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How to Spend 2 Days in Angkor Wat

How to Spend 2 Days in Angkor Wat

The ruins of the medieval Khmer empire stretch well beyond the Angkor Wat temple complex. With two days in the Angkor area, you can enjoy a magical sunrise and sunset, bag the “big three” (Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Ta Prohm), tour atmospheric ruins still covered in jungle, and even see a dance performance. Read on to find out how.

Day 1: Jungle Sights

Day: With two days in the Angkor area, spend your first day playing Indiana Jones among overgrown ruins before you head to the more manicured big three. One great option is Beng Mealea, a tumbled 12th-century temple complex on an enormous scale, still covered in tropical jungle. Pair this with highlights of Koh Ker, the 10th-century capital of the Khmer empire, which once spanned around 14 square miles (36 square kilometers). Alternatively, spend the day at Phnom Kulen National Park, where waterfalls and sacred Buddhist sites meld with Angkorian temples and carvings for a quintessentially Cambodian experience.

Night: With a history dating back to the Angkor era, Khmer classical dance is the perfect way to prepare yourself for the majesty of Angkor Wat. The delicate Apsara (nymph) dance, created by Cambodian royalty during the 20th century, is tailor-made for dinner theater.

Day 2: The Big Three

Morning: Start the day bright and early by watching the sun rise behind the soaring turrets of the Angkor Wat temple complex. Once you’ve captured the shots you need, leave Angkor Wat to the masses for now and beat the crowds to Ta Prohm, often called the Tomb Raider temple.

Afternoon: Check off the third of the big three, Angkor Thom, the spectacular capital city that centers on the Bayon Temple, known as the Temple of a Thousand Faces. Return to Angkor Wat later in the day, once the crowds have thinned, and walk through the vast complex with a guide.

Night: Soak in the scale of the Angkor kingdom as you watch the sunset from the temple atop Phnom Bakheng. Then enjoy dinner in Siem Reap at a restaurant that helps train underprivileged youth; Marum is a good choice. Wrap up with a fish pedicure and a stroll down raucous Pub Street.

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