The Best Arrival Time to Watch and Photograph the Angkor Wat Sunrise
|Angkor Wat around 5:35 a.m. from the south reflecting pool (but not the best spot for watching the sunrise).
The key to successfully photographing the sunrise at Angkor Wat is to find the best spot. The only way to find the best spot for photographing the Angkor Wat sunrise is to arrive early. I mean really early. Our Viking River Cruises tour guide suggested leaving the hotel at 5:00, as did the hotel concierge. However, while that time works for watching the sunrise, it’s actually a little late for getting the best spot to photograph the sunrise. Angkor Wat opens at 5:00 a.m., so we suggest getting there at or before 5:00 a.m. and leaving your hotel by 4:40 a.m. at the latest.
The Best Way to Get to Angkor Wat for Sunrise
The most common and, in our opinion, best way to get to Angkor Wat for sunrise is by tuk tuk. It was really easy. All we had to do was go to our hotel’s concierge the afternoon before and ask them to set up a tuk tuk for us at 5:00 a.m. (but ask for it earlier as mentioned above). When we came downstairs in the morning our tuk tuk was waiting and whisked us off to Angkor Wat.
|If you do get to Angkor Wat late, the view is still pretty from the south reflecting pool, the sun just won’t come up over the temple.
The Best Place to Photograph Angkor Wat at Sunrise
|Just before the sun appeared over the top. Surprisingly, many had already left.
Once you arrive at Angkor Wat, it’s important to get to the best place to photograph the sunrise, and to do so quickly. You won’t have the luxury of taking your time to find the best spot to watch the Angkor Wat sunrise or to move around. Romeo was surprised by how many tuk tuks and bicycles were on the road so early in the morning, all heading to Angkor Wat for sunrise.
There are two reasons why you should visit Angkor Wat a day or two before you plan on visiting for sunrise. First, you need to have already purchased your temple pass to enter, which is $40 for three days. Second, you need to have scoped out the area so you can make your way as quickly as possible to your desired spot in the pitch black without breaking an ankle or falling into the water.
Be prepared to stand firm to keep your spot. Late-comers may try to push through and stand in front of you. You woke up early for your spot, so don’t let them! We actually didn’t have this problem, thankfully. One person early on tried to squeeze by me and the daughter of the family I stood with, but we just stood still. Otherwise, a few people asked to squeeze through just for one photo once the sun had mostly risen and people had started to leave, which we allowed and they very politely took their photo and then moved back again. However, I have heard tales of people piling rocks in the water so they could stand on the pile or wearing rubber boots so they could wade into the reflecting pool. I have also heard of people throwing rocks into the pool during sunrise, causing ripples to ruin people’s reflection photos.
The Best Way to Photograph the Angkor Wat Sunrise
To view sunrise at Angkor Wat, all you need is a pair of eyes to see and a pair of legs to stand on. If you want a few snapshots of the sunrise once the sun has lit the sky or just as it peaks above the Angkor Wat towers, a cell phone or point-and-shoot camera will work. However, if you want really good pictures of sunrise from start to finish, a phone or point-and-shoot aren’t quite enough.
Is Watching the Sunrise Over Angkor Wat Worth It
If hundreds, if not over a thousand or more, people are waking up at an ungodly hour every morning to watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat, it must be worth it, right? Some might think it an awfully touristy thing to do. I wouldn’t have put up a fight if Romeo hadn’t been into it, as sleep is precious to me. However, as soon as tiny bits of light started to appear, revealing the dark outline of Angkor Wat, my heart started to beat a little faster and I was so glad we had made the effort. So yes, if you are a fan of beauty and seeing something you just cannot see every day, watching the Angkor Wat sunrise is absolutely worth it.
|Who says watching the sunrise with hundreds of others isn’t romantic?
Bottom line, if you’re thinking of watching or photographing the Angkor Wat sunrise, the early morning wake up, slightly chilly tuk tuk ride, mass march through pitch black, and view of one very romantic sunrise accompanied by a couple thousand strangers is well worth it. Hopefully, our Angkor Wat sunrise tips will make it as painless as possible.
Thank you to Viking River Cruises for hosting us on their Magnificent Mekong tour through Vietnam and Cambodia and making this post possible. As always, all opinions are our own. This article contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them, it costs you nothing extra and we earn a small commission which goes towards funding this website and our travels so we can bring you more travel stories.