How to Explore the Angkor Complex in Less than One Day

How to Explore the Angkor Complex in Less than One Day

Your essential guide to cramming in the best sights in the Angkor Archeological Park if your time is limited.

Hailed as the largest temple complex in the world, Angkor spans 400 square kilometres and is home to a number breathtaking structures that date to the old Khmer Empire, including Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and the Bayon Temple. If you are pressed for time or money, chances are you won’t be able to invest a whole week to explore every nook and corner of the site, as some tourists do.

However, it is possible to travel to Angkor in a single day and pack in visits to all the major attractions and then some. All you need is to do organise well and prepare for a long day ahead of you. To help you make the first steps, here are some basic tips for exploring Angkor if you are short on time or travelling on a budget.

Plan your ride in advance

Image credit: Clay Gilliland

Hiring a reliable driver who is knowledgeable about the area and willing to keep up with your accelerated tempo is the one thing you need to do before setting off to Cambodia’s most famous temple site. The visit can be done by car, but travelling by tuk-tuk is both cost-effective and authentic. A driver can be recommended by your hotel or host. Alternatively, you can do your research online or ask someone who had been to Angkor Wat before. Drivers are usually paid for the whole day. Set off as early in the morning as you can, so as to have enough time to wander around the site before the sun sets.

Where should you go?

As mentioned before, the site itself is huge, so you have to accept from the get go that you won’t be able to see every single temple. Fortunately, you can still experience Angkor’s greatest hits!

These include the complex’s central premise, embodied in a majestic 65-metres-tall monument that has since become the symbol of the country.

Next, there is Angkor Thom and Bayon, known for the sculptures of giant faces that decorate it.

Another intriguing site is Ta Prohm, most famous for being the filming location of Tomb Raider and for the sprawling tree that has over the years become an inseparable part of the man-made construction. Once you go through Angkor’s must-sees, you will have plenty of time to wander around smaller temples as you wish.

Set aside time to eat

Of course, you can’t go running around religious sites all day without stopping at some point to eat. Luckily, there is no shortage of eateries dotted around the complex to which you can ask your driver to take you. Use this opportunity to get a taste of Khmer cuisine if you haven’t done so already: lemongrass chicken, lime-marinated beef and fish amok are all excellent choices that will please your palate and boost your energy levels for the remainder of the day.

Don’t miss the sunset!

As much as you would like to cram in some more sightseeing, you will likely get tired as the day progresses, which is totally OK – after all, Angkor Wat is one of the perfect places to unwind and watch the sunset. One of the most popular spots to do so is at Phnom Bakheng, where many tourists come to experience the spectacular views of the landscape surrounding Angkor Wat. All you need to is pick up some drinks and snacks beforehand (all available at the foot of the hill), climb up, kick back and watch as the sun sets on one of the most fascinating places on the planet.

About Author

Ana B.
Ana B.

Ana is a writer and translator who is currently splitting time working and travelling between Europe and Asia. She enjoys mint-flavoured desserts, movies with subtitles and figuring out how different languages work.


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