We swore we wouldn’t’ succumb to the insanity of Phnom Bakheng at sunset, opting to check out The Bayon one last time before heading to Siem Reap, but we found the many Jayavarman faces in our chosen last stop not only glowing in the late afternoon hues of the setting sun but also besieged with camera clicking tourists. We clicked some ourselves but decided to head home early only to find me hankering to join the parade up the Bakheng hill much to D’s dismay. I figured it was probably the only time I’d ever be there and would regret it at some point if I didn’t do it. So, we slogged up the hill with everyone else, passing many in our attempt to beat the setting sun. It was hot going but we soon found ourselves up with the masses enjoying not only a raging red descending sun but also a nice view of Angkor Wat in the distance. It wasn’t the most romantic of endings, but it did provide insight into the need to get off the beaten path when visiting Angkor. This is only bound to become harder in the coming years as more clamor to see the majestic sights of this world wonder.
Bakheng is really, really crowded during sunset. Perhaps luck wasn't on my side. The sunset that day from Bakheng is merely "so-so". But you can get to see Angkor Wat from Bakheng, a very remarkable view of Angkor from afar indeed.
I missed it on my 1st visit to Bakheng. I went back there on the final day of my pass at noon to get this picture. To my surprise, apart from the ticket guards, there is not a single tourist soul on Bakheng at that time. Bakheng is like a haunted temple, it's only me, the ticket guards way far at the entrance and some stray dogs. If I see a black cat there, I swear to god I would have get outta there like bats from hell.
Don't bother! It's a bit like the story of the King's new clothes: somebody had to say it. I met plenty of people who told me that they had found better places to watch the sunset or that the sunrise was better than the sunset anyway. I'd believe all of them.
For people arriving in Siem Reap in the afternoon, the climb up Bakheng Hill to see the sunset, which they have read so much about, and which they anticipate will be the highlight of their trip, may be their first experience of Angkor and a disappointing one at that. The first thing they encounter is the mayhem at the bottom of the hill, with hundreds of pedicabs, motorycles, taxis and tour buses lining the roadside. Then there is a troop of elephants waiting to take you up the hill for an exhorbitant fee. Once you are past that, you face the climb up the steps with hundreds of sweating tourists blocking the way.
At the top, you try to find a space in the crowd of other sunset watchers. It is all fairly joyless. Maybe I was just there on a bad day, but my digital camera even has a sunset setting and all I managed to get a picture of, apart from the hordes of tourists, was a white dot on the horizon.
I tried clambering down the other side to see if there was a better view through the trees, but there wasn't. I found the best spectacle was looking back up at the hundreds of tourists sitting on top of the hill. The other good thing from there is that you have the setting sun behind you, so you can at least take a half-decent picture of the ruins.
It is only a small hill where you just climb for a few steps. It is a platform where hundreds of people swarm(imagine during the peak season, how touristy here can be). It is a place where you can understand why Angkor Wat has been there for hundreds of years, because it is under the protection of sun and obsorbing all the energy for its existence.
Phnom Bakheng is often described as the best spot to experience a true Angkor sunset. Apparently, every person in the world knows about that, because it's full of people from 4 to 7pm. Be there early, and you might get a place where you can actually see the sun setting over Tonle Sap lake. Be there late, and you'll only see the backs of thousands of people. Sunset on Phnom Bakheng is not really recommendable if you're looking for a romantic thing to do with your girlfriend, but if you want to take some interesting photos, this is the place to be. First, you can watch and document people's strange attempts to climb up the steep stairs of the temple. Second, you can watch the crowd go crazy when the sun approaches the surface of Tonle Sap lake, illuminating it magically with its intensive orange light. They will even start applauding! Third, and this is the no-nonsense thing about sunset on Phnom Bakheng, you can take photos in the best light conditions when everybody else is hectically descending down the hill and the temple empties in some minutes. At 6pm, there are 1000 people, at 6.05pm, there are 500 people and at 6.15pm it's just you and some others.
For security reasons, the authorities have closed the very steep and rocky direct way to Phnom Bakheng. Some years ago, it was terrible to climb down a landslide-like hill in complete darkness. Nowadays, a winding path leads along the hill. It is not lit either, but at least there are no rocks on the way. Alternatively, you can ride up the hill on the back of an elephant. For either method, plan at least 20 minutes up the hill.
Phnom Bakheng closes at 6.30pm.
The most popular place to take in an Angkor sunset is atop the Phnom Bakheng. This is a hill that sits high above the surrounding landscape and provides a great view to the Angkor Wat. With the light right from the sun, the entire place glows orange and red. It really is breathtaking.
