You’ll likely need at least two days set aside to tour the temples of Siem Reap. On the first day, I toured through Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Ta Prohm; the three main temples that most people know about. On the second day, I went to five different temples, the first of which (Banteay Srei) is about a 45 minute tuk tuk drive away from the city center. After spending two full days visiting eight different temples, I did feel deja vu on more than a few occasions, but overall I’m glad I chose the two day tour as opposed to only one day. The temples you see on the second day are quite different than the three main temples and, except for the first temple, they were much less crowded.
As you can probably tell from the first two photos, this temple was absolutely swarming with tourists. However, despite getting frustrated with the hoards of people, I really liked Banteay Srei. The temple was surprisingly small, built out of red sandstone with plenty of carvings still visible, and the little reflection pond on the outskirts of the temple was a picture-perfect spot (and a great way to escape the crowds for a few moments). Given the chance to do this tour again, I would probably ask my driver to go to the other temples first and this one last in order to avoid the rush of tourists in the morning.
Preah Khan, meaning “Royal/Holy Sword” is a fairly large temple that hasn’t been heavily restored (though there was a section being restored when I was there, but I was told most of the restoration work here is to maintain the stability of the structures), hence the various large trees taking over some parts of the temple (as seen in the last photo above) and ruins scattered about. I really liked the stone coloring on the inner portion of Preah Khan; a mix of greens and pinks added a bit of spark to the otherwise grey surroundings. Built in 1191, this temple originally housed almost 100,000 officials and servants.. a bit hard to imagine today!
For more information on hiring a driver, entrance fees, and appropriate dress, read my previous article on Exploring Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Ta Prohm: Day 1 temple tour in Siem Reap