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Angkor Wat Sunrise | The Must-See Sight of Angkor Wat
Cambodia, Siem Reap

Angkor Wat Sunrise | The Must-See Sight of Angkor Wat 

Angkor Wat Sunrise is the most beautiful scenery that you can not miss during your trip in Siem Reap.  There may be several places to see a beautiful sunset in Siem Reap. But there is no place better than Angkor Wat if you want to watch the sunrise. People around the world might not be familiar with the name of Cambodia. However, they must certainly have heard, more or less, of Angkor Wat, one of the ancient wonders. Tourists who visit Siem Reap province are likely to have ‘watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat Temple’ on their traveling checklist. The way the sun raises behind the temple makes a spectacular view especially for those in front of the temple.

There is no denying how much the simple cycle of nature combined with the presence of the historic building could lift up its audience’s spirit. Anyone on earth would feel blessed just to experience this magnificent moment once. It is amazing how beautiful of a legacy Cambodian ancestors have bestowed upon their later generations. If you are lucky, you might get to see the annual phenomenon. It is where the sun stands right on the top of its central tower!

Angkor Wat: The Best Place for Sunrise in Siem Reap

- Angkor Wat Sunrise
Source: Flickr “James Hendry”

The Decades of Dedication to be admired by Millions after Centuries of Abandonment

To understand why sunrise at Angkor Wat is a must-see destination, you need to take a look at the background of this ancient place. Angkor Wat took decades to come to life as accurate as the historical record could tell you. The building has also been the highest point of Khmer classical architecture. More interestingly, the temple consists of two main structures: the temple mountain style and the galleried temple style.

Because it was a Hindu-based-belief temple, its outline looks like many others’ that were born in that same era, which represents Mount Meru. The middle tower, which is also the tallest among others around it, indicates the highest place of the universe. It also known as ‘the dwell of Hindu Gods”.

Putting all the stones together might be a difficult job, but carving the whole wall must take patience and strong determination. That is also why the wall of this temple displays mesmerizing arts of the lives and belief of Cambodian in Angkor Era. It can take one visitor a whole day to look carefully and give enough praise to this magnificent galleried wall.

After being discovered back from the heart of the thick forest, Angkor Wat is now one of the biggest religious sites on earth. The whole building changed the color very slowly after the sun starts rising, and the sight can make all your hair stand straight.

Coincidence, maybe, that Left a Legacy of Eternal Beauty

Source: Flickr “Chris Chafer”

Did you know that Angkor Wat Temple was purposefully built to face the West? Of course, you might have known the answer to that, but the real one-million-dollar question is why. Angkor Wat is one of the very few of thousands of Cambodia’s temples that is west-oriented. There have been many interpretations to the latter question, though two seem to stand out most rationally.

The first one is that because it is a dedication from King Suryavarman II to the Hindu God Vishnu ‘the Preserver’, which is why it faces the west. This knowledge is sometimes surprising to even Cambodian themselves to learn that they were formerly Hindus. The story might be likely true because of the depiction of Hindu mythology all over the wall.

The other story that adds up is that it is intentionally facing Siam country (known as Thailand nowadays) to remind Khmer citizen to never turn their backs to the enemy. Even though the two countries are friendly neighbors, but history has shown that it has never always been this way.

None of the explanations above or the others point out that the King intended to build Angkor Wat just to see the sunrise. However, at the dawn of the day, whatever the real reason was, we can only be grateful for their purpose. If it wasn’t for that purpose, we, the later generations would not get to see what heaven on earth looks like. The best part is the sun always rises!

You might also want to know about: The Mysterious Angkor Thom Gates!! 

