How to Spend 2 Days in Angkor Wat – Itinerary & Guide

2 Days in Angkor Wat Cambodia

This fantastic guest post was written by A Foreigner Abroad. According to them, 2 days in Angkor Wat is the perfect amount of time to see the inexhaustible temple ruins, without getting “templed-out”. In this 2 Day Itinerary for Angkor Wat, they cover a brief history of the UNESCO heritage site, how to get around, the must-sees, and more. You can find more awesome content from A Foreigner Abroad on their website and Instagram.

Travelling to the Angkor Wat Archeological Park (also known as the Angkor Wat Complex) is a perfect getaway for those seeking out historic culture, expansive adventure, and unparalleled beauty. Over a million tourists a year find themselves at this wondrous place in search of understanding a civilisation set over a thousand year ago.  

Located only five miles (8 km) north of Siem Reap, Angkor Wat is an essential addition to any Cambodia itinerary. And with this 2 Day Angkor Wat Itinerary and Guide, you’ll be able to navigate this archaeological site like a pro – leaving with a newfound understanding of this ancient civilisation’s past, an appreciation for the architectural splendour, and a sense of accomplishment for experiencing all the highlights this incredible place has to offer.

Planning a trip to Cambodia? Check out our 3 Week Cambodia Itinerary to help plan your trip.

2 Days in Angkor Wat Cambodia-2
2 Days in Angkor Wat Cambodia

How to Spend 2 Days in Angkor Wat – Itinerary & Guide

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A Brief History of Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat once stood as the capital of the flourishing Khmer Empire from the 9th – 15th centuries and remains one of the most iconic archaeological sites in all of Southeast Asia. The Angkor Wat Complex is composed of ancient cities, awe-inspiring reservoirs and hundreds of temples located only five miles (8 km) north from Siem Reap. 

Built amidst the dense jungles of northwestern Cambodia, the Angkor Wat Complex once stood as the epicentre to the Khmer Empire during the Angkorian period (802 – 1431 AD). To give you some brief insight, King Jayavarman II was crowned the first universal monarch in 802 AD and created a new kingdom to mark the beginning of a unified, independent Khmer Empire. 

It was during this reign that many temple sites were built, distinguishing an era of innovative brilliance in stone engineering and design that has somehow managed to survive several centuries, mostly unscathed.

Things to Know Before Visiting Angkor Wat

First of all, here’s everything you need to know ahead of visiting Angkor Wat.

How to Get to Angkor Wat

When visiting the Angkor Temple Complex, there are typically five main ways to access the grounds: bus, car, bike, scooter or tuk-tuk. We highly recommend taking a tuk-tuk – there’s nothing like experiencing an open-air vehicle as you drive from one destination to the next. Your hostel or hotel can easily coordinate for you, otherwise flag down a driver from the street and negotiate pricing from there. It’s as simple as that! 

Tuk-Tuk Pricing Guide:

To rent a tuk-tuk for the day standardised pricing is as follows (pay your driver in cash):

  • $15 Small Loop Scenic Route
  • $20 Big Loop Scenic Route
  • $25 Big Loop Scenic Route + Temples Outside of the Big Loop
tuk tuk Angkor Wat Cambodia
tuk tuk Angkor Wat Cambodia
Getting Into Angkor Wat

To get access to the Angkor Temple Complex, you will need a ticket. You can purchase tickets from the Angkor Wat Ticket Control Office – which your driver can take you to upon request. We recommend getting there early to avoid the crowds as lines can be long – brutally so during peak season months (November – March). Admission prices are below:

  • 1 Day Pass: $37 Per Person
  • 3 Day Pass (Valid for 1 Week): $62 Per Person
  • 1 Week Pass (Valid for 1 Month): $72 Per Person

*Quick Tip: As you can see, it’s cheaper to buy a 3 Day Pass rather than 2 x 1 Day passes. We purchased a 3 Day Pass which was perfect for the schedule proposed here, and you always have the option to return for the third day.  

