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7 Days in Siem Reap: A One-Week Itinerary

When it comes to travel planning, my job is to research what to see and Dan handles the bookings. Until Cambodia. Dan had been wanting to see Angkor Wat for such a long time that I asked him to plan the entire Siem Reap itinerary.

I should have expected no less than this: My resourceful husband found a local to help him find the best things to do in Siem Reap. (Is that cheating?)

Okay, he didn't hire just any local. This Siem Reap native had been a private tour guide for over 20 years, his English was excellent and he responded quickly to Dan’s questions.

I was shocked at how quickly Dan had the trip arranged. No fair. It takes me weeks of research and planning. Maybe he should take over that responsibility and let me spend more time with my Kindle and online, reading more about our next destination and what to do there.

What do you think?

rooftop in Siem Reap with its typical stylized naga trim

One week around Siem Reap and Angkor

Most tourists are in Siem Reap for only a few days. They’ll visit Angkor Wat and a few other sights, then head off to Phnom Penh. As a result, Sunny had never needed to offer anything longer than four-day itineraries on his website, Smile Cambodia Tour.

We were the first of Sunny's clients who wanted to spend a whole week in Siem Reap. When Dan told him that none of his usual itineraries would work, he offered to create one that would. The extra time took us further afield and we were able to travel down rural roads, passing through countryside few westerners see.

Sothea (a.k.a. Sunny), who owns the company, took a break from guiding and became our driver. His friend Phing Bunna guided us through the area. Both are from Siem Reap and have been tour guides since 1996. Believe me, a Lexus hybrid car is a whole lot more comfortable than a tour bus or tuk-tuk would have been.

In any case, we fit a lot of Cambodia into one week. Take a look at this itinerary, then go ahead and feel sorry for people who have only stayed for three or four days.

Or, you can pay it forward by sharing this article with your friends who want to see Angkor Wat or visit Cambodia.

Tip: It helps to know what you're looking at. We bought a book called Guide to the Temples of Angkor and read it ahead of time. Very helpful!

Trip planning resources

  • Cambodia has many useful trip planning resources on their Siem Reap website.
  • Visas – Click here to see if you need a Cambodia visa.
  • Transportation This website shows how to get anywhere by plane, train, bus, ferry and car.
  • For more sightseeing, our Cambodia photo gallery has more photos from our trip.
  • Scroll around Google’s satellite photo map. It takes you all the way from Angkor Park to Tonle Sap Lake.
  • If Sunny and Bunna are busy, you'll do well going with Get Your Guide for activities and tours in Siem Reap. To get more ideas for what you can do in Siem Reap, click here.

Where to stay in Siem Reap

Obviously, no itinerary is complete without a place to sleep. We stayed in a cute private cabin at Palm Village Resort and Spa. It was on a quiet side street between Siem Reap town and Angkor Wat. We enjoyed a couples massage at an incredibly low price. But my favorite memory is the beautiful instrumental music that came from a nearby monastery. It drifted through the air every morning, which just enhanced our whole experience.

If that doesn't fit your travel style or budget, HotelsCombined lets you search across multiple booking sites from one website. You can filter for prices, amenities, and ratings before you book. So easy.

Day 1: City highlights + traditional shows

Morning: Learn how silk is made at a local silk farm, see relics from the country’s wars at the Cambodia War Museum, then watch artisans create unique stone, wood and textile crafts at Artisans d’Angkor Khmer handicraft center.

Afternoon: See exhibits on Khmer history, civilization, and cultural heritage at Angkor National Museum, then enjoy some free time at the Old Market (Psar Chaa). Return to hotel for shower and relaxation.

Evening: Enjoy an expansive buffet dinner with traditional dance shows at Koulen II restaurant. After dinner, see Angkor Night Market.

Tip: Reserve your dinner table ahead of time or you'll be stuck in the back. Book as early as possible and ask for front-row, center seats.

rusty Russian tank in the outdoor Siem Reap war museum

wood carver at Siem Reap artisans center

Day 2: Angkor Thom (“smiling faces temple”) + Cambodian Circus

Morning: See the many-faced towers at Angkor Thom. Pass through the South Gate and tour the interior: Bayon, Baphuon, King Palace area, Phimean Akas, Terrace of Leper King, and Elephant Terrace.

Afternoon: Visit Angkor Wat, then watch the sunset at Bakheng mountain or Pre Rup temple.

Evening: Enjoy an after-dinner performance at Phare, Cambodian Circus. (That was super fun!)

Tip: The circus was incredible, but open seating views are partially obstructed. We think it's worth paying more for center seats. Get tickets here.

Bayon is part of Angkor Thom and has hundreds of smiling face sculptures like these. Ongoing debate as to who it is, Buddha or the king?

