All the Ways to Get to Angkor Wat
I am fairly certain it is impossible to spend the day at Angkor Wat without some body part hurting at the end of the day; whether it’s feet from too much walking, calves from too many stairs, or buttocks from too much biking.
However, seeing Angkor Wat and all its surrounding temples is well worth any aches and pains that may arise from touring it. Angkor Wat is just one small part of the complex; Angkor is huge and there are so many amazing things to see! So pack your comfiest pair of walking shoes and check out my article for Lost Girls World on the different transportation options to get around Angkor. Just remember, some are more easy on the body than others.
In a hurry? Here’s a synopsis of the article.
Pros and Cons of the Transportation Options to Angkor Wat
Taking a tuk-tuk to Angkor Wat is the most popular form of transportation to the ruins. Tuk-tuks consist of an open-air cart strapped to the back of a motorcycle.
A tuk-tuk generally costs $15 for the day and can be arranged through your hotel. The driver will take you around to the different sites, deposit you in front of each temple or landmark, and wait for you there until you’re ready to move onto the next one. Keep in mind that the driver won’t accompany you around the temples. You’ll need to also hire a guide for that, which runs about $25.
Pros: Affordable, memorable, and lets you go the day at your own pace.
Cons: Not too much of a downside for the tuk-tuk. The early morning ride if you’re catching the sunrise is surprisingly chilly in the winter months, considering how hot it gets during the day there, but it’s nothing compared to snowy destinations. Also, if you’re on a budget, the $15 for a tuk-tuk on top of the $20 admission fee to the ruins may have you opting toward one of the next two options.
It would take a braver soul than myself to bike the morning sunrise trek to Angkor amidst the weaving tuk-tuks, potholed roads, and pervading darkness. Try it if you dare. However, if you’re visiting Angkor after sunrise a bike is a terrific way to experience the outdoors of Siem Reap on your way to the ruins and once you’ve arrived. Riding a bike alongside ancient temples seems completely out of place yet at the same time, feels like the most authentic way to ride your way around Angkor. Many hotels in Siem Reap rent bikes for just a few dollars to use for the day. But be warned, these bikes are generally not 10-speed durable mountain bikes. Instead, they’re old, rickety, one-speed cruisers with very uncomfortable seats. Due to the comfort level and extra time a bike takes to ride around, you may not be able to see as much of the ruins as you’d like. Therefore, plan an extra couple days to see it all by bike, or do one day by tuk-tuk and one day by bike. If you’re on a time crunch and only have one day yet are determined to bike the ruins, make sure to hit the temples most important for you to see first in case your behind can’t make it to the rest.
Pros: Renting a bike is very affordable; only $2-$3 to rent for the day. It’s also great exercise – perfect for working off too many Singha beers consumed the night before.
Cons: It can be hard to find places to chain your bike up – which is highly recommended. You may need to get creative. While at Angkor Wat, I ended up chaining my bike to a massive, partially uprooted tree root for lack of a better alternative. Biking also will most likely mean not being able to see as much of the ruins in one day. And lastly, your butt may be in agony afterward. Also, if hoping to catch the sunrise, you’ll be biking along nearly pitch-black roads; plan on packing some sort of safety light to fasten to yourself if you do that. Or do like I did and take the tuk-tuk there for sunrise and then bike back the next day.
You can read my full account of biking to Angkor Wat here.
This option is only for the hard-core hiker-types as it’s 3.5 miles just to get from the town center of Siem Reap to the entrance to Angkor Wat.
If walking to the ruins and then walking from temple to temple is your plan, invest in good walking shoes and be prepared to spend your day there until it closes at 6 p.m. Without a tuk-tuk or other form of transportation on wheels it will take you a long time to get from one ancient area to the next as there can be several miles between them.
That doesn’t mean it’s not worth the trek. This way of making the temple rounds at Angkor allows for a calmer, step-back-in-time journey through the ruins. Angkor is in the jungle, something that is easy to forget amidst the hundreds of visitors Angkor gets every day. A unique tree or playing monkey that you might miss riding something from temple to temple can get your full, undivided attention – for as long as you want to give it.
Pros: Once your legs are done feeling like jelly, you will have legs of steel. Walking is a peaceful way to get around the ruins and can be done completely at your own pace.
Cons: Before getting legs of steel, your legs are going to feel like jelly. Also, if at the end of the day you aren’t up for walking the 3.5 miles back to town, you may have trouble finding a taxi or tuk-tuk as a lot of the ones you’ll see lined up are already waiting for people. Oh yeah, and you’re basically walking a half marathon. Need I say more?
By Bus or Cab
Bus or cab tours are a great option if there are more than two people in your group as even three people will get a bit snug on a tuk-tuk. You can rent a cab for $20-25 for the day while buses greatly vary depending on what’s included. All day tours with guides and lunch can be upwards of $70 per person. Your hotel can help you arrange a taxi or join a bus tour.
Pros: Buses and cabs are good for larger groups and you’ll get a break from the heat by being in air-conditioning between temples.
Cons: If taking a bus, the experience won’t be as intimate. Taking a cab or bus is also typically a more expensive way to get around the ruins.
With a Guide
As I mentioned earlier, if you want to have someone take you around the temples and actually explain what you’re seeing, you’ll want to hire a guide since there aren’t much in terms of informational signs around the complex.
The guide I had while there was awesome – he knew everything. Unless you’re an expert on Angkor yourself, a guide is probably a wise investment for your day at Angkor.
Guides typically spend the whole day with you, and the areas of Angkor that you visit are decided on beforehand.
Your guide will meet you at your hotel and accompany you on the tuk-tuk or cab to and around Angkor Wat and back to your hotel.
There Will Be Walking in Angkor No Matter How You Get There
No matter what transportation you choose to take around Angkor, one thing won’t change – you’re likely going to do a lot of walking around the temples and up and down stairs. So invest in some good shoes before your trip — and maybe plan in a $5 foot massage when you get back to Siem Reap!