Just off the city of Siem Reap, Angkor Wat is one of the most iconic sites in Southeast Asia and in the whole world. When people think of Cambodia, it may be the first spot that comes to mind. It’s a symbol of history and culture, inherent in the Cambodian roots. There’s no experience quite like visiting the Angkor Wat Sunrise or Angkor Wat Sunset.
Angkor Wat has been named as one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World and a well-known UNESCO World Heritage Site. As such, even though it is more within the tourist trail, we knew we needed to see this historical landmark.
The big question we had though and that you are probably asking, reading this article, is: Should you go with Angkor Wat Sunrise or Angkor Wat Sunset? Which of the two is the best time of the day to visit the Angkor Wat?
Luckily, we’ve had the experience of visiting at both times of the day and we’ll show you how you can do that with the same ticket as well as compare the pros and cons of Angkor Wat Sunrise vs Angkor Wat Sunset. Let’s dive in below!
Angkor Wat Sunrise: The Pros and Cons
The Pros: Angkor Wat at Sunrise
Visiting Angkor Wat at Sunrise is the most popular choice of most visitors and it’s no wonder why. Let’s look into the pros of an Angkor Wat Sunrise below.
- It’s the perfect vantage point for photographers who want to get that silhoutte shot as the sky explodes in colors.Note that the reason why the Angkor Wat Sunrise is so popular among visitors is because the sun rises directly behind the temple, creating the most stunning of photographs.
- Because Angkor Wat at sunrise is such a picturesque moment, the experience is quite magical and almost otherworldly even when you’re against other visitors. For us, it’s like watching a show. You can see it as an experience that you’re witnessing with others.
It kind of reminds us of our visit to Hong Kong, for the Symphony of Lights, where everyone came to watch but we were okay with it because it’s an experience that was worth sharing with others who were just as in awe to seeing such a magical sight.
- You get to visit the Angkor Wat after and beat the heat. The middle of the day is extremely hot in Cambodia and continuing the experience of seeing the temple after watching the Angkor Wat Sunrise ensures a more breezy visit.
- Following on the third point, it’s also less crowded to visit the rest of the temples after the Angkor Wat Sunrise as majority of the visitors flock in during midday.
The Cons: Angkor Wat at Sunrise
Given that Angkor Wat at sunrise is the most popular time to visit with all the multiple tours, backpackers and photographers coming to witness this wonder, there are a few cons to note below.
- Being the most popular time, expect Angkor Wat at sunrise to be crowded.
- To get the best spot (i.e. the reflections pools which overlook the sun’s rays as it rises through the temple), you’ll have to wake up really early.
The gates open at 5am so if you want a good seat to take photographs of the Angkor Wat sunrise, you’ll have to be there as early as the opening time.
- When you look at the pictures of Angkor Wat at sunrise, you may be fooled to thinking its peaceful and an experience where you can have some crazy revelations or a moment of zen.
This is most likely not the case. As we mentioned, think of it more as coming to a music show or lights show where there are people all around, chatting away and waiting for the sun to rise.
Angkor Wat Sunset: The Pros and Cons
The Pros: Angkor Wat at Sunset
Angkor Wat at Sunset entails a more offbeat and relaxed experience. Let’s go through the pros of an Angkor Wat Sunset below:
- Being at the end of the day, there are barely any people around so it is quite the peaceful experience.
- There’s no need to wake up early and you can come as late as 5pm to see the Angkor Wat Sunset and even see it for FREE (more on that in the next section below).
- The sun sets in front of the temple so an Angkor Wat Sunset does allow some creative photography opportunities with the clouds setting in and the golden light as it shines on the temple.
- It’s the best way to end your day, at least in our opinion. It’s magical in the sense that its so quiet and calm when you visit Angkor Wat at Sunset.
The Cons: Angkor Wat at Sunset
As the sun sets the opposite way and being near to the closing time of the temple, there are some cons to take note when visiting Angkor Wat at Sunset.
- The Angkor Wat sunset is not as impressive as the Angkor Wat sunrise. Though it has its own charm and magic to it, the colors and the reflections are not comparable.
- As soon as the sun sets, the temple is closed and you will be asked to leave so there’s no opportunity to explore the area after.
Secret Hack: Buy Tickets for Angkor Wat after 5pm
Angkor Wat after 5pm is FREE
Here’s our ultimate hack if you want to see both the Angkor Wat Sunrise or Sunset – buy your tickets to see the Angkor Wat AFTER 5pm.
Below you can find our tips and tricks for the best experience:
- Buy your ticket and go to Angkor Wat after 5pm.
- By going to Angkor Wat after 5pm, you can enter the park for FREE, which means a free Angkor Wat at Sunset visit.
- It’s also better to buy the ticket the evening before. If you buy it in the morning prior to entering Angkor Wat at sunrise, you might have to wait in line for some time and miss out on the moment.
- We have also seen recent updates that if you visit Angkor Wat after 5:30pm, it’s completely free and the guards won’t check tickets anymore. So if you only want to see the Angkor Wat Sunset, then you don’t even need to buy a ticket at all and simply visit after 5:30pm. This is only time that we have seen that you can enter Angkor Wat for free.
Final Thoughts: Angkor Wat Sunrise or Sunset
So there you have it! We hope this helps you answer the question on whether you should visit the Angkor Wat Sunrise or Sunset.
Among all the pros and cons listed above, we think both times are absolutely fantastic! For us, the best thing to do would be to go to Angkor Wat after 5pm, buy a ticket for the next day, visit the site already to view the Angkor Wat Sunset and come back the next morning for the Angkor Wat Sunrise.
In this way, you get to see the best of both worlds without having to pay for two entrance fees. Angkor Wat at Sunrise or Sunset both have their own merits so why not get the experience of both?
What about you? Have you seen the Angkor Wat Sunrise or Sunset? How was the experience like and which one would you recommend to our readers? Let us know of your thoughts and travel stories in the comments below!