• Mario Ng

3-day Siem Reap Complete Itinerary - A Guide on what to do in Siem Reap

Siem Reap, the famous city in Cambodia, is well-known for Angkor Wat. Indeed, more so than just Angkor Wat, seasoned travellers know that Angkor Archaeological Park is filled with treasures.

Besides this fantastic archaeological park, there is much to offer in Siem Reap. If one has the luxury of time, three days would be a great duration to discover this city.

Below lies our version of a 3-day itinerary of Siem Reap, so you get to spend one entire day at Angkor Archaeological Park while saving the rest to explore the city at a comfortable pace. This is a well-balanced itinerary that is perfect for families, couples, and solo travellers!

Day 1:

Siem Reap is a relatively small town, which means most of its places of interest are located quite close to each other. This is good for travellers, especially if they are only intending to spend 3 days here!


First stop: Angkor Archaeological Park

The main reason why most people head to Siem Reap is definitely to see the famous Angkor Wat. Housed within Angkor Archaeological Park, most visitors spend the entire day visiting the different ruins spread out all over the park. Here in Siem Reap, make sure you set your alarm clocks as most tourists will start heading down from 5 am onwards. It is also probably the only city in the world where there is quite a lot of traffic on the roads that early in the morning! One good reason to head down early is due to the massive crowds lining up near Angkor Wat, waiting to snap the perfect sunrise picture. Since most of us are only going to be at Angkor Wat only once in our lives, it might be good to follow the crowd on this one. If you are all about experiences only and are not worried about the all-important pictures, you need not fear then! Do note that after you have finished visiting Angkor Wat, you should head over to the other temples as each one is unique and different from others. Each has its own beauty and are all really very beautiful.

One of many ruins housed within Angkor Archaeological Park
One of many ruins housed within Angkor Archaeological Park

Second stop: Pub Street

By the time you leave Angkor Archaeological Park, it would be near evening time. You should definitely head back to the hotel to wash up and rest just for a little while. To celebrate having completed one task on your bucket list, head down the Pub Street! It is really lively at night and it has a multitude of food choices. Whether you prefer a nice pub to relax, enjoy some street food, or really have a fun time partying away, Pub Street has it all. Families feel very welcome here as well and it shows how this is a great place to have some nice clean fun. By the time you have finished your dinner and supper, simply hail a tuk-tuk and head back to your hotel for a well-deserved rest!

Pub Street at night in Siem Reap
Pub Street at night in Siem Reap

Day 2:

First stop: Angkor National Museum

After having seen the all-amazing Angkor Wat in its glory the previous day, it is time to learn about the past and how these ruins even came into being in the first place. The first stop for the day is Angkor National Museum. It has 8 galleries where you will get to learn about the origins of the Khmer empire. Get to know the different Kings that reigned, and understand how religion played and continues to play, such an important role in this country. Just a note though, that photography is strictly not allowed in the galleries!

Angkor National Museum
Angkor National Museum

Second stop: Artisans d’Angkor Workshop

In Siem Reap, there are in fact many expert craftsmen who create really amazing wood crafts and carvings. At this workshop, visitors get to see first-hand how these crafts are actually made. Get a personal tour through the factory and see how locals seemingly craft the products so effortlessly. At the end of the tour, get a chance to purchase some of these products. It is good to know how Artisans d’Angkor is a local firm that pours back its profits into the local community, and it has created many important jobs for locals.

A craftswoman hard at work in the Artisans d'Angkor Workshop
A craftswoman hard at work in the Artisans d'Angkor Workshop

Third stop: Psar Chas (Old Market)

As with many cities in the region, a trip to the market is a must. Right in Siem Reap, there are in fact so many to choose from. The first stop is a more conventional market, where most tourists head to for their souvenir needs. Housed in a single-storey complex, get ready to be squeezed, pushed, and shoved. However, most will agree that it is all worth it after realising how much savings have been made.

One of numerous stalls at Psar Chas (Old Market)
One of numerous stalls at Psar Chas (Old Market)

Fourth stop: Angkor Night Market

By this time, the evening would have settled, and it’s time for another market. Another permanent complex catered for tourists, Angkor Night Market is like Psar Chas, but a night version. However, the walkways are much more spacious and it is also well-lit. The shopping experience should be better, and it does not hurt to shop at a more cooling temperature as well!

Angkor Night Market
Angkor Night Market

Fifth stop: Made in Cambodia Market

Your final stop for the day is the Made in Cambodia Market, where it essentially sells only products that were made in Cambodia. Most stalls are entrepreneurs who have created these products themselves, so you know you are not simply buying a shirt produced by a factory in a foreign country. The products are also unique, and you will see bags, jewellery, and art pieces, that are not mass-produced.

Stallholders selling their ware at Made in Cambodia Market
Stallholders selling their ware at Made in Cambodia Market

Day 3:

First stop: Angkor Handicraft Association

The final day of the 3-day itinerary means you have to do some really interesting things while you are still in Siem Reap. The first stop of the day is Angkor Handicraft Association(AHA). It is not the usual tourist attraction but is really a showroom-of-sorts where local entrepreneurs set up their stalls to sell their goods to tourists and international traders alike. It is here that the quality is assured since they are part of AHA, and you know you are buying directly from these locals. For those who are intending to import authentic Cambodian products back into their country, AHA is a great place to start.

Angkor Handicraft Association
Angkor Handicraft Association

Second stop: Angkor Pottery Center

Really a unique place that is not on most Siem Reap itineraries, Angkor Pottery Center nevertheless makes our list. This is perhaps the only place in the city where you can get to attend a pottery class! Learn how to make ceramic bowls and plates, and get to keep your creation afterwards! Prices are affordable and it is a fun activity to do for couples and families!

Try your hand at pottery at Angkor Pottery Center
Try your hand at pottery at Angkor Pottery Center

Third stop: Helicopter tour over Angkor Wat

Perhaps the most exciting activity of all, we kept this for the final day. After seeing Angkor Wat with your own eyes and learnt more about the country from the museum, it is time to see Angkor Wat again, this time from the skies. Book a helicopter tour where it will take you over Angkor Archaeological Park, and you will where the different temples are situated all over the park. You will also find out that planes can only take off and land in one direction, as no plane can fly over Angkor Wat directly. This is also true for the helicopters, so you can only fly around it, but never above it. Interesting and definitely fun for everyone!

One of the best ways to see Angkor Wat: Fly around it!
One of the best ways to see Angkor Wat: Fly around it!

Fourth stop: Phare, the Cambodian Circus

The final stop of this itinerary is a local circus that is simply fantastic. Through music and dancing, the local production seeks to tell local folklore in a light-hearted manner. Highly skilled, it makes for a fun night. Not surprisingly, it is hugely popular and tickets sell out regularly! Make sure you book your tickets at least 2 days in advance to get the best seats in the house!

The most amazing circus in town!
The most amazing circus in town!

Conclusion:

This 3-day itinerary is great for first-time visitors to Siem Reap. While ensuring you have sufficient time to tour around Angkor Archaeological Park, this plan also gives you time to really embrace what Siem Reap is all about, and spend time in the other places of interest!

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