The temple complex at Angkor Wat, top Cambodia attraction

Angkor Wat - Best Tours & Trips

The world’s largest religious complex, Cambodia's Angkor Wat (which means “City of Temples”) covers some 400 square miles. At one time, 750,000 people were said to live on the site, but it’s been abandoned for centuries. It was built by a Khmer king in the 12th century as a Hindu temple, and later served as a Buddhist shrine and place of pilgrimage. Its remarkable stone structures -- with spires reaching heavenward and walls lined with bas-reliefs and other artworks -- lie amid the forests near the Cambodian city of Siem Reap.

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Top Angkor Wat Experiences and Attractions


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Top Angkor Wat Attractions

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Angkor Wat Trip Reviews


416
Angkor Wat Tour Reviews - Summary
99% Recommend

4.7 out of 5
Excellent 308 Great 99 Average 7 Disappointing 1 Terrible 1
Value
4.7 Guide
4.7 Activities
4.7 Lodging
4.7 Transportation
4.7 Meals
4.7

A

Recommends

Well organised, with excellent guides October 2018

4.0

Classic Vietnam & Angkor

  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0
The trip was efficiently organised and the guides - especially Trung - did
all they could to make the tour a well-informed and smoothly-run experience.
The hotels were comfortable and a couple were positively luxurious, though
taxis in the evening in Hoi An were difficult to obtain. We were not overly
impressed with Saigon and would have preferred, instead, to have spent more
time in Hoi An or Can Tho. Cambodia was wonderful..
The temples in Cambodia. We visited five and Ta Prohm - still covered in
vegetation - was mind-blowing, even before we arrived at Angkor Wat. Visits
do not always live up to expectations but dawn over Angkor Wat was everything
we could have hoped for and more.


Excellent. Trung went far beyond what could be reasonably expected. He was
full of energy, well informed and quickly established a warm relationship
with the group. He certainly earned his crust.


Bring dollars. Essential in Cambodia and welcome in Vietnam, where they are
easy to exchange for local currency in hotels. Bring plenty of changes of
light clothing; it can get very muggy. Our guide organised a group kitty for
tips, which made life easier for all.


Halong Bay is beautiful but is clearly suffering from the high number of
visitors.


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Operator Exodus Travels

A

Recommends

An excellent adventure October 2018

4.0

Classic Vietnam & Angkor

  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0
My husband and I enjoyed the whole trip. We were with a group of 16 and we
all got on fabulously. The Vietnamese people are very resilient and hard
working.
This trip is well suited for active seniors and it does have a lot of free
time if you want to explore on your own .
The War remnants museum is a very sombre experience but it teaches you a lot
about the whole war experience from the Vietnamese point of view . Ha Long
Bay is a must see but be prepared for the plastic garbage floating around.
The cave system was something else. Hoi An was my favourite place to
stay....it is a smaller town but lots to see and buy! We did a cooking class
here which was a lot of fun.


Cong was our guide in Vietnam. He was very amiable and very
knowledgeable...he kept us on track and went at our leisurely pace. He
recommended where to eat and except for 1 meal in HCMC , all food was good.
He took good care of us especially when crossing the very congested roads!
Our guide in Cambodia , can't remember his name, was also very knowledgeable
and obviously loves his job.


Don't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone when eating and drinking.


Hotel we stayed in in the Mekong Delta, can't remember the name, accused one
of our group of stealing a towel...make sure you count the towels when you
enter the room! ... Fortunately, the towel was miscounted by the staff, but
it wasnt fair for our fellow traveller to be accused. Cong was with her all
the time while this was sorted!


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Operator Exodus Travels

A

Recommends

Broad sweep through Vietnam ending in the highlight of Angkor Wat October 2018

5.0

Classic Vietnam & Angkor

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Broad introduction to Vietnam with extension to Angkor, which was perfect
climax to trip.
Angkor Wat lives up to the hype though it can get over-run with large groups
who only seem interested in taking selfies with the temples as a backdrop.
However, it is easy to find quieter temples. Siem Reip caters to the western
traveller, but has a fine selection of bars and restaurants.


