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2 Days in Siem Reap: The Best of Angkor Temples

This 2 days Siem reap travel itinerary will bring you to all the must-see Angkor temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Dive into 2 days in Siem Reap travel itinerary, where ancient wonders await at every turn. Siem Reap in Cambodia is known for its magnificent Angkor Wat temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s a vibrant city blending ancient history with modern nightlife and cultural experiences. 

First, we’ll guide you through the majestic Angkor Temples on the Grand/Big Circuit, showcasing iconic sights. Then, on day two, we’ll explore the Small Circuit, revealing hidden gems and serene sunrise spots. Get ready for an awe-inspiring exploration of Siem Reap’s treasures!

2 Days in Siem Reap: Discovering the Best of Angkor Temples (Cambodia) travel itinerary
2 Days in Siem Reap: Discovering the Best of Angkor Temples (Cambodia)

How to Explore the Angkor Temples in Siem Reap

Exploring the Angkor temples in 2 days in Siem Reap offers an adventure through Cambodia’s heart. On the first day, tackle the Small Circuit to marvel at iconic temples like Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm at sunrise. Then, on the second day, the Grand or Big Circuit awaits, revealing more secluded gems. For a deep dive into the history, joining an organized tour helps.

Alternatively, hiring a tuk-tuk driver for a day offers flexibility and a personal touch. As of October 2023, a full-day trip costs $30 for two people. Many tuk-tuk drivers speak conversational English, adding value to your journey. This approach allows you to tailor your adventure, making it unforgettable.

Where to Stay in Siem Reap

In Siem Reap, you’ll find accommodation to suit every budget. For luxury, Angkor Land Urban Boutique offers elegance and comfort. Harmony Indochine d’Angkor, with medium pricing, provides great value and a cozy stay. Budget travelers can enjoy The Siem Reap Chilled Backpacker, a friendly hostel perfect for meeting fellow adventurers. These options make your 2 days in Siem Reap comfortable and memorable, whether you’re splurging or saving.

Traveler’s Note: 

Please keep in mind that we have two days in Siem Reap. Our tuk-tuk driver recommended that we explore the Big/Grand circuit on the first day due to cloudy morning weather, making it difficult to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. However, he assured us that the weather forecast for the second day was good, and he was 80% sure we could witness the sunrise then.

2 Days in Siem Reap: The Best of Angkor Temples (Cambodia) travel itinerary
2 Days in Siem Reap: The Best of Angkor Temples (Cambodia)

We took a bus from Bangkok in the early morning and settled in our hostel at 4:45 PM. The bus ride was long, but we needed it after a night of debauchery in Bangkok. Although we mostly slept, we felt refreshed and ready to take on Siem Reap as soon as we arrived. We bought our bus tickets here.

On our first night, we booked an Apsara Cultural Show (with Dinner & Transfer) for a fabulous introduction to the country’s culture and traditions. After that, we hit Pub Street and had dinner at one of the street food stands by the canal. Be aware that the restaurants on Pub Street can be way more expensive than those in Bangkok or Tokyo.  

  1. Preah Khan – Begin your day at Preah Khan, a temple built by King Jayavarman VII. It served as a city, temple, and Buddhist university. The site is vast, with enclosures, hallways, and carvings that tell tales of its past glory.
  2. Neak Pean – Next, visit Neak Pean, a unique artificial island with a Buddhist temple at its center. It’s known for its picturesque setting and the large pool surrounding it, representing the Himalayan mountain lake Anavatapta.
  3. Ta Som – Continue to Ta Som, a smaller yet charming temple. Like Ta Prohm, Ta Som features trees growing out of ruins, creating a mesmerizing blend of nature and architecture. Its east gopura, smothered by a giant fig tree, is particularly photogenic.
  4. East Mebon – East Mebon, a 10th-century temple, was once located on an island in the middle of the now-dry East Baray. It’s famous for its giant elephant statues guarding the corners of the first and second tiers.
  5. Pre Rup – Pre Rup, a twin to East Mebon, as they say, is another temple-mountain dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. It’s constructed from brick, laterite, and sandstone, giving it a distinct reddish hue. The temple offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside, making it a perfect spot for sunrise or sunset.
  6. Banteay Samre – A bit off the main path, Banteay Samre is well worth the detour. It’s a Hindu temple inspired by the style of Angkor Wat and known for its intricate carvings and well-preserved architecture. Its isolation means fewer tourists and a more serene atmosphere.
  7. Banteay Srei – Although not officially part of the Grand Circuit, visiting Banteay Srei is highly recommended if time allows. This 10th-century temple is renowned for its intricate carvings in pink sandstone, earning it the nickname “the jewel of Khmer art.”

