Sunset at Phnom Bakheng Siem Reap Cambodia

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Walk with ChaMike at Phnom Bakheng.

This was the fourth and last temple we visited at the Angkor Archeological Park in Siem Reap. We came in full circle as we started the temple tour by catching the sunrise at Angkor Wat and ended it by witnessing the sunset at Phnom Bakheng.

Phnom Bakheng is a Buddhist and Hindu temple located on top of a hill famous for the magnificent viewpoint during dusk.  

How to go to Phnom Bakheng
Almost all the hotels in Siem Reap offer tours/transportation going to the temples of Angkor Archeological Park, in our case our hotel offers two options - via van or via tuk-tuk, we chose the latter as we wanted to try riding the local transportation plus it is way cheaper than renting a van as we are just two. 

Read: La Rose Blanche Boutique Hotel Siem Reap Cambodia

Because Mike and I wanted to finish all the temple exploration in one day, we availed of the following:

Sunrise in Angkor Wat
Small Tour -  Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm
Sunset at Phnom Bankeng

The entire tour costs $25 (Php 1,200++) only, included in this fare are side trips going back at our hotel,  going to Blossom Cafe and Cuisine Wat Damnak so it was really a good deal. I told you it's cheap here.

Temple map from
Entrance Fee for Angkor Archeological Park
1 day - $20
3 days - $40

We first stopped at the ticket office where we paid $20 (Php 960++) each for a one day exploration. One day was enough for us since we wanted to visit the main sites only. 

Ticket booth
This ticket is the entrance fee for all the temples in Angkor Archeological Park.
Printed ticket with our photo and date of entry
After the tiring temple tour at Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm we decided to go back to our hotel in La Rose Blanche Boutique to have lunch and rest for a bit. We then tried the cupcakes at Blossom Cafe for a quick dessert treat then our driver drove us back to the Angkor Archeological Park to catch the sunset at Phom Bakheng.

Going to Angkor Archeological Park
Phnom Bakheng is located atop a hill and going there has two options - by foot or by an elephant ride. Mike, being an animal enthusiast, chose the latter.

Elephant Ride Fee
Climb Up | $20 per person
Going Down | $20 per person
Going Up and Down | $40 per person

We only availed the one way elephant ride going up. 

Mike paying for our elephant ride
Our tickets
I already experienced riding an Elephant a few years back when I went to Ayuttaya, Thailand so it was not at all new to me. It was Mike's first time so the excitement was so evident the whole time we were riding it.

Of course, the animal lover
Here we go!

We also availed the printed photo with the elephant for an instant souvenir for $3

Walk with Elephant

The elephant knows how to pose
It's a 10-15 minute ride going up so if you want to save energy from walking and would want to relax instead, I'd recommend riding an elephant.

Cambodians are nice enough to discreetly ask for a tip. I remember in Thailand, Thais used the elephant's trunk to ask for a tip from costumers. It's a bit gross. 
We're almost there!
Angkor Wat from the hill of Phnom Bakheng
Happy Mike :)
From the drop off point we walked a few meters to reach the entrance and from there a temple staff gave us a gate pass. Apparently only 300 visitors are allowed to go up the temple as they are limiting the number of guests as part of the restoration project of the ruins. Good thing we were there early around 4:00pm so the crowd was still small.

Yay! We were part of the first 300
We climbed going to the top and when we reached it we already saw a good number of people roaming around and waiting for the most anticipated sunset.

Okay, so what else do we see here?
Phnom Bakheng is the first major temple to be constructed in the Angkor area, so obviously this temple is ruined. But because of its popularity for the magnificent view during sunset, tourists flock this area making it overcrowded during that time. The reason why the authorities are limiting the flow of crowd is because of the danger it can cause.

Phnom Bakheng
some remnants behind
These towers were the ones left
Sandstones from centuries ago
One of my biggest regrets: We weren't really able to witness the actual sunset here. Why? Because I reserved our dinner at Cuisine Wat Damnak at 6:30 pm without realizing that the sunset here usually occurs at that same time. I tried to email Cuisine Wat Damnak but because I had no WiFi, I wasn't able to get a reply while we were at the temple. Apparently, they replied back and said that they can move the dinner to 7:30pm! Waaah! We should have stayed longer and waited till twilight. Hay. 
The waiting crowd
Nonetheless, Mike and I made the most out of our trip to this temple, we waited for around an hour before we went down. 

The sun is still up
The view around 5pm
Just a few minutes left for that dramatic sundown
Almost twilight
We need to go Mr Sun, we can't wait for your goodbye :(
Going down :(
Queue of people waiting
I feel sorry for you guys
Decided to walk down instead
Goodbye Elephants!
We were able to get to the restaurant on time (6:30 pm) but it was too late when I knew we could be there at 7:30 pm. Lesson: Always do your research!

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