It’s about as cliché as visiting the Eiffel Tower, but bloody hell, there was absolutely no way I was going to miss out on watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat!
Angkor Wat may be on every gap year travellers hit list, but this is for a damn good reason. This Cambodian temple complex dates back to the 12th century and is the largest religious monument in the entire world!
Now, before we get on to some pretty pictures of the sunrise, lets talk logistics.
Angkor Wat is Cambodia’s number one tourist attraction, and honestly, it is treated a bit like a cash cow. Entrance tickets are ridiculously expensive, especially for a country as notoriously poor as Cambodia.
A one day pass will set you back a whopping $37 USD and a three day pass is a pretty huge $62.
It is important to note that the ticket price is only the beginning of the expenses for a trip to Angkor Wat. Each day that you visit you will also need to organise transport to get between the temples. A tuk tuk is generally the cheapest way of getting from site to site, and for a full day of exploring you’d expect to shell out about $20 for one driver and tuk tuk – so the more people you can fit in (at most 4) the cheaper this will be.
If you are planning on only purchasing the one day pass (which for most people will be enough – only go the three day pass if you are a total temple enthusiast) and also want to see the sunrise, you’ll need to actually go to the entrance and buy your ticket the afternoon in advance.
While the entire site opens at 5am (and entrance to the temples opens at 5.30am) the ticket office stays closed until a little later in the morning, so you’ll be cutting it pretty fine to actually see the sunrise, and you’ll have to compete with the biggest crowds.
Your ticket will have your photo on it, and you absolutely do need to carry it with you as they are checked very thoroughly, especially at the most popular sites.
Now, logistics over, let’s get on with the pretty pictures!
This next shot is my favourite from the morning, I just love the mix of colours and the reflections!
The sunrise was nothing short of spectacular, and it is pretty easy to see why this is such a popular time for people to visit Angkor Wat!
Getting up early enough to catch the sunrise is pretty brutal for someone who loves sleep as much as I do, and much like this monkey, after watching the sunrise, finding coffee was my #1 priority!
After being adequately caffeinated, I finally had the energy and enthusiasm to explore more of this incredible temple.
The outer walls of Angkor Wat measure a whopping 1,024m by 802m – so hopefully those measurements give you an idea of how massive the temple really is.
Featuring classic Khmer architecture, most of Angkor Wat is constructed from sandstone, and when you consider how old the temple complex is, it is in pretty top notch condition.
It will come as no surprise that this temple is absolutely crawling with people! One downside of visiting for the sunrise is having to compete with the crowds, and it is worth noting that lower tourist numbers are sometimes reported in the afternoons. So if seeing the sunrise isn’t all that important to you, it might be a smart idea to consider going later in the day.
Though Angkor Wat is the largest of all the temples in the city of Angkor – and seeing it at sunrise was absolutely gorgeous – some of the smaller temples in Angkor ended up being much more interesting to me.
So, stay tuned to learn more about some more of the famous temples of Angkor, and as always, happy solo travelling! xx
Getting to Siem Reap: Siem Reap is well connected by bus, as well as domestic and international flights
The Siem Reap Hostel: Quite possibly one of the best hostels in SEA, dorm beds start at $8/night
Angkor Wat: Tickets are sold for 1, 3 or 7 day trips and cannot be bought online
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2/8 lens
Remember: Crack a frosty and enjoy one of the most fun cities in Cambodia!