Dan and I visited Angkor, including the famous, Angkor Wat, earlier this year on our honeymoon. The entire trip was totally fabulous, and you can read more about that here. But, this post is about what to wear!! I was sort of clueless when it came to deciding what to pack for Angkor. I certainly wanted to ensure that I was comfortable and fully able to explore all of the temples in Angkor without issue, but I also did not want to look like I just came from the gym…. I mean, pictures!!
After searching and searching online without luck (and ordering and returning 2 pair of wide leg cotton pants from Amazon, not recommended), I selected some pieces from my current wardrobe, and I think it worked out well. So, for your benefit, here are my thoughts on what you should wear to Angkor to make the most of your experience.
First of, Angkor is in Cambodia and the weather is hot year round. We visited in the dry season, so it was particularly warm (think 90 + Fahrenheit/32 Celsius). That being said, visitors to Angkor are exploring actual sacred temples, so you need to dress appropriately (i.e. shoulders covered and nothing too short, although no one was really checking, but still… don’t be that person). Finally, the temples are old and have not been renovated, so exploring them takes a lot of moving around and a bit of climbing – another reason not to wear anything too revealing.
In light of all of this, on my first day of touring Angkor, I really wanted to be cool, respectful, and somewhat cute. As such, I wore black wide leg capri pants from Everlane and an old, very light tunic shirt from J.Crew. I also wore my favorite sunglasses, Rainbow flip flops and tennis shoes from Superga (I switched depending on the temple!), and a an old cross-body bag from J.Crew carrying the essentials – wallet, ticket, ID, money, phone, camera, and hand sanitizer! This outfit definitely worked, but I was hot by the end of the day! In any case, I would recommend something along these lines. The pants were not too hot, I never felt awkward entering the temples, and I think I looked decently cute in pictures?
On our second day, I went a bit crazy and wore a T-Shirt dress from J.Crew that hit just at my knees, a cotton cardigan, and Rainbow flip flops. This was also fine, although climbing in a dress was less practical than I imagined; however, the second day was definitely the easier of our two days of touring Angkor.
As you can see, Dan wore regular men’s shorts and a polo shirt each day. I would recommend something similar for men, if not even more casual. Dan was certainly hot at the end of the day, but he did look cute in pictures!
As I alluded to above, Angkor Wat is filled with rocks, brush, and uneven stairways and paths. Its renovations are definitely a work in progress with no end in sight. As such, while I loathe closed toed shoes in hot weather, I recommend brining closed toed walking shoes, preferably of the tennis shoe variety. I wore Superga grey low top shoes and was very happy that I wore them. I did a lot of climbing and I would not have felt comfortable doing that with sandals.
That being said, I also brought my Rainbow flip flops in my backpack and changed into them depending on the temple… I would certainly discourage heels or high maintenance sandals, but sturdy flip flops will work for many of the temples, especially if you are not planning to climb on the temples.
Dan wore Toms shoes and he thought they were a bit slippery on the well worn stone temples. He loves his Toms though.
I contemplated not brining my wedding and engagement rings, but I ultimately decided to wear them. I wore them the entire time we were out and had no issues in Angkor. I would, however, not ear any big jewelry that moves around a lot or that bothers you, as you will definitely be moving!
For ladies (or men who don’t mind carrying a man bag), I recommend bringing a small cross body bag that zips to carry your essentials (ticket, ID, and money). The temples get very crowded and there are lots of uneven rocks and stairs. you are going to want your hands free and your bag zipped – not only to protect from sneaky pickpockets (we did not see any of this going on, but heard that it does) but also to keep you things from falling out as you are climbing around!
For men or women, I also recommend carrying a smallish backpack to hold water and any other essentials (camera, battery, cardigan or scarf, extra shoes if you are me….). I had Dan carry ours for most of the day. It definitely came in handy for a few extra things. It was also nice to have these things bundled in a backpack and not in a large purse on my arm.
WHAT NOT TO WEAR
As I mentioned, Angkor is comprised of sacred temples, so dress appropriately! This means no tank tops (men or women), shirts with offensive messages, and high heels (I saw wayyyy too many of these to be safe). I also recommend against fancy attire. I saw a number of women in tight fancy dresses (not a cultural thing). This is just not appropriate in my opinion. You look ridiculous and will not be able to explore the temples.
I also do not recommend brining anything that you cannot live without or stand to ruin. We got quite dirty (red dirt) exploring the temples and had my pants not been black, they may have been ruined. Luckily, our hotel had laundry so the pants were spared!
While you can buy many things around the larger temples, I recommend brining most of what you need with you to Angkor Wat from Siem Reap. This means water, clothing, sunglasses or a hat, sunscreen (not readily available at Angkor Wat in my opinion), and a snack that will not go bad in the heat, especially if you do not eat breakfast before entering the temples. Further, on the food note, there is food inside Angkor Wat but NOT at the temples.
STEAL OUR TRIP
Angkor: Temples generally open from 5:30 AM – 7:30 PM, with Angkor Wat opening at AM and Phnom Bekang open for subset. 1-day pass – US$ 37; 3-day pass – US$ 62; 7-day pass – US$ 72. Tickets are valid 10 days from purchase. Pay by cash or credit card. A photo is taken for the ticket on purchase.
Happy Angkor Tour: The tour company that we used to tour Angkor Wat and the Floating Village over 2 days. Our guide was Samath and our driver was Mr. Srom. We paid $163 total for the 2 days guided tour of Angkor and the Floating Village, pick up and drop off at our hotel, and the tour (including water and cold wash clothes after each temple). Totally worth the money!!
ON A BUDGET
If you are on a budget, bring in water and snacks from Siem Reap. When we visited, these things were cheaper in Siem Reap than in Angkor Wat. In addition, there are both street food stands and sit down restaurants in Angkor Wat. The street food stands are obviously cheaper, just make sure you know what you are eating. We ate in proper restaurants each day and the food was decent and inexpensive.
Also, if you buy clothing in or around Angkor (i.e. the infamous “elephant pants” and things of that nature), know that they are generally very poorly made and often fall apart after one wash or two.