Visiting Angkor Wat is definitely an experience you are going to want to remember. This is how to take photos at Angkor Wat.
Since Angkor Wat is an extremely popular historical and active religious site, there are some rules that need to be followed when taking photos. We love recording our memories through pictures but also want to make sure we are being respectful in our approach. In 2020, spent 7 months in Cambodia and ventured to Angkor Wat 6 different times.
We want to share exactly how to take photos at Angkor Wat so you are following all the rules but still getting the best shots you can! We will go if tripods are allowed in Angkor Wat, if drones are allowed in Angkor Wat, and how to stay respectful to the history and religion of the beautiful complex.
This post is all about how to take photos at Angkor Wat.
How to Take Photos At Angkor Wat:
1. Are Tripods Allowed in Angkor Wat?
While tripods are allowed, they are frowned upon mostly because lots of people who bring them in misuse them. If you are respectful to the ancient temples and follow a few general guidelines you will be fine.
- Don’t set any tripod on the actual temples (only on the grass)
- Don’t block the flow of traffic or other guest’s experience
- Use a tripod with rubber tips to even further prevent damage to the grounds
- Keep the tripod folded up when walking around with it to prevent hitting people or the temple
Did we use ours? Yes, but only on the grassy areas, and never on the temples. We also only used it in areas where people were not. It was not our intention to disrupt anyone else’s experience. Additionally, we have a tripod with rubber tips on the end to help prevent any damage and we brought a few washcloths to throw on the ground under the legs if we absolutely needed to.
This is the tripod we use and love!
2. Are Drones Allowed at Angkor Wat?
No chance here. This is a strict no-fly zone and they have tons of people working here looking out for anything of the sort. If they see it up in the air, they are going to find you quickly and ensure you delete the footage or more. We have found that Drone Made is a great resource for finding drone laws wherever you are traveling.
3. Sunrise Photos at Angkor Wat
Normally, sunrise is a prime photo opportunity at any other popular tourist attraction. However, at Angkor Wat, sunrise is THE most coveted picture time that everybody comes for.
We looked at pictures online before we went, and I will tell you from experience, the pictures do not do it justice. You can’t understand the feeling of traversing those hallways in the pitch-black hours of the morning time. The pictures can’t quite replicate the peace you feel, and the quiet that comes over everybody watching, as the sun wakes up from behind the temple casting beautiful reflections on the water interrupted only by the dragonflies skimming across the top.
We absolutely recommend coming for sunrise, a bucket list experience for sure. However, be aware that you will not be the only one there, and the earlier you get there the better position you will be in to photograph the gorgeous sunrise.
The best spots are just in front of the pools on either side of the temple’s entrance. We heard that the one on the left has a better view but it was under construction when we went (March 2020).
4. Good Rules of Thumb for Photography
As with any time you are taking photos, be respectful.
As you are working for that perfect shot, please remember four things:
- This is a RELIGIOUS monument;
- You are a guest in this temple;
- You are not the only one there; and
- The photo is not the only thing that matters from this experience.
Although these should be obvious, we’ve heard terrible stories of how crazy people can get when trying to take these pictures.
If you get the perfect shot, that is amazing. If you don’t, oh well. Be thankful that you are there. There are so many people in the world who have come and gone and never had such a chance to lay eyes on this beautiful monument so enjoy the moment while you can, even if you can’t get the shot.
5. Be Kind to Others
Even when we went there were no more than 50 people at sunrise (COVID-19 greatly affected our trip in 2020) and still, some people could have used a few gentle reminders. There was someone who, yes, came later than us. They were really trying to work to get some sort of picture to take home with them. Alicia and I stepped back and offered them our spot to get some good pictures (we had a really damn good spot). Giving someone else the chance to get some good snaps is a better feeling than getting ten more great ones for yourself.