Within Angkor Archaeological Park
Daily, 5am – 7pm (open for sunrise/sunset tours)
Admission: Included in Angkor Pass ($37/$62/$72)
Washroom On Site: No
A pretty place to observe the water, dusk or dawn, but this ancient reservoir can quickly turn gross if the pond is parched.
This baray was once used as a royal bathing pool for the king and his wives, for ritualistic cleansings, and the enjoyment of the general public (but not their elephants) according to different historians. Today, Srah Srang is a lovely lake popular for sunrise and sunset tours. Not much to say about this site… I ended up with a grand total of two photos on my camera roll.
You must have seen the millions of photos by now: a vast blue lake with lion statues majestically gazing out over the baray. Our visit was a classic example of “expectations vs. reality.” What the other websites and guides won’t show you is what a dismal bog Srah Srang can be if it hasn’t rained in a while.
As we pounded across the embarkation terrace toward the edge, a depressing and general “eww” feeling could not be helped. Whenever the last rain showers were, it wasn’t enough. Patches of the reservoir were dried up, exposing its unattractive brown underbelly. The water level had gotten so low that plants that would usually be well ensconced under the surface were becoming little islands of tall grass. The stairs leading down into the reservoir ended at swaths of muddy ground. This was, apparently, during the wet season! There was no swampy smell though, so that was good.
I would guess that this would be the most peaceful Angkor sunrise/sunset site. You won’t have to rub elbows with other tourists and compete for the limited viewing spots. Of course, the optimal place is right between the two lions at the top of the stairs, but there is lots of open space at the edge of the reservoir where you can watch the sun.
There’s nowhere to sit on the landing stage except for the stairs leading down into the baray, but there are a few benches off to the side. There are not that many trees around, so you’ll be sizzling under the sun. We stayed here and ate our packed breakfast while being directly broiled before hurrying across the street to Banteay Kdei.