A must see tourist attraction on the Indochina tour package is the Angkor Archaeological Park that includes the most impressive temple ruins of Angkor, and includes the centrepiece of Angkor Wat. This world heritage site covers an area that is almost 400 km² and includes several ancient ruins that date back to the Angkorian-era Khmer Empire. It is located about just outside the city of Siem Reap in north-western Cambodia.
Siem Reap City is perfect place to stay for the tourists that plan to explore the Angkor Archaeological Park. There are no hotels or guesthouses within the grounds of the park and most visitors are likely to look for accommodation in Siem Reap, which has plenty of well-kept hotels and restaurants. The park entrance is only about 3 km north of the city. The most famous temple ruins are within a distance of 6 to 25 km of the town, and Angkor Wat is one of the closest.
Before visiting the Angkor Archaeological Park it helps to organize your visit, such as planning a temple itinerary, obtaining a guidebook, arranging transportation to the temples, purchasing the admission pass, and decided on how long to stay.
When to Go
The warm and humid tropical climate in Cambodia makes it possible for tourists to visit Angkor Wat at any time of the year. However, the preferred time to travel is when Cambodia is experiencing the mild and dry weather that takes place between November and March. The most intense heat is noticed during April and May while the rainy season begins in June to September. The particularly heavy rainstorms can cause issues with arranging transport to and from the ruins. But, during the rainy season on the Cambodia travel packages it is possible to experience the most animate and green forests in the area.
How To Experience Angkor Wat
The most authentic tour experience to Angkor Wat is possible by using the excellent services of a local English speaking Angkor Wat guide. The tour guides are a useful addition to give insight into the bas-reliefs and history of the temple ruins.
Many of the Cambodian tour guides are direct descendants of local Khmer people and have great knowledge of Angkor Wat to make the travel experience that much more interesting.
It is possible to hire the tour guide at most of the local hotels, which can cost in the region of $20 to $25 per day. Even though it is an extra charge on top of the pass admission and transport it is well worth the extra cost to learn all there is to know about the temple complex.
It is preferable to hire your own tour guide when exploring Angkor Wat or any of the other temple ruins. Other options on the Cambodia Package Holiday include the tour groups that mean the experience has less of an adventurous atmosphere and you lose some of your freedom.
Angkor Archaeological Park
The temple ruins in the Angkor Archaeological Park are the permanence of the old Khmer Empire and millennium-old capitals. The dominant ethnic group in Cambodia was and still is the Khmer people. The term ‘Angkor’ relates to the capital city of the empire (located north of Siem Reap) and the Khmer Empire that was well established in the ninth and fifteenth centuries A.D., and crossed a lot of mainland South East Asia of the time.
The majority of the temples were built between the 9th and 12th century A.D and relate to the very best in ancient civilization, art and architecture. In its most prominent time, the Age of Angkor was seen as the power and wealth of the Khmer Empire.
The city of Angkor had nearly 1 million inhabitants and the Khmer kings put a lot of effort into building grand temples and waterworks. Also during this era the Empire's military, cultural and economic dominance had full control over this area of Cambodia, as well as major areas of Laos, southern Vietnam and Thailand.
Within the confines of the Angkor Archaeological Park there are dozens of ancient ruins with many others a further distance away. The condition, interest and importance of the temples can vary significantly, and they can spread over a significant distance with some kilometres from each other. The must-see temples consist of Bayon and the famous Angkor Wat and. By exploring these temples it is possible to get a first-hand appreciation of the unique and spectacular Angkorian architecture and art. Also the central location of Angkor Thom makes it really easy to visit and includes plenty of features of interest such as the massive temple-mountains.
How Long to Stay
In order to enter the Angkor Archaeological Park it is necessary to purchase an Angkor Pass (or admission pass) to visit the many sites and temples. The pass is easily purchased at the main entrance on the road that leads to Angkor Wat.
The pass can be purchased with different stay lengths, for instance a one-day pass can cost $20, a three-day pass can cost $40, and a seven-day pass can cost $60 (passport sized photo is quite for the 3 and 7-day pass). Also, the passes must be used within a certain time frame which is within one week for the three day pass and within one month for the seven-day pass. It is not necessary to use the pass on consecutive days.
1 Day Ticket Pass
A short one-day stay is perfect to explore the highlights such as the legendary ruins at Angkor Wat as well as sites or ruins nearby. Many travellers simply want to explore Angkor Wat and move one. The best way to use this pass is by visiting the park first thing in the morning (it is open from 5AM) to maximize its use. The type of pass is great for the traveller that wants to just see the best bits.
