City Guide: 48 hours in Siem Reap

City Guide: 48 hours in Siem Reap

A land of sprawling 12th century temple complexes, delicious Khmer cuisine, thrilling tuk-tuk rides and lively markets, Siem Reap has much to offer to every kind of traveller. While Angkor Wat is unquestionably on every ‘things to do in Siem Reap’ list, here are some lesser known jewels that will save you the ‘what to do in Siem Reap’ Google search. Here’s how you can spend an unforgettable 48 hours in Siem Reap.

Breakfast and Morning: The very best way to start your morning in Siem Reap is by experiencing the sun rise at Angkor Wat – the number one item on every things to do in Siem Reap checklist. With the temple built to face west, the sun rising behind it creates the most dramatic silhouettes that have to be seen to be believed. However, the best photography spots are occupied quickly and you are advised to arrive at least an hour before sunrise to reserve a spot. Most hotels will be perfectly happy to arrange an early breakfast so you won’t be hungry as you wait to catch the day’s first rays. Spend the rest of the morning exploring the intriguing architecture of the Angkor Wat and the Angkor Thom temples to fill your camera with a lifetime of memories.

Lunch: After a morning witnessing Siem Reap’s most famed ancient architectural wonder, it is time to explore its delicious gastronomical wonders. For a flavourful Khmer lunch with a contemporary twist, make your way to Malis Restaurant. Delight in their signature dishes like Prahok Ktis (Cambodian fermented fish seasoned with chilli and coconut milk) with Kampot Crab Fried Rice, or maybe some medicinal Moringa soup followed by succulent Hidden Chreav Duck. It doesn’t matter what you pick; every dish served at Malis is equally delightful. 

Afternoon: A short walk from Malis is the Artisans D’Angkor, the perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon. Watch the local artisans preserve their centuries old tradition by creating magnificent works of art, and buy authentic Cambodian souvenirs to take back home. Choose from a range of handmade silk scarves and apparels, gemstone jewellery, ceramic and lacquerware, or intricate stone sculptures. If time permits, you can also hop onto a free shuttle to visit the Artisans D’Angkor silk farm. 

Evening and Dinner: Siem Reap’s raw, unfiltered beauty lies in its lively streets. Join a guided food tour in a tuk-tuk that will reveal all the intricacies of Khmer cuisine as you safely tuck into the local fare at family-run restaurants, local eateries and street food stalls. Sample copious dishes complemented by delicious local beer, all while taking in the authentic Cambodian life. 

Breakfast: When in Siem Reap, you have to dine at an NGO café. While there are a few to choose from, we recommend Sister Srey. “A café with a heart”, Sister Srey helps support young Khmer students find a balance between pursuing their education and financially supporting their families. The café also donates a percentage of its profits to an organisation that helps clear landmines. But those are not the only reasons why you should dine here. All the delicious goodies at Sister Srey are prepared fresh daily with produce that is organic and chemical free. The café is passionate about sustainability and 90 percent of its waste is either composted or recycled. Talk about a feel-good start to the day! 

Morning and Lunch: After a hearty breakfast, make your way to Tonlé Sap to sail through the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Tonlé Sap is a world within a world. Take half day boat trip to drift past floating villages, stilted houses, paddy fields, lotus fields, crocodile farms and flooded forests. Depending on your tour operator, you will make several stops along the way including at a floating restaurant. 

Afternoon: Cambodia is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world as a consequence of the Khmer Rouge regime and the Vietnam War. The Cambodia Landmine Museum serves as an eye opener about the consequences of wars and landmines. The museum was started by an ex-child soldier, Aki Ra, who dedicated his life to locating and defusing landmines and looking after children affected by the mines. The museum houses a collection of mines, mortars, guns and weaponry, as well as an artificial minefield where you can try your hand at locating and deactivating mines. The money collected from the museum is used to spread awareness and to care for children affected by landmines. 

Evening: After a long day spent exploring Siem Reap’s various wonders, head to the coolest of the Cambodian markets, the Angkor Night Market. Leather carving, rice-art painting, silk products, hand painted t-shirts, Khmer kroma scarves, and a variety of flavoured Sombai liquor are just some of the wonderful local souvenirs you can expect to take home from here. And when the shopping gets all too exhausting, the Island Bar, with its big thatched roof and open-air ambiance is a refreshing treat.

Dinner: The Phare Circus is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Using a combination of theatre, music, dance and modern circus arts, the performers narrate uniquely Cambodian stories with a spell-binding performance. Grab your ticket and enter the massive red big top and get to know your performers through the various story panels before you see them in action. Grab a meal or a tub of buttery popcorn from the Phare Café and pick the best seat in the room to sit back and be mesmerised by the unfolding Phare magic. 

Why cruise with Scenic?

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours offers 5-star luxury all-inclusive river cruising along the majestic waterways of the Mekong.
With pillow menus, a private balcony from your spacious suite, and all-inclusive dining & complimentary beverages all day, every day, your Scenic Space-Ship will be your 5-star floating hotel. In addition, guests will enjoy our Scenic Enrich experiences, including an exclusive Angkor Temple Gala dinner in Siem Reap and an oil lamp lighting ceremony at Yangon's Shwedagon Pagoda. 

Our all-inclusive cruises mean there are no hidden fees to anticipate, just relax and discover the wonders of South East Asia.
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