Temples of Angkor – Photography guide

Bayon

We wrote about Angkor Wat in our previous post but there are numerous other temples in the Angkor complex that are worth a visit. On our first day after the sunrise at Angkor Wat we reached Bayon – the temple with many faces, somewhere around 11am. The sun was already quite high up casting harsh shadows across the temple. This was not the best time for photography but scoped the place for later on. We did grab a few nice shots though with both our camera and phone.

BayonTemple

One of many faces at Bayon

Ta Prohm

In the afternoon the first stop was Ta Prohm, featured in Tomb Raider amongst others. If Angkor Wat shows the ingenuity and capabilities of humans, Ta Prohm is the conquest of nature and time slowly taking over. Trees overtake, hug and cover the walls, towers and doors, slowly swallowing everything back. It was mostly overcast and since what once used to be a temple is now surrounded by trees, it was quite shady. We took a photo at the most photographed tree in Ta Prohm right as some sunlight escaped from behind the clouds. Although this was not pure luck – we were waiting for quite some time here. In order to avoid the queue in the picture, we moved back and zoomed in a bit on the top part. After, we wandered around photographing multiple overgrown building-hugging trees.

Ta Prohm

Nature taking over at Ta Prohm

Nature at Ta Prom, Angkor Complex

For sunset we went back to Bayon. It was rather empty. We waited until the sun was only hitting the top tower and used an ND (Neutral Density) filter to catch some movement in the clouds.  There was still some sunlight left when we were driving back. On the bridge right after exiting the gate of Angkor Thom, the canal caught my eye. The clouds were reflecting in the water below, the trees on the side of the canal were acting as leading lines into the horizon. For foreground we used the only thing available at that point, a log sticking out of the water. This great combination of colours only lasted for a few minutes.

Bayon Temple

Angkor Thom Sunset

Roluos group – Bakong, Preah Ko and Prasat Lolei

Next morning we were at Bakong temple, part of Roluos group which is east of Siem Reap. When we arrived there it was still dark, and the only other people around were the monks from the nearby pagoda. Again, sunrise came but the sky was overcast so I settled with a few shots. While photographing the framed temple, one of the monks came around looking at what we were doing, shy but also curious about the photographs. We showed him several from the camera as well and he was happy as a child seeing his temple.  As we were leaving we saw a hot air balloon flying past the temple so we captured that one as well.

Hot Air Balloon at Bakong Temple

Bakong Temple

Bakong from top

At Preah Ko the sun started to shine through the clouds. It was still low in the sky and making use of the cloud patterns above we ended up with this image. We couldn’t leave before taking a shot with our compass either.

Preah Ko Temple

Our compass at Preah Ko

Next on our list was Prasat Lolei – we took the tuk-tuk on some back roads and ended up here, stayed for several photos then returned back to town. Very few people seem to visit the temples from Roluos group, however if you have time it is a worthwhile experience.

Green House

In the afternoon our first stop was Phnom Bakheng. This is the only temple that we’ve been to where they give you passes at the entry, so as to keep track of the number of people on top. Since this is located on a hill, it has a great view across to Angkor Wat and people gather here for the sunset (thus the passes). There were still a few hours until sunset so we decided not to stay here and visit Angkor Wat at sunset as well.

Angkor Wat view from Phnom Bakheng

Sra Srang and Banteay Kdei

On the third morning at first light we were at Sra Srang, what used to be the royal bathing pond. We spent a bit of time here and afterwards we went across the road to Banteay Kdei – this too is one of those temples that is being overrun by nature. After walking around for a while, we decided to head back into Siem Reap, since we had multiple temples planned for the afternoon.

Sra Srang Sunrise

Sunrise Sra Srang

Preah Khan

First one in the afternoon was Preah Khan – yet another temple that is slowly covered, hugged by nature with big trees sprouting from the most unusual places across doorways or over the roofs.

