In Cambodia, it’s anything else but cool. Rather the opposite is the case: In April it’s really really hot and in the rainy season from July to October you will feel it additionally very humid. Everything that has to do in any form with clothes tourists from cooler areas prefer to leave them all in the cabinet. But for a visit to Angkor Wat, the most sacred temple in the complex of Angkor, no resistance of annoying clothes will help.

At the whole complex of Angkor, it is actually quite normal to have free shoulders, shorts and skirts – no problem. But if you want to climb the stairs to the holiest part of Angkor Wat you will be forced to cover your body properly. We think this is actually understandable. For all sorts of occasions we are used to dress ourselves appropriately. It seems that many of us have forgotten this custom in the temple visit wobble.

Stairway to the top of Angkor WatWhich of course in itself is not bad, especially if remedial action is taken. The Cambodian guards offer cloth, which you can put on yourself to cover your body. And that is not self-evident, but must be considered as an additional service. There are not always enough cloth available and therefore it can happen, that you have to wait until the previous visitors have them delivered again. Which in itself is not bad and works fine.

Some not understandable scenarios at the stairway to the most sacred temple of Angkor Wat

What we have seen at the entrance to the truly sacred temples of Angkor Wat is difficult to describe. Instead of waiting in silence, there are always tourists who try to go around the guards to avoid the dress code. Within an hour, we saw two women trying to cheat the guards. There were caught, but the women reacted aggressively with yelling and even beating.

And this only because the guards simply doing their job and follow their instructions to stop people who are not proper dressed to climb up to the sacred temple.

There is another way:  With the right clothes, and with calmness

Remember:  Anyone who doesn’t want to feel the shame of being rejected at the sacred temple, should follow the dress code and be covered. Even good footwear is recommended. Also seen: Persons who think to climb the steep steps to the top – with 100% sunshine without any shade – with a fear of heights and flip-flops is at risk not only for themselves but also for other people. And also nobody needs sprained ankles. And honestly: Such a view of Angkor Wat compensates the frustration of covered clothes more than one time.View from the top of Angkor Wat

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10 Comments

  1. I visited Angkor in 2006 and later in 2009. In 2006 tourists had full access to the third level of Angkor Wat. This was terrific, but the crowds were huge and people were very careless in the way they treated the delicate sculptures up there.

    When I visited in 2009 they were in the process of building a wooden walkway up there.

    Not sure when this idea of a dress code came up, but sounds to me like a way for the guards to make extra money providing cloth to people.

    Anyway, there is much more to do at Angkor than just Angkor Wat. For a great guide for Kindle and iPad, check out Angkor Essential, which was written by this guy who wrote a novel about Angkor. Short read with good tips about how to make the most of an Angkor holiday. (link below)

    http://www.amazon.com/Angkor-Essential-articles-present-ebook/sim/B008ED7HJ2/2

    1. Hi Alex – thank you for your comment. No, we did not see any guard making extra money for the third level :)

      And even if so: It is the same at Petersdome in Rome for example. If you do not wear suitable clothes, you cannot go in. So people buy clothes from shops around the Petersdome and nobody complains about this.

      So why do some people complain about wearing suitable clothes at Angkor? Why they don´t have any respect for this culture? :)

  2. Thank you Inga. I couldn’t agree with you more. Being culturally respectful is one of the tenets of responsible travel. On our cycling tour in Cambodia, our guide suggested we wear pants on the day we visited Angkor Wat. No problem. We enjoyed shopping for our “temple pants” in a market in Siem Reap. Your post was “spot on” and I linked to it in a recent post on Ta Prohm: http://packinglighttravel.com/destinations/asia/cambodia/cambodias-ta-prohm-angkors-jewel/
    Thanks again.

    1. Dear Anne, thank you for your comment and backlinking to my article here. I’ve read your article – you are really in passion with biking. And this in a really hot and humid country, respect! Best :) Inga

  3. I agree with your post, but please be more informative. As a guy, I think I will do fine. But lots of women traveling to warm climates may not have a clue as to what is right and what is wrong.

    1. Hi John, thank you for your comment. Be sure: I’ve also seen a lot of men traveling in Cambodia who not have a clue as to what is right and what is wrong ;-)

  4. Do you have suggestings for footwear during the rainy season? We are going to Angkor in june, and I’ve heard that due to the rain the ground can get very muddy – and that due to the humidity, your shoes wont really dry if they get soaked. Hence, running shoes or hiking shoes (as we had planned to wear) might not be such a good idea?

    1. Hi Kristin,
      thank you for your interesting comment! In June rainy season does not mean, that it rains all the time. I was there during that time and had never problems with that. Yes, it can be muddy, but not so extreme that you walk on completely soaked ground. For visiting the Angkor Temples sturdy footwear is recommended as you are more safe with them instead of Flip Flops or so. I think it depends on the kind of shoes, whether they get soaked or not. About drying: Cambodia is not such humid, especially at countryside. That was my experience compared to Malaysia where everything felt wet, even the clothes in the cabinet. Hope I could help you a bit. Wish you a fantastic time in Cambodia!
      Best :) Inga

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