After breakfast, continue the explorations of Angkor with a visit to the ancient city of Angkor Thom Enter through the South Gate, an impressive stone gate adorned with three-headed elephants, giant faces, and a row of 54 gods and demons, each holding a sacred Naga snake along the bridge leading into the city. Continue from here to the centrally-located Bayon temple. This 12th century masterpiece is known for its dozens of face-carved towers depicting King Jayavarman VII in the likeness of the Buddha. The nearby Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King (featuring intricate and unique carvings) are also must-visit attractions of Angkor Thom.
Following Bayon, pay a visit to one of the complex’s most illustrious temples: Ta Prohm. Built between the 12th-13th centuries, Ta Prohm is unique in that it is overgrown by jungle, trees, vines, and with many parts crumbling to the ground, it is one of the most picturesque Angkor temples. Alternatively, depending on the season and the crowds, you may wish to visit Preah Khan temple. Built by the same king in a similar style, this larger temple complex is also largely left in ruins and its labyrinthian layout and fewer visitors makes a more intimate experience even in the high season months. (Note: Talk to your guide the morning of your visit to see which temple you should visit depending on the month of your visit.)
Return to Siem Reap for lunch at Mahob Restaurant. “Mahob,” the Cambodian word for ‘food,’ is a culinary hotspot that takes traditional Khmer cuisine to a new level. Using only locally produced ingredients, this beautiful restaurant serves up some of the best local delicacies that Siem Reap has to offer.
In the afternoon, travel to Banteay Srei, the best-preserved temple in Cambodia. Best viewed in the warm afternoon light, this temple displays some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art with its fine bas-reliefs and distinctive pink sandstone.
Later pay a visit to the Cambodian Landmine Museum, an enlightening museum that both promotes mine awareness and rescues landmine amputee children from impoverished rural communities. Founded by a reputed former child soldier under the Khmer Rouge, Mr. Aki Ra also works as a de-miner, having taught himself to do so in the years after the war.
Heading back to town, stop amongst local communities with the guide to both interact and learn a bit about their daily life. The visit also offers an opportunity to taste palm wine, palm sugar (seasonal), and other popular local produce.
Overnight in Siem Reap.