Angkor Wat Sunrise

Itinerary: 4 Days in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Explore ancient archeological temples. Hike dense, tropical jungles. Observe life in a floating village. Indulge in sumptuous spa treatments. Sample the subtly spiced flavors of Cambodian cuisine. Siem Reap offers a wide range of treasures for the adventurous soul—but the biggest I found was the warmth and hospitality of the Khmer people.

It’s barely been 20 years since Cambodia recovered from the tyrannical rule of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. Every Khmer I met was directly affected by the regime’s occupancy: a shop owner who could not wear eyeglasses for fear he’d be executed for looking too intellectual; a young man who lost his arm to an old landmine; and a family who escaped to France to escape political persecution. Despite the turmoil, poverty, and adversity, the Khmer spirit remains resilient. There is an ardent sense of optimism in the air. The increase of tourism has helped spur economic growth. Many families have moved back Cambodia to re-connect with their communities and rebuild their culture. There is also an large presence of ex-pats and NGOs who are dedicated to getting the country back on track. As a visitor, I could not help but admire and be inspired by the country’s pride and fortitude.

The 2000 filming of “Tomb Raider” popularized the temples of Angkor Wat as a major travel destination in Asia. Siem Reap may no longer be a hidden secret, but it is still an unbelievably affordable destination with many unique travel opportunities. Below is a general itinerary of how I spent my time there. Click here for a detailed list of general, accommodation, restaurant and shopping resources for Siem Reap»

Day 1: Arrival in Siem Reap
  • Arrive in Siem Reap and check into hotel.
  • Visit the food stands at the Old Market and explore the charming alleys and streets around the area.
  • Stroll north along the river promenade to the Royal Gardens and Old French Quarter.
  • Return to hotel and set up private sunrise tour for Angkor Wat for next morning.
  • Grab dinner at one of the lively restaurants near the Passage and duck into some of the funky art galleries or pubs around the Passage.

Read more about Day 1 in full detail»

Day 2: Angkor Archaeological Park
  • Meet tour guide before dawn and enjoy breakfast as the sun rises over Angkor Wat.
  • Explore the ancient walled complex with your guide.
  • Discover the giant sculpted faces at Bayon and proceed to the Terrace of the Elephants and the Leper King.
  • Grab lunch then visit the eerie temples of Ta Prohm, the monastic Banteay Kdei, and end admiring the intricately carved Prasat Kravan temple.
  • Return to Siem Reap and enjoy a massage or foot rub before dinner.

Read more about Day 2 in full detail»

Hike to the River of 1,000 Lingas

Hiking to the River of a Thousand Lingas

Day 3: Banteay Srei & Green Gecko
  • Grab breakfast and pack a lunch with sandwiches-to-go from Blue Pumpkin.
  • Hire a driver for a trip north to visit the scenic grounds of Bantra Srey, the Citadel of Women.
  • Head to Phnom Kulen for a 2km hike to the River of a Thousand Lingas—a riverbed carved with ancient, phallic symbols.
  • Return back down by 1:00 pm for a guided tour of the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity near the trail head.
  • Stop at the heart-wrenching Cambodian Landmine Museum on way back to town.
  • Drop off donations and tour the Green Gecko Project. This amazing facility offers former street children shelter, education, and opportunities to realize their full potential.
  • Return to rest at hotel before dinner in Siem Reap, with an optional visit to the touristy Night Market.

Read more about Day 3 in full detail»

The floating village of Komplong Phluk in the middle of Tonle Sap lake

The floating fishing village of Komplong Phluk, located in the middle of Tonle Sap lake

Day 4: Kompong Phluk & War Museum
  • Hire a tuk-tuk driver for the day. First stop is Kompong Phluk floating village about 16 km outside of town (avoid the tourist trap Chong Kneas tour).
  • Arrange tour at boat house to visit the stilted fishing village and mangrove forests in the middle of Tonle Sap – the largest fresh-water lake in southeast Asia.
  • Grab lunch near Siem Reap then visit the War Museum – an old mine field full of old vehicles and weapons with guides who offer insight into the terrorizing occupation of the Khmer Rouge.
  • Indulge in another massage in town – spa treatments are cheap!
  • Enjoy gourmet tapas dinner at AHA in Siem Reap.

