That first trickle of light. The slow spread of colour over a dark night sky. Burgeoning feelings of wonder and excitement. A sense of endless possibilities. Witnessing an amazing sunrise can be an emotional, moving experience. We can tell you exactly where and when we saw the most beautiful sunrise of our travels and we can recall that moment in our minds: the expectation after the first pink and purple hues emerged, the emotions that built as the colourful display before us grew into an image more breathtaking than we could have imagined, and the state of contentment we were left in as the sun took it’s place and the sky was restored to its normal daytime appearance. Yes, an amazing sunrise can be a magical occurrence.
Funny enough, our favourite sunrise location isn’t actually where we’ve caught the best sunrise. In fact, there were far too many clouds that day to even see the sun, but the experience was nonetheless incredible and had it been a clear day, we’re sure the sight would have been spectacular. We were fortunate to learn about Phu Chi Fa mountain and the daily climb to the top to see the sunrise by a friend who had made the same climb and came back with amazing sunrise photos. In Thailand, on the border of Laos, this viewpoint sits 1628m in elevation and puts you above the clouds and on a good day, probably sometime outside of rainy season, you’ll catch that ball of fire as it rises into the sky. You’ll need to get there early and take into account how long it takes to get to the top – the roads are winding and filled with potholes – and the final climb on foot to the top is not very difficult but it does take time. Don’t forget to dress warm as it can get chilly and keep a look out for the cute Hmong Tribe children as you climb back down!
Best Places Around The World to Watch An Amazing Sunrise
We asked our fellow travellers for their favourite spot to catch an amazing sunrise around the world and have created a list of some of the best destinations to catch the view as night turns into day. There’s even one destination that was mentioned twice and we couldn’t help but include both of the photos and descriptions as it looks and sounds like a truly incredible experience!
Here are some of the best places to catch a sunrise around the world, and even snap some beautiful sunrise photos, as suggested by some expert travellers:
By Stefan & Sebastian of Nomadic Boys
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Bagan is an ancient town in central Myanmar with over 2,000 temples. We visited Bagan in January 2015 as part of our travels in Myanmar.
The aim was to see that beautiful mystical sunrise over the temples, with the mist and the hot air balloons above.
Annoyingly we slept through our 5am alarm clock and at 6:30 rushed to the first temple we could peddle to (we rented bikes), which was called Buledi.
We got lucky.
We got there just in time to see the layer of mist rising up with the sun over the Bagan temples, creating that mystical like atmosphere. Then the balloons started. (You can of course take a hot air balloon ride, but at over $300 per person, this was well outside our budget).
By far the best sunrise moment of our travels!
By Paula & Gordon of Contented Traveller
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Wollongong is just 80 km south from Sydney, Australia. The name Wollongong means, ‘between the mountains and the sea’ and that is literally how it is. The escarpment runs down the side, and the sea is on the other and all of the suburbs are in between. So wherever you live in the Illawarra, you have the beach or the bush at your doorstep. We live at the beach in an apartment and get epic sunrises that vary every day. They are amazing.
By Paul of A Luxury Travel Blog
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Head west on the island of Crete to the town of Elounda and you’ll find one of the most desirable resorts on Greece’s largest island. This is the perfect spot to watch the sun set, against the backdrop of Spinalonga or some of the other islands. This particular shot is taken from a private pool to one of the villas at the beautiful Elounda Gulf Villas & Suites, one of the smaller, more exclusive hotels in the area, on a hill on the outskirts of the town.
Angkor Wat – Cambodia
By Rob & Nate of Love and Road
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The orange sky, the silhouette of the temples… Something magical happens when the sun rises at Angkor Wat. The nature and the ancient architecture transport you to a new dimension, even the crowd around gets silent, the few noises you can hear are the birds singing and the click of the cameras.
