When visiting the iconic Angkor temple ruins in Cambodia, Mark and I had the option to purchase a 1-day, 3-day, or 7-day pass. Many people mistake Angkor Wat as just one temple complex, but it’s actually an ancient city with roads leading to many temple ruins across hundreds of acres. After looking at a map and realizing there was plenty to see, we went with the 7-day pass to get the full experience of Angkor.

Our 7-day pass allowed us to visit any seven days within a month, which meant we could take a break for a day or two in between our visits. We used our pass for six days before leaving the area and made good use of it, but could’ve been as easily satisfied with a 3-day pass. Those who have already seen similar temples, such as in India, would most likely be satisfied with a 1-day pass, which is enough time to see all the major temples. For those who are looking to have an extended visit to Angkor here’s our daily itinerary for visiting the temples in six days:

Toul Sleng, Phnom Penh, Angkor,  Cambodia, travel, SE Asia, South East Asia, Temple, Ruins, Khmer, Tomb Raider Temple, Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Bayon, The Killing Fields, The Killing Field at Choeung Ek, Siem Reap

DAY 1 – MAIN TEMPLES BY TUK TUK

For $15 we hired a tuk tuk to drive us to all the major temples and covered a lot of ground on our first day. Since we had the tuk tuk driver showing us the way, it was a wise choice for our first time in Angkor to get our bearings of the whole complex so we would be confident on our own in the following days. The first temple we visited was the Bayon, a temple featuring many impressive stone faces of the last Emperor Jayavarmon VII. From here we walked to the Royal Palace grounds with the Elephant Terrace and Leper’s King Terrace that display many impressive engravings of animals and people. Our driver met us here and took us to the Victory Gate where he showed us a nice photo opp of the stone face on the gate just up the stairs on the side of the gate. We continued on the road to Thommanon and Chau Say Tevoda, which weren’t major temples, but were on the way and provided us with awesome photos of light shining down on us in the temples from the open rooftops. Next we visited Ta Keo where we saw workers currently excavating sites around it discovering more ruins underground.

We then went to Ta Phrom, also known as the Tomb Raider Temple for providing the backdrop to the popular Hollywood film. Ta Phrom my favorite temple because of the many ruins featuring trees growing on top of them with enormous roots dropping over the building sides. Be sure to not miss the mysterious stegosaurus” engraving at Ta Phrom.  After an enjoyable time exploring this large temple area, we carried on to the main site, Angkor Wat. We went inside the temple and saw impressive engravings that covered the entire walls on each side of the building. We tried to enter the very top of the Angkor Wat, but only Mark was allowed in since I didn’t fit the dress code. It was fine for men to wear shorts, but women cannot. Even though I had a sarong to cover myself they still wouldn’t let me in. We also saw other women turned away for wearing sleeveless shirts even if they had a scarf covering themselves. After I waited for Mark to return from visiting the top, we went outside the front of the complex to wait for the sunset!

Toul Sleng, Phnom Penh, Angkor,  Cambodia, travel, SE Asia, South East Asia, Temple, Ruins, Khmer, Tomb Raider Temple, Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Bayon, The Killing Fields, The Killing Field at Choeung Ek, Siem Reap

DAY 2 – EXPLORE MORE BY BICYCLE

We rented a bicycle for $2/day and took us about 30 minutes to ride to the entrance of Angkor from the north end of Siem Reap. We decided to ride in the opposite direction that we had gone with the tuk tuk the day before to catch the temples we had missed at the end of our first day. We visited Kraven, which had some well-preserved ancient engravings inside each small tower. Then went to Bantaey Kdai where we walked on grand walkways. We then cycled to the other side of the park to visit Baphuon, which is next to Bayon, that we had missed the first day. The Baphuon has the same dress code as Angkor Wat–women must not be wearing shorts or sleeveless shirts in order to enter.

