I am going to share with you how you can enjoy the full Angkor Wat touring experience in 2 days through what’s called the “small circuit”. This is something I’ve done myself during my backpacking trip in Cambodia and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment box.
If you have 3 days to spare, I will strongly encourage visiting the rest of the temples on the wider Angkor Archeological Park circuit.
Before you visit the Angkor Archeological Park, spend a few hours the day before to visit the Angkor National Museum to understand the history of the park.
Admission fees are steep at 12 USD and 3 USD for the audio guide. Pretty steep but I promise you that it’s worth it! Learn about the kings who ruled during the reign, the different gods worshipped by the king and the people, how the country’s state religion moved from Hinduism to Buddhism. That way, you won’t be confused when you see the Hindu god, Vishnu and Buddhist god, Buddha in the same temple. I spent around 3 hours touring the museum and gained plenty of knowledge. Now that you are enriched with the knowledge about the temples you are about to visit, it’s time to go.
You can hire a tuk tuk for the whole day for 20 USD and I strongly recommend sharing the ride with 3 other people so that everyone just spends 5 USD for the tuk tuk ride.
Entry to the Angkor Archeological Park costs 20 USD (1-day pass), 40 USD (3-day pass) and 60 USD (1-week pass). If you follow my guide, you will only need the 1-day pass.
The most common way to start the temple visit, is to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat at 5am. Try to go earlier to get a good spot for photos because there will almost always be a big crowd of tourists there.
After the sun is up, the next logical thing will be to explore the Angkor Wat. The Angkor Wat is very big and you will spend a lot of time exploring the temple city. I spent so much time walking around that I didn’t really take a lot of pictures.
There is also a tower in the middle of Angkor Wat which you can climb up the stairs to get a bird’s eye view of Angkor Wat. I didn’t climb up the tower because it will only open later in the morning and I wasn’t willing to bribe the staff to go up the tower earlier (yes, we saw some tourists pay the staff in order to climb up the tower before opening hours).
Monkey alert! If you have monkey phobia, beware because there are quite a number of them hanging around the temple. Technically it’s their property and we’re trespassing.
Now let’s get back to our tuk tuk and let me bring you to the last capital city of the Khmer empire, Angkor Thom.