Angkor Complex Opening Hours
  • Angkor Wat Temple & Srah Srang: 5:00am – 5:30pm (Open @ Sunrise)
  • Phnom Bakheng & Pre Rup Temples: 5:00am – 7:00pm (Open Sunrise to Sunset)
  • All Remaining Temples: 7:30am – 5:30pm

2 Days in Angkor Wat – Overview

To give you some background information, the word Angkor in the Khmer language of Cambodia means “capital”. So as you may have guessed, this area once stood as the capital of the Khmer Empire. The Angkor Temple Complex is over 400-acres, boasting countless temples that were built over 1,200 years ago. 

Due to the multitude of temples to see and the vast amount of land to cover we’ve split Angkor Wat into two parts. We’ve dedicated day 1 to the big loop of lesser-known temples and day two to the smaller loop and famous landmarks. For now, let’s focus on the fun for Day 1.

2 Days in Angkor Wat Cambodia-3
2 Days in Angkor Wat Cambodia

Day 1 of 2 Days in Angkor Wat 

Angkor Wat Big Loop

Since this two-day adventure will have you exploring over 400 acres of archaeologically infused land, day 1 of this Angkor Wat itinerary is strictly focused on exploring the outer perimeter of the Angkor Wat Complex.   

Considering we are starting Day 1 with the Big Loop Scenic Route – you’ll be hitting the farther temples on the perimeter of the complex grounds. The Small Loop covers less ground but takes you to the more well-known attractions, but don’t worry; we will get to that further down. 

Day 1 Itinerary At a Glance
  • Preah Khan
  • Neak Pean
  • Ta Som
  • East Mebon
  • Pre Rup
  • Srah Srang (Typically part of the small circuit but you can easily squeeze in)
Stop #1: Preah Khan Temple

Opening Hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm

Preah Khan Temple is hands down the highlight to the big loop offerings. Standing as the largest flat temple found in Angkor Wat, this particular shrine was once home to an entire bustling city that now remains in ruin. Built in the 12th century, Preah Khan once stood as the centre of a sizable organisation of over 100,000 servants and officials.

Preah Khan Temple Angkor Wat Cambodia
Preah Khan Temple Angkor Wat Cambodia
Stop #2: Neak Pean Temple

Opening Hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm

East of Preah Khan you’ll find Neak Pean; a temple built on an island that was once a former reservoir. This unique structure contains an intriguing circular platform surrounded by several large bodies of water constructed in a symmetrical fashion. You won’t need more than 30 minutes here, but the reflections off the water’s surface prove to be a spectacular sight to see. 

Neak Pean Temple Angkor Wat
Neak Pean Temple Angkor Wat
Stop #3: Ta Som

Opening Hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm

North of Neak Pean you’ll stumble across Ta Som Temple. This particular temple is most notorious for its sophisticated design. It is one of the most impressive examples of intricate stonework found on the Angkor Wat Complex. With walls that have been infringed upon by tree roots over time, they appear to be swallowing the temple whole. Indeed, an incredible place to take in.  

Ta Som Angkor Wat
Ta Som Angkor Wat
Stop #4: East Mebon Temple

Opening Hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm

The East Mebon temple once lived on an island in the former East Baray, which at the time was the most important Angkor reservoir; although unfortunately, it dried up during the medieval times. This particular temple has unbelievable examples of lintel carvings from the Pre Rup style created over 1,000 years ago that will leave you inspired and amazed. 

East Mebon Temple Angkor Wat
East Mebon Temple Angkor Wat
Stop #5: Pre Rup Temple

Opening Hours: 5:00am – 7:00pm

Pre Rup is a temple built from the 10th century that sits peacefully atop a small mountain. To gain access, climb the very steep stairs provided to encounter the best views. Arranged in a pagoda-like fashion, four temples sit at each of the four corners, giving you an unobstructed view of the ruins and majesty of this place as a whole. This was one of our favourite temples by far due to its pristine location – it also serves as a great place to catch the sunrise or sunset.

Pre Rup Temple Angkor Wat
Pre Rup Temple Angkor Wat
Stop #6: Srah Srang Temple

Opening Hours: 5:00am – 5:30pm

Located at the apex of both the big loop and small loop junction, Srah Srang is technically part of the small loop route. But it happens to be directly behind Pre Rup so if you have the extra time or are feeling up to more adventure you can add this as the last stop. If you decide to do the Big Loop Scenic Route counterclockwise, this place can also become a perfect sunrise location.

