Popular site will open early morning, bans smoking and monk selfies

Angkor Wat in Cambodia is fast becoming one of the most popular backpacker destinations in the world. Hundreds of thousands of people visit every year to take a photo of the sun rising behind the iconic temple towers. From January 1st you'll be able to get there earlier, but it comes with a few new rules.

Crowds at Angkor Wat

The main Khmer temple of Angkor and the smaller Phnom Bakheng will be open from 5.30am, two hours earlier than current rules, allowing people to watch the sunrise from the temples themselves.

This should serve to mitigate the overcrowding that often occurs outside the temples as visitors gather early in the morning to take photos.

A new code of conduct has also been introduced to try and curb the inappropriate behaviour of some visitors. Bans include smoking, giving money to begging children, and taking selfies with monks. The rules will be displayed on posters outside the temples, as seen below. Revealing clothes, such as shorts and skirts above the knee, are also prohibited.

Angkor Wat code of conduct poster

The rules may seem overly strict, but they come as the result of a two-year consultation between Cambodian monks, tour guides, local authorities, and UNESCO representatives. Angkor Wat, a sacred site, has suffered in recent years from visitors damaging the site or taking pieces of it as souvenirs. The monks are revered figures who may feel disrespected by having photos taken of them, and there have been problems with tourists getting naked for pictures.

If you do want to take a picture with a monk, the poster instructs you to ask their permission first. It adds, "Women should not touch nor stand or sit too close to monks."