Here is the view from the top!
I was really tired at this point..There are 2 ways to go up the Phnom Bakheng.
1. Walk up the steep hill.
2. Let the elephants walk for you.
well, there you go...The elephant trail is less steep but i suggest you walk up the steep hill..I guarantee you'll be able to loose "reasonable" amounts of calories...!
Once you've reached the top of the hill, the next task is to climb up the stairs to Phnom Bakheng.I fail to comprehend on why the stairs width is so small...I felt insecure walking up, but after seeing people from all walks of life and every corner of the world walking without much difficulty (well, at least, they didn't show any signs of difficulty ), i put on a brave front and climbed up..
You'll need around an hour to explore the place, including the "calorie burning" climb...
I'm glad i did...the view up there was spectacular..It was rather overcrowded, but when the sun went down, I was a little sad as my trip to the great Angkor park has ended...
Glorious sunset at the top of Phnom Bakheng. Take a sit at the terrace of the temple to direction of artificial lake and greenery Siem Reap forest and find the sunset. When 'lights' go down to the horizon of Khett Siem Reap.
one of the many highlights of the angkor experience is watching the sunset from phnom bakheng, a temple situated on a mount that overlooks all of angkor. the views are spectacular and getting there need not be difficult, it's a very tiring climb for those not in shape.
for about $10, you can ride an elephant up the trail to the temple. the route is peaceful, it's just you, the elephant (and his/her driver), and the forest. the 15-20 minute ride is just like it would have been a thousand years ago because there's nothing along the way to remind you of the present century.
worth it! especially as opposed to riding the elephant along the streets of angkor amidst all the traffic.
SUNSET: PHONOM BAKHENG
Sunrise: Your moto driver will tell you what time to leave in order to enjoy the sunrise at Angkor.
Sunset: It is possible to enter the area for free after 17:00 to enjoy the sunset. Angkor Wat and Bakheng hill are popular places for sunset. By moto
A favourite gathering place to watch sunset is the top of Phnom Bakheng. To get there you can either scramble up a steep slope or take a ride on the back of an elephant at a cost of about USD15. After doing it once I'll be tempted to take the elephant next time. It is very steep and many people(including me) have to stop for a break on the way up.
Looking down from the opposite side to the sunset you get wonderful views of Angkor Wat surrounded by the jungle.
Dont go to Bakheng I was told, the view is rubbish, you can hardly see Angkor Wat and the crowds are too much. So I went with quite a low expectation and loved it!
Yes it is a bit of a trek to the top, yes it did take quite a while to locate Angkor Wat on the horizon, yes it was crowded and the sunset was poor but I knew that after seeing the weather forecast. But I thought it was a terrific atmosphere up there, you need to go an hour or so before the sun goes down if you want a seat and you are bound to strike up a conversation with somebody, a good place to meet people. It was quite amusing to watch all those serious photographers hoping to take a prizewinning picture, and the sun does set on Angkor Wat rather than behind it but there is a good view of Tonle Sap lake in the distance and you can also see the Airport and aircraft landing in the dusk.
I enjoyed it so much I went on my last night as well.
This temple is located on a hill and trekking there takes about half an hour. As an option, you can also take an elephant ride to the temple. It is very popular around tourists for watching the sunset. From the distance, you can spot Angkor Wat and fields. It is very crowded and noisy due to tourist flocks, but the view is very impressive.
I was a little mislead and disappointed with the "Sunset on the Hill". What I was hoping for was to be on the hill and watching the sunset over the Angkor Wat temples, adding that golden glow to the silhouette. Unfortunately, you will be on the top of the hill, with the temples to your back watching the sun set over the flat expanse of the treeline.
I debated for a while whether to put this here, or under "Traps". It's here because, after all, nobody coerced us. Phnom Bakeng has a reputation as "the" place for watching the sunset. I am sure there are many other places, but people still come here in throngs. It is a pretty much run down structure, without any special features. The climb to the temple is reasonably difficult, but not impossible. There is also the elephant alternative ($20, in a country where the average monthly income is $30!). The steps to the top of the temple, however, are a real challenge. Once you get to the top, you face a new challenge: getting a place to sit and wait for the fabled sunset! You, and half the tourist population in Cambodia. If you're lucky enough to find a breach in the solid wall of fellow photographers, and get your sunset shot, you'd better pack up quickly and hurry downhill, to 1) not get trampled by the crowd, and 2) still have some daylight left, so you can see where you set foot. All in all, not our fondest memory from Angkor...