3 Most Stunning Sunset Spots of Siem Reap
On your Southeast Asia destination checklist, you will definitely find Siem Reap among the top destinations. The combination of ancient archaeological heritage and the growing competition of hospitality and tourism have made Siem Reap one of the most robust and magnetic cities of the world. More than an extraordinary landmark and city, it is able to earn its own name and characterize its unique Sunset.
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It features numerous breathtaking heritage sites atop with varieties of rich natural scenery. From the mainland to the mountains, from the flooding forest to the great Tonlé Sap, to the vast golden rice fields that provide countless refreshing traveling experiences of a lifetime. The most exquisite of them all, of course, is the perfect glance of a sunset sky. Here is a small list of sunset in Siem Reap destinations for your reading pleasure.
1. Sunset of Phnom Bakheng
Where would be the last place you might go after your tour of the temples at Angkor?
If you happen to finish your tour as early as 3:00 or 3:30, you might as well make your final stop at Phnom Bakheng. It is most famous for its temple atop a hill along with its spectacular sunset scenery. It is currently the most visited sunset site in Siem Reap that tourists visit. Thanks to a perfect location, the 60-meter (195 ft.) hill exist only 400 meters (1,300 ft.) from Angkor Thom (Bayon). This place is as convenient as it gets for visitors to finish off their long journey with the final delight of a magnificent sunset.
The beauty of the Bakheng sunset
The highlighted beauty of the Bakheng sunset is the boundless view of the vastness of the trees that reflect the setting sun. Why do people go to see the sunset there? Due to its geographical heights, the hill gives a clear view of the gleaming orange-red horizon. If of course, you are not short enough to have other people block that view. The dimming light is so relaxing that it will take your mind off how dark it is getting. The warmth of the sun on your skin, the sensation of the breeze through your hair, and the overwhelming heights are all absolutely stunning. Tip: If you are sensitive to the light, a pair of polarized sunglasses will definitely complement your sight. To be blunt, it is almost ineffable to describe any sunset because they are all simply perfect.
Deeper than a bright fading orange light, Phnom Bakheng also offers the experience of its mountain geography as well. And how best to experience the mountain? Tourists get to hike under the trees on wide trails and stairs along the side of the mountain until reaching the summit. Gusts of tendering wind brush branches and vibrate the wave of soothing leaves with a rustling surrounding sound. Echoing waves of the raddling tails of the forest’s Cambodian cicadas.
What else you should not miss at Phnom Bakheng ?
No sound of traffic, no sound of crowds, no sound of constructions, no sounds of the busy city, just complete nature. If you find yourself thinking that the walk is too long, do not worry. Along the trails, there will be two piers like balconies on the side of the mountain for pedestrians to rest as they go. Because it was built on the side of the mountain, you can rest and sightsee at the same time. The view of the clear forest and the covering mist are almost magical.
Most importantly, you get a view of Angkor Wat and Baray that makes your time of resting very worthwhile. And what is even more worthwhile is the Siem Reap sunset waiting for you at the top of the hill for your pure enjoyment. One last prestigious experience of the site is the absolute wealth and treasure. Sculptures and murals of the exalted Apsara resting on numerous surfaces of the temples’ limestone. Statues of creatures guarding the pathways and stairs. Shapes of the base of the temple give it a timeless beauty and exquisite uniqueness from the rest of the world.
You should know that Phnom Bakheng is the oldest and most monumental structure that was built to honor the Hindu god Shiva and as the king’s tomb. The influence of humanity has been causing continuous erosion to the temple’s condition every day. Getting to see the dimming sunset with its vast view beyond the trees are terrific. However, you will have to be there quickly. So how early would you have to be there? Conservationists only allow a limited number of visitors on the terrace to see the sunset. It is best to reach the destination by 4:00 pm because you will need some time hiking up before the sunsets.
2. Pre Rup Temple
Brief History of Pre Rup
The second destination of the sunset in Siem Reap list is Pre Rup temple. The three-leveled architectural pyramid was built for the same reason as Bakheng temple, to honor the Hindu god Shiva. The structure predates back to 961 A.D, around the same time after the completion of Bakheng temple in 910 A.D. This location labeled number two because it is stretched out 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) away from Angkor Thom. Yes, it takes slightly longer to get to there but you will get to the top much more easily. This gives Pre Rup temple an edged advantage over Bakheng temple. The structure may not locates on top of a hill but the temple itself stands tall above the tree lines. This allows it to be the second-best site for sunsets.
