Seeing sunrise and sunset at the temples of Siem Reap is an attraction that lots of people come here to experience…partly because the area has a special feeling and resonates with so many visitors.
Angkor Wat is the most popular temple in Siem Reap, especially for either sunrise or sunset with approximately 2 million tourists coming each year. It is the biggest religious monument on earth, one of the 7 Wonders of the World and spectacular at any time of the day.
Angkor Wat was completed in the 12th centuries and is not only a symbol of national pride, but its image is also found upon the Cambodia’s flag. This amazing temple is located approximately 8 kilometres (5 miles) north of Siem Reap and is an easy place to get to.
TICKETS CANNOT BE PURCHASED AT ANY OF THE TEMPLES and you must buy your day pass from a separate ticketing office. See our article on Purchasing Temple Tickets for all the information you need.
The complete area that Angkor Wat covers is large space – and measures 162.6 hectares. Just a millennium ago, this complex was where people lived and worked with an estimated one million citizens inhabiting this thriving metropolis.
Angkor Wat is Cambodia’s best-preserved temple and thought to be a miniature replica of Mount Meru that represents the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes.
Mount Meru is located in Tanzania and is a mountain range with five peaks that is considered by Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religions to be a sacred site.
Sunrise And Sunset At Angkor Wat
Sunrise at Angkor Wat is where great pictures can be taken and the reflection of this magnificent temple is seen in the stillness of the moat water.
A holiday in Siem Reap is not complete without seeing Angkor Wat and up before the birds – it is still dark outside. Remember to plan for breakfast, however most food stalls and juice bars open up around 7.30 at Angkor Wat.
Sunset is also a great time to see Angkor Wat and you can spend your time roaming around the long galleries, looking at the high relief carvings and amazing architecture before the sun goes down. In a labyrinth of corridors, you could spend a day or two looking about – and if you visit Angkor Wat at the end of your tour, why not stay for stay to see the sunset?
As the sun sinks in the west, the fading light turns the stones of Angkor Wat golden colours, while it brings out the warm, earthy hues of the precisely laid bricks of this architectural and spiritual wonder.
It is an amazing, peaceful experience…and will be etched in your mind forever.
Angkor Wat is the most popular place to visit in Cambodia but it can get a little crowded at sunrise and sunset….so we have also given you some other great options to explore.
Sunrise and Sunset at Bakheng Temple
This is a place where you will get a view of Angkor Wat and the Western Baray from the top of the temple.
It is a lovely site as you look across the landscape and the morning light greets the day in a crescendo of peaceful harmony.
Be sure to factor in the 20+ minute hike to the top and even a bit more if your fitness level is a little lacking.
Bakheng Temple is spectacular to visit and is a great alternative to Angkor Wat, especially if you like an early morning challenge.
With its prime location, Bakheng Temple is a popular place for visitors at sunset and has made it to our Best 10 Temples in Siem Reap.
The view is just spectacular and well worth taking the time to visit – for an experience that is priceless.
The temples of Siem Reap are built on Ley Lines (which are energy lines of the earth) and some people attribute this to their unique feeling.
Sunrise – Ta Prohm Temple
Ta Prohm is breathtakingly beautiful with large, magnificent trees that grows from within the ancient walls…and honestly took my breath away. The magical atmosphere of this temple is palpable and was used as one of the backdrops for Lara Croft – Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie.
Giant trees tower above in a mixture of majestic beauty and watching the morning unfolding at this temple is amazing. While light dapples down through the leaves, Ta Prohm is a combination of ancient beauty and nature at its finest, which is less crowded than Angkor Wat.
You will not see a sunrise across the horizon, like the other temples because Ta Phrom is surrounded by large trees– but what you will see is this amazing temple light up and unfold before your eyes, while dawn breaks the silence of the night.
Sunrise – Srah Srang
There is nothing more serene than watching the sunrise as it speckles onto the water like a blanket of crystals. Seeing the sun’s reflection in this royal lake as the morning rays break – is a great way to start your day.
You may very well have the place to yourself and can offer some time for personal reflection being in this amazing land.
The morning light has a special energy at Srah Srang, and soaking it up as you look over the sparkling water – brings a feeling of connection.
Sunrise – East Mebon Temple
Roughly a thousand years ago, the view from the top was once looking down onto a large body of water – but this moat has now completely dried up.
As you look across the landscape at the rice fields and villages below, sunrise from the top of East Mebon Temple is a peaceful union with nature.
Breathing in life with the dawn of the coming day, you cannot help but to soak up the energy surrounding this ancient site and something that you will take away.
East Mebon is a bit farther than the other temples, so be sure to leave early enough to catch the first rays of dawn.
Sunset – Pre Rup Temple
This temple seems to glow during sunset and a beautiful place to see, which is now becoming more popular for visitors.
With its ancient and grand setting, which has far less crowds than Angkor Wat. Pre Rup Temple is a great place to witness the close of the day and standing among ancient history that is hard to surpass.
TIP: Check when you purchase your tickets the current opening times of the temples for dawn and sunset viewing – because this can change from time to time.
It is good advice is to wear sturdy walking shoes, take a snack and bring a torch to see in the dark.
If you would like to see the sunrise or sunset from the top of the temple – factor in an extra 20 minutes to climb to the summit.
Seeing the sunrise or sunset at the temples of Siem Reap is a wonderful experience and something you will remember for a lifetime. We would love to hear about your experience or do you have updated information that you want to share with others? Please feel free to leave a comment and we value your contribution.
Help Find the Right Temple for You
APSARA is a National Authority initiative that has created Angkor Sunset Finder and is a pilot project arising from their Tourism Management Plan.
They have created an interactive website, designed to enhance visitor experience and to find the best temple to suit your requirements.