Whilst the entire temple complex took more than 400 years to complete, starting in 802, Angkor Wat itself is believed to have been built for the Khmer king Suryavarman II, who held the throne in the early 12th century. Angkor Wat was constructed for the dual purpose of being the both the capital city and the monarch's state temple. Originally dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu, by the end of the 14 hundreds it's spiritual focus had become Theravada Buddhist and this is still the case today.
The ruin's Hindu birthright is clear in its design as Angkor Wat was built to represent the scared Mount Meru of Hindu mythology with the five towers (one at each of the four corners of a square and the fifth in the middle) representing the peaks of the mountain and the concentric walls and impressive moat the hills and oceans encircling the fabled mountain. Angkor Wat is considered by many to be the finest example Khmer architecture and its harmony and symmetry are striking. Beyond the perfect arrangement of the structures themselves, the temple is gorgeously decorated with intricate bas-reliefs featuring Vishnu and numerous devatas (guardian angels) and mythical animals.
Passes and Costs - To visit the famous ruins, you have to have a valid Angkor Pass which will allow you access to all of the temples and culturally significant sites within the Angkor Archeological Park. At the time of writing this, it was possible to buy, 1-day, 3-day, or 7-day tickets into the 'Park at a cost of $20, $40 and $60 respectively. Importantly, passes for multiple days can only used be on consecutive days.
Opening Times – The 'Park is open from 5am until 6pm, though some sites close a little earlier. Angkor Wat itself is closed at 6pm daily.
When to Visit (Months) – If you have the flexibility, the best time to visit Angkor Wat is from December to March, when the climate is generally dry and comparatively cool. Given that this is the most comfortable time of year to be in this part of Cambodia, you are likely to find that these are also the most popular months to view the Khmer ruins, so perhaps try going in the month before or after these dates to avoid the worst of the crowds.
When to Visit (Time of Day) – Though the most of the temples are open from 5am until 6pm, sunrise and sunset are the prime times to be at Angkor Wat. The sun colouring the glorious carvings of the bas-reliefs as it either climbs into the sky, or slips below the horizon provides photo opportunities worth every cent of your entry fee.