Travel and the Sunset
Travel using túk-túk or motorcycle is highly recommended for the best experience throughout your journey to Pre Rup. Along the drive, you will pass on isles of trees that give off cool evening breezes. You will travel past one of the largest moats that surround Angkor Wat and the lake of Srah Srong. Glimpses of a golden rice field under the bright curving blue sky tinted with strands of red and orange are marvelous. It will be one very worthwhile six-kilometer trip further out before reaching the destination.
Stalls for drinks and souvenir shops are situated next to every temple site. When you see one, you’re there. You can enjoy a cold beverage before or right sunset. Straw hats, sundresses, scarfs are the perfect choice from the shop that can fancy your theme even more. And from there, it will only take a short climb to a very rewarding scenic beauty.
The scenery at the top of Pre Rup
At the very peak, you will find yourself surrounded by a green forest tree line covered by shredded tinted red clouds and the blue sky of the horizon. And once there, the sun will set behind those far-stretched beautiful forests. The fading light gives off many magnificent shades of red, pink and gold that transition across the sky. The sky becomes so tall that the pillars of light that pierce through the clouds are noticeable. Indulging along with the unique statues and sculptures of Apsara and animals and creatures from the myth of Cambodia. Pre Rup temple presents its own sensation of sunset scenery and stone ambiance.
3. Phnom Krom
Finding the Phnom Krom
Last but not least, your next Best Sunset in Siem Reap scenery will take place in a more remote location highly recommended by locals. Phnom Krom locates on the opposite side of the other two sunset sites in Siem Reap. It is roughly 8.5 kilometers (5 miles) from the city in the outskirt of towns, closer to the main fishing area of Tonlé Sap which is the largest water reservoir of Cambodia. Why is it a more local and remote experience? Well, as you make your way towards the mountain, you will see many residences of villagers along the road. You will have to take a motorcycle or túk-túk to enjoy this one to its fullest. Trees beside the Siem Reap River attract winds and breathe out drafts of fresh air.
After passing through the village scenery, you will get to see houses on top of tall stilted structures. Well, it is an area where locals often come to enjoy a flavorsome meal and relax at the end of the day. Even though the experience is usually for locals, it is highly recommended for visitors due to the beautiful views of the rice fields. Along with spring breezes and the aroma of greenery plant, the grass and the soil of the land. A strip of the Siem Reap River, the ocean of the rice fields, courses towards Tonlé Sap. Having your meal served there with delicious Khmer traditional food will complement your atmospheric experience. And if you don’t want your fun to end there just yet, you are not far from the last sunset destination.
Sunset Scenery of Phnom Krom
Reaching the foot of the mountain, two options are available for you to decide to get to the top. An eight-minute walk up the stairway or a motorcycle ride on a concrete road up around the mountain. Tip: for safety purposes, túk-túks are not recommended. On the sunset spot, there exists a pagoda and Phnom Krom temple. Since the temple was built in the ninth century, the structure has become fragile, and the sculpture erosion has caused some tops to be inaccessible now.
But no worries, you can still explore around and bliss yourself with the very gratifying sunset. An edge at the top of the mountain allows a perfect perspective to gaze at your finishing day. Another edge at the largeness of our country’s freshwater reservoir. It is best suited to come here during the rainy season when the rice is at its greenest and glows against the glimmer of the sun. Patterns and jigsaws of lines that part the rice fields give you the view of very peaceful and alienating feelings. With the greenery of the rice, it elevates your experience to an even more satisfying degree.
Writer Suggestion – Best of the Best Sunset Spot
To be fair, all 3 sceneries are astonishing in their own sense. However, I do believe that two of them would be a set of great experience if you have a very short time at hand. It would be an excellent chance to get to see all three but if that does not favor you. I strongly recommend our sunset lovers to go to Bakheng and Pre Rup temple. One, because they are conveniently close to the Angkor Wat area where you can easily change your plans to sunset if the temple of your visit does not suit your likings. Two, they both have the oldest and most precious legacy from the heritage of Siem Reap Cambodia.
The Apsara, the majestic stone animals and the countless patterns and carvings that wait to be gazed upon. The wealth of our prosperous history from our ancestors are close to endless. However, from a local ‘s perspective, unwanted interference is likely to happen due to the tension of the crowds. There will always be that one person that is taller than you blocking the sun. And there will always be certain groups of people that talk louder than the other regardless of how peaceful it can get. If you are in Siem Reap during the rainy season and find this as annoying as I am, you must consider trading off one of the recommended sites for Phnom Krom.