8 Tips for Exploring Angkor Wat
The Angkor Wat complex is a celebrated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the largest religious monument in the world. It was first built as a Hindu temple during the Khmer Empire, but was gradually repurposed as a Buddhist temple at the end of the 12th century.
Today, over 2 million visitors tour the temples each year. Will you join them?
Decide how many days you want to spend temple touring
While the 1 day pass is the most common, it means that you need to pack a lot of sites into a one day trip. This strategy is good for travelers coming to Siem Reap for a very short time, or for anyone who isn’t really into temples and ruins.
But the game plan can backfire if the weather doesn’t cooperate (like if it’s way too hot, or if it rains). Another less popular option is a three day pass. The best for true temple-lovers, this pass allows for more flexibility and to stretch out the tours for more enjoyment. With the extra time, you can take a midday break, in the heat of the day, and go back to your hotel for a dip in the pool or a nap before setting back out in the cooler evening hours.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes
Whether you’re using a one day pass or a three day pass, you’ll have a lot of ground to cover. You’ll be climbing stairs and traversing through ruins and ascending to platforms and following stony paths.
A pair of comfortable shoes is an absolute must for all this walking. Sneakers or a pair of really comfortable and light flats are definitely worth the extra space in your bag. Whichever shoes you choose, make sure they aren’t brand new and that they’re thoroughly broken in, as blisters would make any temple tour an absolute nightmare.
In addition to comfortable shoes, make sure the clothes you plan to wear are right for the activity. Angkor Wat receives a lot of direct sunlight, and it is very hot, especially when packed with the body heat of thousands of other people. Choose light, breathable, sweat wicking clothing to be the most comfortable. Avoid black, which soaks up the heat, and heavy fabrics which will be uncomfortable and sweaty.
Plan to cover your shoulders
Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples have both religious and cultural significance in Cambodia. As such, you need to dress appropriately for the serious atmosphere. Belly-baring tops, short shorts, and exposed cleavage should be avoided as they are disrespectful.
In addition, your shoulders MUST be covered at all times – both men and women.
Get around this requirement by bringing a wrap or lightweight buttoned top that can be taken off outside the temple. No need to sweat your butt off wearing a long sleeve shirt.
Even a breezy scarf, artfully arranged to cover the shoulders, could be a great way to stay cool and follow the rules at the same time.