12 Breath-taking Temples In Angkor You Must Visit
Last Updated on March 22, 2023
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On any stop in Cambodia, seeing the temples in Angkor, located a stone’s throw away from Siem Reap, is a must-do.
You will be left speechless and overwhelmed by the detailed temples in Angkor dotted around the area.
Angkor stretches a whopping 400km and dates to the Khmer Empire from the 9th to the 15th century.
This site was by far one of the most important sites in Southeast Asia, and contains most of the famous temples in Cambodia.
Visitors looking to immerse themselves in the rich cultural history of Cambodia will have so many places to see. Angkor will enrich both your body and your soul!
Here is a complete guide on which temples in Angkor to visit, where to stay, how to get a driver and costs of visiting. These places are amongst some of the must-see Siem Reap temples.
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Table of Contents
Temples in Angkor
1. Angkor Wat
Anyone visiting Cambodia and wondering what to see in Angkor will probably put this site at the top of their Angkor temples list.
Angkor Wat is one of the main Angkor temples and it is said that this is the most important religious monument on Earth.
It’s also famous for those incredible sunrise snaps you might see throughout the internet. Thousands of tourists fight over the best place to get that perfect photo of the temples of Angkor Wat!
Yes, it is worth getting up early and visiting then, not only because of the photos but it gets hot so it’s good to explore this temple just as the sun is going up and before the tour buses start to roll in.
This 7th world wonder took 30 years to complete in the first half of the 12th century. This temple is by far the best preserved. It will take you a while to explore every inch of this place.
The incredibly detailed carvings and intricate architectural design are jaw-dropping. We spent a good couple of hours walking around and you could quite easily get caught up just in this one place!
2. The Bayon
The Bayon is probably the second most popular of the famous places in Angkor to visit.
The site is known the world over for the hundreds of faces that are carved into the stones. There was said to be about 200 of these faces throughout the Bayon.
This place is packed with tourists and you will notice that more than Angkor Wat as it’s not so spread out.
The carvings on the first level of the outer walls show you what everyday life would have been like in Cambodia in the 12th century.
You will be absolutely stunned by the detail and the reliefs will blow you away!
3. Baksei Chamkrong
This was one of my favourite temples in Angkor that we visited. This place is often missed by tourists. In fact, when we were there, there was only 1 other person.
This Hindu temple was dedicated to Lord Shiva and was built in the middle of the 10th century. You can climb to the top but the stairs are in very poor condition.
However, there is one staircase that seems to be in better condition than the others situated at the back.
I would highly recommend stopping off at this one for a quick look, it’s worth it! This is one of the best temples in Angkor that people won’t usually recommend.
4. The Baphuon
This huge temple is an impressive piece of architecture. Although it is in bad condition it’s still clear to see some details of the temple and it’s worth stopping for a wander.
The Baphuon was taken apart bit by bit for preservation but during the Khmer Rouge Regime, all the records were destroyed leaving archaeologists with all these pieces but no idea where to put them.
Nowadays the temple has been partially restored leaving it in a not-so-fantastic condition, which is a shame. This temple is located near Bayon, and is one of the best temples to visit in Siem Reap.
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5. Terrace of the Elephants
This terrace was used by the King as a sort of viewing platform so he could see his returning army.
You can clearly see the elephant carvings on the east side which is how this terrace got its name.
It won’t take long to explore around here but it’s a great little stopover point.
Unfortunately, this was closed for entry when I was exploring the temples in Angkor. But I got some great photos of this marvellous Hindu temple.
It is located near the Terrace of the Elephants and just down from the Bayon.
This temple used to be named the Gold tower but these days you cannot see the signs of this. A beautiful temple nevertheless!
7. Ta Som
There are two temples in Angkor that will make you feel like you have stepped on the set of Indiana Jones.
We choose Ta Som over Ta Prohm because we heard there would be fewer people at Ta Som and it’s just as beautiful. We were glad we picked this temple over the other.
There were hardly any people here and we got some fantastic photos and had a really good time just slowly checking out this place.
Although it’s a little bit further out than the other temples, it’s a nice little drive. Your driver may even offer to stop for some lunch on the way.
There are plenty of smaller temples around this area that looks fantastic as well. I would definitely add this to the list of temples to visit in Angkor.
8. Pre Rup
Pre Rup, located south of the East Baray, is one of the less popular of the temples of Angkor, but it is by no means one that you should skip.
The site is beautiful, and commands a very majestic position with its tiered levels and towers. Its name refers to funeral practices that are believed to have been performed here.
Translated, Pre Rup means “turn the body”, which refers to how, during a funeral, the body would be turned to face various directions throughout the event.
This temple was overgrown and left to nature for a period of a few hundred years, before being rediscovered in the late 19th century. However, it was still left pretty much as it was until the 1930s.
Today, Pre Rup is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and despite being over 1000 years old, it is in some of the best condition of all the best temples in Siem Reap.
9. Prasat Kravan
If you’re visiting Siem Reap and taking the road from Angkor Wat to Srah Srang, you’ll pass by Prasat Kravan on the way.
Here you’ll find a temple with five red brick towers, several well preserved bas-relief carvings and fewer tourists than other temples in the area.
So it’s a lot easier to see the place in its natural, uncrowded state.
The bas-relief carvings are the main reason to add Prasat Kravan to your Angkor Wat temples list. Each one depicts representations of Vishnu, to whom the temple was originally dedicated.
