Captivating Cambodia: Sunrise at Angkor Wat
Watching the sunrise from Angkor Wat is a must-do if you are visiting the ancient temple city. Unfortunately, this is not a very well kept secret so my advice is to arrive early if you want the best photography spots. Otherwise, you risk facing this.
I arrived late around 5:30am local time because I had to get my entry ticket and already the best spots have been taken. I suggest getting the ticket a day before to avoid this. However, I did manage to squeeze my way through the crowd to steal a few shots.
Speaking of tickets, a 1-day pass will set you back US$20. The pass allows you to visit Angkor Wat and any of the temple sites within the Angkor Archaeological Park. You can also purchase a 3-day or 7-day pass for US$40 and US$60 respectively.
Anyway, after getting the shots I wanted, I decided to wander off from the crowd. The early morning is a great time to explore the temple since it is deserted. There’s something magical about exploring the place with no one else in sight.
However, it is conventional wisdom that Angkor Wat is best seen (and photographed) in the evening because it faces west. So my plan was to explore briefly, get a few shots I am happy with and return later in the evening for a more thorough visit.
Of course, there’s no harm if you decide to explore Angkor Wat entirely in the morning. It’s actually a good plan if you want to avoid the horde of tourist groups coming in later in the day. If you thought the sunrise crowd was bad, wait till you see the crowd after lunch.
This shot is a personal favourite of mine. I like how the golden early morning sunlight brings out the detail of the ruins. I also like how the scene reminds me of ancient Greek ruins or perhaps some other historical site in Europe (though the palm trees would look seriously out of place).
And with that, I decided to wrap up my morning visit and head on to my next stop, Angkor Thom. The final verdict: I feel that no visit to Angkor Wat would be complete without experiencing the sunrise. Though I have to admit, waking up at 4am isn’t a very appealing idea. Heh.