Visiting Angkor Wat can be a hastle. There’s the getting up at the but crack of dawn, getting there before the sun rises, to then realise you and about 500 other people had the exact same idea.
This post is to make your trip to Angkor Wat more relaxed. It will include all the best viewpoints of this magnificent temple and when to go to them to avoid the big crowds.
At the end of this post you will even find a map that you can pin to save the exact location of each photo!
I took all of these photos over the time span of two mornings!
A list of the best viewpoints from Angkor Wat
1. The North Library
This photo was taken during sunrise and this is on the left side of the Northern Library. Somehow the front and the right side were extremely busy, but this side stayed empty during the entire sunrise :).
When to go – This is THE perfect spot to watch the sunrise! I took this photo at sunrise on the second morning.
2. Right of the South reflection pond
When I was visiting (April 2019), the South reflection pond was the most crowded one. Usually it’s the Northern one but because of the draught that one was nearly empty. So don’t rely on what you read in other blog posts. I did a lot of research before and every blog said you had to go to this one to have less people. This is not true, it all depends on which pond has the most water at that time.
This post is to help you deal with these circumstances that no matter which pond is crowded you can have a cool photo AND not disturb other photographers.
Everbody wants the same photo: the sunrise behind Angkor Wat reflecting in the lilly pond. And people will do some crazy shit to make this possible. Selfie sticks were waving, tripods were mounted and people were wading in the water in front of other people just so they could get a better photo.
I did not want to stand in that crowd (honestly, I would have gone bonkers after 5 minutes) so I walked a little along the side to find this cute spot next to the pond. And the best part? You’re not blocking anybodies view plus since everybody is still on the other side of the pond there will literally be no one else in your photo :).
When to go – This photo was also taken during sunrise but the first morning!
3. Left of the Northern Reflection Pond
This photo was taken an hour after sunrise. The biggest tip I can give you is that after you’ve taken photos during sunrise is to immediately head inside the temple. Everybody will still be outside so it will be relatively quiet. Plus don’t even get me started on the heat and humidity here. After every temple trip my dresses were drenched.
When to go – This photo was taken on the first morning about 1 hour after sunrise.
4. At the back of Angkor Wat
When visiting Angkor Wat, don’t just stick to the front side. This entire temple complex is insanely beautiful. This photo was taken at the back of the temple, a little after sunrise. There was nobody else here yet and we had this area entirely to ourselves for at least 30 minutes.
When to go – Go to the back of the temple right after sunrise to have it all to yourself!
5. Inside the temple with a monk
Taking this photo can get really tricky because the monks only arrive between 7 and 8am. This process is called the blessing and at the end (after being drenched by water :p) you will receive a bracelet. I had had this experience before in Pushkar, India. There it was a compelte rip off: the guy in the end even grabbed my friends purse and opened it up to see if she had more money. But not at Angkor Wat. They accept donations but it’s not even mandatory. You’re free to donate however much you feel like.
When to go – Make sure to be one of the first ones here when the monks arrive. Cause once people see this they will come swarming around. You can see below the difference cause my mom took a photo like this only 2 people later.
Not sure where to stay during your visit? Since it is so humid and hot in Siem Reap you might want to add a little luxury to your trip. Then Templation is the best place to stay!
6. In front of the Southern Reflection Pond
This photo was taken 2 hours after sunrise. By then the ground in front of Angkor Wat are emptier cause everybody is inside visiting the temple itself.
I don’t recommend going into the pond as I did haha cause my feet ended up extremely dirty. Then again, if you can handle a little mud go for it. Just to be clear this doesn’t mean you should go swimming in it… Before anybody gets any crazy ideas 🙂
When to go – 2 hours after sunrise there will be way less people here.
7. With one of the horses
I am not entirely sure why these horses are here but there are several ones on the grounds in front of Angkor Wat. Sometimes they roam around freely, other times not. I can’t promise you that 2 hours after sunrise this white horse will be in the exact same spot. I got really lucky here and seized the opportunity.
Make sure that when you take a photo like this you keep your distance!
When to go – This photo was taken 2 hours after sunrise.