Katie in Vietnam was charm personified. I think we all appreciated her
concern for each and every member of the group. She was young, but her
youthful enthusiasm carried us all along. I think the tour would have
benefitted from wider use of local professional guides ie in Hoi An and Ho
Chi Minh to really bring the cultural and political context alive.
Jonny in Cambodia was excellent. Amusing, personable and nothing was too much
trouble. He was pretty good on the temples too. He had a knack of finding us
the quietest corners for viewing and the best places for photos.


I was dreading the early starts and the last half post-Hoi An can seem
relentless. However, I quickly followed the local pattern of rising with the
sun and breakfasting at 6am and this made the whole experience much more
enjoyable.
The group was varied, but eveyone rubbed along together very well so no fears
here.
Do read up on both countries before leaving as there is just too much to see
and take in en route.


Hotels were good and hotel staff invariably amazing and helpful to a fault.
Food was excellent and there were really good Western options almost
everywhere for those tiring of pho and spring rolls.
Some of the sites in Vietnam can feel like a tourist sausage factory and we
seemed to do more or less what every other tour party did in Vietnam. I
expect that this is what the Vietnamese government wants tourists to
do-perhaps the trip would be better with a few more off piste things? The
cruise is really just a chug for an hour and then settling down for the night
with around 50 other similar vessels before chugging back in the
morning.However, food on board was excellent.
Flights to Vietnam can involve long layovers in Hong Kong etc, including the
group flight in Kuala Lumpur. I would urge people to consider the direct
flights with Vietnam Airways which, apparently, were very good.


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Operator Exodus Travels

A

Recommends

Leisurely Vietnam adventure October 2018

5.0

Classic Vietnam & Angkor

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Excellent trip. Well organized and interesting. Good quality accommodations.
Many good moments. Hard to select one.


Nhi Pham in Vietnam was excellent. I nominated her for leader award.
Leader in Cambodia was very knowledgeable, but not very experienced in
interpersonal skills.


Recommend the trip for educational and general informative content.
Except for short Angkor leg, it was also not very exhausting.


It would be better if Angkor leg was less intense and maybe could take longer
to accommodate higher temperatures.


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Operator Exodus Travels

A

Recommends

Classic Vietnam & Angklor-- a tremendous travel experience! October 2018

5.0

Classic Vietnam & Angkor

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Traveling with Exodus was indeed a tremendous experience and far surpassed
any group travel I have previously encountered. Hotels selected were of very
high quality with excellent locations, allowing for easy access during free
time to various opportunities. Activities scheduled were both educational
and enjoyable, reflective of meaningful experiences in the history of each
country visited. The tour was perfectly paced for active seniors, with enough
activity without being overload, interspersing in enough free time to add in
those activities which we might wish to choose for our personal enjoyment.
Most importantly, the other 14 members in our group were totally enjoyable,
warm & friendly, thereby creating an unanticipated group experience for
sharing in these foreign turfs. Excellent tour which is highly recommended
for anyone with an interest in both history and culture in the countries of
both Vietnam & Cambodia
There were many inspirational moments in our trip but if one need be selected
perhaps it might be our visit to Halong Bay, where we stayed overnight on a
boat while cruising among the islands. Visits to Mekong Delta as well our
kayaking experience were also very special experiences, as well as the visit
to Hoi An, a lovely town in central Vietnam where we were able to mingle more
with the local culture. The most emotionally challenging experience of the
trip was a visit to the Vietnam War Museum wherein via photos of effects of
Agent Orange, we were exposed to the tremendous devastation which the USA
inflicted upon these countries. The trip was both experiential on multiple
levels and allowed one to pursue history and culture to whatever degree
chosen.


Our group leader, Nye, in Vietnam was beyond excellent. Her knowledge and
presentation of information in both a casual yet educational manner was
tremendous. Her capacity to keep organization in a group of 16 people while
retaining a warm & cooperative spirit greatly encouraged a group experience
and enable the schedule to run in an organized manner. Her flexibility to
allow for individual deviation when desired as well as her capacity to show
personal interest in each group member's activities was remarkable & would
inspire me to nominate her as a best group leader ever experienced on a tour.