Preah Khan Temple

Neak Poan

Neak Poan was a bit different. Rather than a temple, you find a monument in the centre of what seems to be a pool. In order to get here there’s a long straight wooden pontoon from the road. Unfortunately at the time we were there, you weren’t allowed to go all the way to the back. We settled with some pictures of both the monument and the pontoon.

Pontoon to Neak Poan

Neak Poan Temple

Ta Som

Next on our list was Ta Som. This temple, just as Ta Prohm is covered by trees and, just as Ta Prohm, it has an iconic place – the tree archway – a multi-branched tree covering almost symmetrically a doorway of the temple.

Ta Som Temple

East Mebon and Pre Rup

Since we had a plane to catch in the evening, we rushed a bit to see two more temples, East Mebon with it’s interesting elephant statues and Pre Rup for sunset.

East Mebon Temple

Pre Rup Temple

We stopped for some food in the town before heading to the airport on our way to Bangkok. But that’s a story for another time.

If you like it, pin it!

Besides Angkor Wat there are numerous other temples worth photographing in the Angkor complex. Read our guide to get you prepared for your Angkor experience

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37 Comments

  1. February 21, 2017 / 5:58 am

    Awesome pictures like usual!

    • Oana N
      February 21, 2017 / 8:02 am

      Thank you, Simona.

  2. February 24, 2017 / 2:08 pm

    Your pictures are amazing – I’ve never seen anything like it. I guess it’s time for me to travel to Asia 🙂 Thanks a lot for sharing!

    • Oana N
      February 25, 2017 / 9:42 am

      Thank you, Sina. You will love it there for sure.

  3. February 24, 2017 / 5:45 pm

    This looks absolutely fantastic Oana! I cannot wait to see all of this for real! Reading your posts and looking at your beautiful photographs is really giving me serious wanderlust! #feetdotravel

    • Oana N
      February 25, 2017 / 9:44 am

      Thank you, Tracy. When are you planning to visit? You will fall in love with Angkor Complex.

  4. February 24, 2017 / 10:38 pm

    I am going next month and cannot believe I’ll be seeing all this in person soon. I’ll definitely have my camera handy and hope I come out with photos like yours! Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos! 🙂

    • Oana N
      February 25, 2017 / 9:45 am

      Diana, I would recommend taking a 3 day pass if you want to see more of Angkor. I am looking forward to seeing your pictures.

  5. February 25, 2017 / 8:12 am

    Beautiful photos, Oana, and really great to see some of the less photographed temples.

    • Oana N
      February 25, 2017 / 9:48 am

      Thank you, Shona. Not many people go to the small temples, they focus more on Angkor, Bayon and Ta Prohm. I found all the temples to be worth visiting, each has something different.

  6. February 25, 2017 / 2:37 pm

    Incredible photos! (as always) We wanted to go to Phnom Bakheng but didn’t make it, the view of Angkor Wat looks great from that elevated position. However we did do Pre Rup for sunrise which was incredible and one of our favourite memories. I love how you’ve composed some of your shots with the doorways too, great stuff.

    • Oana N
      February 26, 2017 / 3:59 pm

      Thank you, Garth. The hike to Phnom Bakheng was worth it, the view to Angkor was great. I bet the sunrise at Pre Rup was incredible as well – we only went for sunrise and it was cloudy.

  7. Jenn | By Land and Sea
    February 25, 2017 / 3:14 pm

    Wow, this is amazing! I would love to go here one day (here and everyplace else in the world!) Pinned for later!

    • Oana N
      February 26, 2017 / 4:00 pm

      Jenn, I agree with you. I would love to go everywhere as well – too bad I don’t have time to do so.

  8. February 25, 2017 / 8:05 pm

    I am in awe of your photos. Not only is the subject matter fascinating and intriguing but the photos really capture the mood of Angkor. Nice job and thank you for showing me more of Cambodia 🙂

    • Oana N
      February 26, 2017 / 4:01 pm

      Thank you, Sam. I am glad we managed to capture the real spirit of Angkor through our photos.

