How long to spend in Angkor?
Of course, no visit to Siem Reap would be complete without a visit to the Temples of Angkor. Over 100 temples lie within Siem Reap province dating from the 9th-14th century.
Passes are sold for 1 day, 3 days or 1 week and whilst you could spend a lifetime exploring, we recommend at least 2 full days for temple exploration.
This will allow you to see all of the main temples, plus a few outlying ruins without racing around.
Getting around Angkor
There are several options for getting around the temples. Car, bus, and van remain the vehicles of choice, but we recommend taking a day to cycle through the temples.
Travelling by two wheels, either by regular bike or electric bike, gives you a unique perspective and an eco-friendly way to see the temples.
Elephant Rides are available and you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time to the days of the Angkorian kings as you meander through the woods and temples.
A tethered hot air balloon is available near Angkor Wat, which gives distant, but sweeping views of the temples and their surroundings.
But the most exciting experience available is a helicopter flight around the area.
Ranging in length from 8 minutes to a half-day excursion, buzzing around the temples in a helicopter is an unparalleled experience.
Which Temples to visit?
Any itinerary should include Angkor Wat, the magnificent legendary temple.
The Bayon is another favorite with its mysterious faces smiling down on visitors, while the jungle covered Ta Phrom is an evocative blend of nature and architecture with the jungle roots reclaiming the moss-covered stones.
Other temples in the vicinity worth seeing are Phnom Bakeng, Pre Rup, Baphoun, and Preah Khan.
If you have more time, trips further afield lead to less crowded temples and spectacular photo opportunities.
Just 12 km from Siem Reap are the Rolous Group of temples, some of the earliest ruins in the region.
The petite Banteay Srey features intricate carvings in pink sandstone and nearby Banteay Kdei is a hidden gem tucked away in the jungle.
Beng Mealea sprawls across one square kilometer and remains covered in trees, roots, and vines.
Constructed in a similar style to Angkor Wat yet overrun by nature, Beng Mealea is a truly adventurous place to visit.
Koh Ker, situated to the northeast of Siem Reap, is the remnants of the Khmer capital in the late 9th century and features a circular loop of about a dozen ruins.
What else to see in Siem Reap?
Need a break from temple touring? Siem Reap has several other activities and opportunities for travelers. A boat trip on the Tonle Sap Lake is very worthwhile.
Each year during the rainy season, the lake swells to five times larger and the plethora of fish provide the livelihood for the lake’s residents.
A favourite is the Paneman Boat, a large wooden cruising boat run by an eco-tourism company, which provides an elegant ride along the water.
A boat trip departing from Kampong Phluck takes you through the floating villages and ancient mangrove forests of the lake, a great way to see the unique lifestyle of the lake’s residents.
Artisan’s D’Angkor is a unique organization working to preserve traditional Khmer arts and crafts. They have established two centres in Siem Reap.
The location in town features a stone-carving workshop where locals produce magnificent sculptures, while the silk centre is a bit further afield.
Here you can see the entire process of silk creation: from the breeding of the silk worms, to the dyeing and weaving of the material.
Siem Reap’s small downtown turns into a hive of activity as the sun begins to set; the small ‘Old Market’ closes down and tourists flood in to town to enjoy cocktails on ‘Pub Street’ and dinner in one of the many restaurants.
Vendors have capitalized on this area’s popularity by establishing a night market at the south end of Pub Street.
Cambodian crafts such as artwork, silks, carvings, and t-shirts are for sale in an open-air market off a tranquil side street making it the perfect place to pick up souvenirs.
A traditional Apsara Dance performance is a great evening activity as the elegant dancers, elaborate costumes, and live music create an enchanting atmosphere.
Another treat is a traditional massage at our favorite shop, Bodia Spa.
Here you will be treated to a relaxing spa or massage treatment, using top quality natural products and traditional techniques.