I have traveled to Siem Reap, Cambodia on 3 separate occasions and every time I visit I fall in love all over again. Siem Reap is my favorite city in South East Asia because I’m a serious sucker for ancient ruins, jungles, and getting pampered on the cheap. The definition of how I like to travel Adventure Luxury. Plus, Angkor Wat is a magical place and one of my favorite places on Earth. If you only have 3 days, here is
What to do in Siem Reap
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Before You Go
- READ The Ultimate Guide to Cambodia
- To visit the Temples you must dress conservatively. This means knees and shoulders covered.
Average Daily Budget
Budget – $15-20
- Dorm bed
- Street food
- Scraping your change to get into the temples
Mid Range – $60-70
- Average for a couple
- Double bed w A/C and a pool
- Enternace to the temples
- Occasional happy hour
Luxury – $100 and up
- Staying in the swankiest hotels
- Dining in restaraunts
- Private tour guides
- Private transportation
How to Get There
Siem Reap has an international airport that is close to town which makes it easy to fly into.
There are also lots of bus companies so finding something in your price range and on the days you want to travel will not be a problem.
WHERE TO STAY IN SIEM REAP
If you don’t already know, Cambodia is one of my favorite countries. Every time I visit Siem Reap Joe and I make sure we stay at Saem Siem Reap Hotel at least for a night during our stay. We LOVE this hotel. Budget luxury at its finest.
Located only 15 minutes from the Angkor Temples and 5 minutes from pub street via tuk tuk this hotel has the perfection location for luxury and relaxation. The breakfast buffet offering anything everyday should be reason enough to stay here if the amazing pool doesn’t sell you first. It’s a hidden gem. The staff who are polite and proper only add to the elegance of the hotel. Prices are very affordable and you will not be disappointed. We stayed in a pool level suite for only $39 a night. #Goals!
Hands down Seriously one of my favorite hotels, I stay here every time I visit Siem Reap!
Siem Reap does not have a shortage of hotels so finding one that suits your needs will not be a problem. For a bigger selection of hotels
You’ll probably be tired from the journey to get to Siem Reap so relax by the pool for a couple hours after breakfast. (Most hotels, guesthouses, and hostels have a pool in Siem Reap.)
When you’re ready, explore Pub Street, do some shopping and catch brunch at Easy Speaking: located in the heart of it all. They serve a bomb breakfast from 7-12, perfect food to cure a hangover. They also offer Cambodian barbecue where you choose your meats and sauces. Western foods is also offered. A full page of desserts and a drink menu to match. Your paying for the location and vibes. Perfect place to people watch and enjoy the all day happy hour!
Pub Street has a lot of restaurants to choose from. If you want something more cost effective but not sacrifice taste, eat at Khmer Taste. Located on a street perpendicular to Pub Street, it has a large menu with a variety of options like curries, western food, and classic Khmer dishes. I ate the Amok which is a classic Khmer dish, curry like with coconut milk, vegetables and your protein with steamed rice. It only cost $2.50.
Dance the night away at Temple Bar. If the dance floor is too loud for you, head to the rooftop to listen to live music and a DJ that will play any request in between sets.
Go on a day trip to Beng Melea Temple. Beng Melea Temple is located 65 kilometers or an hour and a half southeast of Siem Reap. The ruin is that similar to Thom Phrom (the tomb raider temple) as there are trees carving through the walls and mossy green rocks. No restoration has been done to the temple so if you’re looking for a crumbled down temple hidden in the middle of the jungle, look no further because you’ve found it. In 1992 Beng Melea was given UNESCO heritage status.
You can arrange a tuk tuk which will take an hour longer to get there, go with a tour, or book your own car. Your guesthouse will able to help you with arranging your own private tour for about $25 which is worth it in my opinion. You may also want to pair this tour with Tonsle Lake to see the needy villages built on stilts over the water. But if you’re only into exploring ruins and temples head back to Siem Reap to explore a few of the outer temples that get missed more often than not. Prae Roup is a good one for sunset, Near Pean is a small temple is surrounded by a lake, or Ta Som which has a tree overgrown on the east entrance.
Your third day is the day that you’ve been waiting for. Exploring Angkor Wat and it’s surrounding temples. You’ll want to arrange a tuk tuk driver for the day so he can drive you around to all the temples. Your guesthouse will be able to help with this or you can find one on the street. You can get one anywhere from $20- $45 for the whole day.
Wake up early to experience sunrise over Angkor Wat. Yes it’s touristy and Yes it’s crowded and Yes it’s totally worth it! No matter how crowded, it IS a breathtakingly beautiful sight. If you stay long enough, you’ll be able to get a shot without people in it.
Once you’ve got your sunrise shots, instead of going inside to explore Angkor Wat, have your tuk tuk drive you to Ta Prohm or as most people know it, the Tomb Raider temple. This is a very popolar temple because of the movie and for good reason. Trees are over grown around the temple ruins and the sight instantly transforms you into a bad ass like Indiana Joes or Lara Croft. So when everybody you rose with for sunrise is at Angkor Thom (typically the next stop on the ‘typical’ route), you are at Thom Phrom exploring these ruins and avoiding all the crowds.
Next temple you’ll go to is Tak Keo. This is the tallest temple standing over 70 feet tall. Stairs are steep and narrow but the views are worth it.
Next you’ll go to Preach Khan a small temple close to the side of the road. Quick and easy to explore.
Next stop. Angkor Thom the largest complex of Khmer ruins. Angkor Thom contains the iconic Bayon Temple with hundreds of faces covering the pillars. Make sure keep a look out for the face that you can get up close and personal with. It’s located on the top level.
After Bayon, continue across the street and follow the path through the woods that will take you to the elephant terraces. Hardly anyone goes there so that’s always a plus.
Don’t forget to stop at the South Gate of Angkor Thom when you are leaving as it’s one of the most instagramable spots in Cambodia.
Finally, since you’ve taken the backwards route and saved the best for last…Angkor Wat. The most famous complex of all. Crowds should be thinned out by now cause it’s the hottest part of the day and it will probably look like it’s about to rain especially if you’re traveling here during monsoon season. Take your time and explore every nook that Angkor Wat has to offer. Imagine what it looked like when it was most thriving and how powerful that it used to be and still is. My favorite part are the south side walls.
After a full day of temple hopping you’re gonna be exhausted. Get a must needed massage. Splurge the extra $3 and get a 90 minute one.
If you’re only here for 3 days, sadly you’re time is up and you’ll be hitting the road tomorrow. I recommend staying at least 5 days if you took the time and traveled all the way here. It’s truly a beautiful place, from the Cambodian people, to the splendors of Angkor Wat. I think everyone one should experience its wonder at least once in their lives.