In comparison to Thailand and Vietnam and a few other countries in Southeast Asia, Cambodia is tiny! A visit to Cambodia is not complete without seeing the jewel of its kingdom, Angkor Wat.
The two cities near to this you can stay in are Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, the latter of the two being slightly closer to the temples and a larger city. This is where we stayed for 4 nights, which I’d say is the perfect amount of time to allow here. This gives you two days to see the temples at a leisurely pace, and the remaining time and evenings to enjoy the city and all it has to offer.
As for the temples, the best and cheapest way to do this is on a tuk-tuk. Get yourself a driver for the 2 days which will cost you around $20 and they’ll take you around at your own pace. Start the day off nice and early by visiting Angkor Wat at sunrise (get there for about 4:30am), where you can have breakfast and a coffee brought to you at your watching point! It’s definitely worth the early start but make sure you take a jacket as it can be quite chilly at that time in the morning! As soon as the sun rises over the temple, you’ll see for yourself why it is one of the most beautiful and impressive sights in the whole of Southeast Asia.
Different stages of the Angkor sunrise from 5am-6.30am
There are plenty of other temples to spread out over the two day tour, depending how long you want to spend at each. Visit Angkor Thom, my personal favourite, where carved into the stone are faces of the Buddha gods, Hindu gods and the kings; Bayon elephant terrace; Ta Prohm, the set of the famous Tomb Raider films where giant trees and their roots sprawl up from the ground and around the temple walls; Ta Keo with its giant staircase up to the top; Preah Khan; Neak Pean set in the middle of a lake and across a beautiful walkway to get to it; Ta Som; East Mebon; Pre Rup; past Sras Srang Lake and finishing at Banteay Kdei.
It is tiring work visiting and climbing through all the temples, but stock up on a bit of fresh mango and bananas sold by most of the temples by the locals, then when you’re done for the day, head to Pub Street in Siem Reap’s centre, where as the name suggests, an array of cafés, pubs and restaurants sit along the street – a great place to people-watch and while away the afternoon in the Cambodian sun with a local Angkor beer in hand! In the evening, head to the busy side streets just off Pub Street and try the local Khmer cuisine (curry and fresh vegetable dishes with coconut and spice flavours, served in leaves), before having a browse and picking up a few souvenirs or clothing at the famous Night Market – don’t forget to barter!