Updated on December 5, 2016
Angkor Wat and 5 MUST SEE Temples around Siem Reap!!
After checking into the Park Hyatt Siem Reap we took a little break and then it was time to start seeing the awesome temples in the area, starting with Angkor Wat!
If you have read anything about Siem Reap and the surrounding area you have heard that there are temples all over the place! There are a couple that are the largest and most famous like Angkor Wat, but there are many, many more to choose from.
A one day pass to the Angkor temple area is $20, three day pass is $40 and a week pass is $60.
It’s also important to realize that these are religious sites and should be shown respect. Katie and I made sure to always have our shoulders and knees covered the vast majority of the time. I was able to wear longer cargo shorts that covered my knees and Katie wore jeans to Angkor Wat and a few other temples where we heard it was most important.
There are going to be temples I don’t mention of course on this list and I also tried to make this about the closer temples which weren’t more than about 30 min from downtown as I know there are other great ones a little farther away. Now I have only visited here once but this will be a list of the temples that I think are MUST SEE on a trip to the area!
Here is the trip so far!
This is certainly the most famous of the temples in the area and is truly a sight to behold. We went here first, on the afternoon we arrived and spent 3-4 hours here exploring the area. We stayed there for the sunset which was really beautiful as it shines on the temple.
The vast majority of the crowds seemed to congregate in the more central portion of the temple with huge lines to Top Shrine or Bakan. Only 100 people are allowed up in this area at a time and lines were incredibly long (we skipped waiting for this). The good thing about having most of the people in the central area is that the outer halls and wall area were really clear of people and great for pictures.
If you want to get one of the famous pictures of Angkor Wat with the water in front then you want to go to the front, left side of the temples. This is also where you want to be for the sunrise!
The next morning we had our Tuk-tuk driver meet us at 5am to get over for the sunrise! Regardless of when you get there (we got there about 5:20ish) you will see TONS of people! The sunrise is one of the things you have to see! If nothing else, use it as a reason to start your day nice and early to see temples before the crowds arrive! It was absolutely perfect for seeing the next temple nice and early.
This might have been my favorite temple in the whole complex and I am really glad we got there when we did!
This temple is also known as the “Tomb Raider Temple” or “Tree Temple” since a scene from the Tomb Raider movie was filmed here and it has large trees growing over and through the temple.
Because of the above two reasons this has become a VERY popular temple with large crowds coming to it each day, and really all those people kind of take away from the experience a bit. Because of that you want to get there early!
We arrived around 7:45am after watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat and we were really glad we did! There were people at the temple but maybe only 25-30 walking around with us. When we left at around 9am we must have passed 250 people walking from the parking area, maybe even more! So, get there early! Definitely well before 9am from what I witnessed.
Bayon Temple (in Angkor Thom)
Angkor Thom is a huge complex and the most famous temple in the complex is Bayon. This temple sits in the exact center of Angkor Thom and is famous for its 54 towers which hold 216 HUGE faces.
There is also a set up for elephant rides which take you slowly around the temple. This is a very unique experience and obviously gives you a different prospective of the temple. If I remember correctly, it was $20 a person to take the 20 min ride.
We entered Angkor Thom via the east gate which is what I would recommend, or really just anything but the south gate which can become SUPER crowded and backed up, especially in the morning. With that being said, it is a cool looking gate to see and we exited that way one time which I was glad we did so I could see it and get the below picture (there is a huge backup of cars trying to enter behind those statues haha).
This temple is north of Angkor Thom and really I didn’t know much about it before heading over. I had heard that it was a good temple to see but nothing other than that. So, I was really pleasantly surprised with how much I liked it. It’s very different but rivaled Ta Prohm when it came to my favorite temples in the area.
There are plenty of interesting corridors and several trees going through the temples, especially at the northern entrance where there is a very large trees overtaking the center of this area of the temple. Just a really great temple.
Just east of Preah Khan is Ta Som, and if you want to go to a cool temple where there are almost NO people than this is the place for you!
Not only is it pretty empty but still close, it also has a very cool tree growing over the back entrance! This is a very small temple and doesn’t take long to see but especially with the lack of tourists I think this is a temple you have to take 20 min and check out!
Now this isn’t actually a temple, it is a body of water which has a platform overlooking it. The platform is where you need to go and if you search this name or ask people, the platform is where they will send you. It is located across the street from the Banteay Kdei temple.
You want to check this out during sunrise or sunset as the colors over the water and the platform are really beautiful. Again, this is a quick one but I think it is still something you really need to see.
So this isn’t a comprehensive list of all the great Cambodian temples in this region but I do think they are some must sees that are close to central Siem Reap. There are obviously other great temples like Banteay Srei and others but some of them are over an hour away way by car, so even longer by tuk-tuk.
We had an AWESOME time seeing the temples in this area and I am looking forward to going back to Siem Reap one day to learn more about the city and other areas around Cambodia.
Are these the best temples in your opinion? What other did I miss? What’s your favorite?