Watch the Sun Rise at the Angkor Temples

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Angkor sunrise. Jon Robson / Creative Commons

Watching the glowing sun rise over Angkor Wat is likely one of Southeast Asia’s most sublime travel experiences. It’s no wonder that throngs of tourists come to witness it—gazing at the largest religious monument in the world that has survived the passage of centuries as the silhouette of its five redented towers appear against the sky in beautiful streaks of purple, crimson, and orange.

But aside from catching the sunrise at Angkor Wat, seeing the other temples and impressive remains of the Khmer Empire bathed in warm, afternoon light as the sun sets is also an experience not to be missed. Among the sites spread out in the 400 square kilometres of Angkor Archaeological Park, these are some known for stunning sunset views:

  • Phnom Bakheng, a temple built in the 9th century located atop a mountain that’s the most popular spot for sunset viewing—hence it’s also the most crowded;
  • Phnom Krom, a hilltop temple that affords a panoramic view of Tonle Sap Lake and Siem Reap; and
  • Pre Rup, a pyramidal temple that provides a 360-degree view of the park’s forested countryside.

Since you’ll have to navigate some steep steps heading down from the temples after the sun goes down, better arm yourself with a flashlight. Also, bear in mind that there’s a higher chance of cloud and rain in the afternoon from May to November.


Bayon Temple. Image courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism Cambodia.


Angkor Wat. Image courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism Cambodia.

Similar Southeast Asia Experiences
Temple hoppers often compare Angkor with another sprawling temple complex in Southeast Asia, Bagan in Myanmar. But there are other temple complexes to check out, too: we suggest you travel to Vietnam's Citadel and the nearby My Son temple complex, and for a different religious tradition, the Philippines' UNESCO Churches, for your sacred house fix.


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