Visiting the Angkor Wat Temples

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Visiting historical sites around the world has been one of my greatest pleasures from travelling. Being fond of world history (particularly European history), I have always thoroughly enjoyed the chance to feel as if I have walked through a time machine, and stepped out in another life, another world, another existence. Such is the case when you visit the great temples of Southeast Asia. Even more so than my trips to European countries, as I was not stepping back only hundreds of years, but all the way back to 802 AD. Unfathomable.

Angkor Wat was built by the Khmer empire, and was once the seat that ruled much of Southeast Asia. This ancient city is now one of the most visited UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, attracting more than 2 million visitors per year.

Angkor Wat

My Visit toΒ the Angkor Wat Temples

My visit to the Angkor Wat Temples was during the wet season (June-November), which had both pros and cons. First of all, there were far less tourists in Siem Reap (the city of which you base yourself to visit the temples)… so that was a bonus. But of course on the con side, it meant that there was often rain… and lots of it!

On the day we visited the temples (I was travelling solo and joined a travel group), there was rain on and off. This allowed for some great photos and some not-so-great photos. But alas, there were photos!

Another down side to the wet season is the fact that you have less a chance of capturing one of ‘those’ sunrises (the kind where the sky lights up and puts on a show for the photography enthusiasts). Unfortunately I so happened to stumble on an off day – with both rain and no colourful sky – but in the spirit of optimism, carried on to grab some photos anyway!

Helpful Hints…

It should go without saying as it is a general rule for all major tourist attractions, but be sure to arrive at the Angkor Wat Temples early (between 4.30-5.30am) in order to grab those sunrise photos. You will be joined by many other travellers from all around the world all hoping to grab that same shot, so the earlier you arrive the better chance you have of grabbing a front row seat.

When you arrive, you will need to purchase an entry permit or “Temple Pass”, which is valid for all of the Angkor temples in the area. These passes are priced at $20 USD for one day, $40 USD for three days, and $60 USD for 7 days. The only people who do not need to pay are Cambodians or those related to a Cambodian.

If you’re also interested in seeing the sunset, your temples pass begins at 5:00pm the evening before the day you visit – so consider making time for that!

As far as photography goes, here are some professional tips for photographing a sunrise that I found really helpful. The only thing was that I didn’t have a tripod with me – nor would I have been able to wade my way to the front in order to get the perfect shot. So, I had to make do!

For my photos throughout the day I used both my Olympus PEN E-PL7 and my newer addition: an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. On the latter, I was also testing out my fisheye lens (which you can see throughout the shots). I really loved the end result and can say with certainty that this is just the beginning of fisheye photos you will see on the blog!


The Various Temples of Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

As the largest religious monument in the entire world, it is little wonder the Angkor Wat temple itself is the most visited of the temples and most photographed. Originally constructed as a Hindu temple by the Khmer Empire, Angkor Wat temple eventually became a Buddhist temple by the 12th Century. Around the complex you will find endless bas-reliefs (2,600 feet to be exact), depicting the famous battles and scenes from battles. To get a more in-depth experience and walk away feeling educated, consider booking a guide for the day if you aren’t travelling as part of a tour.

The Bayon

The Bayon temple stands in the centre of Angkor Thom and was built by Jayavarman VII. This is the temple where you will find many statues of faces, which are a favourite among photographers.

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm is the temple that is still entirely covered by the jungle, representing what it must have been like to re-discover the ancient temples back in the 19th Century. If you’re looking for those tree roots-over-ancient-temples photos, look no further! This is also a great look at the Cambodian wilderness.

Elephant Terrace

Literally as it sounds, a 1000 foot terrace of elephants. Be aware, this is a favourite among the snap-happy tourists!

If you’re not templed out yet, see also: Preah Khan, Banteay Srei, East Mebon, Pre Rup, Preah Ko, Srah Srang, Ta Som, Baksei Chamkrong, and Terrace of the Leper King.










World of Wanderlust visited Cambodia as a guest ofΒ Intrepid Travel and ASEAN(Association of South East Asian Nations).

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!





    March 7, 2016

    I love your photos and description made me wanna go to Siem Reap again even I just got back this weekend.
    Thanks for spreading my wonderful temple to the world. πŸ™‚



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    Minh Nguyen

    August 20, 2015

    Just got back from Cambodia a few days ago. OMG, Angkor Wat is awesome. I had thought it was a touristic place and I wouldn’t like it but when I got there, I realized I liked every corner of it. How fantastic it is! Gorgeous! Took a lot oF photos, heard a lot of stories about Angkor and how people built it from random tour guides. My favourite place in Angkor is Bayon. Those buddha statues are gorgeous. I didn’t see sunset or sunrise but i was happy with what I did in Siem Reap and Angkor. It’s worth it!


    Jenny Kim

    August 4, 2015

    I’ve been wanting to take my husband to Cambodia for years now, and he finally agreed to go because he’s been seeing pictures from bloggers. I can’t wait to show him my country. Thanks for sharing.



