48 Hours in Siem Reap – Go for the Temples, Stay for the Vibe! 

If Angkor Wat is on your bucket list (and it definitely SHOULD be), then you’ll be staying in Siem Reap. I only had 48 hours in Siem Reap – but could have easily stayed at least another day. 

A decade ago, Siem Reap was basically just a stop over on your way to Angkor Wat. These days, Siem Reap is a delightfully laid back river city (the second largest city in Cambodia). The beautiful hotels, lively and international dining options, and fun bar scene will delight you. The proximity to Angkor Wat – an easy 10 minute tuk tuk ride – and other surrounding temples, while still the main draw, is no longer all that Siem Reap has to offer. 

Day One

Getting There

Odds are you’ll be arriving at Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport. This airport is brand new – it just opened in 2023 – and it is lovely!  It’s accessible by direct flights from many Asian Cities (I flew in from Phnom Penh – an easy 30 minute flight). If your hotel offers transport to/from the airport, I suggest you take them up on it. The airport is about a 45 minute drive from the city.  Have a long haul trip with one or more layovers coming up? Check out my FREE guide, “Chair Yoga: Airport Edition” to help keep you feeling great during your travels.

Get Settled In

Once you’ve made your way to town, settle into your hotel. I stayed at Shinta Mani Angkor and cannot recommend it enough! SERIOUSLY – this luxury boutique hotel is stunning – a perfect example of impeccable design and taste with fantastic service. It’s set in the French Quarter of Siem Reap, created by renowned architect, Bill Bensely, and could not be a more ideal setting from which to launch your exploration of both Siem Reap and the surrounding temples. 

Unwind and Explore

After unpacking, I made my way to the pool for some much needed rest and relaxation – complete with a cocktail, some lunch (yummy local Cambodian fare), and a cat nap in the sun.  Then I got cleaned up and headed out to explore Siem Reap.  First stop was a drink at Akas – a super cute rooftop bar located in Twizt Lifestyle Hostel. Great place to enjoy the sunset! Once we had our fill of the view, we headed to dinner. Would you be surprised if I told you that you can get delicious Greek food in Cambodia? I was definitely pleasantly surprised by our meal at Elia Greek Kitchen! This restaurant is a gem in the heart of Siem Reap. The owners are from Greece and have basically transported a small piece of Greece into the middle of Cambodia. 

After dinner we headed to Star Bar for a drink. This is a great expat owned bar – small world, the owner happens to be a friend of a friend! 

We ended our night by catching some live music at Laundry. This bar was lively, the cover band was fun, and the drinks cheap (cash only here!). Speaking of money – in Siem Reap be prepared to pay in US dollars – small bills come in handy for tuk tuk rides, drinks, and other incidentals. 

Day Two

What’s a Wat?

Wats, wats, and more wats! What’s a wat, you ask? A wat is a temple and there are many in the area around Siem Reap. The most famous of which is Angkor Wat. Angkor is a UNESCO world heritage site that stretches over 400 square kilometers with several temples – including Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Bayon, and Banteay Srei.  

Angkor Wat
Ta Prohm

Temple Hop ‘Til You Drop

A trip to Siem Reap is not complete without a day of temple hopping! Do yourself a favor and hire a local guide (we paid $120 for the entire day – about 8 hours – which included our very knowledgeable and lovely guide, transport by car, and all the water we could drink). You will need to buy a ticket to visit the wats – $37 (cash only!) per person for the day gets you into as many wats as you want to go to.  WORTH IT! I loved our day of temple hopping –  we went to Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Prohm, and Banteay Srei. My personal favorite is Bayon Temple – aka the Temple of the Smiling Faces.  

Bayon Temple (aka Temple of the Smiling Faces)
Banteay Srei

Fuel Up and Then Party On Pub Street

Look, you will be a little sweaty and tired after a day of wandering the wats (it’s generally pretty warm in Cambodia!). Head back to your hotel, clean up – maybe take a siesta – and then head to Pub Street for dinner, drinks and more live music! On night two, we had a wonderful Italian meal – complete with a great bottle of wine (not always easy to find in Cambodia) at Il Forno. After dinner we wandered in and out of bars on Pub Street. Pub Street is definitely the center of the action when it comes to nightlife in Siem Reap. Restaurants, art galleries, souvenir shops, bars (bars, and more bars), and nightclubs. Eat, shop, drink, listen to live music, and/or dance the night away. You won’t be disappointed with Pub Street’s options for a fun night out on the town! 

Bottomline

48 hours in Siem Reap will get you a perfect taste of all this river city has to offer. It will almost certainly leave you wanting more and wishing you had stayed longer. I wish that I had!

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