Our group leader in Cambodia was also very knowledgable and presented
educational material beyond expectations on Angkor. His presentation was less
personally influenced and casual than our previous leader and somewhat more
difficult to focus upon due to his tendency to present infinite tangential
information. The heat in Cambodia also exacerbated the difficulty of this
part of the tour, which may also reflect a wish for less detail in this
experience.


I would highly recommend Exodus travel after researching numerous companies
as an excellent tour company and suggest this tour for anyone with interest
in these countries from an educational and cultural perspective. We chose
February as the month least prone to monsoons and weather was quite
accommodating during our Vietnam portion of the trip. Heat is Cambodia was
more than anticipated and did have some effect on our willingness to explore
further on our second day, but fortunately, the group was in consensus
regarding this concept.


While not a major problem, due to the high quality of all other hotels, we
were slightly less than satisfied with our hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, the
Millennium Boutique Hotel, which was not only a considerably smaller space
than the others, but also had a cooler which did not cool, a necessity for
keeping cool water, and was less effective in maintaining toiletries in the
bath area unless requested. Staff in the hotel was very cooperative so it was
not unsatisfactory, simply less pleasant than other places we stayed,
especially after such an excellent stay in Hoi An.


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Operator Exodus Travels

Angkor Wat Tours and Travel Guide


Angkor Wat Attractions & Landmarks Guide

The world’s largest religious complex, Cambodia's Angkor Wat (which means “City of Temples”) covers some 500 acres. At one time, 750,000 people were said to live on the site, but it’s been abandoned for centuries.

It was built by a Khmer king in the 12th century as a Hindu temple, and later served as a Buddhist shrine and place of pilgrimage. Its remarkable stone structures -- with spires reaching heavenward and walls lined with bas-reliefs and other artworks -- lie amid the forests near the Cambodian city of Siem Reap.

Visiting Angkor Wat is a top itinerary item for tours to Cambodia, but be prepared for a lot of crowds.

A common misnomer is that Angkor Wat and Angkor are the same thing, when in fact Angkor Wat is just one temple in the enormous ruin city, and UNESCO World Heritage Site, city of Angkor.

Countless temples are strewn throughout the temple complex, and even with several days to spend exploring, it's impossible to see them all. Below we’ve compiled a selection of some of the unmissable temples. You could reasonably see these, plus the crown jewel of Angkor Wat itself, in two days, but if you’re one to prefer taking your time to explore and especially if you enjoy travel photography, you definitely will want more time than that.

The Main Temple of Angkor Wat

The most famous of the Angkor temples, and the one after whom the temple complex is named, Angkor Wat is instantly recognizable. But pictures will not do the temple justice, and the sight of the gigantic towers and sprawling grounds are far more impressive in person. It's worth the effort to make it to the temple by sunrise, to watch the sky change color above the imposing towers. Or better yet, take a ride in a hot air balloon to take in the view from the air.

Built between the years 1130 - 1150, the temple of Angkor Wat is the most famous and well known perhaps because it is still in use today. A Hindu temple designed to represent the home on earth of the gods, its massive scale is truly impressive.

Most historians agree that the temple was used both as a tomb and temple, a fact supported by its western facing carvings and doors, and the bas-reliefs were designed to read in a counterclockwise direction.

To protect this magnificent site, be respectful of areas that are off limits, dress appropriately, and take your time. The many gorgeous carvings along the walls reveal epic stories, myths, and describe a people close to their religion and extremely devoted. Breezing through to check the site off your bucket list will ultimately leave you disappointed and rushed - this is a site which begs to be examined and appreciated for all its historical significance and beauty.

How to Get to Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is actually the large main temple within the ancient city of Angkor, which is what you’ll actually spend more time exploring during your visit. These fascinating ruins became an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, though despite valiant and ongoing efforts to keep them in as good shape as possible, a continuously growing influx of tourists have made protection an enormous challenge.

