The Ultimate One Day Angkor Wat Guide
Visiting the Angkor Archaeological Park is not just one of the top things to do in Cambodia but the whole of South East Asia. It is, after all, classed as the 7th wonder of the world. When visiting this Cambodian treasure, you can choose to buy either a 1, 3 or 7 day temple pass. Yet with the cost of a 1 day ticket now a pricey $38 dollars, a lot of budget travellers choose to just spend just the 1 day at there. So this one day Angkor Wat guide will focus on how to maximise a 1 day ticket at Angkor Wat including the best temples to visit, the order to visit them in and how to see both the sunrise and sunset over 2 days on just a 1 day ticket.
How is the best way to see the sunrise and sunset on a 1 day ticket?
Seeing the sunrise and sunset at Angkor Wat is something you don’t want to miss. And the best way to do this is to spread it out. So see the sunset on one day and the sunrise on another.
But surely I can just see them both on the same day I hear you ask?
Well after getting up at 4.30 am to catch the sunrise and then spending all morning temple hopping in the heat, by 2 pm I can guarantee you will be crying out for a cold beer and your hostel pool.
So how can you visit the park on 2 days if your ticket is only valid for 1? By going to see the sunset the evening before the day your ticket is valid and seeing the sunrise on the day it’s valid.
In order to do this, you will need to head to the ticket office for around 4.45 pm and buy a ticket for the next day. You won’t be able to buy a ticket for the next day if you go earlier. Once you’ve bought your ticket, continue on to the park and from around 5 pm that evening they will let you into the park for free. You can then head to one of the temples and watch the sunset. As well as seeing the sunset, by buying your ticket the day before means you can go straight to Angkor Wat the next morning for 5 am and get a good spot for sunrise. This is rather than having to queue up at the ticket office which also opens at 5 am and then rushing there afterwards.
Tips on hiring a tuk-tuk driver
Angkor Archaeological Park is huge so you’ll need to hire a tuk-tuk driver to drive you around for the day. But be warned there are a lot of scams surrounding tuk-tuk drivers and Angkor Wat. Therefore the best thing to do is the hire a driver through your accommodation as they tend to be more reliable.
The cost of hiring a tuk-tuk driver for the day is between $16 – $20, we paid $18 which we thought was fair.
Which temples should I visit?
You can visit temples in whichever order you wish. We visited the following temples in the following order and found it worked really well for us.
Phnom Bakheng at sunset
Phnom Bakheng is a 9th-century Buddhist and Hindu temple famous for its sunset view. Therefore this is the one I would recommend to head to the evening before. It’s set on a hill and is about a 15-minute walk away from the road so make sure to make time for this. There are several gorgeous viewpoints along the way, but carry on up to the temple, as the view there surpasses any others. As with many of the temples, only a certain number of people are allowed on Phnom Bakheng at one point, so expect to have a queue for a little bit, especially around golden hour.
Angkor Wat at sunrise
Angkor Wat doesn’t really need much of an introduction, and going there for sunrise the next day is a must.
There is something very special about getting to the gates at 5 am and walking in the complete darkness through the temple grounds with just torches (even if they’re from smart phones) to guide you.
Once you’re inside the temple complex, head towards one of the ponds and wait for that famous sunrise. If you want to get really good photos make sure to stand towards the left of the left pond or right of the right pond and you will be able to see all five of the temple spires really well. We only realised this later on in the day!
After the sun has risen, make sure to actually explore the temple itself too! There’s plenty of avenues, towers and levels to discover within the complex – all of them beautifully detailed. You can climb up to the highest tower in the temple from 6.30 am which offers a fantastic view across the park.
Angkor Thom & Bayon
Bayon is my favourite temple by far. It’s rich yet weathered detailing is really spectacular to see.
It’s set in the crumbling ruins of the ancient city of Angkor Thom. And you know it’s going to be epic as soon as you pass the complex gates which are lined with the most impressive sculptures. Yet inside it’s even more spectacular. With over 50 towers and over 400 faces sculpted into the stone amongst other symbols and motifs.
A little further down, there’s another area of ruins called the Temple of Elephants, which is also very interesting to see. There’s a walkway here that takes you through a maze-like structure home to the most beautiful wall carvings.
Also known as the Tomb Raider temple, thanks to its appearance in the famous film, Ta Phrom is where nature and ruins still meet. Unlike most the temples in the park now, much of Ta Phrom remains warped and intertwined with magnificent trees and roots that have grown over hundreds of years. And as it’s been left mostly untouched by archaeologists, when you explore, you get a true insight into what the very first explorers of the site must have found, making it a must see on your tour.
There are many more temples to see in the Angkor Archaeological Park. But the 4 above are some of the main ones though and the last 3 will take you around 7-8 hours to see alone.
Hopefully my guide has given you some tips on how to best spend your day at Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples, plus make the most out of your 1 day ticket. Have you visited any temples at the park other than the above? Let me know in the comments!
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