Phnom Bakheng: (#8 on the map)
It was on our list for Angkor Wat to not only see the sunrise, but also see the sunset over the temples. When we originally booked this trip, I didn't expect that we would do all of this in one day, but thats just how the schedule turned out.
We were told the best place to see a sunset at Angkor Wat was from the top of Phnom Bakheng, which is a temple-mountain. The top portion of the mountain where you can watch the sunset is quite small, so they restrict the number of people allowed at the top to about 300 people. We were determined to get a spot, so we arrived at 4:30pm for a 6pm sunset.
You have to walk up a gradual hill built along the outer ring of the mountain. On a normal day, this hill would have been a breeze, but since we were on our feet since 4:55am and in the hot sun... we were exhausted. We also thought it was a great idea to get two big coconuts as well as a big bottle of water to make sure we were properly hydrated for the 1.5 hours of waiting at the top of the mountain. We were probably one of the first 30 people on the mountain, which made us think "we got here WAY too early". So we found a spot in the shade, took a seat on the ground and tried to get as comfortable as possible.
About 30 minutes in we were both deeply regretting the coconut waters & big bottle of water. And we learned... there are no bathrooms at the top of the mountain!! And if you walk down, you will give up your spot for the sunset. The next 60 minutes waiting for the sunset felt like 3 hours. We passed by the time in different ways. Andrew went for the "sleep to pass the time", and I went for the "see how much I can pass the time scrolling through social media while my iPhone was at the dreaded 20% battery life".
The afternoon was quite cloudy .. and we noticed a lot of people giving up on seeing a sunset to walk down the mountain. But we didn't come this far to leave. About 10 minutes before the sun was due to set, the guards at the temple started ordering everyone to leave the top of the mountain because it was closing. "But, what about the sunset?!!" Surprisingly, a lot of people followed their requests and got up and left. Not so surprisingly, the only ones left at the top refusing to leave until the sun was gone was us, and about 6 other people... all American.
We stalled long enough to snap a few pictures, but as you can see... I felt defeated. We got a glimpse of a sunset, but for all of the waiting in the heat on the top of a mountain... i'd say, not worth it.
Sunrise > Sunset at Angkor Wat.