4. From Siem Reap: 2-Day Small Group Temples Sunrise Tour
Day 1 – Full Day Banteay Srei Temples and Grand Circuit Temple
Start your 2 days with pick-up from your hotel around 8:00 AM, you’ll head off to visit the most interesting temples outside Angkor Thom city. Your first stop is Pre Rup Hindu Temple, built in 961 or 962, which combines laterite and sandstone construction. Then, drive to the intricately carved and well-preserved Banteay Srei – the detailed reliefs on this smaller sandstone structure are regarded as the finest and most skilfully crafted in Cambodia.
On the return journey, visit Neak Pean, a Buddhist temple on a circular artificial island within Jayatataka Baray, then continue to Preah Khan temple, a ruined but highly atmospheric mélange of tree roots and crumbling stone structures. Construction was commissioned by the prolific temple builder Jayavarman VII in honor of his father and a visit to this smaller site makes for an interesting contrast with the more imposing Angkor Wat. Preah Khan is currently being restored by the World Monument Fund and in places is in remarkably good condition. In the late afternoon, you’ll return to Siem Reap after a memorable day of exploration.
Day 2 – Temples of Angkor with Sunrise
Spend your day temple-hopping with your local guide to make the most of your visit to the world-famous Angkor complex, a site full of temples built between the 19th and 13th centuries. Begin with pre-dawn departure (between 4:15 and 4:40 AM) from your hotel to catch the sunrise outside of Angkor Wat. Then, explore the interior of the great temple, spending a thorough 2 hours discovering its corridors, central chambers, and upper terraces. Your expert guide will decipher the myriad of stories behind the bas-relief carvings and give you insight into life during the height of the Khmer Empire. End your visit to Angkor with breakfast just outside the temple.
Continue the morning with a visit to the Southern Gate of Angkor Thom, flanked by a row of 54 stone figures on each side – gods to the left and demons to the right – and the fortified city of Angkor Thom. See its beautifully crafted central towers, covered in more than 200 enormous faces, before exploring the famous central terrace of the Leper King and the Terrace of Elephants. Finish your day with a visit to the temple Ta Prohm, once home to almost 3,000 monks. Return to your hotel at approximately 1:00 PM.