As the heat of the day subsides, take a moment to witness the sun making its glowing descent below the horizon. A kaleidoscope of intense, ever-changing colour sweeps across the sky, marking the end of another day in Siem Reap. During your stay, choose from our eleven incredible sunset viewpoints. Our list caters for adventurers and zen-seekers alike, from mountainside vistas to city bars, hot air balloons and cruises. Sunset times vary only a little, ranging from 5.30pm to 6.30pm depending on the time of year. Plan your sunset viewing time accordingly, and don’t forget your camera!
Several of our recommended sunset viewpoints require a valid Temple Pass. However, the Angkor sites are free to access after 5.30pm.
The rewarding view from this out-of-town (12km south west of Siem Reap) viewing spot is of surrounding countryside. Dramatic skies signal the sun’s final burst of colour and light over the Tonle Sap lake. Allow plenty of time to reach this 140 metre high mountain and climb the rugged path to the summit. Recover from negotiating the steep ascent with a still and serene moment, taking in the breathtaking panorama.
This temple mountain’s name, translated as ‘turn the body’ led people to believe it may have once been a mortuary temple, used for funeral ceremonies. However, Pre Rup was King Rajendravarman II’s state temple. It was the second temple to be built at Angkor after the capital was relocated there, from Koh Ker, in the late 9th Century. A challenging climb to the top of the temple offers a sweeping view of the surrounding rice fields and jungle, making it the ideal spot to enjoy a sunset spectacle. Why not round up the day’s temple exploration with Pre Rup?
This 60 metre high temple mountain is a favourite site among sunset admirers. With its far reaching countryside views, it’s a photographer’s dream, too. Visitor numbers are controlled at this popular countryside escape, and strictly capped at 300. We recommend entering the site and collecting your lanyard an hour before sunset, giving you time to mount the steep, narrow steps to the highest terrace. The sun makes its graceful and effortless descent over West Baray, casting a golden light over the towers of Angkor Wat.
Capture the Tonle Sap’s unique floating villages on camera as you cruise sedately along the expanse of water, against the luminous, flaming sun, submitting to its twilight fate. Beginning with hotel pick up around 3.30pm, the tour ($38 per person) includes the 20 minute transfer to and from the port, as well as a smaller boat to navigate the shallower waters, through the fascinating floating communities. Once on board the beautifully restored Queen Tara, Siem Reap’s largest floating restaurant and bar, you’ll be treated to free flow drinks, while you catch the evening breeze on the top deck. Book ahead to reserve your spots, as this is one of the most popular excursions on the Tonle Sap!
This tethered hot air balloon rises 120 metres above the ground, giving passengers the all-important sunset view of Angkor Wat, Phnom Bakeng and Tonle Sap lake. Time your ride for just before sunset as the stunning vistas make it a popular go-to for tourists seeking an instagram-worthy sunset. Temple passes aren’t required if you opt for the 20 minute drive from the city, past the airport. Sunrise rides are $25 adult/$15 children below 12, and free for children under 6. Expat and locals rates are also available upon proof of residency.
Operating daily, with a 6pm closing time to allow for sunset voyages, passengers can enjoy the gently-passing scenery of Angkor Thom’s great wall, from its meandering moat. These traditional Khmer boats can accommodate up to four people, and special occasions can be catered for. Book ahead to reserve your memorable sunset boat ride.
Sip a cocktail and relax with friends! Sundowners can be enjoyed at several rooftop bars in Siem Reap, where you can unwind with the added bonus of the sun setting against the backdrop of an illuminated cityscape. Choose from Jaya House Riverpark’s rooftop west-facing Sky Bar, with its riverside location (Happy Hour is 5-7pm daily) or Courtyard by Marriott Siem Reap Resort (50% off cocktails between 5.30 – 6.30pm at Upperdeck). Khema Angkor’s rooftop bar offers regular live music events as well as an artisanal menu featuring grills, cheeses and seasonal platters.
The fabulously fun Pub Street area may seem an unlikely spot for catching a sunset, but the neon-lit hub of vibrant night life in the heart of Siem Reap is a lively place to start the evening. Order a refreshingly cold drink as the sun goes down at one of the many venues with upstairs terraces for the best views. Packed with cocktail bars, live music, local and international restaurants and bright lights, Pub Street continues to lure tourists and locals from sundown until the small hours.
Built during a period of prolific expansion during the Khmer Empire in the 11th Century, this artificial reservoir near Angkor Thom is a popular swimming and leisure spot. Shaded hammocks are available to rent along its shore, or hire a boat ($20 per boat, so take your friends and family along, too). Bring a picnic or visit the array of food vendors, and find a vantage point on the viewing platform on the east dike to view the serene setting of the sun over the water.
The ancient capital city of the Khmer Empire makes a perfect end to a day of temple touring. Having visited the Terrace of the Elephants, and the Terrace of the Leper King, head to Angkor Thom’s south gate. It’s an ideal location for viewing the dazzling sky at sunset over the temple’s moat. Catch the colours reflected in the water, as well as reflections of the temple and its statues. It will be crowded here, but less so in the evenings, as many group tours begin their temple circuit with Angkor Thom first thing in the morning.