Read more about Day 4 in full detail»

Continue the journey. Read a detail account of Day 1 in Siem Reap here.»

Lara Dalinsky
Lara Dalinsky

Lara was instilled with the travel bug at an early age and has visited over 25 countries. Her mother’s job as a flight attendant enabled a childhood of seeing the world. In addition to being the founding editor of En Route Traveler, Lara also works as the Art Director for the branding firm, Belmont Inc., in Alexandria, VA. In her spare time, she instructs high-energy Zumba dance classes, contributes as a Local Expert to AFAR, enjoys vegetarian cuisine, dabbles in photography and, of course, travels as much as possible.

 What special gem did you discover in Siem Reap? Share your recommendation in the comment section below. like and share: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

  1. Savi of Bruised Passports
    Savi of Bruised PassportsSeptember 17,13

    Thanks for this – I’ve been looking for a succinct itinerary for Siem Reap and I think this is it 🙂 Will definitely read detailed accounts on your website before visiting Cambodia later this year

    • Lara Dalinsky
      Lara DalinskySeptember 18,13

      Hi- Glad it was helpful! We’ll be posting the details of Day 3 by this weekend. Feel free to email us from the Contact page if you have more questions or need any more links and resources!

  2. Susan Clements
    Susan ClementsOctober 15,13

    Thank you for the great itinerary of your travels in Siem Reap. I plan to visit for 11 days next February/March and was wondering if there are other adventures that you would suggest? I was thinking 3 days for the temples, one day on the lake, one market/cooking class, maybe 1 or 2 spa days. Volunteering is also a possibility. Can you think of anything else that’s a must see/do? Appreciate your insight. Also, I was thinking of taking yoga classes at Peace Cafe on Street 26 – is it a far walk from the Old Market area? Thank you

    • Lara Dalinsky
      Lara DalinskyOctober 15,13

      Hi Susan! Thanks for the inquiry. If you have some down time, I would recommend hiring transport out of town and hiking to the River of 1,000 Lingas for a picnic lunch. If you return before 1:00, you can take a tour of rescued wildlife at the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) next to the trailhead parking lot. I suggest you call the ACCB beforehand to make sure they’ll be open.

      In terms of donations, I am a huge fan of the Green Gecko Project. They may only do long-tern volunteer opportunities but founder, Tania, can probably recommend other reputable NGOs in the area. I’d contact her via their Facebook page since she receives lots of emails.

      In addition to that, there are also a few museums in the area. The museums are usually pretty small and you visit to learn more about history or meet Cambodians who can talk about their experiences. Don’t expect any impressive or fancy exhibits.

      Once you arrive in Siem Reap, you’ll get a better idea of things to do and will be able to find maps that make more sense. Your hotel or hosts should be able to recommend some good guides. It’s very easy to make plans on the fly with little preparation in case you want to keep your schedule flexible. Definitely take advantage of the spa treatments! We’d alternate between massages, body scrubs and foot rubs. I also hear that Angkor BOdhi Tree Retreat offers some good yoga classes (www.angkorbodhitree.com).

      More about the Linga River and Green Gecko here: http://www.enroutetraveler.com/day-3-bantrey-srey-green-gecko/

      Keep us posted on your travels and have a wonderful time! If you find any cool discoveries or take any inspiring pics, we’d love to share them on the site to help other intrepid travelers. You can email me at lara at enroutetraveler. com

  3. CM
    CMSeptember 12,14

    Thanks for this blog post and the links, Lara! I am on a really short backpacking trip to Cambodia and Thailand (7 days in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, 3 in Bangkok) and was looking for a detailed itinerary so that I won’t miss the best attractions. You’ve been very helpful!

    • Lara Dalinsky
      Lara DalinskySeptember 13,14

      Happy travels! That area was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. I’d love to feature a follow-up story or photos of Phnom Penh or Bangkok. If you have any good advice to share, please feel free to contact us.

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