While Angkor Archaeological Park is full of visually breathtaking temples, Angkor Wat is without doubt the most spectacular one. This photo gallery showcases Angkor Wat in the morning light. I have already offered an important Angkor Wat Photo Tip in a post suggesting the best itinerary for an Angkor Wat tour and this photo gallery will demonstrate with images why morning is NOT the best time to visit and/or photograph Angkor Wat.
One exception to the rule would be to come to Angkor Wat way early in the morning – before the sunrise. Since visiting hours start at 5am, if you are an early bird and can get up and get ready before 5 so you can get to Angkor Wat just before the sun breaks over the horizon, you would be able to capture the silhouettes of Angkor Wat against the colored morning sky without the sun creating strong backlight.
Obviously, you would have to be a truly dedicated photographer to undertake the pre-sunrise mission as it requires an extremely early get-up and once you got the pictures, you will have to move somewhere else as Angkor Wat will not be photogenic for the rest of the morning.
I could never do that which is why I don’t have any photos of Angkor Wat at the sunrise in the gallery. I’m a night owl, I go to bed at 4am. I can work till late, just don’t ask me to get up early. The best I can do it 8am but there better be a something worthwhile waiting there for me. Luckily Angkor Wat is definitely worth it and even though photos from the morning hours don’t do it justice and make it look flad, almost two-dimensional, it is still an architectual and artistic masterpiece with amazing carvings on the walls that can be photographed at any time of the day. Enjoy the gallery – pictures of Angkor taken during afternoon light when the sun illuminates the face, as well as during sun set and rain are in separate galleries:
When planning a visit to Angkor Wat and other temples and ruins of the Angkor Archaeological Park it is important to know what the opening hours and best visiting times are. There are additional details that I will share with you, details you won’t find in any guide book but can help you make the most of your visit to Angkor.
Angkor Wat Opening Hours Are:
Daily from 5.00am to 6.00pm
These opening hours apply to the main area of Angkor Archaeological Park and include all main and most popular temples, including Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom (Bayon, Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King), Thommanom, Ta Keo, Ta Prohm, Bantey Kdei, Sras Srang, Prasat Kravan, Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som, East Mebon, Banteay Samre, Pre Rup, etc.
The opening hours allow you to get to the temples before sunrise and leave after sunset. Because Cambodia is close to the equator, the sun rises at approximately 6.00am and sets at approximately 6.00pm every day. Angkor temples are a little bit off the equator so this time fluctuates slightly, but as a general rule of thumb, you get exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness every day. Visiting hours have been adjusted to accommodate the desire of tourists to catch both sunrise and sunsets over the temples.
Banteay Srey Opening Hours Are:
Daily from 5.00am to 5.00pm
Because Bantey Srey is about one hour by Tuk Tuk from Siem Reap, which is the main tourist hub for vast majority of all visitors to Angkor Archaeological Park, the closing time for Banteay Srey has been adjusted so you can get back to Siem Reap before it gets dark.
Kbal Spean Opening Hours Are:
Daily from 5.00am to 3.00pm
Kbal Spean is considered to be one of the most sacred places by the Khmer people. It is located on the sacred Kulen Hill (Phnom Kulen) and requires 45 minute hike uphill through the forest. Cambodians flock to Phnom Kulen for the Khmer New Year to prey before the statue of huge reclining Buddha and enjoy the swim at the waterfalls. It’s one of the less visited places by foreigners, but one of the most fascinating. Well known to local Khmer population, the unfortunate part about Phnom Kulen is that it will cost you $20 as a foreigner to get there. That fee is way out of proportion to what you would get for paying $20 to get to Angkor Wat area but can be avoided by taking an extra 2 hour hike. Some truly amazing carving in the rock
What Guide Books Don’t Tell You About Visiting Times!
The opening hours are what you SHOULD adhere to as a visitor to Angkor Archaeological Area. If you attempt to enter the area outside of these opening hours, you would be going there while it’s pitch dark outside, but there are no fences to hold you back so you are in fact free to enter.
The opening hours posted above are also the working hours of ticket inspectors on duty who are paid to check that every foreigner who enters the area has a valid ticket. So if you get to the checkpoint outside of the visiting hours, there will be no one asking you to show the ticket, leaving you free to enter at your own will.
That being said, foreigners caught inside any Angkor temple without a valid pass can be fined, whether it’s during opening hours or outside. All of the above simply means that there is virtually nothing to stop you from entering Angkor Archaeological Area after dark (as per opening hours posted earlier).
This also applies to leaving Angkor after opening hours. I spent a lot of time in a Sras Srang village oftentimes leaving late at night during which time if I wanted to, I could wonder into any temple and stay there (temples have been used for centuries as shelters for travelers). I’ve never done that, but it was a possibility. If I was done in a village before 6pm, I’d still have the guards at the checkpoint to give a wave to, but if I left after 6pm, there would be nobody there so even if I were going towards the village (aka towards the temples) I’d be free to enter.
Please note, that I do not encourage anyone to visit Angkor temples illegally and I definitely do not encourage anyone to wonder the forests of Angkor after dark. While this area has been thoroughly demined, there are other danger lurking in the dark than land mines. The above information is simply provided as a fact I know of but nobody else does. But now you all do.