Tours to Angkor Wat typically leave from Siem Reap, which is about a 20 minute drive away.  There are several ways you can arrange to see the site, including renting a car, renting a bike or motorized scooter, or going by hired tuk-tuk. Walking is not recommended, only because the heat can be intense, and you’ll be walking by multiple moving vehicles going at different speeds, and some places have very little sidewalk.

Renting a car can provide a nice breather between temples as you enjoy a reprieve in the air conditioning. But if you can stand the heat, the cheaper options are nicer as you have less crowds to deal with as you try to park.

There are 3 different passes you can decide between, once you arrive at Angkor. A Day Pass, A Three Day Pass, and a Week Long Pass. (The US dollar is widely accepted throughout Cambodia).

Forget any illusions you may have about Angkor Wat being empty and devoid of other people. It will definitely be full of other tourists exploring the ruins. Even the much lauded sunrise tour, to be among the first to get to the site, is a deceivingly busy activity. Though you may elect for this opportunity, you won’t necessarily be getting to the site when “no one else is there” which is how some tours sell this experience.

What to Wear for Angkor Wat

To visit the temples of Angkor, appropriate and respectful attire is expected. This includes long pants covering the knee, and covered shoulders. There are guards at each temple entrance (they will require you to show your pass, so they can add a punch to it) and they have been known to refuse entry for improper attire.

One major thing to keep in mind is the heat - particularly considering that you will be wearing conservative attire. Given this, try to find clothing that breathes easily, and doesn’t cling. Avoid cotton and other materials that are absorbent and thick.

High humidity is uncomfortable no matter what so anything you can do to minimize feeling icky is helpful - remember, you’ll be outside for the vast majority of your Angkor Wat tour. Make sure you bring a lot of water, and wear comfortable walking shoes. Exploring Angkor requires extensive, very steep stairs, so you’ll want good shoes, ideally with ankle support.   

Cambodia remains fairly warm throughout the year, however there are some differences in wet vs dry seasons. The humidity is the highest during the hot and rainy season, between June and August. This is going to be quite uncomfortable for traveling, especially if you’re not use to humidity. It also coincides with summer in the northern hemisphere, which is one of the busiest travel times of the year, so the crowds will be heavy.

March through May is also quite warm, coming off of the cool season. Temperatures range in the 70s and 80s F, with high, but mostly bearable humidity.

The ideal travel months in terms of weather in Cambodia are November through February. This is the dry season, and you’ll also experience fewer crowds. During this time, temperatures average between high 60s and 70s F, with less humidity.

Temperatures are also cooler between September and November, and it is less humid, but it will most likely be wet and rainy.

Photography Tips for Angkor Wat

The spires, steps, carvings, and countless pathways at Angkor Wat create unbelievable compositions for stunning photographs. Photography enthusiasts, amatuer through to professional will always find something new to capture through the lens at Angkor Wat.

Here are some top tips for getting the best photos out of your Angkor Wat visit:

1. Bring multiple lenses - Angkor is one of those rare destinations that offers incredible variety for the type of photography you want to do. A telephoto lens will help you get up close with the many wall carvings and intricate designs within the temples. While a wide angle will be ideal for capturing the depth and scope of the temples and city.

2. Go on a photography tour - Especially for enthusiastic amateurs looking to bring their photographs to the next level, a photography tour is the perfect avenue to learn. Not only will you be able to visit incredible sights, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from a professional. And in a place like Angkor, where there are so many small walkways, multiple temples, and multiple views, your guide will know all the best places for photographs, including those that are “hidden.”

3. Lens cloth - in humid weather, like that you will experience in Cambodia, lens fogging is common. While this can create an interesting effect, it may not be the one you intend. Bring your camera out of it’s protective bag a good few minutes before you plan to shoot, and have a lens cloth handy throughout the day.

4. Comfortable neck/shoulder strap - Angkor Wat is full of incredible photo opps, and you will quickly get exhausted with pulling your camera out every 5 seconds. It is also typically very humid, and your generic camera strap may get itchy and uncomfortable in the heat. Fashion yourself a personalized lens strap with any kind of durable, soft, water resistant material to help with the burden of carrying your camera all day long.

