Top spots for sunrise
Angkor Wat – Top of the list for sunrise is incredible Angkor Wat – looking out to the silhouetted image of the five lotus-shaped temples across the mirror-like pond strewn with lilies as the sun creeps up and decorates the sky in vivid pinks and oranges is one of the most special sights you can hope to see whilst visiting the Angkor complex. As such, it’s one of the busiest spots and where many tour groups head first.
Bayon – The east-facing direction of Bayon makes it a great alternative for an early morning vantage point without the larger crowds. Positioning yourself across from one of the pools at the entrance to the temple and you’ll be able to marvel as the famous faces of Bayon are gradually illuminated as the sun climbs higher in the sky.
Phnom Bakheng – Conventional wisdom has this as the best place for sunset but in the morning when the light comes up behind Angkor Wat, Phnom Bakheng affords attractive views out to the mother of all temples far from all the crowds.
Sra Srang – The Pool of Abultions east of Banteay Kdei can be a wonderful place for sunrise with the extensive waters brilliantly reflecting the colours of a new day.
Top spots for sunset
Phnom Bakheng – Its hilltop location affords incredible 360 views across the fields of the temple complex with the iconic Angkor Wat in the far distance. This distance does require a good telephoto lens if you’re serious about your photography. It’s one of the most popular spots for sunset and this does mean you’ll be sharing the experience with many others.
Pre Rup – For a more peaceful sunset experience head to Pre Rup when the sun dips and creates a warming glow over the countryside. Although you won’t see any other temples, obscured as they are by trees, it’s the ideal place to escape the crowds and explore a temple as the light slowly dims.
Phnom Krom – Located 12km south of Siem Reap, the hilltop temple of Phnom Krom is a lovely spot for sunset as it overlooks the scenic Tonle Sap Lake and offers dramatic views. As it involves a long drive back to town once the sunsets it does mean it sees far fewer visitors and can be perfectly combined with a day’s excursion to the floating villages of Tonle Sap.
Angkor Wat – The crowning glory in the Angkor complex is as beautiful at the end of the day as it is at the start and most people will head to the western side of Angkor Wat to witness sunset. Head to the eastern side and you’ll be rewarded with equally as stunning scenes as the sun ducks behind the temple and throws it into shadow. Alternatively, head to the skies in the Sokha Balloon, a hot air balloon tethered to the ground that rises 150 metres for incredible views across the entire complex of Angkor Wat.