Is Angkor Wat worth it? The ruins of Angkor are famous all over the world, but are they as impressive as people say?
Visiting Cambodia without going to Angkor Wat is like going to India without seeing Taj Mahal. Or okay, it’s not exactly the same: India has plenty of other famous historical sites around the country, Cambodia doesn’t.
When travellers talk about Angkor Wat, they usually mean the larger ruins of Angkor which include the temple of Angkor Wat. Angkor was the capital of the historical Khmer Empire that flourished approximately from the 9th to the 15th century. At its peak, Angkor was the largest city of pre-industrial era.
Visiting Angkor doesn’t come cheap. A day pass to the area costs 20$. The price for a day is a bit cheaper with a 3-day (40$ in total) or 7-day (60$) pass. You can only see a portion of the ruins in one day, but staying in the area for longer is not necessary. After all, the ruins are not extremely different from each other.
Besides the ticket, you also need to pay for transport. Renting a bicycle is an option, but the distances are quite long. Me and three other Finnish backpackers hired a tuk tuk for the day, which cost 25$ in total (6.25$/person). Had we skipped the sunrise, the same tour would have cost us 20$.
On the next part of this blog post, I go through our day trip to Angkor Wat. After that I ponder if Angkor Wat is worth visiting.
Angkor Wat at Sunrise
What Else is There to See in Angkor?
When You Grow Tired of Temples…
Honestly, the Mimosa pudica (aka “the sensitive plant”) got me more excited than some of the ruins. The Wikipedia page of the plant even has a great gif of the plant in action, showing the rapid folding of its leaves.
Is Angkor Wat Worth It?
So, is Angkor Wat worth it? Yes, I think so! If you’ve never found any ruins interesting, the temples of Angkor in Cambodia won’t change your mind. I personally found my visit to Angkor better than I expected.
I haven’t always been very impressed by other ruins I’ve seen, but I enjoyed visiting Angkor. I especially found the areas where giant trees had taken over the structures to be very intriguing. More importantly, I enjoyed my tour because I had some great company.
After months of solo travel, exploring the ruins in a group can be very interesting – especially when the other backpackers have done more research than yourself. When you hear about the history, the stories breathe life to the piles of stones.
I quote: “You can only see a portion of the ruins in one day, but staying in the area for longer is not necessary.”
Coming all the way to Angkor for only one day is a crime. The area is one of the biggest and most interesting historical artefacts in the world. Then you spent 2 weeks in Pokhara, Nepal, a place totally devoid of any culture and just a modern tourist trap. This certainly makes me to question your priorities.
Thank you for the feedback Kari! 🙂
I understand your point of view, and I think it’s mainly a matter of taste. I believe that one day in Angkor gives a person enough time to get a solid impression of the place. I could have probably enjoyed more days on the site, but it didn’t fit my schedule and I didn’t feel like it was completely necessary. I was traveling with other people and I had limited time at that point.
Still, if someone else likes to spend several days in Angkor, Persepolis, Hampi, Gunung Padang or some other sight, that’s just great! 🙂 I’ve got nothing against it. I think everyone should just travel the way they like, not trying to follow what someone else is doing.
At the same time, I wouldn’t say my one day in Angkor and three weeks in Pokhara are completely comparable. While in Pokhara, I spent that time taking daily private lessons of Nepalese language. No, there were no historical sites nearby, but befriending with locals definitely helped me delve deeper into the contemporary culture and society of Nepal.