Looking for the best way to spend your time at Angkor Wat? I’ve gotchu! This 3-day itinerary for Siem Reap shares the best things to do, from temples to exploring the city, and what to do in the evening.
Forgotten for centuries, left to be reclaimed by the jungle, the temples of Angkor Wat are waiting to be explored once again. Enter Siem Reap; the gateway to Angkor Wat. While you’re most likely planning your trip to Siem Reap to explore the temples, the city offers a great mix of activities for travellers to experience during their visit.
This 3-day Siem Reap Itinerary shares the perfect way to spend your trip to Siem Reap, with options for both avid tomb raiders and travellers looking to explore Siem Reap beyond the iconic temples of Angkor Wat.
Planning a trip to Siem Reap
Siem Reap has a bustling tourism industry thanks to its location as the gateway to the temples of Angkor. Here is some essential information for planning your stay in Siem Reap, including how to get around the temples.
How to get to Siem Reap
Siem Reap is one of the easiest places to visit in Cambodia with an international airport, and bus routes from across Cambodia, and also from Bangkok in Thailand.
The city is connected to Phnom Penh and Battambang via bus and train. The day buses from Phnom Penh only take 5 hours, but there is also an overnight bus which is great for those who are short on time. You can book transport online via Baolau* or Cambotickets*, search engines that compare all the travel options to find the best one for you.
$9 from Battambang / $13 from Phnom Penh
Where to stay in Siem Reap
For ease of exploring the town, I recommend staying in the area around the riverfront and Old Market, or near the outskirts of Pub Street. In these areas, you’ll find lots of accommodation options* as well as restaurants, shopping, and tuk-tuk drivers for visiting the temples.
For backpackers, Onederz* is the place to stay. With multiple swimming pools, both dorm and private rooms, and a social vibe; it’s a great place to stay.
How to get around Siem Reap and the temples
For exploring the temples, I recommend renting a tuk-tuk as the temples are spread across huge distances. Sharing a tuk-tuk with other travellers makes it super affordable as you can split the cost. You can find drivers around the Old Market area of town and organize it directly with them, or you can book drivers through Grab.
💰 $15 – 20 a day, plus $5 extra for sunrise or sunset
How to spend 3 Days in Siem Reap
Correct me if I’m wrong; You’re planning a trip to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat? …Did I hit the mark? Aside from seeing this marvel of the ancient world, there are a couple of other great things to see and do in Siem Reap.
Getting tickets to explore Angkor Park
There are 3 ticket options for visiting the temples but the most popular options are the 1-day and 3-day tickets. While it is possible to see the key temples in 1 day, history buffs will definitely want to get the 3-day ticket so you can explore more of the sites. This guide shares a 3-day Siem Reap itinerary for both options, so whether you chose a 1-day or 3-day ticket, you’re in the right place!
💰 $37 for 1 day / $62 for 2 days
Before you hit any of the temples, you’ll need to stop by the Angkor Park office to get your tickets. You can pay with cash or card, and will need to be dressed modestly to enter the temples.
Day 1 in Siem Reap: The Small Circuit
For your first day in Siem Reap, we’re going to start with a bang and take the small circuit around Angkor Wat, hitting the most iconic temples.
If you arrive in Siem Reap too late on your first day to explore the temples, instead explore the city and save the temples for day 2. For history buffs who want to learn as much as they can about the temples, check out the Angkor National Museum.
Grab breakfast in Siem Reap
Don’t be fooled by the name; the small circuit might only be taking you to 3 temples, but each is huge and it will take the full day to explore. So, let’s start the day with a big breakfast to fill you before you head out exploring. Check out Footprints Cafe, an NGO funding local education programs, or if you’re on a tight budget Nicks Restaurant has lots of cheap and tasty meals.
Take the small circuit of Angkor
The small circuit takes you through the most impressive temples of Angkor. If you only plan to spend one day exploring the temples, this is the route to take!
Along the small circuit of Angkor, you’ll explore Angkor Wat, drive through the dramatic Angkor Thom Gates, see the hundreds of Buddha faces of Bayon Temple and recreate Tomb Raider at Ta Phrom Temple.
Browse the Old Market and grab a foot massage
When you return to Siem Reap after your day of exploring, hit up the markets in Siem Reap town. Relieve your feet from all the walking with one of Siem Reaps famous foot massages; at only a couple of dollars, you might find this becomes a nightly routine during your time in Siem Reap.
Save the partying on pub street for tomorrow night, and head back to your accommodation for an early night; tomorrow is an early rise for sunrise at Angkor Wat. Arrange with one of the local tuk-tuk drivers tonight to get picked up bright and early, around 5am.
Day 2 in Siem Reap: Sunrise at Angkor and the Grand Circuit
If you opted for the 3-day Angkor Pass, I highly recommend checking out Angkor Wat at sunrise and adding on the grand circuit for afterwards. This will be another long day, so don’t forget to bring some cash with you to buy snacks and food while you’re exploring the temples.