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10. Neak Pean
Sitting on its own circular island in the middle of the Jayatataka Baray, Neak Pean is one of the more popular temples of Siem Reap to visit.
It’s definitely one of the most photographed temples Siem Reap has to offer, and you’ll be able to see why when you get here!
There’s a wooden walkway that takes you over the manmade lake towards the temple, where you’ll find Neak Pean sitting in the centre surrounded by four smaller pools of water.
Originally, these pools were meant to represent the four elements of earth, fire, wind and water, and it was believed that each of them would help cure the ailments of visitors.
When it was constructed in the 12th century, there were four statues of animals at Neak Pean – an elephant, a bull, a horse, and a lion.
These Four Great Animals watched over the conduits that connected up the water pools to the central water source.
Today, only the horse remains, but if you want to see it, I recommend visiting in the dry season, because in the rainy season it’s completely submerged!
11. Banteay Srei
The first thing you’ll notice about this incredibly popular Hindu temple in Siem Reap is the colour scheme – it’s pink!
Or to be more precise, the temple is constructed out of red sandstone, which gives Banteay Srei a distinctly pink-ish hue.
The main reason for using red sandstone was not the colour, though. Instead it was so that the temple could be home to many elaborate sculptures and wall carvings.
There’s so much detail to see here, you can easily spend hours examining all the walls and corners for all the scenes of Hindu mythology.
Because of its popularity, visitors to Banteay Srei will need a temple pass to be able to see it. So make sure you have your Angkor temple ticket on you when you do!
12. Preah Khan
To the immediate west of Neak Pean you can find one of the largest historically significant places to see Siem Reap has to offer.
At 56 hectares, this largely unrestored Buddhist temple was built as part of the celebration of a victory over the invading Cham armies in the 12th century.
It was made by King Jayavarman VII in honour of his father, and the name means “Holy Sword” or “Royal Sword”.
Walking around, though, you won’t get the sense of ancient battles. Instead, Preah Khan is a unique mixture of manmade buildings and natural overgrowth.
There are trees growing over or even right through some of the temple’s buildings here, with thick roots and trunks spreading over stone tiles and columns.
It’s definitely a great place to take some photographs! Don’t miss out on possibly the most visually beautiful temples in Angkor.
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Guide to Angkor
Getting a Ticket to Angkor
To get into Angkor you will need to purchase a ticket to the Angkor Archaeological Park. This must be purchased on the day so if anyone tries to sell you a ticket the day before is a scam.
You can purchase a 1-day pass ($37USD), 3-day pass ($62USD) or a 7-day pass ($72USD) to Angkor.
Unfortunately, at the start of the year, the prices were raised due to the number of tourists visiting this site every year. A day ticket used to cost $20!
All tickets must be purchased at the entrance before you enter. If you are taking a tour with a rickshaw then the driver will automatically stop for you before you go in.
Make sure you keep your ticket handy as there will be people checking them throughout the day.
How Long Should You Spend at Angkor?
Depending on how much time you have in Siem Reap and how much you love temples will decide which kind of ticket you go for.
I decided to do the 1-day pass as I love temples but I couldn’t imagine spending a full three days exploring them. For me, 1 day was the perfect amount of time.
We got to see all the ones we picked off the list and we arrived back at our hotel just after lunch (we started the day at sunrise hence the early afternoon finish).
Getting a Driver in Angkor
Fortunately, working out how to reach Angkor is not difficult. There are plenty of drivers that will take you to the temples you choose.
We paid $25USD for the day ($15USD half-day, $20USD full-day, $5uSD extra because we wanted to go at sunrise).
Our day started at about 4.30am where we were picked up from our hotel and taken to the entrance to buy our tickets. I wouldn’t recommend our driver as the tuk-tuk was nearly falling apart.
The driver got a little creepy towards the end too.
You can usually ask your hotel to organise you a driver or you can simply ask one of the tuk-tuk drivers racing along the streets.
Dress Code for Angkor
Please be respectful. Cover your shoulders and wear clothing that goes below your knees.
Angkor is still used by Buddhists today so if you do not meet the dress code you won’t be allowed in.
Where to Stay in Siem Reap
Siem Reap is the perfect place to stay for visiting the temples in Angkor. Getting from Siem Reap to Angkor doesn’t take long at all, and is even walkable.
The hotel I stayed at in Siem Reap was perfect and very affordable. The hotel was called Xing Angkor. It was a short walk to the centre where you can find pub street and the markets.
The staff were super friendly. Breakfast was good and the swimming pool was lovely after a long day at Angkor. I highly recommend this hotel! Prices start at $16USD per night for a double room.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s possible to spend 1-3 days fully exploring the temples in Angkor, so if you also plan on discovering a bit of Siem Reap I would recommend booking for an extra few days on top.
Aside from the wealth of cultural artistry, including numerous bas-relief carvings, statues and towers, the temples of Angkor are the largest temple site in the world.
Absolutely! There’s nowhere else in the world quite like the temples of Angkor, both in terms of the scale of the site, the excellent condition of many of the temples, and the gorgeous landscape.
I hope this guide was helpful if you’re planning on visiting one of the most visited religious sites in the world. If you can visit out of peak season to avoid mass crowds and unbearable heat.
Walking around the temples in Angkor in the heat is a challenge!
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