You are but 4 miles away from Ankor Wat, the largest historical religious monument on the planet.
But when the alarm goes off and you consider dragging yourself out of a comfortable and warm bed, it can be tempting to roll over and think that the effort of an early morning Ankor Wat trip would not be worth it.
After all it will still be there after a lie in and some breakfast right?
But, you would be wrong; an early morning trek out to the temple is totally worth it! Angkor Wat at dawn offers a picture perfect aspect of the ancient temple. Watching the stars and moon be replaced by the glow of the sun is an absolutely magical experience and one that you will carry with you forever.
When, What and How
To get to the complex before sunrise you will need to arrange for your driver to pick you up outside your hotel around 4:30am. Any residual sleepiness will be blown away by the air lapping at your face from the moto or tuk-tuk and the anticipation of your adventure.
The dawn starts to break at the temple between 5:30am and 6am, so it is a good idea to be out at the complex by 5am to enjoy the darkness transform into light.
Make sure you take a torch with you so that you don’t deviate from the 250 meter path and end up viewing the sunrise from the moat. Since you will have a wait on your hands before sunrise, it is a good idea to bring out a little picnic breakfast to keep you occupied. After all, everything is much more enjoyable on a full tummy and a coffee may be needed to kick start the enthusiasm after such an early morning wake up call.
As the sun sets forth its glow and begins its ascent into the sky, a chorus of cicadas, birds and other wildlife welcome you to a new day in the Cambodian jungle. The sunrise is highly beautiful, but over very quickly.
The sun rises behind the temple bathing the five towers of Ankor in golden light. As soon as the sun is up at 6am groups of tourists stream into the complex and your moment of solitude with Angkor Wat is at an end.
After the Sunrise
Once you have enjoyed and contemplated the splendor of the sunrise at Angkor Wat, it is time to explore the ancient temple. Being at the complex in the early morning is the perfect time to see the temple as it is much cooler and there are not the same numbers of tourists that climb all over it after about 8am.
The temple was built in the early 12th century by Suryavarman II and is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu as a symbolic representation of the mythical Mt Meru. The temple complex was specifically aligned on a north-south axis and the east-west axis diverted 0.75 degrees to give a three day warning of the spring equinox. The ancient design feature linked to the cosmos, sun and moon is another reason that viewing the temple at dawn is such a special experience.
So in short…
Ankor Wat is one of the most beautiful religious monuments constructed by humankind. One thing is for certain; Ankor Wat is definitely worth getting out of bed for.