Angkor Wat: how to avoid the crowds

Angkor Wat… The impressive temples are the biggest highlight of Cambodia. It can be very difficult to take photos, without a big group of Chinese tourists in bright coloured aerobic outfits in the background. With the help of a great guide and a lot of googling, I managed to avoid the crowds as much as possible! You may have seen some of my photos on my Instagram already!
The area around Angkor Wat is huge and there are hundreds of temples you can visit. Don’t rush your visit! I liked the 3 days I had for the highlights. 2 days are simply not enough. There is a small circuit and a big circuit, that include the most important temples. Because of the heat, it is important that you take your time. I even went back to my hotel, Cambana d’Angkor Suites, for a break, lunch & a swim!

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Angkor Wat avoid the crowdsAngkor Wat avoid the crowdsAngkor Wat avoid the crowdsOn the first 2 photos: Bayon temple. On the last photo: Ta Prohm temple | Avoid the Crowds

Tip: arrange a tuk tuk driver for 3 days and a guide for 2 days at your hotel. You can explore the area by bike too, but because of the heat and the long distances, I wouldn’t recommend it. A guide is a great investment! You only visit this beautiful, historic site once and the background information brings Angkor Wat & the temples to life.

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Clothing: wear something appropriate for a sacred sight and cover your shoulders. This will also protect you from the burning sun. Bring a hat and wear shoes that will help you climb the steps of the beautiful temples! These can be slippery.

Day 1: buy your entree ticket, so you don’t have to do that the next morning, BEFORE the sunrise, trust me: you don’t want that. Find a nice spot for the sunset. I liked the South Gate of Angkor Thom. Explore the area a little bit in the tuk tuk and have your first glance at the temples.

Angkor Wat avoid the crowdsAngkor WatAngkor Wat avoid the crowdsAngkor WatOn the second photo: one of the gates to the temples of Angkor Wat | Avoid the crowds

Day 2: sunrise! Don’t leave your hotel later than 05:00 (AAH!) to be on time. Ask your hotel the night before, if they can prepare a take away breakfast for you. Bring mosquito spray & a flashlight. Sunrise at Angkor Wat is a huge event and attracts a looot of tourists. To avoid getting lost in all the selfie sticks, don’t walk all the way to the main lake, but take a right! There is another lake, just to the right of the big lake, that has the same, amazing view, as you can see in my photo below, but is a lot less crowded! Don’t tell anyone…:-)

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Day 2: after the sunrise spectacle, most tourists return to their hotels for breakfast. Not you! This is THE time to visit Angkor Wat! This temple is always busy, even during these early hours of the day, but it is your best option. Another benefit of visiting Angkor Wat at this time, is that it is not so hot yet and you’re still feeling fresh. Big plus for the photos…
After your visit, which will take about 2 hours, you can go back to the hotel for lunch, airco & a swim. You can take a powernap, before jumping back into the tuk tuk for round 2 of the day.

Angkor WatAngkor Wat avoid the crowds

 

On the second photo: Ta Prohm temple | Angkor Wat: Avoid the Crowds | Highlights

Day 2: l leave the hotel at 2.30 pm to visit Angkor Thom. Most tourists visit Angkor Wat in the morning, after breakfast & Angkor Thom immediately after that. So around this time the early birds are tired and will return to their hotels. Time to strike! We had the impressive Bayon Temple, one of my favorites, almost to ourselves! Wow! After this visit, we move on to Ta Keo temple and the Elephants Terrace, where they used to train elephants. After defying these amazing sites, it is time to return to the hotel, to enjoy a well deserved, cold glass of wine, airco & a refreshing shower.

Angkor Wat avoid the crowdsThe best spot for sunrise | Temples | Highlights

Day 3: leave the hotel around 06:15 in the morning. You can eat your breakfast in the tuk tuk if you are not such a fan of an early start. This will be a long & special day. Today we visit the big circuit and we’ll start at Ta Prohm, Tomb Raider’s temple. This temple is ALWAYS busy! Most tourists visit this site right after visiting Angkor Thom, the day before. So it is much smarter to start the day here! This way you can still channel your inner Lara Croft, without hawking Chinese tourists interrupting your daydream…

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Today we also visit Banteya Kdei, Ta Som, Neak Pean & Preah Khan. Keep in mind that some of these temples have little shade. Temperatures can go over 40 degrees in the afternoon and there are a lot of steps to climb to visit the temples. Bring enough water, sunscreen, a towel & snacks. You can ask your tuk tuk driver to store your water in the tuk tuk, so you don’t have to carry it everywhere with you.

Angkor Wat avoid the crowdsAngkor Wat avoid the crowds

Tip: book a comfortable hotel with airconditioning & a pool. It is hot & humid in Siem Reap and after a long day of climbing, you will want a cool & relaxed place to unwind. I stayed at the beautiful Cambana D’Angkor Suites, that felt like home. Invest in a good hotel!

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Cambana D’Angkor Suites, Siem Reap hotels | Angkor Wat: Avoid the Crowds

Extra tip: you will see and hear musicians at the temples. They are all victims of landmines, who cannot work anymore because of their indjuries. You can help them a lot with a small donation!

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Costs:
Tuk tuk & guide: a tuk tuk driver will cost you about $18 a day and a guide will cost $25 a day. They charge $5 extra for the sunrise.
Entrance fee: the entree to Angkor Wat is $20 for 1 day, $40 for three days and $60 for a week. Personally, I think 3 days are enough. There is so much to see, but after these 3 days, I was a little ‘temple tired’…
You can buy food & drinks close to almost every temple, but always bring some snacks with you!
Dollars are accepted everywhere in this area and in most places in Cambodia.
Clothing: dress appropriately. Angkor Wat is a sacred place and a place of pilgrimage, so cover your shoulders and legs. It is very disturbing to see so many tourists wearing crop tops… We’re all hot & sweaty, but please be respectful.

I have never visited temples like this before and I was deeply impressed by Angkor Wat. I hope these tips will help you out! All the photos in this post were taken by me or my guide, mr. Sen. Enjoy your Angkor Wat adventure!

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Click HERE to read all about another bucket list destination: Halong Bay, Vietnam.