3-Day Itinerary through Cambodia: From Siem Reap to Angkor Wat
Arts & Culture
Angkor Wat is truly a wonder of the world. This massive temple complex and UNESCO World Heritage Site are a sight to be seen. Angkor Wat is located just outside the city of Siem Reap in the ancient city of Angkor in Northwestern Cambodia. There is plenty to do and see after spending the day exploring the temples. You will fall in love with the laid back charm of this city.
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Where to stay
Zannier Hotels Phum Baitang
Escape the bustle of Siem Reap at this all-villa retreat known for its cookery classes, elegant pool, and peaceful setting.
Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Siem Reap
An upscale boutique within a tranquil and leafy setting in the French Quarter of Siem Reap.
Once a residence for guests of King Sihanouk, Amansara is a masterpiece of 1960’s New Khmer architecture just ten minutes from the entrance to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat.
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Day 1: Arrive in Siem Reap
Sunset at Phnom Bakheng
Check in at your hotel and arrange a tuk tuk to Angkor ticket center. It’s helpful to request the same tuk tuk driver for the duration of your trip in Siem Reap. Make sure that your shoulders and knees are covered when purchasing the ticket (keep in mind Angkor is a place of worship.) Otherwise, you may not get one if you aren’t dressed appropriately. You should only buy tickets from the official ticket center. Purchase an "Angkor Pass" (a 1 day pass issued after 5pm is valid for 2 entries during 2 consecutive days or choose a 3 day pass if you prefer) and head to Phnom Bakheng to watch the sunset from atop of the hill.
Dinner, Cocktails & Pub Street
Hop back in your tuk tuk and head to Embassy restaurant for a delicious 6-course meal in an intimate setting (or take a street food tour if that's more of your style.) Walk over to Miss Wong Cocktail Bar, a 1920s Shanghainese-style inspired speakeasy, for some drinks. Cross the Siem Reap River to check out the Old Market then take a stroll on lively Pub Street aka Street 8. Cool down with some ice cream rolls or head to Gelato Lab for some unique ice cream flavors. Browse around Siem Reap Art Center Night Market (and get a foot massage) before returning to your hotel.
Get plenty of rest for a full day of exploring the temples on day 2.
Day 2: A Full Day of Exploration
Sunrise at Angkor Wat
Hop in a tuk tuk and arrive at Angkor Wat when the gates open at 5am. Position yourself by the reflection pond. It’s a hot spot to get those picture perfect, postcard shots. Keep in mind there will be a crowd so don’t expect it to be a peaceful experience, but be prepared to see one of the most magical sunrise in your lifetime.
Make sure you have proper sun protection (sunscreen and a hat are crucial.) Pack some snacks and extra water. Wear light and comfortable clothing that will cover your shoulders and knees and wear supportive shoes. The heat from the sun is no joke.
Angkor Thom & Bayon
After watching one of the most spectacular sunrise, your next stop is Angkor Thom. Take some photos at the South Gate of Angkor Thom. There is a nine-headed serpent on each side whose body runs the length of the causeway then make your way to Bayon Temple. Here is where you will find the smiling face towers in a multi level labyrinth. The bas reliefs are stunning. You can skip or continue on to see Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King.
Take a break from walking around in the heat and stop for Khmer eats at Ptes Borann. This large and airy restaurant is conveniently located between temples. Try the lok lak and amok curry. They also offer a set menu for lunch.
Next stop is a visit to Ta Prohm, Think: Lara Croft & Tomb Raider. There are huge trees and massive roots growing out of the temple walls embracing the ruins. It’s quite a sight! Look for the unique tapestry patterns on the door frames and find the Stegosaurus motif.
The last stop is Prasat Kavan. This temple comprises of five brick towers which were dedicated to Vishnu. The carvings were done on bricks instead of using stucco so it’s the only example of brick bas-reliefs in the Angkor area. This concludes your day at Angkor Archaeological Park.
Phare circus & Khmer massage
After dinner, attend the Phare circus show for some amazing evening entertainment. The show is a combination of traditional music and dance, acrobatics and comedy. After the show, return to your hotel spa and unwind with a traditional Khmer massage or a Hot Herbal Compress Massage.
Day 3: Angkor Wat
Admire Cambodian art
Visit Theam's Gallery to spend an hour or two immersing yourself in Khmer culture and admire beautiful art. Ask the staff for a folding hand held fan to keep you cool.
My restaurant recommendations for lunch: The Sugar Palm, Malis, Pou, WILD - Creative Bar & Eatery, JOMNO and Endora.
Tips: Hiring a tuk tuk for the day is a great way to see Angkor Wat. The driver can take you from one temple to the next and wait around while you go see the temples. Angkor is at its hottest from April to June. The best time to visit is between the months of October and December.
Angkor Wat is open from 5am – 5.30pm for sunrise.
Phnom Bakheng is open from 5am – 7pm for sunrise and sunset.
There are toilets around the park but not inside the temple complexes. USD is accepted everywhere like local currency (Riel.) And also don't forget to bring mosquito repellent.
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