5 Best Angkor Wat Sunset Viewpoints
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Is there any better way to end the day than watching the sunset? If there is, I haven’t found it. Although I have to admit, I’m a bit of a sunset junkie.
If it looks even remotely like there might be a nice sunset one evening I’ll high tail it to the best viewpoint I can find and admire the sky as it changes from blue to yellow to that stunning orange, pink and purple combo that just lights the sky on fire.
I’ve been known on many an occasion to climb mountains just to watch the sunset, and then run down, chasing every bit of light I can catch before the world descends into darkness. If you’re a sunset junkie like me, then you can’t miss watching the sunset at Angkor Wat.
And I know what you’re going to say “But everyone says you have to go to Angkor Wat for sunrise, not sunset”, and it’s true, the sun does rise right behind Angkor Wat. And there is a great view from the reflection pool if you can see it between the heads of the hundreds of other people all straining to get that same perfect photo.
Because all the guides, tuk-tuk drivers, guidebooks, and websites recommend going to Angkor Wat at sunrise, surprise, everybody goes there.
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So, should you not go to Angkor Wat for sunrise?
If seeing the sunrise at Angkor Wat is a bucket list experience for you, then absolutely you should go. Just be prepared for the crowds and don’t expect it be quiet and peaceful.
My point with this article is that see the sunset at Angkor Wat is totally underrated. Not only are there many awesome spots to watch the sunset inside Angkor Archaeological Park, but you can see the sunset without even buying an expensive Angkor Wat ticket.
Yup, the Angkor Wat grounds are completely FREE to enter every single day after 5:30 pm! The guards won’t even check your ticket. In fact, the first night we saw the sunset at Phnom Bakheng Temple we hadn’t even bought our tickets yet.
Pro tip: get the most out of your Ankgor Wat ticket by watching the sunset on days when you haven’t already entered the park.
You’ll save days on your pass and avoid temple burnout so you can really enjoy your sunset experience without thinking about how tired and hungry you are after a long day of visiting Angkor Wat in the heat.
After riding our bike through the park every day for a week we’ve scouted out the 5 best places to watch the sunset at Angkor Wat.
1. Phnom Bakheng
Phnom Bakheng is by far the most popular place to watch the sunset at Angkor Wat, and after going there ourselves, we can see why. This is one of those places that totally lives up to its reputation.
Phnom Bakheng is one of 2 Angkor Wat temples that is open until 7 pm, which means that you can watch the sunset inside the temple itself instead of just from the outside. It’s located up on top of a hill, which means you get an absolutely gorgeous view of the surrounding temples and countryside as the sun dips below the horizon.
The entrance to Phnom Bakheng is on the left-hand side of the road (if you’re coming from town) just past Angkor Wat but before you get to Angkor Thom. The temple itself is not very big, so to control the crowds the guards at the top of the hill only allow 300 people inside at a time.
To do this they give each person a lanyard to wear around their necks which gets returned as they exit the temple. The lanyards are then collected by the guards and given to the next group of people waiting to get in.
Because of the 300 person limit, if you really want to make sure you get a great sunset view from inside the temple itself you’ll need to get to the top of the hill around an hour before sunset.
You don’t actually need to be inside of the temple to see the sunset though. There’s a viewing platform just outside of the temple that offers a great view of the sun setting over the jungle.
A word of warning, don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you that you’re too late and won’t be allowed into the temple to watch the sunset. When we arrived at the entrance to the hill, some official looking man, not sure if he was a tuk-tuk driver or guide, warned us that we were too late and wouldn’t be allowed in.
Luckily we ignored him and climbed to the top of the hill anyway because first off all, you don’t actually need to go into the temple to watch the sunset from the top of the hill, and second, they were absolutely still letting people inside the temple when we got up there. Maybe he was well-intentioned and just misinformed, who knows.
To watch the sunset at Phnom Bakheng we entered the park at 5:30 pm, sans ticket, climbed to the top of the hill as fast as we could, stopped at the viewing platform to watch some of the sunset and take some photos, stood in line for about ten minutes while we waited for enough people to leave the temple so that the guards could let us in, and still caught the last glimpses of sunset from inside of the temple.
Unfortunately for us, it was rather smoggy the day we went to Phnom Bakheng so the sky wasn’t as pretty as it could have been. Even so, it was still an amazing view, and a great spot to watch the sunset.
2. Pre Rup
Pre Rup is the second of the two temples open until 7 pm for sunset. Similar to Phnom Bakheng, you don’t actually need to go inside of the temple to see the sunset, but I think it would be better if you did.
The sun sets right in between the front two towers at Pre Rup temple, which means you get a pretty sweet view just standing outside by the road. But, Pre Rup is one of the taller temples at Angkor Wat, so if you go inside and climb to the top of the temple, you’ll have another awesome view of the sun setting over the jungles of Cambodia.
Pre Rup is a bit further away from town than Phnom Bakheng, so make sure you leave time to get there. The temple is located 14 kilometers away from Siem Reap on the large circuit loop. To get there, turn right when you hit Angkor Wat and follow the large circuit loop past Sras Srang to Pre Rup.
3. Srah Srang
Srah Srang is a reservoir located right across from Banteay Kdei Temple and around the corner from Pre Rup. It was dug in the mid 10th century and is still partially flooded today, measuring 700 by 350 meters.
There’s actually a viewing platform right across from Banteay Kdei that is a popular sunrise spot, but, if you head to Srah Srang from the opposite end, closest to Pre Rup, you can get just as spectacular of a view for sunset, with a lot less people.
While there’s no temple at Srah Srang, you’ll get to see a perfect reflection on the water of the sun setting between the trees. You can sit in the grass on the bank of the reservoir, hang out, and watch the sunset over the water without having to battle crowds of tourists.
4. Angkor Thom Moat
Head to the Angkor Thom Moat for another awesome sunset reflection. The reflection here is best viewed from the South Gate of Angkor Thom where you can see not only the reflection of the setting sun over the water but also the Angkor Thom statues.
5. Angkor Wat Moat
Head over to the east side of Angkor Wat for a beautiful view of the sun setting behind Angkor Wat. There are no reflection pools inside the wall on this side of the temple so for that epic Angkor Wat sunset reflection the moat around the outside of the temple is where it’s at.
To get to the east side gate after 5:30 pm once the temple is closed, just come in from town and turn right at the T intersection in front of Angkor Wat. Turn the corner and you’ll be on the east side of the temple in prime position for sunset.
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Thanks for this info! To add some intel, we went to Pre Rup in January at sunset and unfortunately the location of the sun setting was into some tall trees in the foreground, and did not set between the towers, so it definitely depends on time of year! The Srah Srang reservoir nearby was beautiful at sunset, as you said. I’ll try Angkor Wat for sunset tomorrow and report back 🙂
Thanks for the tip!