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 Southeast Asia because I’m a serious sucker for ancient ruins, jungles, and getting pampered on the cheap.

Siem Reap is 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’re short on time while exploring this amazing city, here is what to do in Siem Reap in 3 days.

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What to do in Siem Reap in 3 Days with I'm Jess Traveling

Before You Go to Siem Reap

Average Daily Budget in Cambodia

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
View of Angkor ruins in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

How to Get to Siem Reap, Cambodia

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!

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

What to do in Siem Reap

DAY 1 Explore Downtown Siem Reap

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.  The best part is 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.

Beng Melea Temple outside of Siem Reap Cambodia

DAY 2 Beng Melea Temple

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.

Exploring Siem Reap Cambodia in 3 Days

You can arrange a tuk tuk to get to Beng Melea Temple.  It takes about an hour to get there.  You have a few options.  A) go with a tour  or B) book a private car.   Your guesthouse will able to help you with arranging your own private tour for about $25 which is worth it in my opinion.  

A great way to pair this excursion is with a tour to Tonsle Lake.  Tonsle Lake are poor(er) 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.

Sunrise over Angkor Wat Cambodia in Siem Reap

DAY 3 Explore Angkor Wat

Your third day is the day that you’ve been waiting for.  Exploring Angkor Wat and it’s surrounding temples.  Arrange a tuk tuk driver for the day so (s)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 a tuk tuk anywhere from $20- $45 for the whole day.

Wake up early to experience sunrise over Angkor Wat.  Yes it’s touristy.  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.

Beautiful Siem Reap, Cambodia

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.

Bayan Temple in Siem Reap Cambodia

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.

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.

View of Angkor Wat Cambodia.

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 in Siem Reap 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.

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