Srah Srang Temple Angkor Wat Cambodia
Srah Srang Temple Angkor Wat Cambodia

Day 2 of 2 Days in Angkor Wat 

Angkor Wat Small Loop

Day 2 of our itinerary focuses on the Angkor Wat Small Loop, which boasts all of the most legendary monuments in the park. This particular route is only 17 km long but includes all the must-see temples within the Angkor Wat Complex so plan on a full day of exploration and adventure.

Day 2 Schedule at a Glance
  • Sunrise at Angkor Wat
  • Phnom Bakheng
  • Bayon Temple – (Built in “The Great Capital City” of Angkor Thom)
  • Baphuon Temple – (Built in “The Great Capital City” of Angkor Thom)
  • Terrace of the Elephants – (Built in “The Great Capital City” of Angkor Thom)
  • Thommanon and Chau Say Tevoda
  • Ta Keo
  • Ta Prohm
  • Banteay Kdei
Stop #1: Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Built in the first half of the 12th century and taking a whopping 30 years to complete, Angkor Wat stands as the largest religious monument in the world. Originally built as a Hindu temple this particular structure was slowly transformed into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. Angkor Wat is a symmetrical masterpiece and has proven time and time again to be a photographer’s heaven.

It’s no surprise that Angkor Wat is the crown jewel when it comes to temples in the Angkor complex. And for many of you, sunrise at Angkor Wat has been on your bucket list since forever, so we’re here to help you make those dreams a reality. 

The Game Plan: Have your tuk-tuk driver pick you up from your place of lodging at 4:30 am. It’s essential to get to Angkor Wat early for a good seat as crowds can get quite large. As mentioned previously – you should have already purchased your ticket while at the ticketing office on day 1. This will ensure you don’t waste time and you get the best possible spot to watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat Sunrise Hours

  • Temple Gates: 5:00am (Open @ Sunrise)
  • Angkor Wat Complex Ticketing Office: 5:00am – 7:00pm (Open Sunrise to Sunset)

Best Place to Watch Sunrise at Angkor Wat

To ensure you get the best possible view, we highly suggest positioning yourself behind one of the reflection ponds located in front of the main temple. This is where most people capture that quintessential photo of Angkor Wat at sunrise. If you are seeking that picture-perfect, postcard experience – this is it.

Sunrise Angkor Wat Cambodia
Sunrise Angkor Wat Cambodia
Stop #2: Phnom Bakheng

Opening Hours: 5:00am – 7:00pm

Phnom Bakheng is a temple mountain built in honour of the Hindu God Shiva and stands as one of the oldest temples found in the Angkor Wat Complex. Built at the end of the 9th century, Phnom Bakheng is full of rich history and worth coming back to for sunset due to its pristine location. Sitting high atop a hill, you’ll have uninterrupted views of Angkor Wat in the distance with the surrounding jungle below. If coming back for sunset sounds enticing, be sure to arrive early – only 300 people are allowed in the temple at a time so if you don’t enter 3 hours prior you’ll be waiting in a long line with no guarantee of entrance; the earlier you get there, the better.

Phnom Bakheng Angkor Wat Cambodia
Phnom Bakheng Angkor Wat Cambodia
Stop #3: Bayon Temple

Opening Hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm

Nestled in the heart of Angkor Thom resides the 12th century Bayon temple. This mesmerising temple was constructed as a state temple to glorify Cambodia’s most celebrated King: Jayavarman VII, as a tribute to his creative genius, prolific ideas and inflated ego. Bayon Temple contains 54 gothic towers decorated with over 200 colossal statues, Avalokiteshvara faces and over 11,000 figures. It’s a spectacular sight to see and a sculptural masterpiece.

Bayon Temple Angkor Wat Cambodia
Bayon Temple Angkor Wat Cambodia
Stop #4: Baphuon Temple

Opening Hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm

Baphuon Temple is a wonderful 11th-century temple-mountain. Several sets of steep stairs lead visitors to an open terrace for one of the best-unobstructed views of the Angkor Wat Complex. This temple design is more unique than most – with a 225 meter elevated sandstone walkway.  

