Everything You Must Know Before Planning a Trip to The Ancient City of Angkor Wat in Cambodia

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Photo of Everything You Must Know Before Planning a Trip to The Ancient City of Angkor Wat in Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

We visited Siem Reap, Cambodia in January 2020, just before the outbreak of Covid-19 hit the whole world. And now you are probably wondering, "When will I get to travel again?" Right?

Well when restrictions are lifted in the future or whenever you feel is the right time, the tips below will help you explore this magical place! Also, good news, this will be a very budget friendly trip, because everything is super affordable in Cambodia!

Main Question - What does Siem Reap offer? Party, yes. History, yes. Culture, yes. What else do you want from a holiday?

In this article I will be highlighting the top 10 temples you must visit when you go to Siem Reap.

Trip Details:

1. Trip Duration: 5 Day Trip

2. Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia

3. Days Needed To Explore the 10 Temples mentioned below: 2-3 days (minimum no. of days required)

4. Angkor Wat Pass: We took the 3 Day Pass which gives you entry in all temples (available in USD, Cambodian Riel, Thai Bath, Euro). The entrance ticket can be paid in cash or credit card. Please note the Koh Ker temples need a different entry pass.

1-day pass – US$ 37

3-day pass – US$ 62

7-day pass – US$ 72

Scroll down to check out the top 10 temples:

1. Angkor Wat, Built in Early 12th Century

Time Needed To Explore: Minimum 1 day, or 2 to 3 days to explore properly

Angkor Wat in Khmer is known as – ‘Temple City’.

Angkor Wat temple is famous for it's sunrise, but no picture tells you the reality of thousands of people in the background waiting for their perfect shot!

We followed the tuk tuk driver's instructions - to get ready and come to the hotel lobby at 5:00 am, just so that we could beat the crowd and stand right ahead. Honestly, it can get annoying standing for hours there, while everyone wants to go ahead of you.

Angkor Wat Temple

Photo of Angkor Wat Temple, Street 30, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

Inside Angkor Wat

Photo of Angkor Wat Temple, Street 30, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

In the area of Angkor Wat

Photo of Angkor Wat Temple, Street 30, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

There are a lot of steep stairs to go all the way up!

Photo of Angkor Wat Temple, Street 30, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)
Photo of Angkor Wat Temple, Street 30, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

2. Bayon Temple, Built in Late 12th/Early 13th Century

Time Needed To Explore: 1 to 2 hours

The Bayon is a 'Khmer temple'.

No one can miss the big smiling face sculptures, which is indeed a striking feature of the Khmer architecture. And that's why it is one of the favourite temples of Siem Reap.

Sunset outside Bayon temple

Photo of Bayon Temple, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

A quite moment inside the Bayon temple

Photo of Bayon Temple, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

Monks entering the temple during the sunset for everyday rituals and prayers

Photo of Bayon Temple, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

The famous Bayon face

Photo of Ta Som, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

3. Ta Som, Built at the End of 12th Century

Time Needed To Explore: 30-45 mins

This is a very small temple built by the end of 12th century, known to be dedicated to the father of King Jayavarman VII, Dharanindravarman II. Locals say, the authorities have kept the roots intact to show the visitors, the actual state of the temples in which they were found.

Photo of Everything You Must Know Before Planning a Trip to The Ancient City of Angkor Wat in Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

4. Ta Prohm, Built in late 12th/Early 13th Century

Time Needed To Explore: 1 hour

Ta Prohm temple was originally known "royal monastery".

Each temple in Angkor was built for a specific purpose and had a certain crucial role, and that is why Angkor became such a huge complex. Picture it as a unique kind of untouched city, which had its own sacred rules.

5. Banteay Srei, Built in Early 9th Century

Time Needed To Explore: 45 mins-1 hour

This is one of my favourite temples! The unique deep brown shades of the stone and the carvings especially caught my attention.

Hanuman carvings depict the Hindu temples

Photo of Banteay Srei, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

6. The Baphuon, Built in Mid 11th Century

Time Needed To Explore: 1-2 hours

This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

The Baphuon temple is also known as 'temple-mountain', made from sandstone. When you look around, you will also see carvings indicating Hindu mythology and scenes from Ramayana.

The big complex of this temple

Photo of Baphuon, Angkor Archaelogical Park, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)
Photo of Baphuon, Angkor Archaelogical Park, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

7. Bakong Temple, Built at the End of 9th Century

Time Needed To Explore: 1-2 hours

The Bakong Temple is one of the first 'mountain temples', dedicated to Hindu God Shiva. It is a very big complex with lots of stairs! I would advice visiting this temple either early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the scorching heat.

Exploring temples in the sunny afternoon

Photo of Bakong Temples, Prasat Bakong, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

Climbing endless staircases

Photo of Bakong Temples, Prasat Bakong, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

8. Preah Khan, Built in 12th Century

Time Needed To Explore: 45mins-1 hour

The name of this temple, Preah Khan, translates to 'sacred sword'.

A Buddhist King Jayavarman VII built the Ta Prohm temple dedicating to his mother. Our tuk tuk driver told us that, this temple is dedicated to his father, and we couldn't wait to explore both!

Photo of Preah Khan Temple, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)
Photo of Preah Khan Temple, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)
Photo of Preah Khan Temple, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

9. Angkor Thom, Built at the End of 12th Century

Time Needed To Explore: 15 mins

The name Angkor Thom translates to - 'large city'.

It is a huge city, surrounded by 8 meter high walls.

Photo of Angkor Thom, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

A secret spot above the bridge

Photo of Angkor Thom, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)
Photo of Angkor Thom, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

Passing Angkor Thom from our Tuktuk

Photo of Angkor Thom, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

10. Pre-Rup, Built in 10th century

Time Needed To Explore: 1 hour

The name Pre-Rup means ‘turning the body’, referring to an ancient cremation rite.

Honestly, I found the area around this temple quite eerie! Although, the origins of this temple were unrelated to cremation ceremonies, they say in olden days, bodies used to be cremated here.

This is a very big temple which leads all the way unto three stories, showcasing a beautiful view of the city, surrounded by lush jungle.

Photo of Pre Rup, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Kadambari Bhatte (curlytravelmess)

In addition to the temple history, Cambodia has a lot of local art, great food, good service, a lot of cheap spas and friendly locals!

I truly hope you found helpful tips for your future trip to Siem Reap. Feel free to drop me a message, or ask any question in the comments below. You can also drop me a DM on Instagram for itineraries/tips.

Follow me on Instagram for more Travel Inspirations - @curlytravelmess.