Getting around the Angkor Temples – All the options
What are the best options to get around the Angkor Temples? It is the typical question when you are thinking of visiting the temples. In fact, I searched all the alternatives before going there. The choice depends on who you ask, so I tell you the pros and cons of every option from my point of view. Therefore, this post is subjective, based on my experience and my way of traveling.
The temperature and the weather are the most important elements to keep in mind. If the temperature in the shade is 40º, riding a bike during 30 km is madness. On the other hand, if you are a sporty person, used to warm climates and properly prepared for it, riding a bike would be a big effort, but gratifying for you. Equally, if it rains heavily, it’s possible that there is mud on the path, so the bike is neither a good idea. With all of this I mean that the best option is not always the funniest and adventurous.
After this little introduction, I list the options and leave the decision to you.
1 – Bike
The sporty and adventurous option. The circuit called Small has more than 45 km and the Grand Circuit has 50 km, the distance includes the route from the city center and the walking part to see the temples. There are paths without pavement and it’s necessary to climb stairs to see some temples; therefore, I don’t recommend you this option if you don’t practice any sport. The best way to explore by yourself (without you ending up exhausted and missing something) it’s repeating a part of the Small Circuit by bike another day or choosing the third option described below.
In spite of everything, it’s the cheapest option (the price depends on the number of days and the type of bike you get). If you choose going by bike be careful because the other drivers won’t be. Remember: the big vehicle has the preference.
Price for renting a bike: $ 2/3 per day.
2 – Tuk-Tuk
The best option if the temperature is more than 30º (or if you start sweating above 20 degrees). It is also the second cheapest option if you are two or more persons. You can go over the two circuits by tuk-tuk and add the Banteay Srei Temple to the Grand Circuit. It’s also possible to go to the remotest temple, called Beng Mealea, in this vehicle.
The tuk-tuk will wait you while you visit the temples, but you don’t worry about it, you will have time enough to see all calmly. Going in this transport allows you to relax and keep your energy to walk through every corner. The disadvantages are the constant noise of the tuk-tuk engine and that you won’t be able to explore like if you are like Indiana Jones ?. And the big advantages are that you won’t get so tired and you will take advantage of time.
Price of the tuk-tuk: $15 Small Circuit and $28 Grand Circuit and Banteay Srei.
3 – Electric bike
It’s becoming a popular transport. Its advantages: you don’t need to pedal and you can go on your own. But the disadvantage is that some travelers have had bad luck with the battery and they finally had to pedal (supposedly, if this happens you can call them and they come to fix the problem). Besides, if the sun hits strong you will need tons of sunscreen because the roads have no shade.
There are a few companies in the city center of Siem Reap to rent electric bikes, among others Ovelocity and Green e-bike. Pay attention to the conditions because sometimes they ask for the passport as a deposit. You shouldn’t give your original passport like a guarantee, try to leave money instead. You can search reviews of both companies on TripAdvisor.
Price for renting an e-bike: $10 per day.
4 – Motorbike
And, why not renting a regular motorbike? I’ve read that the tourists are not allowed to ride motorcycles around the temples, although I haven’t found any official page that say it, just travel blogs. But in the website of the Spanish Government it is said that many of the motorbike rental services have prohibited renting motorbikes to tourists. Still, many travelers have done it, so I leave it to you to verify if it’s possible or not (and if you want to take the risk). It could be a good option to go to Banteay Srei as well.
I don’t see any disadvantage apart from the doubt about being legal or not. If you finally rent a motorbike take with you the international licence and check your insurance.
Price for renting a motorbike: around $15 per day, negotiable.
5 – Private car
The most expensive option. I don’t think that this choice is better than tuk-tuk, except for the comfortable seats and the air conditioner (although for me the sudden change in temperature when you go out the car is a disadvantage). Another objection would be that you don’t feel the environment and also it’s boring ?.
Price of a private car with chauffeur: we take the private transport one time to go to Beng Mealea and it costed $70. The price is usually negotiable and depends on your desired journey.
6 – Other
There are more options like renting a motorbike with driver or a tour by minivan with a guide. I think that visiting the temples with a guide is a big advantage because he’ll describe you details that you wouldn’t even know by searching on Google. Also, he’ll show you secret places or places to take nice pictures.
It’s possible to see the temples from the air in a hot-air balloon or helicopter. There are a few companies offering these activities, here you can read reviews about balloon rides in Siem Reap and here is a company that organizes helicopter tours.
I didn’t try this two last options so I don’t know the prices but, obviously, they are the most expensive choices.
➜ All the prices indicated are for April 2017.
– I traveled in April 2017-
Our intention was to rent an electric bike and go over the temples on our own. We’d rather go always by ourselves, without drivers or guides. We like to explore without paying attention to the time, but when we arrived at Siem Reap, we started to change our minds.
It was about 40 degrees Celsius, I had never sweated so much before, neither the previous year in Sukhothai (Thailand). Besides of the temperature, the tuk-tuk option was cheaper than the electric bike so, finally, we changed our plan. We didn’t regret, especially when we saw the sweat drops going down us all, even in the shade.
The tuk-tuk drivers aren’t guides, they just carry you to each temple included in the Small or Grand Circuit, then they wait while you visit it. But, in our case, the driver told us about the life in Cambodia, the troubles that the Cambodian people have, and he even acted as a guide sometimes.
Every time we arrived at a temple we asked the driver how much time we needed to see it all, just to get the idea. He was always right! even considering that we took all the time in the world exploring.
The first day we did the Small Circuit. The second day, we repeated the same tuk-tuk and driver and we went to the Grand Circuit and Banteay Srei. On the third day, we went to Beng Mealea by private car because the long road by tuk-tuk was going to be uncomfortable and it takes more time (it’s more than 1 hour by car).
As you can see in the pictures, we went there at the time of some national holidays: it was Khmer New Year Celebration, which happens in April. The families go around Angkor Wat to spend the day, the children play and there are many food stands. Late in the afternoon, the road was chaotic, many cars and motorcycles formed a huge traffic jam. This reminds me that no matter how far we go, no matter how different we may be, we are more similar than we might think: we all like to party and celebrate as best we can!
To finish this post, the best advice I can give you to choose the transport: enjoy!! ? It doesn’t matter if you go by bike, by tuk-tuk or by motorbike, you will be impressed with the temples and, any option you choose will be perfect if you keep a good mood ?.
Any contribution or question is welcome, please write a comment! You can also comment on Facebook: Getting around The Angkor Temples – Facebook.