Angkor Wat situated just outside of Siem Reap has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on the countries national flag, and has been UNESCO listed as a world heritage site since 1992.Because of the Khmer Rouge presence nearby throughout the 90's visitor numbers were limited to only a few thousand people a year; millions now visit the Kingdom annually.
Ancient Khmer Empire
Angkor Wat was the centerpiece of the ancient Khmer Empire, built in honor of the Hindu god Vishnu in the early 12th century, before gradually transforming into a Buddhist shrine since the adoption of Buddhism by the Khmer people. The biggest temple to be built by the Khmer, over 900 years after construction Angkor Wat remains the largest religious complex in the world (covering a space of 500 acres), and the primary site of interest in the Angkor Kingdom.
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When this ancient civilisation went extinct the jungle reclaimed many of the Kingdoms temples and monuments, Angkor Wat however was never abandoned and has been in continuous use since it was built, meaning it has remained in excellent condition.
North Library at Angkor Wat.
What to know before you travel?
Getting to and around Angkor Wat Getting to and around Angkor Wat requires access to a vehicle, and as foreigners are restricted from driving inside the the complex the best option is to hire a tuk-tuk (known also as a remorque), a bicycle, or local driver.
We opted for a local driver who after negotiated a price in an air-conditioned car for around $25 - a god-send after hours spent perspiring in the hot and humid midday heat - agreed to pick us up from our hostel at 4am, and stay with us until late afternoon/early evening after the park had closed.
A requisite to visiting Angkor Wat...
Angkor World Heritage Pass Before you can enter the temple complex you need a ticket/permit - unless you are in fact fortunate enough to be Cambodian or related to one. Your ticket serves as entry to all sites of interest and temples in the main Angkor Wat complex nearer to Siem Reap, and is required at the park’s entrance.
Angkor World Heritage - One day pass US$ 37.00 including 2 dollar contribution to the Kantha Bopha Childrens Hospitals Fund.
You can buy your tickets from the official ticket booth on the road that connects Siem Reap to the temple complex, available in different validity periods at different fees - 1 day, 3 days or 7 days. Whilst it is not imperative to purchase your ticket in advance, buying your ticket after 5pm allows you the opportunity to enter the complex the same day, before it closes, without using up your allotted days.
Alistair is an avid traveller having been to over 40+ countries, covering four continents. He grew up on the Isle of Man but now calls London his home, having previously studied and worked in Manchester.
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