We have been travelling the world for the past two years and so far the sunrise at Angkor Wat was one of the most beautiful spectacles we have seen. It’s not easy to appreciate the sunrise there. First you have to travel to Siem Reap, one of the biggest cities in Cambodia, then wake up at 4am and go by van or tuk-tuk to the Angkor Wat archaeological park. There you have to walk in the dark, find the perfect spot in front of the lake that lies on the right side of the main temple, and then wait.
All this hard work, sleep deprivation and blind walk payoff. Without previous announcement the sky becomes lighter blue, then purple, orange, and before the sun sparkles the day you still can appreciate some pink clouds. Visiting Angkor Wat complex and watching the sunrise in the park is a must do trip. The temples, the history and faith – everything is so deep. We spent a week in Siem Reap and three days exploring Angkor Wat, no doubt a memorable experience!
By Chris & Angela of Tieland to Thailand
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This colorful sunrise was taken in Chumphon, a province in southern Thailand with over 200kms of untouched land and a gateway to the nearby islands of Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, and Koh Tao.
We visited Khao Dinsor (Pencil Hill), the highest point in Chumphon (10.63°N 99.28°E), which overlooks a wide expanse of rolling hills with the Gulf of Thailand to the east and the Isthmus of Kra to the west. Near the top of the mountain we were able to capture the sunrise over the treetops as it began to peek over the gulf’s smooth waters and shine through the morning clouds.
After the sunrise, we hiked a trail about 1km long that twisted up to the top of the mountain. At the end, we climbed stairs to a special 360 degree viewing platform and look at the misty hillside below.
What also makes this location special are the flocks of birds of prey, also known as raptors, that migrate through this region from August to mid-November each year. Khao Dinsor is considered by some to be among the best spots in Asia to bird watch at close range.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
By Charles McCool of McCool Travel
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My family has spent at least one week at an oceanfront house on the Outer Banks in North Carolina almost every summer for the past 18 years. We go to the town of Duck—but a little further north is Corolla (home to packs of wild horses) and south is Kitty Hawk (where the Wright Brothers had their first flight). The Outer Banks was the site of the Lost Colony, where in 1587, at the first English settlement in the New World, 117 English settlers disappeared without a trace. The Outer Banks barrier islands have a series of popular lighthouses which might have prevented some of the 3,000 shipwrecks; although Blackbeard is also blamed for many. I love getting up just before dawn for amazing sunrises.
Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
By Jon of Jon Is Travelling
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Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) is the spiritual home of the Incas, the legendary civilization that dominated South America until the Spanish arrived. This place has an energy that’s hard to describe, and aside from all of the history and legend, it’s just a stunning island. It kind of looks like it belongs in the Mediterranean, with its white sand beaches and crystal clear water. We got up early one morning to watch the sunrise over Lake Titicaca – it was freezing (Isla del Sol is around 4000 metres above sea level) but definitely worth it. We could actually see the sunrise from our $6 hostel room’s window but decided to get up for a better view. The sun passed over the snow-capped Cordillera Real mountain range and bathed the lake in orange – it was an unforgettable sunrise and the perfect end to our short time on the island.
Cherating Beach, Malaysia
By Vanessa Workman of The Island Drum
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Practically the entire east coast of Peninsular Malaysia is deliciously dotted with long stretches of rather unspoiled and often rustic-looking beaches. One of the more inviting is Cherating Beach, Malaysia in the state of Pahang. Clear green waters and golden sands seem to stretch for cliché worthy miles. But If that’s not enough, add a spectacular sunrise that slowly emerges from the horizon of the adjacent South China Sea.
The morning I snapped this photo, I couldn’t even remember the last time I had witnessed an ocean sunrise. Especially one so brilliant. It seemed that my senses were also alerted to that fact. The calls of early morning sea birds, the hint of salt and sea wafting through the morning air, a reminder of other times and other places. Memories that will now include Cherating Beach.
The nearest airport to Cherating Beach is in Kuantan, Pahang, but there are plenty of buses that pass through, from various other parts of Peninsular Malaysia, making it quite easy to get to within a matter of hours.
