Asia,  Cambodia,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Temples of Angkor (Cambodia): sunrise in Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei, Pre Rup, Oriental Mebon – Travel Diary

We motivate ourselves to leave the hotel at 5am to see the sunrise in Angkor Wat. It’s dark at night and it is especially very cold. Sitting comfortably in our tuk-tuk (which is open on all sides), we are obliged to take out our winter clothes so as not to suffer from the cold

On the way to Angkor Wat, the markets are already bustling, and tourists are happy to see coffee stalls at the arrival of the Angkor Wat temple

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

We cross a floating bridge to enter Angkor Wat. We have two choices: watch the sunrise in front of the lake on the left side, where there are already about a hundred people, or the lake on the right side – where there are about thirty people. The choice is quickly made, we position ourselves on the right side

Unfortunately for us, the clouds are too thick and we will not see the multitudes of colors that make the magic of a sunrise in Angkor. Maybe another time

The reason why everyone is on the left is because we can see the 5 towers and there are fewer trees to obstruct visibility

Angkor Wat

After sunrise, the groups return to the hotel for breakfast. Visiting Angkor Wat at this hour is ideal, it is a bit crowded but it isn’thing compared to the attendance at the rush hour with groups of 60 by dozens

At 6:44 am, we arrive in front of the highest towers, whose visit is restricted. The guards hand out a number of badges to visit this part, so we waited 20 minutes to be able to go up to the top – even though it is open at 6:40 am

It’s worth climbing so high for a nice view of the different entrances of Angkor Wat. Luckily they put special stairs for tourists, because the original steps are very small and much more inclined than that. At the same time, going up to the top of the temples was not reserved to everyone, only the religious and not just any!

On the walls surrounding Angkor Wat, we see beautiful reliefs of about fifty meters, telling myths and legends, some still very much rooted in Cambodian culture and beliefs

Everywhere you can find sculptures of apsaras, celestial nymphs of great beauty

Visiting Angkor Wat under the first light of day is an experience that I highly recommend

Ta Prohm

It is JB’s favorite temple. One does not get tired of it thus one benefits from the morning hour to go there before the arrival of the hordes of tourists. It is only 7:30 am but we aren’t alone. This time, we enter by another door, and indeed, it is better because I realized that we had completely zapped this very famous tree at the time of our last visit

As it is less crowded than last time, we take the opportunity to make some pictures with our heads on 😀

I’ve been looking for this famous door for 20 minutes, and then I end up showing it to the guard, who shows me the tree featured in Tomb Raider

In fact, it is hidden by the world lining up in front for a photo

This time, we discover many things we didn’t see last time, like this face wrapped by roots, or very detailed sculptures

Hello spider! (as big as my hand)

Banteay Kdei

We then visit Banteay Kdei, a temple little visited in the morning, and of a beauty !!! With lots of reliefs, sculptures…. Super nice!

Pre Rup

To climb to the top, one must climb the super-high steps of the Pre Rup Temple. Fortunately, the descent is quite easy

Oriental Mebon

The peculiarity of this temple is that the plaster sculptures are gone, leaving bare bricks (with holes that were used to “clip” these sculptures). There are carved elephants at the four corners of the temple, guardian elephants

This concludes our third day of visits to Angkor. We pass in front of a local market to buy some grilled chicken to take away (2$ for a big thigh) then we go back to the hotel, it’s already 12 o’clock (whereas we left at 5 o’clock)

Part 2: Practical Tips


  • Tuk-tuk : 15$/day + 5$ supplement for a very early start to watch the sunrise
  • Entrance ticket to Angkor: $72/person for 7 days (valid for 30 days)
  • Breakfast : 2$/person inside Angkor Wat
  • Lunch: 2$/person at the local market


  • If you already have a ticket, for the sunrise, leave Siem Reap at 5am. If you don’t have a ticket yet, you have to leave at 4:30am to buy the ticket and then make the tour. So I advise you not to do the sunrise on the 1st day of your visit to Angkor, but on the 2nd or 3rd day.
  • Visit Angkor Wat just after sunrise. Go straight to the center to be among the first to climb to the top (from 6:40 am) and zap the tail. And visit the rest after.
  • Don’t always listen to your tuk tuk, it will give you the shortest route for it, but sometimes you have to make a longer trip to visit the most frequented temples at the right time. So give him your route, you paid for a day, you visit in the order you want.
  • Read our complete guide to the temples of Angkor here
  • Previous travelogue: our first two days in Angkor
  • Next travelogue : our last three days in Angkor

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