A Tourist’s Guide to Angkor Wat, Cambodia: The Do’s and Don’ts
I have traveled to Cambodia 4 times already, and I have stayed in Phnom Penh (it’s capital) for a year. Unfortunately, during my 1 year stay I was only able to visit Siem Reap once. Just recently, I visited Cambodia again, and I decided to go back to Siem Reap and relive that ancient and amazing Angkor Wat.
Personally, I would say that every Asian should visit Angkor Wat, not simply because it’s a growing tourist spot in Asia but it will help you understand the IndoChina culture and history. And since I’ve been in Angkor Wat twice now, here’s my fool proof tips on the do’s and don’ts when visiting Angkor Wat.
1. Do come early.
If you take the day pass, you will end up visiting 7 sites which takes a lot of hours most importantly the walking. Coming in early around 7 or 8am allows you to enjoy your sightseeing adventure.
2. Don’t wear makeup (for the ladies).
If you visit Siem Reap during the summer, the temperature can get too hot or you get yourself wet during the rainy season, you’ll regret putting on that mascara.
3. Do bring cash for your day trip.
There are no ATM machines around the area, so make sure you bring enough cash to cover for the pass which is $20 per person, tuktuk driver at $15, and lunch at around 15 to 25 dollars.
4. Do not vandalize or remove any of the carvings around the temple.
Angkor Wat had its horrifying share of poachers stealing their antiquities and carvings. In fact, the government has been restoring a lot of these damaged antique stone carvings. Just like when your parents tell you not to touch anything if it’s not your house, the same rules apply when visiting Angkor Wat.
5. Do hire a professional tour guide if you can.
It’s easy to be at awe once you visit Angkor Wat, but having a tour guide makes it a lot better as these professionals can immerse you into how the temples were built and answer your what, if, how and whatever questions you have. There are tour guides waiting outside the Angkor Wat temple, or you can arrange one from your hotel accommodation.
6. Do wear comfy pairs of shoes (sneakers or flats) and clothes.
You will be doing A LOT of walking so make sure you will have a happy feet during your adventure. For the ladies, make sure to bring a cover-up for your legs like a sarong/wrap-around-skirt if you intend to climb up the middle temple inside Angkor Wat since they don’t allow tourist with skimpy clothes to go inside.
7. Don’t rent a bike, hire a tuktuk instead.
There are ways for you to go around Angkor Wat, like renting an SUV, a motorbike, bicycle, or a tuktuk. But since you will be doing a lot of walking, you can skip the bike and rent a tuktuk for $15 dollars.
8. Do eat lunch at a roadside restaurant.
There are plenty of restaurants around Angkor Wat while on transit to the other temples. A must-try for me are the restaurants that have hammocks where you can mingle with the locals and enjoy the local food.
9. Do not lose your gate pass.
When you visit each temple, there are personnel assigned by its main gates. Make sure to have your passes ready. No passes, no entry.
10. Do have fun!
You may not be used to walking and being under the sun for too long, or you get cranky with your travel buddy/friends, or you got too hungry, and blah blah blah blah…. Just remind yourself that the purpose of visiting foreign places is to enjoy and allow experience to take its natural course. Who knows, you might find a new found friend along the way. And by visiting Angkor Wat, all the experience will definitely be worth it.