How to spend 3 days in Siem Reap
Angkor Wat was visited by almost 2.5 million people in 2017. That is 10 times the number of people living in Siem Reap!
Of those 2.5 million visitors only a small percentage actually venture out to explore the hidden charms of Siem Reap. We are hoping you will be one of those people, because we know you won’t regret it! In this blog we will help you to figure out what to do if you have 3 days to spend in Siem Reap. We almost made this a 30 day itinerary because it was such a difficult choice. But we know most of you only spent a few days here.. So here is our Siem Reap 3 day itinerary…
Day 1: Morning + Afternoon
The Unseen Cambodia: An unforgettable day in the countryside
This experience really brings you into the heart of Cambodia in the form of Kouk Doung Village! When you arrive there, chances are that more than 10 villagers, both young and old, are already eagerly waiting for you, ready to ask you where you are from, what your name is etc. The school’s English teacher also allows their students to step out of class for a few minutes to practice their English with foreigners (since nobody in the village speaks English). It is really special to see their enthusiasm and shyness at the same time. I can tell you they are much more motivated than I was as a kid haha.
After answering some questions, you are ready to start work! You go rice husking, crabbing, fishing ! Depending on the season you might even go rice farming. After you come back you get to taste the food that you worked so hard for! And we can tell you, this lunch is a feast! After lunch you will weave a basket together with some village women. And even though you don’t speak the same language you feel really connected!
This connectedness which you experience throughout the day is what makes the Unseen Cambodia: An unforgettable day in the countryside! I am really happy I visited Angkor Wat, but I think this day was even more special to me! Therefore this is the first thing to do on our 3 day itinerary in Siem Reap!
Day 1: Evening
Unexplored evening market and street food tour
This Unexplored evening market and street food tour is one of Siem Reap’s best kept secrets! Every evening after 5 pm local residents gather at Road 60 for an evening festivity like no other. Under the rows of street lamps that line the highway is a one kilometer stretch of local market, usually accompanied by a spectacular sunset. The food stalls offer a variety of local bbq and snacking options! The night market sells everything from phone chargers to leather jackets and there is even a fun fair with classic games like shooting balloons and a mini Ferris Wheel. This place is a mostly local affair that you do not want to miss on your 3 days in Siem Reap!
Day 2: Morning + afternoon
Sunrise at Angkor Wat (half day tour)
I hope that after the street food tour yesterday you went right to bed. Because to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat you have to get up really early (usually around 4)! It is totally worth it though, even if you are unlucky and it is cloudy (thats what happened to me haha). Just the atmosphere of so many others all anticipating the sunrise and the view over this magnificent temple is special. I am not a big fan of busy touristy places but it surprised me how quiet it was even though it was filled with people. Another reason to start this early is the heat. In the morning the temperature is still nice, so I really recommend it, especially if you are planning to visit some of the other temples as well!
You can also do an Angkor Wat Daily Tour where you go to Angkor Wat, Bayon, Baphoun Shiva Temple, Ancient Royal Palace and Phimeanakas temple, Elephant Terrace and Ta Prohm temple. Ta Prohm temple is covered by forest and part of Tomb Raider was filmed there.
Day 2: Evening
Making Cambodian Spice Cocktails
After your big day at the temples you deserve a drink! Going to Cambodian Spice Cocktails you get your deserved drink but you also learn about the amazing taste of local cambodian spices while preparing your own beautiful drinks. This place has the best cocktails! And after this night you will be able to recreate them when you get back home (providing you can find the ingredients haha).
Next to the fabulous cocktails there is another big plus about this place.. The atmosphere! Located in this old wooden house, the decor is lovely! They have really comfortable swing seats (almost beds) with cushions made from old rice and cement bags. You can easily sit down and spend the whole evening here, sipping away at your (self made) favorite cocktails! Don’t be afraid of missing out on pub street you can just go passed it on your way back to the hotel since this place is in an alley close to it. Going by pub street will make you realize your night is so much better spent at this old wooden house!
Day 3: Morning
Stone Carving: Appreciating the Angkor Temples
Since you have visited Angkor Wat during your 3 days in Siem Reap we would suggest to also try your hand at Stone Carving. Spending a few hours making one simple flower will make you appreciate the intricate art on the walls of all the ancient temples even more! Also it really fun to do and will provide you with an awesome souvenir and reminder of your time spent in Siem Reap!
Pound a lion!
After sitting down all morning it might be nice to get some exercise! The term Bokator translates to ‘pounding a lion’. Because you extensively ‘pound’ the opponent with your elbows, knees, shins, feet, hands and head. It is considered one of the oldest existing fighting forms in Cambodia. And one that is believed to be the predecessor of all South-East Asian fighting forms! Bokator was a soldier’s art of the Angkorian armies. There are even some Bokator depictions on the walls of the Angkor Wat temples!
During this Boxing Lesson with Grand Master San Kim Sean you actually get a chance to learn from one of the best Siem Reap has to offer (he also trains the government personnel). You will learn to pound of course, but a lot of it is actually also about self defence. It is a great and active experience for your last day in Siem Reap.
Day 3: Evening
Phare, the Cambodian Circus
Ooohhh noooo it’s already your last night 🙁 Luckily for you we have the perfect evening to end your stay in Siem Reap! Phare, The Cambodian Circus! By seeing a Phare show you provide well-paying jobs and contribute to free education, professional arts training and social support programs for at-risk Cambodian youth. They have several shows but the two I’ve seen are absolutely amazing!
It is great to know that you can both enjoy yourself and know your money is going into the local community! Which is the case for all these experiences (with the exception of the entrance fee of Angkor Wat)!
If you are staying in Siem Reap for more than 3 days, here are some more things to check out: other things to do in Siem Reap. Kompong Khleang, this organization offers great affordable tours to the floating villages and most of the money goes back in to the villages you visit. If you are looking for responsible restaurants, places like MarumRestaurant, Footprint Cafe and Sister Srey spend a lot of their profit (if not all) on educating the local community. Whether you are spending 3, 30 or 300 days in Siem Reap, these are the places to visit!