Day 3: Sunrise at Angkor Wat + Ta Prom Temple

Morning: Leave hotel at 4:30 am to see sunrise at the Angkor Wat. After sunrise, visit Ta Prom (“Tomb Raider”) temple before the crowds arrive.

Then continue to Preah Khan, Neak Pan, Ta Som, and East Mebon. Lunch at the Angkor Park.

Afternoon: Continue to Pre Rup, Prasat Kravan and Srah Srang.

Evening: Have dinner at Malis Restaurant, a 5-star dining establishment.

Sun peeks over the top of Angkor Wat in the early morning.

Angkor Archaeological Park visitor information

Ticket prices: 1-day: $37, 3-day: $62 (valid for 1 week, any 3 days), 7-day: $72 (valid for 1 month). Always carry your ticket. It will be checked upon each park entry and at major temples.

Visiting hours: 05:00 am – 18:00. Temples open at 5.30 am. All visitors must leave the Park after sunset. Note that two temples close early due to their distance from Siem Reap. Banteay Srei closes at 5pm and River of 1000 Lingas closes at 3 pm.

sign at Angkor Wat that shows ticket prices and visiting hours

Day 4: Banteay Srei + River of 1000 Lingas + Roluos Group

Morning: Leave at 7:30 am to visit “citadel of the women,” Banteay Srei, then continue on to see the River of 1000 Lingas and waterfall at Phnom Kulen mountain. Lunch at the Angkor Park.

River of 1000 lingas - a linga is a stylized hindu penis. It's a fertility god kind of thing.

Afternoon: Visit Roluos Group of temples, the first major capital of the Angkorian-era Khmer Empire. Then return to your hotel for some relaxation time. And a shower. You're going to want one of those.

Six towers at Preah Ko Temple. Put Roluos group on your itinerary for Siem Reap, it's rarely crowded.

Day 5: Cambodian life tour at Tonle Sap Lake + Beng Mealea temple

Morning: Depart at 8:00 am to see the lifestyle of Cambodians who live along the banks of Tonle Sap Lake, the largest lake in Southeast Asia. Explore Kampong Phluk floating village and/or Kampong Khleang stilt village.

The houses are on stilts because it's flooded here for half the year.

Afternoon: Explore Beng Mealea, an especially beautiful temple that is being reclaimed by the jungle. Enjoy the evening on your own.

tumble-down rocks at Boeng Mealea temple, overgrown like the one at Ta Prohm

Day 6: Prasat Preah Vihea & Koh Ker Temple

Morning: Depart before breakfast to visit Prasat Preah Vihea, a spectacular Hindu temple that is situated on a 525-metre-high clifftop on the Thai border.

stones tumbled around Preah Vihear temple on the Thai border

Afternoon: Explore Koh Ker archaeological site, with 40 temples and a reservoir that were built by Jayavarman IV, Khmer emperor from 928 – 941. Koh Ker is dominated by Prasat Thom, Prasat Linga, Prasat Pram and Prasat Neang Kamau. Among those, the most beautiful is “Prasat Thom,” which represents the sacred mountain of Hindu mythology. The giant pyramid temple has seven tiers a 36-meter base.

No evening plans. Chill at the hotel or perhaps the vibrant nightlife along Pub Street in Siem Reap is an option.

Prasat Thom was originally a hindu temple. you can tell because it's got so many steps.

Day 7: Cooking class + quad bike ride – Siem Reap countryside tour

Morning: Cooking class! This was fun. Learn how to prepare traditional and delicious Khmer dishes under the guidance of a professional chef. Begin with a walk through the local market, see the action and learn about the produce. Then return to the kitchen and get to work learning to prepare spring rolls, traditional amok fish, and fried bananas before enjoying your creation in the garden.

students gathered around the instructor at a cooking school in Siem Reap

Afternoon: 4-hour off-road quad bike trip offers an insight into a different side of Cambodia: the countryside surrounding Siem Reap. A local guide will show you how locals live in rural areas and their daily life style. The trip begins with a full briefing on how to drive the quad bike as well as important safety instructions. Then set off through the streets of Siem Reap to see villages, rice fields, a hidden temple, and Cambodians going about their daily lives, The final stop is at a rice paddy, with a beautiful view of the setting sun as it dips below the rice fields.

Quad bike rides down a red clay road in Siem Reap

Final thoughts: Hire a guide, or do it yourself?

As we see it, here are your sightseeing options.

1. Use a guidebook.

Had I been in charge of planning the trip, I probably would have taken the DIY approach to save money. You know the routine: Read a guidebook, hire a tuk-tuk driver, buy the ticket and wander around, looking for all the landmarks the book recommends.

A lot of websites offer that advice, but after having spent a week in Cambodia, I think my method would have been a huge mistake. We had used a book for our one-day walking tour in Savannah, Georgia. I found myself saying, “Hold on, let me see what’s important about this building” a whole lot. Then we’d stop so I could read the entry to Dan.

