4:15am. It’s near pitch black in our room. After a frantic panic to turn off our alarms, we crawl out of our sleeping pods and make our drowsy way towards the showers. We slip into our pre-laid out clothes, grab our ready-packed bags and try our best to sneak out of the dorm room.

We clamber into our waiting tuktuk and head off into the night. Normally we aren’t morning people, but despite the ungodly hour of 5am we find ourselves wide awake – minds buzzing with the excitement and anticipation of whats to come.

We’re off to watch the sunrise. From Angkor Wat.

One of most sought-after moments on our Asia Bucketlist.

We’re not the only ones venturing into the darkness in search of the mystical sunrise of Angkor Wat – we’re joined on our pilgrimage to the temple by, what feels like, the rest of Siem Reap. We make our way into the temple, through the eerily dark entrance and skip down to the grassy banks of the main path, in an effort to find a more secluded an personal space to take in the sunrise. We manage to find a peaceful spot and set up base. We pre-set the camera and wait.

The sky slowly turns into a watercolour of blues and purples. Almost an hour after we arrived we catch our first glimpse of the sun, golden haze emerging from behind Angkor Wat.

At first it seems a little underwhelming – the clouds have prevented it from being the awe-inspiring sunrise we’re sold in the guidebooks. The crowds start to disperse and head into the temple, ready to start their day of exploring. We turn to leave, trying our best to avoid the bus tours who have descended on the peaceful morning.

A quick glance back and we finally see the sunrise we were hoping for, making a more grand appearance as it bursts out from behind the clouds.

After a few quick moments of soaking up the golden rays, we race back to our tuktuk to beat the morning rush. We’re sleep deprived and hungry, but full of the unbeatable buzz of starting the day with a bucket-list tick!


Pre-book a tuktuk to pick you up with ample time to drive to the temple, get through tickets and find a spot to take it in before the sunrise starts. This will need to be around 5am (but may vary depending on the time of year, you can double check the predicted sunrise time here). You can book a driver through your accommodation, or as we did with a driver off the street that we had used before. Be sure to get their phone number so that you can contact them if they don’t show up. It should cost around $5 for a sunrise trip.

We recommend bringing a torch as wandering through the entrance of Angkor Wat in the dark is a little spooky. Also, bring layers to keep you cosy – the early morning chill along with the wind whipping you in the tuktuk really brings out the goosebumps. A scarf or light jumper should suffice. And finally, pack yourself some breakfast snacks – water and pastries helped us get through until around 7:30 when we stopped for more sustenance. The last thing you want to worry about at 5am is being hungry.

The sunrise at Angkor Wat will take some effort to top! Have you ever watched the sunrise? Where from?

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