It’s worth a visit and definitely worth getting up early to catch the sunrise.
Klaserie Reserve, South Africa
By Lance & Laura of Travel Addicts
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Last year, we were fortunate enough to fulfill a life-long dream of going on safari in Africa. Our travels took us to the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve bordering Kruger National Park in South Africa. Looking back, we didn’t have any appreciation for what “going on safari” meant. We didn’t know how close to the animals we would be – or how unpredictable they could be. And we had no appreciation for the African sky. Everyone who has ever traveled to Africa talks about the sunsets, and for good reason: they are spectacular. They are not a one-time event. Literally, every sunset is picture perfect. However, we were actually more impressed with the sunrises. The trees and animals would stand out as black shadows while the sky was bathed in shades of purples. We’ve never been morning people, but it is worth getting out of bed for an African sunrise!
By Maja of Traveling Rockhopper
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Falklands are very remote islands, located in the southern part of South America. What’s special about them? You can give a few answers, but for me: there are penguins! Can you imagine a place where there are much more penguins than people? That’s Falklands!
People often visit the Falklands during the cruise to Antarctica. But, I don’t recommend it. Falkland Islands are so special, because you can get very close to animals, e.g., penguins, and usually they don’t mind, or are scared of you. The situation may be a bit different when you travel in a big group, like the cruises to Antarctica. With these, you can unfortunately miss a great experience!
Falklands are one of my favorite destinations and it’s also a great place to enjoy an amazing sunrise. To do so, you have to get up before 4 a.m., which may be a bit painful, when it’s cold and windy outside. However, the view of southern elephant seals and penguins in the morning light make up for all the tiredness. It’s an amazing experience to observe the early morning activity of animals, especially cute penguins. And of course, you’ll have plenty of opportunities for taking great pictures.
Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii
By Nadeen White of The Sophisticated Life
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Simply put, this is the most brilliant sunrise I have ever witnessed. While visiting Maui Hawaii with my Mother a few years ago, it was recommended that we take a tour to Haleakala National Park to view the sunrise. I absolutely love sunsets, which is my favorite time of the day, but as a night owl I had not experienced any memorable sunrises.
I booked the tour having no idea what to expect. Even though it was August in Hawaii we were told to dress warm due to cooler temperature at the higher elevation. The tour guide picked us up at 4.30 am and we drove two hours up to the Haleakala Summit. Haleakala is a volcano which is located on the eastern side of the island. The summit has an elevation of 10,023 feet! When we arrived we were greeted with freezing temperatures, darkness and a swarm of other tourists waiting for the sunrise. Once light started to creep in, I noticed fluffy white images in front of us. I actually asked a park ranger what they were and he responded “Ummm Clouds”. At that point I felt rather silly but I had never been that far up in the sky besides being on an airplane.
We watched with anticipation as the darkness changed to an amber color in the distance. This was followed by shades of red and yellow. The sun peaked up behind the clouds. The sky quickly radiated with light and hues of blue before the sun was fully visible in the sky. Warning – the sunrise occurs very quickly so don’t miss it. We were left with a bright blue sky and the warmth of the radiating sun. It was an amazing experience to watch and something I will never forget!
More of Haleakala, Maui Hawaii
By Adelina of Pack Me To
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One of the best places to watch a sunrise is on top of Haleakala on Maui in Hawaii. The experience involves getting up early (3 am for us!) to make the trek to the top of the volcano in time for the sunrise. What beings as a speck on the horizon slowly grows, revealing the volcanic landscape around you. At almost 10,000 feet above sea level, you’re above the clouds which provide a dramatic backdrop for the growing sunlight. Be sure to bundle up as it’s really chilly up there even after sunrise! Even its Hawaiian name, Haleakala meaning house of the sun in, recommends visitors to its peak for this natural show.
Where have you seen the most amazing sunrise? Any suggestions for great spots to catch one?