But for the traveller that really wants to see the minor or unusual temples, this cannot be completed in a single day. For those that wish to do more than the touristy things and explore beyond the main Ankgor temples, there isn’t the time to see the less visited and off-the-beaten track temples. Plus, it can be quite tiring to try to squeeze a lot of temples in a single day, so a longer ticket gives the more relaxed travel experience.
3 Day Ticket Pass
If you want to explore beyond the Angkor Wat ruins, the three-day pass gives enough time to see most of the major temples and several of the minor ones. If you have plenty of time in Siem Reap on the Cambodian tour packages it can benefit to spread out the sightseeing of the Angkor Archaeological Park. This is a great option to really see the Angkor temples properly. Over a period of three days, you get to see a lot and it is possible to explore virtually all of the major temples in the area, such as Ta Prohm, Preas Dak, Angkor Wat, Baphuon and Bayon. A 3-day pass gives greater flexibility and time to relax and admire the surroundings.
But, the multiple day passes are only worthwhile for the tourist that really has an interest in learning more about the history of the temples, so less likely to start feeling bored of temples.
7 Day Ticket Pass
The seven-day pass gives enough time to fully explore the park and revisit any of the ruins and structures that you visited while touring the park. It is a great option for the real temple enthusiasts and gives unlimited access to the Angkor Archaeological Park for the entire week. You get to stay in the park from sunrise to sunset and really take a relaxed pace to see everything you want.
For the tourist thinking about the 7-day pass, it is also worth remembering that in addition to the cost of the entry pass at $60, there is also the daily cost of bicycle rentals or tuk-tuk drivers.
A visit to Angkor Wat can start early, 5 AM until 6 PM at night. Other temples also have their own visiting times, such as the Banteay Srey that closes at 5 PM and Kbal Spean that closes at 3 PM. It is essential to carry the past ticket at all times to enter the various different areas and explore the major temples.
Beyond exploring the centrepiece of Angkor Wat, there are several other temple ruins in the local area. It therefore makes sense for the tourist that plans to spend several days here to create a personal temple itinerary. In the process of creating the itinerary, it is important to consider the available time to ensure the must see temples are explored.
Any well put together itinerary will put Angkor Wat first and foremost at the top of the list, with other popular attractions like Bayon with its giant faces following behind. Both of these temple ruins have the potential to provide unique and spectacular views of the Angkorian architecture and art. Other minor ruins include the South Gate of Angkor Thom, which is within a relatively short distance from Bayon.
The best time to visit Angkor Wat on the Cambodia Package Tours is in the early afternoon for the best lighting conditions which means it is easier to view the ruins and take photographs. So if planning to visit in the afternoon, it is best to fill the morning with some of the nearby temples like Bayon and Angkor Thom.
If planning the longer tour of the park the itinerary can include each of the popular and most impressive ruins, such as Temple Mountains like West Mebon, Ta Keo, Bakong, and Pre Rup, the unique monuments like Srah Srang and Neak Pean, as aware as the sprawling monastic complexes like Banteay Kdei, Preah Khan and Ta Prohm.
What to Bring
The preferred clothing to wear when exploring Angkor Wat is light, airy and gives enough protection from the mosquitoes and sun. The Sun can be quite intense, especially in April so it is practical to use sunscreen and bring sunglasses and a hat. A traditional Khmer scarf is great for keeping the sun off the neck area. A light raincoat is a practical addition for the rainy season - though this will only likely be needed in the afternoon. A high-quality mosquito repellent is most important throughout the sunrise and sunset hours. There are a lot of uneven surfaces and narrow steps to climb so it can benefit to wear the flat and practical footwear. For the most serious temple explores, it can help to take along extras like a compass, notebook and flashlight to really see and explore every nook and cranny.
Also, there are many small vendors in the park that sell postcards, trinkets, refreshments and books.
Getting around the Temples
If planning to visit Angkor Wat on the Cambodia Adventure Tours as well as several of the other temple ruins, it can benefit to organize transport between the different temples. Even though it is possible to hike between temples this can be quite slow going if you have several sites to explore. The most common transport options include bicycles at $2-$3 per day, motodup (motorcycle taxi) at $8-$10 per day, a car-taxi at $20-$30 per day, or the most common choice of a 2-person tuk-tuk at $10-$15 per day.
To minimize misunderstandings in relation to price, it is best to negotiate with the driver the services required and come to an exact price. This can take into account issues that relate to the small or large circuits, the length of your itinerary, availability during certain hours, and the time you expect to start and finish the tour.
Also, if you are planning to travel to the temples that are off in the distance, such as Koh Ker, Kbal Spean, Phnom Kulen and Banteay Srey there is likely to be an extra charge to leave the main circuit.
A popular choice for touring the temples on the Cambodia Package Tours for the tourist is the use of bicycles and is the most cost effective option, but relies on your own pedal power and can become tiring on the hottest days.