With over a thousand temples, it is impossible to see all of Angkor Archeological Park in just one day or even one week! However, if you only have 24 hours to visit this impressive ancient site (and a must-do in Cambodia), we got you covered with the perfect one-day itinerary by bicycle that covers the biggest highlights of Angkor!
In this post, we’ll go straight to the point on how to bike to and around Angkor and what to see in one day, but you can find everything you need to know about tickets, temple etiquette, where to stay, best ways to get around, and more on our Angkor Wat – The Ultimate Guide for First-Time Visitors.
Angkor Wat by Bicycle – Know Before you Go
This one-day bicycle tour starts really early in the morning so there are some things you should prepare beforehand:
- Make sure to rent your bike the night before
- It’s recommended to secure your bikes with a lock when parking around Angkor (we didn’t have locks and had no issues leaving the bike parked near the entrance to the temples but would still recommend getting a lock just in case)
- If you want to save time, you can buy your ticket the day before (after 5 PM) or at least 12 hours earlier online (more on how to buy tickets online here). Not to worry if you don’t have time for this as you can still buy it on the same day very early in the morning – you’ll just have to wake up a bit earlier
- You need to show your ticket at every temple before you enter so you should keep it safe at all times
- You may not have service in Angkor – we recommend you download the map of the area on Google Maps so you can navigate offline.
- Our itinerary includes a stop for breakfast during sunrise and a stop for lunch at a less-visited temple on a picnic setting. We recommend you bring your own food and a picnic towel (or beach sarong). There are several small restaurants around Angkor too so if you can’t prepare it beforehand, it shouldn’t be an issue!
Note: if your accommodation includes breakfast, you can ask them to prepare a takeaway breakfast for you as it’s common practice.
- Make sure to read our Angkor Wat – The Ultimate Guide for First-Time Visitors in case it’s your first time visiting for more info on what to wear and temple etiquette.
Where to Rent a Bicycle in Siem Reap
The easiest way to rent a bicycle in Siem Reap is through your hotel and it should cost around $5-6 per day. We recommend getting a mountain bike instead of a street bike as some of the paths around Angkor are dirt.
The road to Angkor can get pitch-black at some points so we recommend you get a bike with a small portable lantern for your safety.
Tip: we rented our mountain bikes at the restaurant next door to Sihariddh BnB Villa. Paid $5 each and the bikes were in perfect condition and had a lantern too!
How to Get to Angkor Wat from Siem Reap
Cycling from Siem Reap city center to Angkor Wat is super easy and it takes around 25 minutes! Wherever you’re based in Siem Reap, all you have to do is ride to Charles de Gaulle street and head north straight into the Angkor complex.
If you haven’t bought your ticket yet, you may need to make a quick detour to Angkor Ticket Office on Street 60 to buy it (open from 4:30 AM to 5:30 PM).
Important: you need to stop at the ticket checkpoint on Charles de Gaulle street to stamp your ticket before heading to Angkor.
This is the map of the main section of Angkor Archeological Park. There are two main circuits you can choose from when visiting:
Grand Circuit – shown in green, it includes Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som, East Mebon, and Pre Rup.
Small Circuit – shown in red, it includes Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Keo, Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei, and Prasat Kravan.
Note: You can definitely do the grand circuit on one day if you are visiting the park by car or tuk-tuk but we wouldn’t recommend doing it by bike. The small circuit is the perfect combination between biking and spending enough time on each temple.
Most drivers take tourists around these circuits in a clockwise direction so on this itinerary we’ll do a customized version of the small circuit in a counter-clockwise direction to help avoid the crowds!
Angkor Wat By Bicycle – Itinerary
Angkor Wat for Sunrise
You should be at Angkor Wat South Gate around 4:50 AM to guarantee a nice spot for sunrise, so you can plan your wake-up call accordingly. The temple opens at 5:00 AM.
Since we needed to buy our tickets first, we woke up at 3:30 AM and left the hotel for Angkor Ticket Office at 4:00 AM. We were the first ones there even before opening and got our tickets ready in 5 minutes.
We then biked to Angkor Wat South Gate – you have to park your bike on the road and head to the stairs leading to the bridge.
Once the temple opens, make your way to the middle of the right-side lake – this is the best spot to get that Angkor Wat famous sunrise shot that reflects on the lake. You should note that this area gets super crowded so unless you really want this picture, we would recommend finding a less disputed spot.
