There are places in the world that you don’t always get to go to like Angkor Wat. So it was a no-brainer for us to witness the sunrise at the largest religious monument in the world.
The easiest and cheapest way to go to Angkor Wat from Siem Reap is by tuktuk. But at 4 in the morning, it might be hard to hail an empty one. So what we did was commission a tuktuk driver the day before we planned on going. And just to be sure, we went to a travel agency to book a tuktuk. It might be a little expensive, but at least we were certain that it would come. The tuktuk tour cost us USD 17.00 for a sunrise visit. Price would have been cheaper for a normal 8-9 AM start. That tour includes a driver that would take us to major temples. And, it’s also up to us up until what time the tour ends before sunset.
The driver picked us up from our hotel at 4:30 AM. We went straight to the ticket center which was on the way to the temple. It was still dark when we got our tickets so we headed off to Angkor Wat before the sun rises. As our tuktuk moves closer to the entrance, we see the silhouette of the temple sandwiched between the trees and other cars. The anticipation it caused me was a feeling I could never forget.
When our tuktuk parked, we rushed to enter the complex. The left side of the lake was full already, so we went to the right (less photogenic) side of the lake. We got front-row, fixed our time-lapse settings and watched as magic worked its way.
Seeing Angkor Wat slowly gets detailed as the sun rise was so worth waking up early. It’s one of those experiences where you just couldn’t believe you’re experiencing. It was hard to wrap my head around the idea of how beautiful it was. And when the sun had fully risen, we entered the temple and explored its interior.
Of course, the inside was as beautiful as the outside. It has a lot of levels so expect to work your leg muscles there. We walked up to the back side where it was fully facing the sun, showing every bit of detail of the temple.
Angkor Wat was very crowded so we decided to head onto other temples while people are here. One thing I didn’t expect was how wide the complex were. It’s not like, Bangkok’s Grand Palace or Seoul’s Gyeongbokgung Palace where you can just walk to the other temples. In Angkor, you have to take a tuktuk to get to the next one. They’re literally a town away. And on the way to next temple, you get to go through sceneries of forests and ancient gates and statues. It’s a whole experience!!
In Angkor Thom, we explored the temple of Bayon and some ruins north of it. Also inside the complex are food stalls that sell grilled meat and other Cambodian dishes. We had our lunch there before going to the parking where our tuktuk was.
After Angkor Thom, we visited a couple more temples (Ta Keo, Ta Prohm, and more) lead by our tuktuk driver. We had no fixed itinerary so we were fine wherever he’d take us. If you’re very specific with where you want to go, you can definitely talk to the driver about it. They do this almost every day so they already know where tourists usually go.
It was very tiring to visit multiple temples, some of them are even 3-4 stories high with steep steps. We thought of staying until late in the afternoon, but we went back to the city just a little after lunch. Besides we were already there for more than 7 hours. When we got back to the hotel, there was only one thing we wanted to do, SLEEP! (but not before we shower of course lmao)