Toul Sleng, Phnom Penh, Angkor,  Cambodia, travel, SE Asia, South East Asia, Temple, Ruins, Khmer, Tomb Raider Temple, Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Bayon, The Killing Fields, The Killing Field at Choeung Ek, Siem Reap

DAY 3 – GRAND CIRCUIT BY TUK TUK

On our third day we took a tuk tuk for $15/day to visit temples on the grand circuit. We started with Preah Khan, which had one of the most impressive trees growing on top of the backside of the last building. Here was also the only place we saw a two-story pavilion still intact. We continued on to Neak Pean where we crossed on a long wooden walkway across a reservoir to get to the island. The reservoir closely resembled what we’d imagined we’d see in the swamps of Louisiana. When we arrived at Neak Pean it was under construction so we were only allowed to walk around half of it, which was a shame. Next, we visited Ta Som, which also had an impressive tree on the far back gate of the temple. We also visited Pre Rup, which by this point was very hot in the afternoon and the temples started looking alike to us, so we called it a day and went back to our hotel.

Toul Sleng, Phnom Penh, Angkor,  Cambodia, travel, SE Asia, South East Asia, Temple, Ruins, Khmer, Tomb Raider Temple, Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Bayon, The Killing Fields, The Killing Field at Choeung Ek, Siem Reap

DAY 4 – EARLY MORNING AT BAYON AND TA PHROM TO BEAT THE CROWDS

Each time we visited Angkor we always ran into large tour groups. So we decided for one day that we would beat the crowds and bicycle to Bayon and Ta Phrom before they arrived. At Bayon we arrived by 6:45 a.m. and had a blissful 30-minute visit with the complex to ourselves. We saw only a handful of other people compared to last time we visited in the late morning where it was shoulder-to-shoulder walking. By 7:15 a.m. the Bayon started to fill up with tour groups so we left and hurried to Ta Phrom. Tour groups also started entering this complex at the same time as us, but we were able to get ahead of them! We went to some of the best ruins where tree roots covered them to take clean photos of them before being spoilt with the crowds in them. It was well worth it to spend an early morning at these two places to take photos with only us in them.

Toul Sleng, Phnom Penh, Angkor,  Cambodia, travel, SE Asia, South East Asia, Temple, Ruins, Khmer, Tomb Raider Temple, Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Bayon, The Killing Fields, The Killing Field at Choeung Ek, Siem Reap

DAY 5 – SIEM REAP VIEWPOINT BY MOTORBIKE

This day we rented a motorbike for $12 for one day with our Norwegian friends to take a ride outside of Siem Reap. We took a lovely dirt road lined with palm trees that passed many neighboring villages on the way toward the lake. We thought we could go to the lake for free, but a worker on the road said “rich people need to pay $10” so we turned around and kept riding on the quaint side roads. We headed south of Siem Reap where we came to a hill with a viewpoint of Siem Reap. Although we were outside of the main Angkor complex, our Angkor Pass allowed us to go to this viewpoint for free. We rode our motorbikes to the very top of the hill where we also saw some temple ruins and a few monks who live up there.

Toul Sleng, Phnom Penh, Angkor,  Cambodia, travel, SE Asia, South East Asia, Temple, Ruins, Khmer, Tomb Raider Temple, Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Bayon, The Killing Fields, The Killing Field at Choeung Ek, Siem Reap

DAY 6 – SUNRISE AT ANGKOR WAT

One of the main things visitors do at Angkor is visit Angkor Wat at sunrise. Somehow we didn’t get to this until our last day in Siem Reap. We rented bicycles again and left while it was still dark around 5 a.m. to make our final ride to Angkor. We were met with a large crowd at Angkor Wat who were all waiting for the sun to rise. Sadly, it was clouded so there was no magnificent sunrise. We went inside Angkor Wat to the very top again since I missed out on it last time. The top had beautiful views of the land surrounding Angkor and some great terraces and wall engravings inside. We then explored the land behind Angkor Wat before riding our bikes to the Sunset Viewpoint at Phnom Bakheng. Although it probably would’ve been better at sunset, we still had a great view of Angkor Wat looking at it from above and could see far out to the lake next to Siem Reap. This was also a great place to see renovation currently in the works as many workers were there restoring parts of Phnom Bakheng.

If you go…

Angkor Temple Ruins (30 minutes from Siem Reap)
1-day pass: $20 — 3-day pass: $40 — 7-day pass: $60

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