One of the "must do's" on our list for Cambodia was to see Angkor Wat at sunrise. We thought "it looks gorgeous! and we'll start our day bright and early - its a win win". But, what we didn't realize was, the sunrise at Angkor Wat starts at 5:40AM... AND it takes about 45 minutes to get there from the town of Siem Reap on a slow little tuk tuk. This meant we had a 4:55AM tuk tuk pick up. I know Andrew and I are typically early risers, but geez, our alarm was set for 4:15am!! (This sunrise better be worth it).
Ok ok... it was worth it. Maybe we shouldn't have stayed out as late as we did the night before on "Pub Street" (separate blog post on that!), but it was still completely worth it.
What is it about a sunrise that makes you end up with 85 pictures of it?? I'm always standing there thinking "oooh its even more beautiful now... *click*.. oo it turned pink and purple *click*... woah now its orange *click click*"
Instead of boring you with my 85 pictures of the same exact sunrise, I thought i'd write down some of my tips for anyone else who wants to see Angkor Wat at sunrise.
Tips for seeing Angkor Wat at Sunrise:
1. Pick up your Angkor Wat tickets the night before. When visiting Angkor Wat you must pick the tickets up at the main entrance, which is a bit out of the way (about 20 minutes). And when the tuk tuk pick up is at 4:55AM, you don't want to wake up any earlier than you have to, so we saved some time doing it the night before. (all info can be found here).
We went with a one day pass. We know of a lot of people who did it over several days, and there is SO much to see that you can easily take your time over 3 days. But we had a limited stay in Siem Reap, with a lot of rain in the forecast, so we decided to make a very long day of it. (Andrew hates his picture which is why I thought i'd be nice and cover it with my terrible picture). You're welcome sweetheart.
2. Ask your hotel to pack you a breakfast the night before. This was a great tip I read on someone else's blog prior to traveling. Our hotel had breakfast included, but obviously they weren't open at 4:30 am, so the night before we organized a little take-away breakfast to be prepared and ready for our departure. When we were were standing at Angkor Wat with crowds of people standing around us, drooling looking at our food.. we felt like pros.
3. Don't expect this to be a nice, quiet and romantic sunrise. We thought - how many people will want to wake up this early to see a sunrise here? The answer: A LOT. All with amazing camera equipment I might add...
4. Take a walk around the grounds during the sunrise. You don't need to stay propped at that little pond the entire sunrise, we had the most unbelievable experience because we started walking to go into Angkor Wat and saw a grouping of Buddhist monks praying. It was one of the most amazing and peaceful moments we had while at Angkor Wat.
5. Start visiting the temples immediately after the sunrise. Its 7am... the massive crowds of people haven't arrived yet, and the heat is at a comfortable 80 degrees (before it gets up to 98 and dripping sweat). This is the golden hour to explore the temples. Its so quiet that you feel like you're the only ones there. And yes, this is also the perfect time to get some sweet insta-worthy pictures before you have the crowds of asian tourists in the back of all of your pictures. Enjoy and cherish this time, you'll understand at 1pm later that day. :)
Well thats all I have for the sunrise at Angkor Wat! Later in the day we visited all of the major temples on the complex, i'll write separate posts on each of them because we took so many amazing pictures it cant all fit into one blog post. Stay tuned...