Note: the left-side lake is much more beautiful with gorgeous pink water lilies floating around but it’s currently closed (January 2023).
Sunrise starts at 5:50 AM and the beautiful colors dance in the sky until around 6:15 AM.
Take your time to soak in the sunrise, find a nice spot to eat your breakfast, and then venture into the temple for some exploration.
Note: if you need to go to the toilet, you’ll find them outside the South Gate, on the other side of the road.
Fun fact: the construction of Angkor Wat is thought to have taken 35 years, 300,000 laborers, and 6,000 elephants, according to inscriptions. Five million tons of sandstone were used to build it.
Banteay Kdei Temple
Your next stop is Banteay Kdei Temple so take your bike and ride for around 20 minutes to the temple’s entrance.
Built in the late 12th century and now surrounded by jungle, Banteay Kdei has a peaceful and quiet atmosphere, completely different from the overwhelming crowds at Angkor Wat which is very refreshing. There might be a Buddhist monk or nun, or even a Buddhist Band playing on a small shrine near the entrance. Donations are not expected so don’t feel obligated to interact unless you wish to.
If you make it all the way to the far end of the temple you’ll find a large tree creeping on the outer wall which we think is one of the most beautiful areas of this temple and a great photo spot!
Ta Prohm Temple
After exploring Banteay Kdei, hop on your bike again and head to Ta Prohm Temple which should be a quick 10-minute ride.
Note: if you need to go to the toilet, there’s one at the end of the road right on the turn to Ta Prohm Temple. Right next to it, there is a couple of stalls that sell cold water and food too.
Ta Prohm, also called ‘Tomb Raider Temple’ is the second-most popular temple in Angkor so be prepared for the crowds! Made famous by the movie starring Angelina Jolie, Ta Prohm is nestled within the jungle and has its ruins embraced by the root of giant silver trees.
Built in 1186, Ta Phrom is one of the few temples in Angkor where there is an inscription providing information about the temple’s dependents and inhabitants, from which it is known that almost 80 thousand people were required to maintain or attend it.
It is our favorite temple in Angkor Wat and we spent around 2 hours wandering around exploring it. The fact that the temple is still engulfed by the jungle makes it even more special!
Ta Keo Temple – Picnic Lunch
Your next stop is a not-so-known and usually skipped temple, the Ta Keo. Take your bike and ride for another 10-12 minutes to find this massive unfinished monument surrounded by dirt roads, jungle, and complete silence! Chances are you’ll be the only person here, as were we.
Set up your picnic towel and have fun eating your lunch right next to this 11th-century temple! This is the perfect opportunity to rest, get hydrated, and recharge before the last sprint.
Note: if you opt to have lunch here, please respect the grounds and leave no trace!
Angkor Thom & Bayon Temple
When ready, hop on your bike again and ride for another few minutes to the Victory Gate: one of the impressive gates of Angkor Thom – the Great Angkor City!
Angkor Thom was the long-lasting capital of the ancient Khmer Empire. The fortified city was constructed in the late 12th century and enclosed residences of priests and officials, as well as administration buildings. The most famous temples here are the Bayon and the Terrace of the Elephants.
The Terrace of the Elephants is the first thing you’ll see after passing the Victory Gate. The 350 meters long platform was used by the King as a giant stand for public ceremonies and the king’s grand audience hall. It used to be covered by a wooden structure that has long since disappeared.
The Bayon Temple is located right at the heart of Angkor Thom and it’s a really impressive construction, with its 54 towers and 216 giant smiling faces. The upper level of Bayon is the highlight of the visit but it is currently closed for restoration (January 2023).
Hot tip: There are lots of monkeys around this temple, so be cautious with your bags and shiny objects!
Phnom Bakeng Temple
This is an extra temple outside of the small circuit that is a famous sunset spot in Angkor! If you still have energy, you can ride another 6 minutes to the base of Phnom Bakeng Temple and then hike for about 15 minutes up the hill to the temple.
Depending on how long you spend at each temple, the time you arrive here may vary. We arrived at around 4 PM and so we didn’t want to wait another 2 hours for sunset so we went up, explored the temple, and went home. Personally, we don’t think the view is amazing here, so feel free to skip this one if you’re already feeling too tired.
Once you’re done exploring, take Charles de Gaulle street again and you’ll be back to your hotel in no time!