ANGKOR WAT – A Wonder of the World

Andrew Leeson


As the sun slowly emerges from behind the magnificence of Angkor Wat, it’s easy to see why this Temple and the surrounding temples that comprise the Angkor complex have become a must see for travellers from around the world. It’s magical, captivating and a moment that will live long in your memories. And whilst the structures themselves are indeed impressive, its the smiles and warmth of the Cambodian people that make this experience so incredibly special.


Angkor Wat is a temple complex in the Kingdom of Cambodia, and the largest religious monument in the world. The site covers 162.6 hectares . It was originally constructed as a Hindu temple of god Vishu, before gradually transforming into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. It was built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, and his story and that of the Khmer people is beautifully told through the carvings around the main temple itself.

Angkor was the capital of the Khmer Empire and was the Kings eventual mausoleum. The temple has become a symbol of Cambodia itself, appearing on the National flag, and is the country’s prime attraction with over 2.2 million visitors annually. 

Angkor Wat

Pub Street, Siem Reap

Top Tips for visiting Angkor

There’s plenty of blogs and articles about Angkor Wat, many providing lots of information and angles on how best to enjoy the temples, but in simple terms this is what we believe are the key elements to making the most of the experience;

  • The Time of Year. Angkor gets VERY busy with visitors during peak season (particularly December, January and February). Yes the temperatures are a little cooler, but if you get frustrated by large crowds this time of year is best avoided. We visited in April, and whilst hot, the number of people was half and the weather was dry. In the wet season (July, August, September) the number of visitors are even less, and the surrounding countryside green and lush – just ensure you have an umbrella!
  • The Time of Day. It’s an early start, but we would strongly suggest arriving at the Temples for sunrise. Generally this means leaving your hotel in Siem Reap by around 4.45am (and lots of people have the same idea) but its a wonderful experience, the temperature is cooler and you’re ahead of the main crowds which arrive around 7am to 8am.
  • Mode of Transport. Lots of backpackers (and romantic adventurous types) love to get to and around the temples using a tuktuk. Whilst that might look good in a photo, once the sun has risen it is incredibly hot, and walking around the temples quickly builds up a sweat. We’d suggest an air-conditioned car/van. It’s a sanctuary from the heat and an opportunity to recharge your batteries before moving onto the next attraction.
  • Take care of yourself. Depending on your fitness level, don’t try and do everything in one day. Angkor has plenty of stairs, limited areas of shade and reasonably long distances to walk. Couple this with searing heat and high humidity and your wonderful experience could become a health nightmare if you push yourself too hard. Keep hydrated and take regular breaks.
  • Use a local Tour Guide. This is probably the most important tip of all. Many come to the temples, take a few photos and do it themselves, which is fine. But by hiring a local Tour Guide not only are you helping the local people, you will have a far deeper and richer experience as the guide gives you a greater understanding of the temples themselves. Not only that, they also assist navigate the crowds and know where all the best photo opportunities are.
Angkor Wat

East Gate, Angkor Thom

Getting there

Siem Reap International Airport is modern, efficient and conveniently located about 20 minutes from the town of Siem Reap. There are no direct flights from Australia to anywhere in Cambodia, so visitors will often fly in from other major Asian cities, such as Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi or Manila. Siem Reap is also connected to the capital, Phnom Penh, but air, road and boat.


Australians require a visa to visit Cambodia. The cost is US$30.00 and this can be either done online beforehand, or upon arrival at the airport.


The US$ is king in Cambodia, and accepted everywhere. We’d suggest bringing plenty of small denominated notes, as change can be often given back in Cambodia’s own currency ‘the Riel’. There are about 4,100 Riel to 1US$. (Note: US$ notes should be good condition as they otherwise not be accepted).

Siem Reap

The town of Siem Reap will be the topic of our next blog.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re on a short holiday from overseas, or like many of our clients, you’ve retired or are long term residents in the region, a trip to the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat really is a must. They are truly one of the Wonders of the World, and experience not to be missed.

If you’d like more information or have any questions, please feel free to call 1800-961-377 or email in**@re**********.au and let the team at Retire to Asia help make your dream lifestyle a reality.

Andrew Leeson

Andrew Leeson

Over 20 years of experience helping people live a better life in SE Asia. Having worked in financial services in Asia I understand the challenges when moving to and living in a new country. I have travelled extensively throughout the region and experienced what SE Asia has to offer to retirees.

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