This week, the Apsara Authority (the body who administers the Angkor Archaeological Park) have announced something expat residents in Cambodia have been clamouring for since around 2015: Long-term passes to the Angkor temple complex at incredibly reasonable prices.
For anyone residing in Cambodia not already entitled to free access to the Park by virtue of being a Cambodian national or K-type visa holder, you now have the choice between a 3- and 6-month pass granting you unlimited access to the Angkor Archaeological Park for the princely sum of just USD 150 and USD 200, respectively.
While it’s a shame it took something as drastic as COVID-19 to bring this oft-requested idea to fruition, it’s hard to argue the timing presents anything other than a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. With recent statistics showing there have been days where as few as 20 entrance tickets to the Park have been sold, those remaining in Cambodia throughout the closure of international borders have been rewarded with a chance to see Angkor in a truly unique manner: Empty.
There were days last year where as many as 20,000 people could be found in the Park at any one time, and while there have always been ways to escape the worst of the tourist hordes (our business has built its reputation on this, in fact – our Hidden Angkor tour has been avoiding the crowds for years), you could never really have the most famous sites to yourself for long, and only at very specific times of day. Until now, that is…
Imagine that? Sharing some of the world’s most incredible heritage sites with just a handful of other visitors…
With the Angkor Archaeological Park occupying a chunk of land around 400km², that’s approximately one tourist for every 20km²; you’re usually lucky to have just a few metres to yourself. Granted, there will be a smattering of locals found in the temples, and many visitors won’t make it beyond Angkor Wat itself, but as an enormous complex (it is, after all, the world’s largest religious building), it’d be hard to argue that visiting is not a reasonable undertaking in these times of “social distancing.” There’s no need for you to rub shoulders with anyone but your immediate family, and you’ll be out in the open air, with studies showing that the virus is unable to survive long in heat of Cambodia.
So what do you need to claim your pass?
Well, very little as it happens, with a great deal of gratitude owed to the hard-working souls who’ve liaised with the Apsara Authority to make this a painless reality. Simply turning up at the Angkor Enterprise Building (known locally as the “Angkor Ticket Office”) with your passport showing a long-term visa will suffice. You’ll need to make sure you’re in the right spot: up the stairs to the left after entering from the parking lot, at the Angkor Enterprise Office. Those purchasing passes will receive them on the same day, rather than having to wait a week, with no need to present documents from the ministry of tourism, as was previously the case. The pass is available to ALL long-term residents in Cambodia.
For those not interested in having such long-term access, it’s worth noting that even purchasing just a single-day ticket at present will allow you to access the Park over TWO consecutive days, owing to an initiative launched back in March. However you choose to visit, I hope you take the opportunity to experience Angkor in a way that may never again be possible.