I rented a bicycle. Rode it from central Siem Reap to Angkor Enterprise to buy my three-day ticket. Then rode it to Angkor Wat the same day: never again.
It took me 30 minutes to ride my bicycle to Angkor Enterprise and then another 35 minutes to Angkor Wat. All this in the heat and sometimes blazing sun depending on the clouds.
I was tired to walk around Angkor Wat once I arrived. Plus, I had other temples to visit which I wasn’t able to do on day one.
Do not visit Angkor Wat with a bicycle.
Angkor Wat is massive to say the least. What I didn’t realize, and many other people, is that Angkor Wat is just one of many temples in the Angkor (capital) area which stretches 400 km2. Angkor (Thom) was the capital of the Khmer Empire.
The best way to see Angkor Wat is by scooter or with a tour guide that has his own tuk tuk.
You can hire only a tuk tuk, but a guide with his own tuk tuk is better since they can provide you historical information about the temples. I met a few ticket verifiers at the temples offering their services which was appealing.
I chose the scooter option for days two and three to Angkor. It was cheaper to use for the full day and I was able to go at my own pace. I rented my scooter for $10/day plus $1 for a day’s worth of fuel.
An official Angkor Wat guide with a tuk tuk is still a great option because they can give you a better feel for the place which I missed out on.
When hiring a tuk tuk and/or guide, they usually offer a prearranged circuit-like tour. What I mean by circuits is that the temples are spread out and connected by intertwined roads. The circuits are like Formula 1 circuits. Riding these temple circuits with a scooter is an experience you can’t have anywhere else.
The small Angkor Wat circuit and a few nearby temples costs $13 per tuk tuk without a guide. Add $5 extra for the sunrise. There are more tuk tuk circuit options going upwards of $50. Of course, there was no option to rent a tuk tuk to see all of the temples in one day – that’s just not possible.
Now, is Angkor Wat touristy? Yes. But all the other temples, not so much.
Do not visit Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples with a tour bus. It will obliterate your peace of mind.
Once you get away from Angkor Wat, the temples become less touristy unless there is a tour bus group there. The good thing about tour bus groups is that they have less time to spend at each temple. This is where having a scooter and some patience goes a long way. You can easily get great photos with just you and the architecture.
Angkor Wat Ticket Options
As of February 1, 2017, the Angkor ticket prices increased.
One-day visit: $37
Three-day visit: $62 (to be used within 10 days)
Seven-day visit: $72 (to be used within 1 month)
For the multiday tickets, you don’t need to visit the temples on consecutive days or know in advance which exact dates you will visit. I spread out my three-day pass over five days as I wished.
Do not buy a one-day pass.
Angkor is the largest religious site in the world. Most people will never see it. Some people will only visit the area once.
I recommend to purchase a multiday ticket so you can see as much of Angkor as you can. With my three-day visit, I probably only saw half of Angkor, if not less. Plus, visiting Angkor for only one day from sunrise to sunset is a brutal challenge.
It’s best to purchase your ticket at least one day in advance so you don’t have to visit Angkor Enterprise on the day of your visit. Plus, it’s only open 5:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day, so you’ll miss getting a good spot for sunrise including the blue hour.
When you purchase your ticket, they take a picture of you which is printed on the ticket to avoid ticket passing.
Each time you visit Angkor, the ticket verifiers punch a hole on the date you visit.
Angkor Wat Visiting Hours
The Angkor temples are open 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day with the below exceptions.
Angkor Wat and Srah Srang 5:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Pre Rup and Bakheng: 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Other than Angkor Wat, if you visit the temples when they first open, you’ll practically be the only person at that temple. Getting out of Angkor Wat before 7:00 a.m. and visiting the other temples will keep you ahead of the tour buses.
Do not ride elephants in Angkor.
At the base of Bakheng temple, elephant riding is offered up the hill to the temple. You should avoid riding an elephant up the temple because they are broken physically and mentally into elephant riding.
Do enjoy and appreciate Angkor Wat.