- Start early, end early. There's a few reasons for this: 1) It's far less crowded before 8:00-9:00 when the big tour groups start arriving and 2) It's a lot cooler early on! Also, you will get templed out if you stay out all day.
- Get to the sunrise at Angkor Wat no later than 5:00 am if you want a good spot. Everyone sees the Angkor Wat sunrise, so of course it's crazy crowded everyday. There were easily over 1000 people crowded around a small pond.
- Don't count on the perfect sunrise. Of course, we picked a day that was cloudy, ugh. But at least the changing light patterns still looked cool with Angkor Wat as the backdrop.
- Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, and the Bayon are the busiest temples, so visit them first before the crowds arrive. Definitely, definitely visit Ta Prohm early, as its narrow paths cause major traffic jams. At least Angkor Wat is huge and spread out. Might want to add Preah Khan to this list.
- Visit temples at sunrise until about 8:30 or go at lunchtime to avoid the biggest crowds. Most people who get up to see the sunrise even go back to town to eat breakfast and people break for food at lunchtime, causing a couple of gaps for good templing times.
- Do research to know what temples you want to go to. I knew where I wanted to go and when so I could tell our driver. There are many set loops that drivers will go on, but then you are seeing the same things at the same times with everyone else. Also, some temple types start to get repetitive so why see 10 pyramidal temples if you can pick one good one?
- You will get templed out. Yeah, they all start to look the same and the heat really gets to you. Temple for a half day or spread out templing a couple of days throughout a whole week.
- You can buy passes for 1 day, 3 days, or 7 days. The 3 day pass is optimal and can be used in a week's span. It allows you to see a good sampling of temples.
- If you buy your Angkor Pass the day before you intend to use it, you can catch a sunset for free after 5:00 pm.
- Ta Nei is small but almost no one visits it. Seriously, no one visits it. You will feel like you are in a clearing in the middle of the jungle. Savor it!
- Banteay Srei and Beng Melea are worth seeing but take 1-2 hours to get to and are crowded with tons of Chinese tourists. Both temples are completely unique, but you will need to hire a car for the day. We got a car for $70. Might be worth it to get up early and beat the masses from tours.
- Hire a tuk tuk to get around. When traveling to the Angkor complex or around town, use a tuk tuk. We actually thought it was cooler (temperature-wise) than a car because of the air was blowing all around (as long as you were moving). Beautiful, breezy ride to the temples!
- Wear a hat, sunscreen, and bug spray. We sprayed deet everyday before we went out. Use at least 20%. We put sunscreen on at about 9:00 am. Most temples are exposed to the sun, even the jungle temples!
- Bring lots of water or even a camelbak (filled with bottled water of course). Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!!! It is hot and the sun beats hellishly down on you! There is bottled water available outside most of the temples.
- Cover your shoulders and knees. Technically, you are not allowed in the temples if you don't cover up. However, in most places, the Cambodians are too nice to say anything. But the top tower of Angkor Wat is one of the places where they will get you. Women, I've even read that they won't let you use a scarf to cover up you shoulders, so dress appropriately.
- You can always buy appropriate clothing in Siem Reap or outside many of the temples. Clothes are super cheap if you happened to have packed wrong or just couldn't fit everything in your suitcase.
- Stock up on Cambodia pants and everything else for that matter. Cambodia is super cheap, like the cheapest country I've ever been to hands down. When we continued on to Thailand, we regretted not buying more stuff in Cambodia. And you gotta buy the loose fitting crazy patterned pants! Don't settle for anything more than 2 for $5. It's funny that these pants are always available in SE Asia, but this season they came in to style in the States. Definitely cheaper in Cambodia!
- Party on Pub Street. Siem Reap is fun and has cheap beer. Definitely worth partying at least one night in town.
- Avoid the street food in Cambodia. Cambodia is known to be rather dirty, so I wouldn't take a chance.
- Get massages...lots of massages! Got a 30 minute foot massage for $4 and an hour is $6. Clothed full body hour long massage was $6 and an hour long oil massage was $12.
- There are food and bathrooms around the major temples. No need to head back to town to grab a quick bite, though, there aren't any restaurants near the temples. There are also bathrooms at the bigger temples. You can also ask your driver to stop for a bathroom break. But don't expect anything better than a squatty potty.
Katherine & Bradley
Two engineers with a passion for food and travel! Join us as we eat our way through the world!