Guests are lead to the main entrance where a set of steep stairs awaits, taking visitors to the upper levels to witness beautiful carvings and incredible scenery. We suggest giving yourself an hour to explore so you can wander as you please while giving yourself plenty of time to trek towards the summit. 

Baphuon Temple Angkor Wat Cambodia
Baphuon Temple Angkor Wat Cambodia
Stop #5: Terrace of the Elephants

Opening Hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm

The Terrace of the Elephants is more simplistic than other temples but equally striking. Built in the late 12th century, the 350-meter long ornamental wall is embellished with hand-carved elephants. Originally constructed as a viewing platform for King Jayavarman VII to witness his victorious returning army – you can’t help but envision what this site must have been like to experience over a thousand years ago.

Terrace of the Elephants Angkor Wat Cambodia
Terrace of the Elephants Angkor Wat Cambodia
Stop #6: Thommanon and Chay Say Tevoda

Opening Hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm

Thommanon and Chau Say Tevoda are fantastic examples of the classical Angkor Wat style from the first half of the 12th century. Twin temples in nature, Thommanon Temple is adorned with well preserved intricate carvings and ornate lintels that bear imagery of Vishnu and Shiva – the two gods to whom the temple is dedicated. We found some of the most captivating imagery, however, to be the engraved deities (or spirits if you will) that were once admired by the ancient Khmers. 

Directly opposite of Thommanon Temple resides Chau Say Tevoda Temple – a perfect partner to Thommanon. Similar in structure and style but less well maintained, this temple was not our favourite but still worth a gander. Both temples are small but picturesque examples of well-preserved Apsara carvings from the Khmer Empire.

Thommanon Chau Say Tevoda Angkor Wat Cambodia
Thommanon Chau Say Tevoda Angkor Wat Cambodia
Stop #7: Ta Keo

Opening Hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm

The structural integrity of Ta Keo is quite unique and stands as one of the first temples to be constructed in sandstone. Built during the second half of the 10th century, Ta Keo Temple is a pyramid of five levels that reaches a staggering height of 50 meters. The first two levels form a base-like structure with enclosed gardens and courtyards, while the upper three levels are an arrangement of smaller sanctuaries. The temple, unfortunately, was never finished but provides an insight as to how the ancient Khmer civilisations used blocks of stone to construct the grandiose temples during the Angkorian period.

Ta Keo Angkor Wat Cambodia
Ta Keo Angkor Wat Cambodia
Stop #8: Ta Prohm Temple

Opening Hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm

Ta Prohm is by far the most photographed temple in all of Angkor Wat. Originally constructed in 1186 Ta Prohm served as a Mahayana Buddhist Monastery and University until the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 15th century. Shortly after that, Ta Prohm fell into disrepair as the Cambodian jungle swallowed the temple whole for centuries upon centuries. Massive tree roots have snaked their way through cracks and crumbling stone walls, through dark hallways and corridors, pillaging all in their path. Making its big debut on the big screen, Ta Prohm grew notoriously famous for its role in the 2001 Hollywood hit with Angelina Jolie – Tomb Raider. This mystical, mysterious temple is a must see and a proven favourite by all.

Ta Prohm Angkor Wat Cambodia
Ta Prohm Angkor Wat Cambodia
Stop #9: Banteay Kdei

Opening Hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm

Banteay Kdei is a 12th – 13th-century temple that was commenced by none other than King Jayavarman VII. The word Banteay Kdei directly translates to “Citadel of Chambers” due to its labyrinth passages and chambers. This temple often gets overlooked, which makes it even more of a hidden gem. The unique design of tree engulfed ruins paired with the quiet calm this place brings, Banteay Kdei is the perfect temple to conclude your two-day adventure.

Banteay Kdei Angkor Wat Cambodia
Banteay Kdei Angkor Wat Cambodia

2 Day Angkor Wat Itinerary Conclusion

We promised to provide you with the best possible 2 Day Travel Guide & Itinerary to the inner depths of the Angkor Wat Complex – and I’d say we delivered on that promise! We hope you had fun navigating the hidden depths of Angkor Wat and making all your bucket list dreams come true. Life is all about living for moments you can’t put into words, and you just accomplished two full days of just that, so be proud of what you’ve done – we are! 

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