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Climb the Bakan of Angkor Wat

Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia



0.2 miles

Elevation Gain

164 ft

Route Type



Added by Michael Wigle

Over a million tourists visit Angkor Wat annually, the largest temple complex ever built. The view from the top is the crown jewel of this world wonder.

Angkor Wat was constructed in the 12th century during the golden years of the Khmer Empire. King Suryavarman II built the Hindu temple to the God Vishnu. The central tower and courtyard represent Mount Meru, home of the gods, which for centuries could only be seen by the elite priests. Centuries later the kingdom would convert to Buddhism, opening the temple up to thereveda monks and lay people. The central sanctuary called a Bakan traditionally held the main shrine for Vishnu and Buddha as it is the holiest sanctuary in the temple.

Proper attire is a must while visiting any of the temples. Keeping covered is a sign of respect and certain types of clothing will prevent you from seeing everything on the grounds. Carrying plenty of water is key to a good experience as well. Hundreds get heat stroke every year from the high humidity and blazing hot equatorial sun.

Angkor Wat opens at 5:00AM - 5:30AM everyday which means that passes should be paid for and picked up from the park office the day before. If you try to go in the morning you will lose hours on the day. The inner temple is open within 30 minutes of the park opening even in the dark. At 7:30AM the Bakan sanctuary opens up. Within a few minutes the line to climb the stairs is over an hour long.

Plan on arriving early to the southern reflecting pool to watch the iconic sunrise. The northern pool is far more popular and the crowd can be very claustrophobic. Right after sunrise the crowd begins dispersing to tour the grounds and galleries. This is your chance to walk around the southern gallery to the side entrance and enter the first level without a line. From here walk straight inside up the first flight of stairs

Once inside the second gallery, make a right and walk to the end and make a left going up the eastern side of the temple. To your left will be the inner courtyard and a set of stairs going up. This is the rear entrance into the upper gallery where you will see the only stairs going up to the Bakan. The line starts here and wraps around to the west. If you've gone right after sunrise, the line should not be too long.

There stairs to the Bakan are steep and the park employees will ask you to leave tripods, walking sticks, umbrellas, and anything else that can damage the walls. They sometimes turn away people who are showing too much skin. Use one railing to climb (tourists love using both) and you are on the Bakan level. Slow your pace down here and enjoy walking the gallery which offers impressive views out onto the complex and expansive flat river valley around Siem Reap. The view from the western portal offers an impressive alignment of the main gates. The inner tower houses a few Buddhas where you should remove shoes to explore.

Once you are finished in the Bakan, come down and enjoy the temple in reverse order. Most people do not take the time to walk out to the moat on the east and north side that offer some stunning scenes. When you're finished for the day head back into Siem Reap to the night market to find an ice cold Angkor Premium Stout beer. After dark is when Cambodia comes to life. 

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