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Charlotte Bower, a senior travel consultant on our InsideAsia Tours team and avid traveller, shares her secrets for the perfect 24 hours in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Waking up for sunrises is a common theme of travelling in Asia, but I promise you that here more than anywhere else it really is worth dragging yourself out of bed for!
The Angkor ticket office is open from 5am, once you have your pass, head into the Angkor complex. If you’re up for a challenge, spend the day on a bike; you’ll have independence with your transportation and can stop to take photos whenever an attractive angle presents itself. Find yourself a good vantage point on the outskirts of Angkor Wat and enjoy the view!
Afterwards, head inside the temple to explore before the coaches arrive for the day.
Once you’ve explored, cross the road to the Angkor Café for a tasty breakfast (also saving you the journey back into Siem Reap for food) before heading through the walled gates to the city of Angkor Thom. Highlights for me include the many-faced temple of Bayon, and the Terrace of the Elephants.
Beng Melea Temple
Once the midday sun hits, return to Siem Reap and the Blue Pumpkin café, where the crisp white rooms and pumping cold air conditioning will welcome you… along with their tasty ice cream and patisseries!
From here, ditch the bike and hire a tuk tuk for the 2 hour drive to Beng Mealea temple. Passing through paddy fields and local villages, this remote temple is well worth the drive away from town. Completely unrestored, you can climb and wriggle over collapsed archways, tumbledown walls and shored up stairs as the jungle tries its best to claim back the area. It’ll take you a good hour to clamber through the temple, timing your drive back to town almost perfectly to catch the sun setting over the countryside.
Evening in Siem Reap – theatre and pubs!
Once you get back to Siem Reap, you’ll be faced with a whole new town! Once darkness falls the night market is in full swing – a great place to stock up on beautifully crafted souvenirs. You’ll be spoilt for choice with good quality dinner options throughout the town centre.
If you want to add some modern culture to your evening, head to a performance of Phare (The Cambodian Circus). Nightly shows at 8pm (usually requiring pre-booking) showcase the best Cambodian acrobatic talent with themed shows focusing on important local topics such as war, relationships and ghosts. You should definitely expect the unexpected.
Finish your evening in style… after all, no night in Siem Reap would be complete without a drink or three on the infamous Pub Street!
The temples in Siem Reap have to be seen to be believed (we’re looking at you Beng Melea). Take in the temples of Angkor alongside a trip to the Pearl of the Orient, Phnom Penh, rural life at Battambang and coastal Kep on our Karma Cambodia fully tailored Journey. Give Charlotte a call for more information: 0117 244 3374 or drop her an email at: [email protected]