When to go, Where to stand, and How much to spend for a Once-in-a-lifetime Experience

  • Ticket Price: $37/day, $62/3 days, $72/week per person

First thing’s first. Make sure you rest enough the night before because you might need to wake up as early as 4 o’clock! Interesting fact, a couple of months in the rainy season, usually from May to August, days tend to be longer than nights which also means the dawn will come sooner than other months. On the contrary, in dry season, particularly from October to March, the morning comes later, so you can sleep an hour longer before going out for the sunrise experience. That probably explains why the dry season is more popular and the most crowded time of the year. With the road less occupied than any other time of the day, you can take a 15-minute ride or less on the Tuk Tuk from the town center to the ancient Cambodian city.

Another thing to be prepared before your trip to Angkor Wat for the sunrise is getting the temple-visitor ticket which anyone can tell you exactly where to buy. The price can get very cheap if you are going for a one-week package deal. Make sure you don’t forget the card with you because you would not want a silly mistake to ruin your chance to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat.

Once you reach the destination, you might spend around 15 minutes crossing the two large ponds surrounding Angkor Wat. Since the original bridge is currently closed for restoration and research, you need to use the funny-looking bridge. Then, after another ten minutes to pass through the outside wall, you will find yourself frozen by the giant dark site far ahead of you. From the front door, you can see the three shadowy towers stand gloomily. It might make you a bit uncomfortable. But fight that feeling off and continue to walk on for your very exact spot lies so close to you. Keep walking on another five minutes or so and look to your right. You will find a small pond next to a small temple. There, by the pond, is your best spot of seeing the sunrise beyond the temple of Angkor Wat.

A Sight in Person that thousands of photos can’t do it Justice

- Angkor Wat Sunrise
Source: Flickr “Chiew Loo”

You would inevitably see a flock of people already standing there. Especially if you are a bit later than you have planned. Some are probably stretching as their morning routines tend to be. Some are sitting down in groups looking around. Others are standing and chatting within their groups. The sellers are surprisingly fully awake and already walking around selling souvenir to the visitors. But one thing is noticeable. No matter what they do, they keep themselves very quiet and calm. Maybe they are still sleepy and in no mood to make any loud sound. It is also possible that they are meditating their mind at the peace the dawn brings. But whichever reason may be, it feels as if they are afraid that their noise would scare the sun away!

As the light starts to emerge behind Angkor Wat, it is the cue for everyone to gather themselves. Many would have their camera ready. The first gleam of the sun popping up slowly and usually sends gasp throughout the crowd. As the sun flies up higher and higher, sending indescribable colors to the sky, it also uncovers the whole temple gradually from the blanket of darkness. Starting from the right side of the temple, the dark shadowy stones turn gold by the minute.

Sooner, in front of the visitors, stands a handsome golden wonder. The combination of the light from the sun and the building altogether is breathtaking. It is like the birth of happiness sent from up above to kill all your stressful memories. You, like those around you, would definitely hold down the camera as you try to take the heaven-like scenery all in and hope you can remember it as long as you live.

If this experience renders you speechless, imagine how you feel if you get to see the biggest annual phenomenon mentioned earlier. That’s right. The sun rising right at top of the highest tower of Angkor Wat is as rare as the solar eclipse. The sight of this occasion would make you believe for a second there are truly Gods because only Gods could create such a mesmerizing view. If you are interested in knowing the exact date of this yearly event, make sure to check on our website on our next topic. (optional)

One of the Regrets You’d take to the Grave if You Miss the Angkor Wat Sunrise

It is not a question whether other times of the day is enjoyable for visitors at Angkor Wat. However, the time that you can never get enough of is the sight of the temple at the dawn of day. Every time you visit Siem Reap, make sure that Angkor Wat sunrise is always on your Cambodia-trip bucket list. No matter how many times you visit, this particularly would help your soul to leave all the tension behind.

Once in life may not be enough, but it is still way better than missing out on the chance to witness it. It would also be something you can make as a tradition for your family and the next generation after you. The sun will always rise, and Angkor Wat will still reside there as strong and wonderful as ever. If you don’t get to see the sunrise, don’t panic check this out: Stunning Sunset Spots of Siem Reap!!!

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