Spring Equinox Draws Thousands to Angkor Wat

Tourists take pictures of the sunrise on March 21. Photo: Teng Yalirozy

SIEM REAP – More than 10,000 tourists flocked to witness the spring equinox, when the sun rises over the top tower of Angkor Wat, the APSARA Authority says. 

On March 21 at 5am the temple was packed with enthusiastic tourists to witness the event. Hopes dimmed at first as the sky had been clear but the sun had not risen.

However, at around 6.30am, cheers and applause broke out as the sun slowly came into sight.

Thousands of cameras and phones were raised high to capture the moment while thousands of people scattered around the temple watching the sunrise and smiling proudly.

National and international tourists, students and children all came to see the sunrise which can be viewed from March 21 to 23.

Ponh Ben, 70, came with 10 friends from Tbong Khmum province to see the sun rise over the thousand-year-old temple for her first time.

“As Khmer, we have to see Angkor through our own eyes, not from what others are saying,” she said with a wide grin that showed her teeth blackened by chewing betel leaves and nuts.

“Others who live in different countries come to see the sunrise. We live in Cambodia. Why don’t we come and see.”

She has visited Angkor Wat only three times and wants her other older fiends to get the chance to visit the temples more often.

The equinoxes in March and September allow the sun to line up perfectly with the temple's central tower. They mark the moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator, resulting in nearly equal lengths of day and night.

The first equinox in 2023, which also fell on Mar 21, attracted 8,726 tourists, including 2,226 foreigners.

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