How to spend 48 hours in Siem Reap

How to spend 48 hours in Siem Reap

Located in northwestern Cambodia, Siem Reap is most commonly known for the temples of Angkor. While these beautifully designed ancient stone buildings are fascinating in their own right, there are plenty of other treasures around the city worthy of your time and photography skills. If you only have 48 hours in Siem Reap, Cambodia, consider signing up for a cooking class, watching the circus or taking a traditional rowing boat out on the lake after you’ve finished touring Angkor.

Day One

For breakfast choose to dine at one of the many NGO (non-governmental organisations) eateries in Siem Reap. They are designed to support social enterprises and teach people new skills in hospitality. Don’t worry, you won’t sacrifice flavour and taste if you choose to dine at an NGO; these cafes have some of the highest ratings in the region, like New Leaf Eatery and Sister Srey Cafe.

Time is of the essence, so grab a coffee to-go and take a stroll around this amazing city. Admire the ancient architecture, rice fields and busy farmers in their conical hats. 

With only 48 hours in Siem Reap, you absolutely must visit a local market as they are integral parts of Cambodian livelihood. Old Market, also known as Psar Chas, is in the centre of town and is Siem Reap’s largest market. It’s packed with fresh fruit and vegetables, souvenirs and an assortment of other knickknacks. Along the way, stop at any one of the numerous street food vendors offering selections of rice, seafood and other gastronomic delights. 

Afterwards, sign up for a Khmer Cooking Class and take home new recipes along with a lifetime of memories. As part of the experience you will join a chef to prepare the meal step-by-step, from buying the ingredients to cooking them in a traditional village kitchen. 

For evening entertainment, visit the Phare Cambodian Circus, a unique circus unlike any other involving theatre, story, dance, music and circus arts seamlessly infused with Cambodian history and culture. First opened in 2013, Phare was founded by a group of Cambodian refugees to offer meaningful employment opportunities for Cambodian artists. 

Then, head over to Khmer Pub Street for a more local experience of Siem Reap’s nightlife. Pub Street is the nightlife hub, and you can easily find plenty of bars, pubs and restaurants to cater to your budget and preference.

Day Two

A visit to Angkor Wat is usually listed as number one on everyone’s Siem Reap things to do list, and we agree it is a must-see. Siem Reap is the gateway to the ruins of the World Heritage UNESCO site Angkor, the ancient stone city of the Khmer Kingdom. Though there are hundreds of remaining temples, Angkor Wat is undoubtedly the most famous, so a visit to this grand religious monument with its intricate carvings and elaborate decorations is a must. 

For unprecedented photo opportunities of an unforgettable sunrise, be sure to head to the temple complex bright and early to secure the perfect vantage point. While in the area, why not visit the sacred temple of Ta Prohm, which is overgrown by jungle trees and featured in the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. 
When it’s time to indulge on amazing Asian fare, sample some Cambodian specialties such as deep fried tarantula or red tree ants with beef for lunch. If that’s a little too adventurous for your palate, you can’t go wrong with one of their simpler traditional dishes: Fish Amok (steamed coconut fish in banana leaves), Lok lak (sauteed beef with vegetables) or Samlar Machu (sweet and sour soup).
If you’re wondering what to see in Siem Reap in the afternoon, strap on a helmet and join a Vespa tour of Siem Reap’s countryside. Travel off the beaten path to see firsthand how the locals live. Or visit Tonle Sap, the largest lake in South East Asia, to witness the floating village of Kompong Phluk. Fascinating and resourceful, the people of Siem Reap have developed ingenious ways to live in harmony with their surroundings. Gain an authentic insight into their traditional rural lifestyles so far removed from our own.
After an eventful 48 hours in Siem Reap, Cambodia, you owe it to yourself to relax and be pampered. Indulge in a body massage, or try a fish spa. Wake your senses and feel re-energised for your next adventure.

If you’re looking for souvenirs to take back home to loved ones, more food to savour, or just a reason to not end the night early, you can easily spend a few hours walking around any one of the many night markets. The Angkor Night Market claims to be the first night market in Cambodia. Open every night until midnight, you can purchase everything from rice-art paintings to leather carvings of elephants. 
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