They were both cooperative with our questions and we felt comfortable during the trip. We enjoyed our little informative dialogues with Mr. Leng about Cambodia during our journey.
Contact: Mr. Leng Pisal: firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional information you might need
- The costs for driver and tour guide are separate. Whatever your tour cost is, if you need a personal guide they might charge you around USD 50-75 depending on requirements.
- Many hotels help arrange a tuk-tuk for visiting temples at a cost of USD 2-5 per way, sometimes USD 25-50 for entire day. This option works well if you are visiting one temple in a day, or a nearby floating village. It is not suitable during hot weather and for multiple temples in a day. We recommend hiring a car and driver for better comfort.
Attire for temples
Appropriate attire for visiting temples is, covering knees and shoulders. We simply wore full sleeve cotton t-shirts/tops with long lowers and preferred soft colors to prevent the heat. A hat or cap is a must, do wear a lot of sunscreen and mosquito repellent there are lots of trees around. Most of the area has rough, muddy, uneven spaces so we recommend sports/hike shoes for longer walks.
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