    August 3, 2015

    it’s one of the world’s most absolutely amazing places and your photos and post do it justice!


    Paula EspΓ­ndola

    August 2, 2015

    Hi Brooke. I just wanted to give you a little advice about the fish eye lenses.
    Generally, we photographers use it to shots of the wide-angle kind. That is to mean… when we want to show a bigger skyline fr example because the line that is going to be distorted is the horizontal one and the landscape looks “bigger”. When the fish eye distorts the vertical lines so much, pictures looks odd and they causes a not-so-nice visual effect. I hope you can keep testing your fish eye lens and get more experience with it πŸ™‚ And about the tripod, I highly recommend to always be carrying one with you, a little one, cause the big tripods are very annoying (been doing a 4 days trekking with a big one and it was awful).
    Be cool πŸ˜‰



    August 1, 2015

    Hey Brooke, you don’t happen to still be in Siem Reap do you? I’m visiting SR at the moment from England and have followed the blog for a while, I would love to meet up! πŸ™‚



    August 1, 2015

    Cambodia is next on my bucket list so this post was perfect timing πŸ™‚


    EmilyAnne (Eat All Over The World)

    July 30, 2015

    Oh loved going to Angkor Watts! It was such an amazing place to visit and great place to take pictures. Love all the tips!


    Drumles Den Haag

    July 30, 2015

    Love the pictures with the fisheye lens. Makes me want to go there! πŸ™‚



    July 30, 2015

    Great photos! The rain and moody skies create an interesting setting for a clearly very interesting place. I was hesitant to purchase a fisheye lens because I thought I would get tired of the effect fairly quickly, but after seeing the variety you were able to produce here has me convinced I should get one!




    July 30, 2015

    I love Cambodia and Ankgor Wat. Thanks for the reminder of that beautiful place.



    July 30, 2015

    I am Cambodian – American and I have not yet visited but I am even more inspired to go now that I have seen these photos!

    Thanks for sharing your adventure!


    ijaz Ibrahim

    July 30, 2015

    Awesome place Angkor
    i want to visit there but i can’t reach because i am student
    nice place
    Thank you for sharing



    July 30, 2015

    Your photos are beautiful Brooke — as always. Even in the rainy season Angkor Wat looks amazing! Definitely high up on my travel bucketlist πŸ™‚



    July 29, 2015

    I am like your images.
    the place looks like from a adventurs game!
    would prefer to go immediately on holiday!

    Best, Patricia



    July 29, 2015

    This temple is amazing! I have always wanted to visit it, I hope one day I’ll get the chance… And this is also a great guide! i’ll save this post for when needed πŸ˜‰ Thanks!!



    July 29, 2015

    Even though it was cloudy for the sunrise you were there for, your photos are still amazing. It looks much more ethereal in that light I think! Unfortunately we missed out on visiting Cambodia while in SE Asia a couple of years ago but I’m really looking forward to making the journey there in the future xx



    July 29, 2015

    Thanks for the helpful hints!
    Your picture look so great, do you think a 1 day pass is enough for visiting Angkor Wat?


    Deepti @ Endless Postcards

    July 29, 2015

    Can’t wait to travel around Southeast Asia for myself! I loved your pictures although it’s a shame you couldn’t see the sunrise. There’s always next time!




    July 29, 2015

    You’re pictures are amazing!!! Even in the rainy season, Angkor Wat comes to life! I’m planning a trip in October, hoping it will be drier and more picturesque (if that’s possible!) What tour did you use? I’ll probably be traveling solo and would love a recommendation


    Minh Nguyen

    July 29, 2015

    the photos look great! this post is really helpful as i’m going to Cambodia next week. eager to see sunrise and sunset at Angkor πŸ™‚



    July 29, 2015

    Gorgeous photos and post; looks like you had an absolutely stunning time!




    July 29, 2015

    Beautiful. Especially love those fisheye shots!



    July 29, 2015

    Ohh I’d love to visit Cambodia! It’s funny coming from Australia, how little I’ve seen of South East Asia. Can’t wait to see more of SEA through your lens Brooke!



    July 29, 2015

    Wow! These pictures are totally rad!

  27. Brooke Saward

    July 29, 2015

    Couldn’t agree more πŸ™‚ and the people are so lovely, welcoming and friendly! Ahh Cambodia <3

  28. Brooke Saward

    July 29, 2015

    totally lived up to my expectations!! It was incredible to step back so far in history to ancient civilizations… got me looking for more of these kinds of experiences! Next I think the Burmese temples would be cool πŸ™‚


    Rachel Oliver

    July 29, 2015

    aw wow this looks stunning! your photos are amazing πŸ™‚



    July 29, 2015

    I so want to visit Angkor Wat and these photos have made me want to go even more! Did it live up to your expectations? I worry it’s one of those places that is so hyped up and photographed that when you actually get there its a bit ‘meh’.


    Lisa Bryan

    July 29, 2015

    Recently visited Angkor Wat (after years of dreaming about it!) – and it filled up soul up like no other!! Absolutely worth the trip! πŸ™‚

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