If you chose to do the 1-day Angkor Pass, this would be a great time to check out some of the other things to do in Siem Reap or to unwind by the swimming pool!
Sunrise at Angkor Wat
This iconic Angkor Wat experience is a firm favourite among travellers and worth including in your Siem Reap itinerary. To visit Angkor Wat at sunrise you will need to leave Siem Reap around 5am, so it’s important that you organise a tuk-tuk the night before and have your ticket in advance. The most popular sunrise spot is inside Angkor Wat, at the ponds to the side of the central walkway.
💰 Tuk-tuks typically charge an additional $5 for sunrise pick-up
⏰ Arrange pick for 5am
The Grand Circuit
If you’re not too wiped after your early morning sunrise mission, take advantage of your second day at Angkor by continuing the temple exploration. This time, on what is referred to as the Grand Circuit.
Despite the name, it takes about the same amount of time to explore the Small and Grand circuits; the names refer to the route, so the Grand route takes you around the temples on the outskirts of Angkor. Along the Grand Circuit of Siem Reap you’ll explore Neak Pean and its healing pools, Preah Khan Temple, and the Terrace of the Elephants, ending the day with a climb up Phnom Bakheng.
Be mesmerized by the Phare Circus
Tonight, it’s time for a unique, cultural experience. More than a conventional circus, the Phare Circus artists incorporate dance, music and acting, along with jaw-dropping acrobatics, to create a mesmerizing show. Profits fund their public arts school in Battambang and create meaningful job opportunities for artists.
Our evening with the Phare Circus was one of the highlights of our entire trip to Cambodia, igniting laughter and awe. Don’t skip it during your trip to Siem Reap!
💰 $10+ depending on seating
Check out Pub Street
As with most tourism hubs in South East Asia, Siem Reap has an infamous party street. Aptly named Pub Street, this is the place to head for some nightlife and cheap drinks. This is a great place to come during the evening if you’re looking to party, but it’s also great for people-watching if you’re feeling more laid back.
Day 3 in Siem Reap: Exploring Beyond Angkor Wat
For the final day of this 3-day Siem Reap itinerary, I have two suggestions. If you’re not yet templed out, I recommend taking a day trip to see The Temples of Roluos. But if you’ve seen enough of the temples, you should check out the Siem Reap War Museum, browse the artisan markets in Siem Reap and recover from a busy couple of days by the pool.
Explore the Roluos Temples
If you’re not yet “templed-out” and you opted for the 3-day ticket, today is the day to head further afield and check out some of the lesser visited temples. The Temples of Roluos are perfect for this; a trio of pre-Angkorian temples 14km outside Siem Reap.
Visit the Siem Reap War Museum
With guides who can share their personal stories from the Khmer Rouge regime, the War Museum offers a unique insight into this turbulent period of Cambodian history. Profits are used to detect and remove unexploded landmines in Cambodia, as well as to support survivors of landmine explosions.
I recommend setting aside at least 2 hours to explore the museum and get there from the center of Siem Reap.
💰 $5 (cash only) plus a tip for your guide
Other things to do in Siem Reap
If you find yourself with longer than 3-days in Siem Reap, there are a couple of other things you can do in the area, like visiting the nearby Ton Le Sap Lake, exploring the Phnom Kulen National Park, and even taking a side trip to the city of Battambang.
Ton Le Sap Lake
The most commonly suggested trip from Siem Reap is visiting the nearby Ton Le Sap Lake. It’s the largest freshwater lake in SE Asia, complete with floating villages. I personally have never done this as I’ve heard some conflicting things about how the day trips are both a tourist scam and don’t benefit the locals whose livelihoods run off the lake.
✍️ Complete Guide to Visiting Ton Le Sap Lake, by Crawford Creations
Phnom Kulen National Park
Grab a motorbike and take a 1-hour road trip to the nearby Phnom Kulen National Park. The national park centers around the sacred Kulen Mountain and is home to many temples, some ruins some new, as well as a dramatic waterfall which I believe you can swim in.
💰 $20 entrance fee for foreigners
Take a side trip to Battambang
If you have another couple of days in your Cambodia itinerary, consider taking a trip to the nearby city of Battambang. Here you can ride the iconic bamboo train, and pay your respects at the Killing Cave, before watching millions of bats emerge from the bat cave at dusk. We did a tour with Kim Tours and learned so much about the local history and culture.
There you have it; all the must-see things in Siem Reap! From temples to culture to history, this 3-day itinerary shares how to have an amazing trip to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat.
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Planning a Trip to Cambodia
For more information on planning a trip to Siem Reap and other destinations in Cambodia, be sure to check out my Complete Cambodia Travel Guide which includes everything you need to know for travelling around the country.