We finished the tour at 3 PM. Our tuk-tuk driver dropped us off back at our hostel. 

Wat Preah Prom Rath

After refreshing our hostel, we headed straight to Wat Preah Prom Rath Temple. Nestled in the downtown’s heart, this temple shines as a modern sanctuary. Its well-maintained grounds, vibrant murals, and detailed statues offer a quiet escape from the city’s buzz. It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the peace before the night starts.

Pub Street and Markets

Next, we ventured into Siem Reap’s vibrant night scene. Pub Street greeted us with its lively atmosphere, offering a mix of international and local dishes, cool drinks, and a chance to watch the world go by. Nearby, the Angkor Night Market and Made in Cambodia Market awaited. These markets are treasure troves of handcrafted items, artwork, and textiles, all supporting local craftspeople.

Phare, the Cambodian Circus

By 7:30 PM, a tuk-tuk whisked us to Phare, the Cambodian Circus, for the 8:00 PM show. Arriving early at 7:00 PM lets you catch the pre-show and grab dinner (not included with your ticket). Booking tickets early is wise to ensure you get all the benefits, especially in peak season. The performance is breathtaking, showcasing the talent and dedication of the artists. It’s not just entertainment; it’s a mission to provide these performers with opportunities and professional growth. Post-show, taking photos with the artists is a memorable way to end the evening before returning to Pub Street to relax.

2 Days in Siem Reap: The Best of Angkor Temples (Cambodia) travel itinerary angelina Jolie
Angelia Jolie was here – on this exact location.
  1. Angkor Wat – Start your day at sunrise to catch the iconic view of Angkor Wat against the backdrop of the rising sun. This temple is not just Cambodia’s pride; it’s a symbol recognized worldwide. It’s the largest religious monument in the world and a masterpiece of Khmer architecture.
  2. Angkor Thom – Next, head to the ancient city of Angkor Thom. Enter through the South Gate, lined with gods and demons, leading to the Bayon Temple at the city’s center. The Bayon is famous for its serene and smiling stone faces on the many towers.
  3. Baphuon – A short walk from the Bayon brings you to Baphuon, a pyramid-shaped temple mountain. After extensive restoration, it’s a fantastic site to explore, with its reclining Buddha on the west side.
  4. Phimeanakas – Within the Royal Palace enclosure, you’ll find Phimeanakas, an ancient Hindu temple. It’s smaller but holds a unique charm with its steep stairway leading to a platform offering views of the surrounding area.
  5. Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King – These terraces serve as platforms for public ceremonies and are adorned with intricate carvings. The Elephant Terrace is named for the carvings of elephants on its eastern face. At the same time, the Leper King Terrace features a hidden wall with detailed carvings.
  6. Ta Prohm – This temple is famous for its giant trees and massive roots growing out of its walls. It was left largely as it was found, which makes it one of the most picturesque temples in the Angkor complex. Often remembered as the ‘Tomb Raider temple’ (with Angelina Jolie), it’s a must-visit for its unique blend of nature and architecture.
  7. Ta Keo – Ta Keo is a temple mountain, possibly the first to be built wholly of sandstone by the Khmers. It stands as an unfinished monument, yet its sheer scale and the loftiness of its towers are impressive.
  8. Thommanon and Chau Say Tevoda – These two temples sit opposite each other and were built around the same time. Though smaller, their carvings and architecture are exquisite, making them perfect for a more relaxed exploration.
  9. Banteay Kdei – This Buddhist monastery is serene and less crowded, offering a peaceful end to your temple tour. The jungle envelops its walls and towers, giving it an atmospheric feel.
  10. Srah Srang – Conclude your day with a visit to Srah Srang, a reservoir opposite Banteay Kdei. It’s an ideal spot for sunset, offering a tranquil setting as the day ends.

By 3 PM, we were back at our hostel. Our tuk-tuk driver waited for us there and took us to the bus station on our way to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia

2 Days in Siem Reap: Discovering the Best of Angkor Temples (Cambodia) travel itinerary
2 Days in Siem Reap: Discovering the Best of Angkor Temples (Cambodia)

Goodbye, Siem Reap!

In just 2 days in Siem Reap, we witnessed the breathtaking beauty of Angkor’s temples. This travel itinerary offers a new discovery, seamlessly blending history with nature. This journey through Siem Reap’s heart leaves you with unforgettable memories, proving two days can indeed reveal the essence of Cambodia’s majestic past.

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