Angkor Archaeological Park
The Angkor Archaeological Park is home to the magnificent Khmer temple ruins of Angkor, including the legendary Angkor Wat, Bayon and dozens of other ancient ruins of the Angkorian-era (9th-13th century) Khmer Empire. The Park encompasses more than 400 square kilometers just outside Siem Reap City in northwestern Cambodia and is a World Heritage Site.
The temple ruins of Angkor contained within the Angkor Archaeological Park represent the remnants of the millennium-old Angkorian-era capitals of the ancient Khmer Empire. The Khmer people were and are the dominant ethnic group in Cambodia. The name ‘Angkor’ refers to the Angkorian-era Khmer Empire that stretched across much of mainland Southeast Asia between the 9th and 15th centuries A.D., and also refers to the capital city of the Empire that was centered north of Siem Reap Cambodia. The Angkor Archaeological Park encompasses the main temple ruins of the Angkorian capitals located in the Siem Reap area. Most of these temples were constructed between the 9th and 12th century A.D. and represent the pinnacle of ancient Khmer architecture, art and civilization. At its height, the Age of Angkor was a time wealth and power for the Khmer Empire. The capital city at Angkor was populated by more than a million people, Khmer kings constructed vast waterworks and grand temples and the Empire's military, economic and cultural dominance held sway over the area of modern Cambodia, as well as much of Thailand, southern Vietnam and Laos.
Siem Reap City is the gateway to the Angkor Archaeological Park. There are no hotels within the Park grounds and most visitors stay in Siem Reap where almost all of the area's hotel and restaurants are located. Siem Reap City is just south of the Angkor Archaeological Park with the Park entrance located only 3km north of town. With the exception of the Roluos Group of temples 13km east of Siem Reap, the most important temple ruin are within 6-25km north of town, the closest major temple being Angkor Wat. To arrange your visit to the Angkor Archaeological Park you will need to decide how long to stay, purchase an admission pass, arrange transportation to the temples, obtain a guidebook or tour guide and plan out your temple itinerary.
A one-day visit allows you to see the highlights of the most famous temples but very little more. Three days is sufficient to visit all of the major temples once, a few of the minor ones and have a little extra time at your favorites. Seven days is enough time to really explore some of your favorite ruins and visit many of the minor structures as well. One passport-sized photo is require at time of purchase of three and seven day passes. If you do not have a photo, free photos are provided at the main entrance, though this can be a time consuming process at peak entrance hours.
Visiting hours are 5:00AM - 6:00PM. Angkor Wat closes at 6:00PM, Banteay Srey closes at 5:00PM Kbal Spean and at 3:00PM. Always carry your ticket. It will be checked upon each park entry and at major temples. There is a significant fine for not possessing a valid ticket inside the park. A regular admission ticket is not required to visit Phnom Kulen, Koh Ker or Beng Mea Lea, but there is a separate entrance fee of $20, $10 and $5, respectively.
*Wear light, airy, covering clothing to protect yourself from the sun and mosquitoes. The sun can be intense so bring a hat, sunglasses and perhaps sunscreen. Consider buying a traditional Khmer scarf (krama) to keep the sun off your neck. Carry a raincoat during the wet season, though you will probably only need it in the afternoon. You should have mosquito repellent for sunrise and sunset hours. Wear practical shoes for climbing narrow steps and walking on uneven surfaces. For serious temple explorers, a flashlight, notebook and compass can come in handy. Books, refreshments, trinkets, postcards and film are available from small vendors throughout the temple complex.