2. Hire a guide.

Dan’s idea to hire a private guide meant we could focus on the sights and let someone else manage the details. We ended up with two (!) tour guides for the price of one, who shared the driving and guiding duties. Both were well-versed in Cambodia’s history and culture as well as Buddhist and Hindu lore. Sunny and his friend Bunna offered anecdotes, pointed out curiosities, and answered our myriad questions.

Yes, it was costlier, but we could economize later. When it's a once-in-a-lifetime trip, shouldn’t you make the most of it?

Sunny, our siem reap tour guide, stands at the open back of his Lexus. Time for a cool towel and some water!

3. Join a group tour.

A group tour would be informative as well, but they work on a strict schedule and you are hampered by the slowest person. You can't stay as long as you wish or leave early if we you have seen enough of a place.

tour group gathered at Angkor Thom entrance

When I sprained my knee while mounting a too-high step, Bunna slowed the pace and helped me along. When breakfast service was slow one morning, Sunny and Bunna waited for us to finish, saying “don't rush.”And then there's the photo issue. We got some incredible shots, with no one in the way. Could we have done that with a group tour? I'll let you figure that out.

Tip: Whichever method you choose, keep in mind that arriving early can make all the difference in your experience. For one thing, it's cooler early in the morning, and for another, you'll miss those tour bus crowds. Temples open at sunrise or before.

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Here's what to see in Siem Reap - itinerary for visiting Angkor Wat, plus other things to do in the area.


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Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to over 50 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages has inspired her to create As We Saw It with her husband Dan, a professional photographer. Her goal is to make travel easier for others and to offer a brief escape to another land.

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15 thoughts on “7 Days in Siem Reap: A One-Week Itinerary

  1. thanks for putting this up…. it can be challenging to plan for siem reap specially if you intend to stay more than two or three days and you are not fond of to much temple hopping…. this sure gives us better ideas how to spend our time in SR!

    1. To tell you the truth, this was an unexpected bonus from hiring a private guide. He suggested things we would never have known about otherwise. And we’ll confess that we were so busy that we never did get around to ending an evening on Pub Street.

  2. Dan took care of my first question – the cost of a private guide. That’s not too bad. Did they pick up and drop off at your hotel, you guys?
    I also wanted to ask you about Laos and Vietnam. I know some people do one or both of those trips as a supplement when visiting Cambodia. Did you visit either? And if so, how were they, and if not, was it because of a time constraint or what?
    I loved the blog, and I have a few weeks free before classes start!

    1. That’s the beauty of a private tour, it’s door to door. Plus, they happily waited until we’d finished our breakfast coffee. 🙂

      Haven’t made it to Laos or Vietnam yet. We’re going to do them each separately because you usually only see the tourist highlights with those whirlwind tours, and there are so many things we want to see in each country …. We stuck with Siem Reap because AirAsia had an amazing round-trip airfare deal. By the way, it’s become our favorite country, and with around 50 countries under our belts, that’s saying a lot.

  3. Hi Linda! I was reading your blog about your visit to Clifden and your ancestral home of Kingstown. I take it you’re talking of Kingstown Glebe (AKA Ballymaconry)? So was your Nora Canavan’s related to Michael Canavan who lived in Knockavally in Griffiths valuation (1855)? Also, one of your photo’s was of your relative, a Berry. Is her family from the area? I’m just trying to connect some dots. My Berry’s left Kingstown Glebe in 1850 – I believe they were likely related to the 2 Berry’s in Kingstown in 1855. And I think they in turn may have been connected to the Canavan’s. Feel free to PM me if you can.

    1. Hello Ann,

      First, thanks for you comments. Second, this is Dan and I’m the blood relation to the family. Nora was my great grandmother and yes was related to Michael as you indicate. Also, yes my relative is a Berry and lives in the same area. We met her in Galway and then she took us to the family lands and relatives. Yes the Berry (Mary Berry) was a Canavan.

      1. Hi Dan! Thank you so much for your reply – sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to you, but I couldn’t find the page again! I’ve saved it now! I don’t suppose any of you have done your DNA test yet have you – I wonder if we’re connected via the Berry line? Can you see my email address? If you can,please email me, I’d love to hear from you. Ann

          1. Oh no! I don’t think I did! Try again. I’ll check back in a few days to see whether you’ve seen this. Ann

          2. Sometimes my email gets routed to spam folders so I tried it again. The subject line is The Berry Line – are we connected? Linda

    1. Hi Jason, if you’re referring to private local guides with driver, I would budget about $100/day and try to negotiate a multiple-day discounts. You never know!

    2. Hi Jason,

      We spent about $800 for private tour guide and transportation. Food and entrance tickets was about another $400. Hotel was about $450. We stayed for 8 days and had a few upper-end meals and entertainment. Hope this helps.

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