Learn about the history and mystery of Cambodia’s most famous temple, Angkor Wat. Amazing UNESCO World Heritage site where you may learn about the Khmer Empire’s past and present. You will see Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, and Bayon, among others, but your guide will also show you lesser-known but impressive temples. Make plans to see Angkor Wat today by booking a trip.
Hiring a direct personal tour guide, Angkor Wat, for a private tour in Cambodia is a quick and simple way to create a flexible itinerary for your travel and obtain the most cost-effective experience possible, with no hidden fees or surprises.
Angkor Wat, known as the ‘City of Temples’, is a massive temple complex and archaeological park, home to hundreds of ancient temples and ruins left behind by the Khmer Empire. It is one of the most visited destinations in Southeast Asia and lies in the north-western province of Cambodia, just 6.6 km from the small but lively city of Siem Reap and a six-hour bus journey from the capital city. Phnom Penh.
So, is Angkor Wat worth visiting? I have to give a resounding “Yes!” to this question. On approach, it is a spectacular sight to behold, and as you start walking through the grounds, you begin to sense that you are somewhere incredibly special, feeling somewhat humbled by its towering, majestic beauty. Even if you have just one day to spend there, this ancient site will certainly not disappoint. There are various ways to get around the complex and enjoy what is known as Cambodia’s jewel; the choice is yours.
- A guided tour is an excellent way to navigate the huge complex and unearth its complex history with a knowledgeable, registered guide.
- Bicycle tours are popular and a great way to explore the temples. You can enjoy this at your own pace, taking in the scenic countryside between them.
- Tuk-tuks are a common mode of transport and also an excellent way to get around the complex. You can hire one for the day for a reasonable price and also explore at your own pace. The driver will drop you off outside the temples and meet you at the exit before moving on to the next stop. Some tuk-tuk drivers have great local knowledge and will give you valuable tips, but they are not registered guides.
- Using a private guide with a car is a wonderful way to discover the complex and more. If your budget allows, these tours are tailor-made to suit your needs and requirements, with the added bonus of air conditioning and being able to travel further distances.
The Benefits of Hiring a Tour Guide
Local tour guides in Siem Reap offer a wealth of benefits to travelers, from helping you make the most of your time to providing insights and experiences that you wouldn’t have on your own. If you’re considering hiring a private tour guide, here are just a few of the reasons why it’s a great idea:
- Save time and hassle. Tour guides can help you plan your itinerary, make reservations, and navigate your way around, so you can spend more time enjoying your trip and less time worrying about logistics.
- Learn more about the places you’re visiting. Tour guides are experts on the history, culture, and customs of the destinations they serve. They can provide you with insights and information that you wouldn’t find in a travel guide or online.
- Get off the beaten path. Tour guides know where to find the best hidden gems and hidden attractions, so you can experience the authentic side of the places you’re visiting.
- Have a more personalized experience. Tour guides can tailor their tours to your interests and needs. If you’re interested in a particular topic, such as history, art, or food, your guide can design a tour that focuses on your interests.
- A certified Angkor Wat tour guide is very knowledgeable and will provide valuable insight into the fascinating history, culture, architecture, and purpose of each temple. They will decipher and explain the meanings of the detailed carvings on the walls and stunning bas-reliefs, depicting stories of historical wars and exhibiting scenes of daily life in ancient Angkorian society. A guide will be able to put the history into context and answer any of your questions. They are enthusiastic to share their knowledge and are often entertaining, so a quality guide may also be great company, adding to your experience and making your trip a bit more memorable.
- The park is vast and can be overwhelming, so a private guide will not only navigate but also suggest which temples to visit and the best times to do so (especially if you wish to avoid crowds or to take some special photographs with a particular light). They will also show you where to buy snacks and refreshments, find restrooms and services, and communicate with the locals.
- Should you only have one day, a guide will plan it, allowing for sufficient time to explore your chosen temples and see as much as possible without feeling rushed. They will usher you between temples in the most direct and time-efficient way, as there are considerable distances to cover. For this reason, guides are also extremely helpful if you have limited mobility. They know temples well and will show you the most accessible paths and avoid tricky terrain.
How to Choose a Guide and What to Expect on a Guided Tour
Many services advertise online, so when looking for a good guide, I recommend researching a little to ensure they are certified guides, trained by the Ministry of Tourism. It is also advisable to check out their previous reviews and how they have been rated. Learn more about the Siem Reap Tour Guide with good reviews. The guide’s price will depend on the quality of services offered, the language spoken, and the length of the tour; these rates are set by the Cambodia Tourist Guide Association.
In addition, you will also pay for your pass and transport of choice, although your private guide may organize this for you.
Expect to walk a lot, as vehicles are not permitted inside the grounds. With a guide, you will visit the most popular temples and some lesser-known temples and monuments, which are equally intriguing. Expect a detailed account of the history and significance of each site and ample time to explore. Overall, Angkor Wat is an unforgettable place, but with a tour guide, you should expect to leave with a deeper appreciation and understanding of its rich cultural heritage.
Drawbacks of Hiring a Guide
- Some guides can be costly, especially if you are on a budget, so you may wish to book a direct personal tour guide to learn about a more affordable private local Angkor Wat tour guide.
- It may be difficult to communicate with your guide, although most have a high level of English or other languages. Otherwise, you may want to consider using an interpreter.
- Flexibility may be restricted on a guided tour as you will be on a schedule. If you are making a trip to Angkor Wat in peak season, it can become very crowded, so you may be held up or have to wait around at the popular temple gates.
- Finding a good guide at Angkor Wat in peak season can be difficult due to the number of visitors. It is an advantage to book ahead of time.
- There are unfortunately some scams at Angkor Wat, including fake ticket agents, guides, and guards. Always ask to see their credentials and lanyards with their photo ID. There have been known to be fake monks who will mumble a blessing and ask for money. If in doubt, just politely refuse and walk away to avoid any awkwardness. You will also find some pushy vendors outside the gates forcing their wares on you, but food, drinks, and souvenir shops can be found inside the grounds, although these will be more expensive. Some guides may be interested in pushing souvenirs on you or taking a cut from the profits of bringing you to these vendors. They may also try to push tickets on you for other events, again because they take a cut.
- Children are often used to sell goods to help their school or family. Beware, as buying from them promotes a harmful practice where the children are giving most, if not all, of their profits to a third party. With a good guide, you should be warned and protected from falling for any of these scams.
Alternatives to Hiring a Guide
As explained above, there are various ways to visit Angkor Wat, but if going it alone with one of the modes of suggested transportation, you may want to arm yourself with some information and tools before going.
- Guidebooks are widely available and a great resource for information. It is best to familiarize yourself with some basic facts about the history and the temples you wish to visit. There are no display boards or visitors’ points inside the temples to explain anything, so a map and guidebook are really helpful in identifying what you are seeing. A guidebook can also be wonderful for helping you plan your itinerary.
- There are a number of audio guide apps now available that can be downloaded to your mobile device, providing you with a personal audio walking guide, maps, and navigation system.
- You will be walking a lot, so wear appropriate shoes, bring a water bottle, and perhaps a parasol or a hat as protection from the sun.
Whether or not you choose to hire a direct personal tour guide to visit Angkor Wat is a personal decision, as there are both benefits and drawbacks to consider. If you are interested in learning as much as possible about Angkor Wat and its extensive history but have limited time or mobility, then hiring a guide is a great option. If you prefer to explore at your own pace or are on a budget, then self-guided tours are the way to go. However you choose to do it, it will still be a very worthwhile and extremely memorable experience—another amazing place to tick off your travel bucket list.