Angkor Wat Sunrise: You’ve Never Seen a Dawn Like This

On May 8, 2014 by Oren and Cassie

Angkor Wat regularly makes the list of top places in the world to see, and for good reason. The Buddhist temple is the largest religious structure ever built. You can spend hours walking around the complex, staring at the towers and carvings. In all of our travels, we have seen few things more impressive than an Angkor Wat sunrise.

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We woke up at some obscene hour like 4:30 AM to catch our tuk-tuk ride to the Angkor Archaeological Park. It was nice and cool out in the morning, a stark contrast to the blazing heat of the mid-day. Our good friends at the Orient Excess warned us that you have to get a great spot and not move to get the best pictures of this UNESCO World Heritage site. They were absolutely right.

We were one of the first people at Angkor Wat that morning, and we rushed right up to the edge of the water you see to stake our spot. No one could get in front of us unless they wanted to stand in a small, mosquito-filled pond. But people crowded into every conceivable corner around us. No matter. We were in good position and not moving.

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The colors start out very subtle as the first rays of light creep over the horizon. I used extended exposures to capture many of my first photographs. By 5:45 AM, the sky was brightening quickly, and the colors were changing beautifully.

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The sun cracked the horizon at about 6:15 AM, and its reflection off the water was beautiful. Incidentally, the moment the sun came up, the temperature soared.

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The Angkor Wat sunrise was absolutely incredible. Worth every minute of sleep I lost waking up so early. Our tuk-tuk driver told us it’s even better during the rainy season when the ponds fill up a bit more and you get a bigger canvas for the reflection. Either way, it was awesome. We then spent the next few hours walking around Angkor Wat.

What a wonderful morning!

-O.L.

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