5. Filters - Especially if you elect to do the popular sunrise tour at Angkor Wat, consider a filter to help display the subtle color and lighting of the sky as effectively as possible.

6. Practice shooting in shadow. Angkor provides a lot of wonderful opportunities for dramatic contrasts and sharp light shafts. Get to know your camera’s manual settings, and possibly practice with an external flash. You won’t want a strong flash, but one used with a diffuser might help bring out details in your shadowy photographs.

7. Bring a monopod - You will be walking around a lot in the hot sun, and a tripod will get cumbersome. And you don’t really need one for Angkor, as you’ll find many places to place your camera to keep it steady, or use a monopod. You’ll definitely want this option for shooting extended exposures in low light, but for the most part, it should suffice rather than a bulky and heavy tripod.

8. There will be people around. Embrace the fact that there will be a lot of crowds. You can pretty easily manage to get some pictures without people that are tight in portrait style, but your wide shots will almost certainly have people in them.

Angkor’s Other Temples

Angkor Wat is the most famous of the Angkor temples, and the one most people initially visit to see. However upon arriving, it may quickly become apparent that there’s so much else to see, and that Angkor is far more expansive than often thought by first time travelers.

Bayon Temple

The massive stone faces that adorn Bayon temple set it apart from the many temples of Angkor. Take your time exploring the different levels, as there are 214 of these faces to be found. Bayon was built in approximately 1190 AD, a Buddhist temple which incorporates Hindu elements as well.

Take your time as you explore the outer wall of this temples first level. Unique and intricately detailed carvings depict everyday life for the people of the time. As you continue through in a clockwise direction you’ll pass more panels depicting various tasks, important events (such as soldiers going or returning from war), and customs. Certain details seem much unchanged to the way provincial Cambodians live today.

Ta Prohm Temple

Ta Prohm, with its crumbling walls and jungle setting, gives visitors the sense that they have stumbled upon the ruins of a lost city. Gigantic trees entangle themselves among the rocks, and visitors can enjoy exploring and clambering over the massive roots. Some of the best photo opportunities can be found here, as the endlessly fascinating and foreboding theme of nature overcoming man made structures to reclaim the land once again is prevalent. This is also the famous “Tomb Raider Temple” as a famous shot from the entertaining franchise featuring Angelina Jolie took place here.

Built in 1186, Ta Prohm is one of the only Angkor temples to provide inscriptions within the stone walls that give an indication of why it was built, and a record of its inhabitants. It was built in dedication to the mother of Jayavarman VII.

Preah Khan Temple

Ta Prohm can become crowded quickly as it is the more well known of the overgrown temples to see. Preah Khan provides a wonderful alternative where fewer tourists venture. In a similar overgrown style to Ta Prohm, visitors can often enjoy having Preah Khan to themselves and feeling like a true explorer.

This temple, the name of which means “sacred sword” most likely served as the temporary residence of Jayavarman VII while his bigger home was in the process of being built.

Preah Khan was dedicated to over 500 divinites and hosted no less than 18 festivals during the year. While it was active, thousands of people lived and worked here to help maintain the space, as it saw so much buzz and activity.

Prasat Kravan Temple

Though on the smaller end of the Angkor temples, Prasat Kravan packs a punch. Especially when it comes to the beautiful and intricate stone carvings on the walls of its interior. This is a Hindu temple, built in the year 921, unique for the fact that it was not built by or for royalty at the time. It is set apart from the main complex, but it you have extra time during your Angkor exploration, dedicate it to Prasat Kravan.

Phnom Bakheng Temple

Built on a hilltop overlooking the temple complex, Phnom Bakheng is an ideal location from which to watch the sunset. Though make sure you allow enough time to get there early - 4pm is a good bet - as only 300 people are allowed up to the main sunset viewing area at one time. This is strictly enforced for safety as well as preservation. The sunset from this vantage point is well worth it however, so try to calculate it into your Angkor tour.

This was the first temple-mountain built in Angkor, for the ruler  Yasovarman I. It has five tiers and seven levels, representing the seven Hindu heavens.

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