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The most crowded period in Cambodia is the time from December to February, when the weather is comfortable for outdoor activities. The long holiday periods of Christmas in the west and Lunar New Year in the east also fall in this period. At this time, popular tourist attractions, especially Angkor Wat, will be full of tourists.
Crowds will affect your visiting. You have to wait in line to take photos at Bayon Temple, Ta Prohm, Angkor Wat, and there will always be someone else appearing in your pictures. ‘Tips for avoiding crowds in Cambodia’ will give you some ideas of how to plan your trip better.
No doubt, the most crowded place is Siem Reap, which is the gateway to the magnificent Angkor Wat. All the tourists come to Cambodia to admire this largest legendary monument in the world. No matter whether low or high season, there are always travelers.
The travel agents that organize big group tours, usually have these regular hot spots on their itinerary: Bayon Temple, Ta Prohm and Banteay Srei. So this makes these sites quite busy with both, big groups and independent travelers.
The dry season is the most crowed period, from November to February. Especially around Christmas and New Year, most of the decent hotels in Siem Reap are fully booked. And during Lunar New Year, some time in January or February, the number of Chinese travelers is increasing.
The second peak season is September and October; it is rainy season but with acceptable temperatures. During the long Chinese summer holiday in July and August, there will be a small peak season for Chinese people visiting. But there are relatively fewer tourists in the hot and wet season from April to June.
To have a pleasant time at tourist attractions, we would like to give you some suggestions that come from our inspection trips and experienced guides. It only takes little effort to visit the right sites at the right time.
There will not be any peace until sunset. The ideal time is between 06:30-09:00 in the morning. The sun has just risen but temperatures are still not high. At this time, the big groups go back to their hotels for a late breakfast after seeing the sunrise.
Late afternoon at around 16:00 is another option, when people rush to Phnom Bakheng for a good location to witness the sunset. There will be more space at the busy temples - Bayon and Ta Prohm. You can do two visits on the same day, as the ticket allows multiple entries.
Generally, big groups start their tours from the front (west) gate, while it is wise for you to go from the back (east) gate. You can take photos of the long path in front of the South Gate of Angkor Thom after most of tourists have gone inside the ruins.
Go and see Bayon Temple at the first light after sunrise before 08:30, when the masses occupy the smiling faces temple. Instead of going back to the hotel for breakfast, you can bring a breakfast box along or have simple local food like noodles at restaurants near Angkor Wat.
Ta Prohm Temple
During noon time, at around 11:30-13:00, most people are ready for lunch or for cooling down in an air-conditioned room. It is the perfect time to take photos of Ta Prohm. Although it is hot with the strong sunlight, luckily there are shady places as well.
Sunset at Pre Rup instead of Bakheng Hill:
Bakheng Hill, at the back of Angkor Wat, is the most popular place to witness a sunset. Since the space on top of the hill is limited, you have to get there 2-3 hours early to find a good spot.
Pre Rup Temple is more quiet, and it is located on high ground to provide a good condition for observing the sunset. You cannot see Angkor Wat from there, but Pre Rup Temple itself is very beautiful, coverd by a reddish hue at sunset. It is still recommended to arrive 1 hour before sunset.
Beng Mealea is 40 km east from the main temples of Angkor and 77 km from Siem Reap. Some visitors skip this site due to the relatively long distance and their short stay. It has recently been discovered and is largely unrestored, with stones lying on the ground.
Preah Khan was built by King Jayavarman VII, to honor his father who died in the war of the year 1191. This temple is more significant than Ta Prohm; it has a large-scale construction and valuable building elements of gold, silver, gems, and pearls. In the past it could accommodate thousands of people.
Baphuon Temple is near Bayon Temple, but has less tourists, as it re-opened recently and is not on the regular visiting list of big groups. There is a long road approaching the temple. You can get a panorama photo from the grass at the side or climb to the top to overlook the beautiful scenery.
East Mebon is not so well-known to people. You can visit at any time you want. There is a central tower with square platform at the top. It is a perfect spot to take photos of the wonderful landscape and images of sculptures with a wide-angle lens.
Banteay Samre is a peaceful minor temple, which is on the main road to Banteay Srei. It has been well restored with the same materials as Banteay Srei. Plan to get there in the afternoon and enjoy a quiet moment with your companions.
Ta Nei Temple is an undeveloped jungle temple in a covert location, reached by a muddy path. There are no big groups visiting or vendors selling souvenirs. Some of the carvings on the walls are well-preserved.
Ta Keo Temple is located on a high level of stairs. You need to climb up to reach the temple and will get a full view of the forest as well. Its architectural structure is pyramid-like and unfinished, since it was hit by lightning while under construction.
Phnom Penh Royal Palace: Most of the big groups would be there in the morning and finish visiting before lunch. It occupies a vast area of 174,870 square meters, and attracts less tourists than Siem Reap. Guides will make a good arrangement according to the situation at that time.
It requires patience and flexibility to avoid crowds at the popular spots during high season. Our professional travel consultant will consider all factors and design a suitable itinerary for you.
We also have an experienced team of guides. They not only know about the classic trip route but also are aware of visiting the right place at the right time.