Heading north from Siem Reap, Angkor Wat is the first major temple, followed by the walled city of Angkor Thom. To the east and west of this city are two vast former reservoirs, which once helped to feed the huge population; the eastern reservoir is now completely dried up. Further east are temples including Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei and Pre Rup. North of Angkor Thom is Preah Khan, and way beyond in the northeast, Banteay Srei, Kbal Spean, Phnom Kulen and Beng Mealea. To the southeast of Siem Reap is the early Angkorian Roluos group of temples.
For most people nearby Siem Reap is the base for exploring the temples of Angkor, with an incredible array of accommodation on offer from budget hostels to opulent hotels. There is no accommodation around Angkor as such, although there are some rustic options in the rural districts such Banteay Srei district for those seeking a local experience.
Many of the tour groups buzzing around Angkor head back to Siem Reap for lunch. Stick around the temples to take advantage of the lack of crowds, explore some popular sites and enjoy a local lunch at one of the many stalls. Almost all of the major temples have some sort of nourishment available beyond the walls. Moto and remork-moto drivers often know the best places
Drinking & Nightlife
Water and soft drinks are available throughout the temple area, and many sellers lurk outside the temples, ready to pounce with offers of cold drinks. Sometimes they ask at just the right moment; on other occasions it is the 27th time in an hour that you’ve been approached and you are ready to scream. Try not to – you’ll scare your fellow travellers and lose face with the locals.
Visitors who have only a day or two at this incredible site may prefer something organised locally. It is possible to link up with an official tour guide in Siem Reap, where a number of operators run tours ranging from simple day trips to cycling tours to excursions to more remote temple sites. The Khmer Angkor Tour Guides Association represents some of Angkor’s authorised guides. English- or French-speaking guides can be booked for from US$30 per day; guides speaking other languages, such as Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese, are available at a higher rate as there are fewer of them.