Spending 2 days in Siem Reap is pretty much the bare minimum required to see the very best that the city and the surrounding area has to offer. Often visited as part of a general tour of Southeast Asia, as well as on weekend breaks from surrounding countries, the place is quite convenient for short stays. It's compact enough to get around easily, with the airport and all of the major attractions within very easy reach of the city centre.

    This Siem Reap mini-guide will give you a rough itinerary to ensure that you get the most out of your limited time. It will be quite a busy 48 hours, but one which includes some of the world’s most famous views and attractions, from iconic temples and bustling markets to breathtaking waterfalls and beautiful cultural shows.


    Day 1 - Angkor Wat Tour

    The star attraction in Siem Reap is undoubtedly the Angkor temples. These ancient ruins are simply breathtaking, with the smaller structures giving you a real Indiana Jones feeling. It can be a little tiring to spend a full day in the sun, wandering around the historical hallways, so you might want to consider just doing a half-day tour, though that does mean you run the risk of missing out on some of the secret gems of the expansive Angkor Archaeological Park.

    The essential must-see temples are Bayon Temple, Ta Prohm Temple and, of course, Angkor Wat itself. Seeing either the sunrise or sunset from Phrom Bakheng is also a memorable experience to include in your 2 days in Siem Reap. The sunrise tends to be less crowded and more spectacular, though it does mean having to wake up very early to get there on time.

    photo by Marcin Konsek (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Night 1 - Phare Circus and Pub Street

    You might need to allow a few hours to recover from your temple tour, but you should try to be ready for 7.30pm to see the extraordinary Phare, The Cambodian Circus. Combining acrobatics and dance with storytelling, it is both a fun display of athletic performance and a moving tale of Cambodia history and culture.

    From there, head to the nightlife hub of Siem Reap – Pub Street – for cheap draught beer. The short road is lined with fun and lively bars and clubs with excellent drinks offers. There are also plenty of great restaurants in the nearby alleys.


    photo by Taohou (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Day 2 - Tonle Sap Lake and Phnom Kulen National Park

    After exploring manmade wonders on Day 1, your 2nd day in Siem Reap is all about natural attractions. The massive Tonle Sap Lake, a short drive from Siem Reap, is the biggest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. It has several fascinating floating villages on its banks, as well as beautiful mangrove forests to explore. The rich natural habitats around the lake are home to a remarkable range of wildlife species.

    To get the most out of your 2 days in Siem Reap, head for the mountains north of Siem Reap and the beautiful Phnom Kulen National Park. There are a couple of waterfalls here, with the Phnom Kulen falls being especially stunning. There are also a couple of small but striking temples in the region, which are worth a visit if you’ve not overdosed on temples.


    Night 2 - Old Market and Apsara Dance

    End your 2nd day in Siem Reap with a little local colour by visiting the Old Market – Psar Chas. Open until 8pm, the outer areas are excellent for finding interesting and affordable souvenirs. At the heart of the covered area is the fresh market, where you can shop for local spices and seafood.

    While there are plenty of good budget restaurants around the Old Market, we suggest heading for a restaurant that offers an Apsara Dance dinner show. This intricate local dance is not to be missed and makes a nice ending to a busy 48 hours in Siem Reap.

    photo by Allie_Caulfield (CC BY 2.0) modified

    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveller

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