Angkor Wat: Guide to the Grand Circuit Tour

The Angkor Archaeological Park is massive – 400 square kilometers to be exact. And figuring out what temples to visit, how to get there, and how to avoid the crowds and the heat can be a daunting task. We purchased the 7-day pass so that we could explore all of it in order to bring you a complete guide to the Grand Circuit Tour, as well as a few other things you should know before you visit.

After you finish reading this post, be sure to check out our Complete Guide to Angkor Wat and our post about the Small Circuit Tour. And, of course, you’ll want to read all about the best places to eat, sleep, and drink in the nearby town of Siem Reap!

Enjoy!

Angkor Wat: Grand Circuit Tour

Angkor Wat Entrance Prices and Hours

Angkor Archaeological Park Entrance Fees

  • 1 day ticket – $37 USD
  • 3 day ticket (valid for 1 week) – $62 USD
  • 7 day ticket (valid for 1 month) – $72 USD

Angkor Archaeological Park Hours

  • Angkor Wat Temple and Srah Srang: 5:00am – 5:30pm (open for sunrise)
  • Phnom Bakheng and Pre Rup Temples: 5:00am – 7:00pm (open for sunrise and sunset)
  • All other temples: 7:30am – 5:30pm

Ticket Office

The ticket office is technically open from 5:00am5:30pm daily. However ticket agents usually begin selling tickets at 4:30am so you can arrive even earlier if you want to get a prime sunrise-viewing spot. Or better yet, purchase your ticket between 5:00pm and 5:30pm the evening before so you don’t have to worry about waiting in line!


Choosing a Tuk-Tuk Driver

Angkor Wat Grand (Big) Circuit Tour: Choosing a Tuk Tuk

There are tuk-tuk drivers all over Siem Reap, vying for the chance to be your tour guide of Angkor Wat. They are especially congregated around the entrances of Pub Street, the popular backpacker area.

If you want to take a run-of-the-mill-tour you can simply choose any driver that seems nice, no matter their level of English. They will point to their handy laminated map to show you the two options and quote you a price. We had a great experience with a tuk tuk driver named Som but he speaks only limited English. You can have your hotel reception give him a call at 081-798-540 to confirm the tour route and the pickup time and place.

If you want to deviate from the normal route, or watch sunrise somewhere other than Angkor Wat, you’ll need to find a driver that speaks decent English. Which may cost up to $30 USD for a trip. You can always rent a motorbike or bicycle and explore on your own.

Book a Tour of Angkor Wat

If you’d prefer to prearrange a tour of the temples, check out Get Your Guide. They offer a full-day Grand Circuit photo tour that starts with sunrise. You’ll have a knowledgeable English-speaking guide and learn all about the history of the park and the temples that you visit.

Book a Grand Circuit Full-Day Photo Tour


Grand Circuit Tour Route

The Grand Circuit Tour route (also called “Big Circuit”) is generally done clockwise and includes the temples that are outside of the Small Circuit Tour. These are on the outskirts of the complex so it’s a bit more expensive as your tuk-tuk driver will use more petrol. Read more about those temples in our post about the Small Circuit Tour.

We chose to modify our Grand Circuit tour. We started with sunrise at Srah Srang, a small temple that sits on the banks of a big man-made lake. Then we added Ta Prohm to our list of temples that we would be visiting. And we did the tour in counterclockwise order.

The temples below are listed in order of how you would visit them if you started with sunrise at Angkor Wat and toured in a clockwise order.

Preah Khan

Angkor Wat Grand (Big) Circuit Tour: Preah Khan Temple

Preah Khan is definitely one of the highlights of the Grand Circuit Tour. The walkway leading up to Preah Khan temple is lined by statues that appear to play tug-of-war with a snake; they are actually depicting the churning of the ocean of milk. It is a grand entrance to a very grand temple.

As you walk through the central hallway through Preah Khan, it seems to go on and on forever. But soon enough it opens up and you’ll find little pockets of areas to explore here. The carvings are still in very good condition and much of the temple is just a free-for-all to explore. These carvings of women goddesses in dancing poses are known as Apsara.

It was one of my favorite temples in the complex because there seemed to be a surprise around every corner. It’s a good one to check out in the morning, before you are sweaty and exhausted and can only think about air conditioning and a cold beer.

Opening Hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm

Neak Pean

Angkor Wat Grand (Big) Circuit Tour: Neak Pean

You’ll walk along a long walkway to reach Neak Pean. There is a big lake and some swampy areas below. Vendors selling fruit, cold drinks, and souvenirs are lined up near the entrance. And a few men who have lost limbs from land mines will serenade you while you walk (a small tip is appreciated).

The Neak Pean temple sits in the middle of a large man-made body of water. So you can’t enter it or even get very close. But the view of the temple with its reflection on the still water is a beautiful sight. You probably won’t need more than 30 minutes here.

Opening Hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm

Ta Som

Angkor Wat Grand (Big) Circuit Tour: Ta Som Temple

The Ta Som temple complex contains some of the most vibrantly colored, intricate stonework in the Angkor Complex. Bright green and red coloring add an interesting contrast to the grey stone structures. And you can really see how much detail was put into carving these amazing temples.

Angkor Wat Grand (Big) Circuit Tour: Ta Som Temple

When you walk out of the back of Ta Som temple you’ll see several locals selling souvenirs here. Past them is an impressive gate with a large head standing watch from the top. Pass through the gate and look at it from the other side – it’s another example of the power of Mother Nature.

Opening Hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm

East Mebon

Angkor Wat Grand (Big) Circuit Tour: East Mebon Temple

The East Mebon temple is quite similar to the Pre Rup temple (below), only with less stairs and no view. As you enter this temple you’ll pass through a small gate. Many tourists like to stop here as it is an ideal spot to see the temple in all of its glory. But be aware that this causes a bit of a traffic jam.

It won’t take long to see this small temple complex, 20 minutes should be plenty. There are some very nice women across the road selling fruit shakes and ice coffee if you find yourself here in the heat of the day and need some respite.

Opening Hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm

Pre Rup

Angkor Wat Grand (Big) Circuit Tour: Pre Rup

You’ll have to climb a set of very steep stairs to reach the top of the Pre Rup temple. The stairs are also very tall so it feels more like climbing a ladder. And with no handrails to speak of, this temple may be difficult for anyone with mobility issues or a fear of heights.

Once at the top you’ll be rewarded with lovely views of the ruins below. There is one temple at the center, surrounded by 4 temples in the corners below, all in a similar pagoda style.

This temple is open early and stays open late so it’s a good option for sunrise and sunset if you are looking for an option other than the Angkor Wat temple.

Opening Hours: 5:00am – 7:00pm

Srah Srang

Angkor Wat Grand (Big) Circuit Tour: Srah Srang (Srassrang)

Srah Srang is technically part of the Small Circuit tour route, but you’ll also pass it at the end of the Grand Circuit. And you can probably convince your driver to make one last stop. The large man-made lake is a nice place sit and relax before heading back to Siem Reap.

Some people choose to do the Grand Circuit in reverse order to try and avoid crowds at the temples. If this is your strategy, Srah Srang is a great place to watch sunrise away from the crowds of Angkor Wat. You’ll sit on the small stone platform at the west end of the lake and watch the sunrise across the water.

Opening Hours: 5:00am – 5:30pm

Enjoy the Grand Circuit Tour of Angkor Wat!

Want more information on the temples of Angkor? Check out our favorite guidebooks!



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Angkor Wat Grand Circuit Tour Route

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