  9. February 26, 2017 / 1:27 am

    I can’t even imagine a place like this. Now that we live in Portland, Oregon we are so much closer to Asia. What was your favorite part of the trip?

    • Oana N
      February 26, 2017 / 4:04 pm

      Scarlett, I spent more than two weeks in Thailand and Cambodia and everything was different than what I was used to. It might sound cheesy but I enjoyed everything and is hard to tell which part was my favourite.

  10. February 26, 2017 / 2:55 am

    I love your photos, they are stunning and there really are a lot of temples to visit in the Angkor complex aren’t there! Thank you for your description of how you took the photos, what time of day etc, I find the story behind the photos really interesting and you show that photography is about patience, luck and timing! We will be visiting Cambodia soon so I have pinned this for future reference. #feetdotravel

    • Oana N
      February 26, 2017 / 4:08 pm

      Thank you, Angie. There are loads of temples at Angkor and all of them have something different and unique that makes them worth a visit. I am glad you find interesting the story behind it, looking forward to seeing your Angkor pictures.

  11. February 26, 2017 / 1:13 pm

    Wow, you guys definitely made the most of your time in the complex! I don’t think I’ve managed as many as you and I love your photos. Don’t think I ventured to the Roluos temples – awesome that you got the opportunity! You’re making me miss Cambodia now!

    • Oana N
      February 26, 2017 / 4:26 pm

      We tried our best to visit as much as possible in three days. I found it strange that not many people venture to Roluos temples because they are worth visiting – probably people focus more on the main temples which are more touristy. I miss Cambodia as well.

  12. February 27, 2017 / 6:59 am

    Great photos! There is so much detail in the temples that I imagine you could shoot for days and still be finding new things to photograph. Thanks for the details. It’s a good starting point.

    • Oana N
      February 28, 2017 / 10:47 pm

      Rob and Anne, this is do true – the details are impressive and there is not enough time to capture all of them. For this you will need to move there for a while.

    • Oana N
      February 28, 2017 / 10:48 pm

      Thank you, Stephanie.

  13. February 27, 2017 / 8:30 pm

    Great photos and tips! It’s always quite a challenge to get a good shot without all the people when it’s a popular tourist area.

    • Oana N
      February 28, 2017 / 10:50 pm

      Thank you. We did struggle a bit to take pictures without the crowds – it’s all about patience. Nowadays, everywhere you go your expectations will not be the same as the reality, especially in touristy places.

  14. February 28, 2017 / 12:09 am

    Great post! Your photos are amazing! 🙂 I’m currently creating a travel digital magazine and website which will be launching soon. Would you both be interested in contributing to the website doing photo journals? e-mail me at info@travelpassmagazine.com and I can give you more information. 🙂

    • Oana N
      February 28, 2017 / 10:51 pm

      Thank you, Elisabeth. I will send you an email for more information.

  15. February 28, 2017 / 12:33 am

    Stunning photography! You really know what you are talking about! Love the photo with the moving clouds and I always tend to just zoom in a bit if there is a big line for photos. Shortcut! Would love to see nature claiming back the temples one day. Looks so mysterious and sparks my inner Lara Croft ha!

    • Oana N
      March 1, 2017 / 11:07 pm

      Thank you, Kreete. Some of the temples was mysterious, especially the ones undertaken by nature.

  16. February 28, 2017 / 3:31 am

    The lighting in Sra Srang looks so good. Your photography is amazing! We love offbeat travel. Thanks for sharing

    • Oana N
      March 1, 2017 / 11:05 pm

      Thank you Siddharth and Shruti.

  17. March 6, 2017 / 3:33 pm

    Nature that captures the ancient building is very impressive. You got excellent shots!

  18. March 14, 2017 / 6:26 pm

    Love this! It’s so nice to read about classic landmarks like this from a photographers point of view 🙂 Plus, the photos are spectacular as always 🙂

    • Oana N
      March 15, 2017 / 9:30 pm

      Thank you, Sarah. I am glad you liked the post.

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