Visit the Temples at Angkor Wat

There’s me, pretending to steal the tuk tuk …

The temple complex at Angkor Wat can be overwhelming. There are 12 sites to visit and depending on the season and time of day, they can be overrun with tour groups.

In a pinch, you can see most of the temples in 2 days, though you’ll discover enough to fill an entire week! Read my tips for avoiding stress and getting the most out of your visit.

1. I recommend hiring a personal tuk tuk driver. This lets you customize your route, plan breaks, and of course play with monkeys on the side of the road. Also, it’s fun to whiz around in the open air, and you’ll appreciate the cool breeze.

2. While I did not hire a personal guide, I most definitely would if I were to do this trip again. Instead, I relied on guide books for my historical and cultural information about the temples, which was fine. But a personal guide (for at least one day) would have offered local insight in these spiritual places.

3. For 2 days of temple storming, start with more remote sights and work up to the more grand. This prevents you from seeing the fantastic right away and then risking boredom with the others. In other words, save sunrise at Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Bayon for Day 2.

4. Don’t try to see too much at once and get burned out. Do you really need to poke around every inch of every far removed ancient temple in the jungle?

5.  Be prepared to be assaulted by roaming bands of children selling bracelets, water, books, and souvenirs. A polite but firm NO should do the trick. Just don’t suggest you might buy something later because they will hunt you down and find you. Trust me on this one…

6. It’s hot and crowded, so be sure to carry a hat, sunscreen, and good shoes.

7. There is so much excellent advice out there for how to enjoy these temples. But what about after a hot day of playing Indiana Jones? My recommendation is to drink a fresh banana shake from the Blue Pumpkin Cafe. I still fantasize about this drink, and I don’t even like bananas…

Have you ever been to Angkor Wat? What’s your advice for preventing temple fatigue?

How do you treat yourself after a long hot day of touring?

8 thoughts on “Visit the Temples at Angkor Wat

  1. i like the part where you said it “start with more remote sights and work up to the more grand.” i do that all the time so that i can appreciate the great and grand as well as the less grand

    • maryrichardson

      Dear Mukuba,
      I think it’s a good approach to visiting other destinations too. Often we start with the big hitters and then wear ourselves out fast! I guess if there’s limited time, then you have to. But on my upcoming trip to Australia, I’m going to do the far out of the way places first and then gradually work my way to the big attractions.

    • maryrichardson

      Dear Rachel,
      I hope you make it soon. It was one of those places that I didn’t know too much about, but I was so amazed by the sights, culture, and locals there!

  2. A banana shake really does the job!!
    But indeed, don’t try to see it all. Pick a couple of places that impress you and hang around..sure you will be surprised by (local) people and their habits because that’s part of discovering the place too!

    • maryrichardson

      Dear Emiel,
      Are you a fan of banana shakes too? I never knew they could be so good. I like what you said about just hanging around. The locals are so friendly and there’s a great chance of meeting someone really interesting. Oh and yes, jump of course!

  3. I went to Angkor Wat several years ago and it still is one of the most interesting places I’ve been. You’re bringing back some good memories for me. I worked my way with remote sites first before going to the main attractions. I agree that its a good way to see everything. I didn’t try the bananna shakes when I was there, but I had them all the time when I was in Nicaragua. They taste so good after a long hot day.

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