One, Three or Seven Day Pass?
When I was itinerary planning, I was repeatedly reminded not to spend any less than three days in Angkor Wat. Being short on time and eager to see other places in Cambodia, I opted for one day in Angkor Wat. I am so glad I did this, as by the time we arrived the price for a one day pass had risen out of our budget, to $37! In one day, we happily saw a selection of sites – and if you start earlier than we did, you can see even more and go at your own pace. Seven days would be far too much to squeeze into most itineraries – especially as by 2pm we heard some people complaining they were “temple’d out”. Unless you really really love architecture, one or three days is enough. Three days is ideal to see a one or more sunsets, take it easy and see more sites at a leisurely pace. Also remember that if you buy the ticket before 5pm, that evening you can visit the site and it doesn’t count as one of your days!
Tour, Tuk Tuk or Bicycle?
For us, a tour wasn’t an option we looked into. Since we could do it ourselves, we did but there were some nice tour options advertised in the hotel which can take the stress out of planning.
Bicycle and even walking was an option as we were already pushing our budget by going. I am not a confident cyclist however, and the heat of the day and the distances between sites, as well as getting there made us glad we hadn’t cycled. Even for us, with our “even if it’s far to walk, we’ll get there eventually” attitude, this would have been too much.
We opted for a tuk tuk over an air conditioned taxi, just because they’re easier to find.
Which tuk tuk and where?
You hear a lot of horror stories about the tuk tuk drivers. “They’ll take you to buy the ticket, then charge you six times the original quoted price!” “You’ll come out of the temple and find he’s found other customers who’ll pay more!”
Naturally, we were nervous. We had heard it was better to book through the guesthouse than chance it on the street but we took the risk. We avoided persistent ones and found a driver who was chilling in his tuk tuk. He quoted us $18 which is a fair price to get the tickets and go around the whole day. He had a map of the two circuits, small and grand circuit, and usually for a few dollars more you can throw in more distant ones. Have a look at pictures of the sites to see what you want to see, and what’s realistic to see on the day.
As he was so good to us we threw him a few extra dollars in tip, but by finding drivers in the street you run more of a risk.
How Can You Avoid Crowds?
Timing. The sunrises will be busy, and the coach trips start around 8/9AM. We accidentally avoided most of the crowds by arriving at our first site, Angkor Wat, for 11AM. We caught up with them by the time we were in Ta Phrom, which was very busy. By sunset, the crowds pick up again
What Should I Bring?
It is exceedingly hot and sticky so prepare accordingly. Water is essential, but charged at inflated prices – most things are double price. Bring at least one 1.5 litre bottle per person, two if you’re doing a full day. For a shorter day, you may not need snacks, but there are plenty of supermarkets in Siem Reap
What Should I Wear?
Remember that it’s a sacred site. Cover your shoulders and knees as you would a temple. It’s very hot though, so choose light clothes and a hat to protect you from the strong sun. I wore flip flops and struggled no more than I usually would, but comfortable, sturdy shoes that have both a grip and breathability would be better.