4D/3N Backpacking Siem Reap : 1-Day Angkor Temples Sunrise Tour (Part 1)

        Siem Reap, Cambodia is the home to the world renowned Angkor UNESCO World Heritage Site that contains the magnificent ruins of the Khmer civilisation from the 9th to the 14th century. Among the notable sites in the region are Angkor Wat, Bayon, Baphoun, Royal Palace group, Thommanon, Takeo, Ta Prom (jungle temples), Banteay Kdei, and Banteay Srei.

        Therefore, one of the must do things when in Siem Reap, Cambodia is to go on a temple tour. My sister and I booked our 1 day Angkor temples sunrise tour through the guesthouse that we stayed. That way, it is less likely for us to be scammed or charged exorbitantly by unscrupulous tour operators, plus our safety and well-being is guaranteed.

        One can even opt to rent a bicycle, a motorcycle or a car and self drive to the Angkor temples with the guide of a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) navigation system. It is relatively easy to get from one place to another, although certain parts of the Cambodian road can be rather bumpy and extremely dusty, especially in rural areas.

Compulsory Angkor Pass for Visitors

Do take note that entry to all Angkor temples and monuments in Siem Reap, Cambodia requires an Angkor Pass. All Angkor passes are issued with a picture and are not transferable to another person. Visitors can purchase an Angkor Pass at the main ticket sales booths on the road from Siem Reap to Angkor Wat, at the checkpoint on the road from the airport to Angkor Wat, and at the checkpoint at Banteay Srei. No other organisations (guesthouses, tour operators, etc) are authorised to sell the Angkor Passes.

Types of Angkor Pass Available

  • 1-Day Pass   –   USD 20 (Photo required)
  • 3-Day Pass   –   USD 40 (Photo required)
  • 7-Day Pass   –   USD 60 (Photo required)

Angkor Pass Rules & Regulations

  • Photographs have to be taken on location and tickets are not valid after the expiry date
  • The fee must be paid in US dollars, Cambodian Riel, Thai Baht or Euro. Credit cards are not accepted for payment
  • The price includes the use of the sanitary facilities in the park without charge
  • The price DOES NOT includes special permits for picture taking or film shooting
  • Entry is free for children under 12 years old. Children aged 12 and above must pay full price
  • Entry is free for all Cambodian nationals
  • There are no discounts for group entry
  • The Angkor Pass is not refundable for any reasons
  • Visitors MAY NOT buy a ticket in advance. However you can get the 3-day pass to be used within one week, and the 1-week pass to be used within one month. Don’t forget to specify this at the time of purchase

A chilly ride in the wee hours of the morning on our tuk tuk

Majestic Angkor Wat – Of Hindu-Buddha, Apsara & Khmer Civilisation

        Our 1 full day Angkor temples tour started as early as 5am in the morning. Our guide, who was also our tuk tuk driver, picked us up from the guesthouse and off we went to our first destination, Angkor Wat for sunrise. Halfway through the journey, my sister and I were taken to a ticketing counter where we bought our 1 Day Angkor Pass for USD20 each.

        It was a fast and hassle free process. All we need to do was to get in queue and wait for our turn to be called to the counter. At the counter, we were asked to look into a camera and had our photo taken. The photo is then imprinted onto our individual passes and handed to us after we paid the fee. After that, we carefully made our way into the Angkor Wat complex.

        At the entrance, we had our Angkor Pass checked by the officers on duty. We then made our way into the temple complex and managed to slip in between the sea of people overcrowding the edge of the lotus lake, located in front of Angkor Wat and waited patiently for the sun to rise. Several minutes later, the sun rose behind Angkor Wat, revealing its majestic splendour and putting everyone in awe.

        Later, the crowd dispersed and we began our exploration within the Angkor Wat temple complex. We discovered a labyrinth of passageways, elevated towers, covered galleries, chambers, porches and courtyards on different levels linked by narrow and steep stairways, all beautifully decorated with intricate Bas-relief wall carvings and statues depicting celestial nymphs a.k.a Apsaras dancing, ancient tales from the Hindu-Buddha epics, Khmer historical events, and more.

From the main entrance, we walked through this path in the dark
The straight path to Angkor Wat, with the lotus lake on the left

A surreal experience in Angkor Wat

In the main courtyard of Angkor Wat

Sculptures of mythical beings (garudas, nagas, etc) and bodhisattvas at Angkor Wat

A celestial being a.k.a apsara adorns the wall of Angkor Wat

Elevated towers, steep stairways and intricate wall carvings at Angkor Wat

A beautifully decorated wall with intricate Bas-relief wall carvings

A Bas-relief gallery depicting the army of King Soryavaman II in a battle

Greetings from the two of us at Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Up next: Discovering Bayon – the serene temple of the thousand smiling Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, Baphoun, and the jungle temple made famous by Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Ta Prohm.

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