When I was planning my trip to Siem Reap, my sole purpose was to spend time at Ankor wat. Little did I know about the fact that there are things I can do other than visiting temples. So, is Siem Reap itinerary 4 Days 3 Nights enough to everything the city has to offer ? You be the judge of it.
My original plan was to stay for just 2 days and 2 nights. However, after getting there, I decided to spend two extra days at Siem Reap.
Siem Reap Itinerary 4 Days 3 Nights
Here it is, I am laying out the itinerary that worked well for me. I will also add other alternate activities you can do depending on your taste. Before that let’s address a few logistics.
Can I get a visa on arrival at Siem Reap airport?
Yes, that’s how I got my visa on Indian passport. I was traveling around in South East Asia on a long backpacking trip and reached Siem Reap from Laos by flight. I didn’t have time to arrange for Visa ahead of time, so I got my Cambodian visa on arrival at Siem Reap airport.
They give visa on arrival for most of countries. However citizens of the following countries should get their a visa before travel, from their nearest Cambodian Embassy: Afghanistan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia,Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Nigeria.
When I travelled the fee for visa on arrival was $30. Check the latest visa paper work requirements before you go. When I visited, they wanted a passport size photo. Thankfully, I always carry a few copies of passport size photos with me anywhere I go.
However, I did a quick research and it appears these days, for an extra $1 they will can your picture from the passport itself in replacement for the physical photo, in case you don’t have one handy.
What is the best time of year to visit Cambodia?
Cambodia and Siem Reap in particular is more tolerable heat wise, in the winter months of December through April. Having grown up in South India, I know what a real tropical hot summer can mean. Also, June through October is supposed to be the Monsoon season in Cambodia.
Although, the weather has been unpredictable with heavy rainfalls in winter months occasionally. I landed in Siem Reap on December 30th and spent the New Year’s eve there.
However, if you only happen to have time during the summer months, by no means you should stop your planning. Go ahead with your itinerary. Given those months are low on tourism, you are highly likely to get good deals on everything.
So to sum up, Cambodia and Siem Reap are year around destinations.
Is Siem Reap Safe ?
Yes, I traveled alone to Siem Reap and felt absolutely safe to move around on my own throughout Siem Reap and Cambodia for that matter. But, keep in mind, I am Indian and I don’t have the “fair skin” that Asian’s crazy after. So, almost nobody bothered me ever in any of my travels, which is amazing.
Siem Reap is a really tourist and traveler friendly town with millions of people moving around as they come to visit Ankor wat. So, it’s highly unlikely you will actually be alone no matter where you are staying. I stayed at a hostel and ended up making great friends who shared tuk-tuks with me to for the rest of the trip.
Once every one parted their ways, I was alone in the hostel for a day and explored the town on my own with no fear of being robbed or harassed.
Just use common sense and take the usual precautions such as leaving your passport and valuables in the safe at the hotel, and walk with a group of friends if you are venturing out at night.
How to get around in Siem Reap ?
Walking is one of the best ways to explore the town. However, if you are not up for walking, there will always be a tuk-tuk waiting outside your hotel/hostel waiting for your business.
You can also hire a moped either with a driver or for your own use.
I hired tuk-tuk where I shared the ride with 2 others for visiting Ankor wat. And I also hired a moped with a driver who took me to the water fall. More on these later.
Things to do in Siem Reap
Siem Reap is about to make you feel wealthier than what you thought you were. I spent $5 a night for a private room with private bathroom at a local guest house that is really popular in the neighborhood and had some amazing and inexpensive food for as little as $2 a meal. My budget went a really long way in Cambodia and I couldn’t have been more thrilled for that reason.
Siem Reap offers so many fun things and it’s time for you to decide what you really want to do in the 1.5 days I am proposing as a part of the Siem Reap 4 days and 3 night itinerary.
Whatever you do during the day time is up to you. By the time evening comes around, you got be hanging out in Pub street. It’s filled with amazing restaurants, music and bars/pubs, that you can spend an entire evening people watching and not get bored.
As I mentioned, I was there during the New Year’s eve and all I can tell you is, I only remember what happened until around 8PM clearly. Rest were a blurry memory as the New Year unfolded with countdown ball dropping with live music and thousands of people cheering with the strong smell of alcohol and pot all over.
Eat bugs and insects ?
Before settling down for the evening at Pub Street, I highly recommend taking a walking tour around the near by streets in search of some crazy street food covering a wide range of insets, bugs and even small snakes bbq-ed, roasted, fried with local spices.
Well, it depends, if you are disgusted by these things, feel free to skip eating them. But, I still recommend walking through to take in the scene and at least get a feel for what the country has to offer.
Even today, when someone asks me what was the weirdest thing I have ever eaten on a world travel, my answer is the grilled snake. Gives me chills as I think about it again.
Visit Old Market
What is visiting a new a country, if you don’t know get to see how the locals go about living their lives ? I love visiting fruit and vegetable markets wherever I go. And Siem Reap is a great place to spend a couple of hours wandering through the market.
I was thrilled when I found Ice Apple in Siem Reap market. It was so absolutely delicious that I went back the next day to eat them again.
For those who don’t know what Ice Apple is, it’s a fruit from sugar Palm tree that’s widely available in India during summer. It’s a translucent, juicy fruit that has the texture of Litchi fruit. But it tastes somewhat similar to tender coconut, only much sweater. Slurp…
Do yourself a favor and try this fruit if you come across it in Asia. It’s delicious.
Get a Fish Foot Massage
If you get tired of walking around Siem Reap neighborhood, stop at one of the many Fish foot massage spas on the way to Pub street or around.
First time around, I was hesitant. I am a very ticklish person, so, I wasn’t sure if I can sit there without acting silly being tickled. But, that wasn’t the case once the fishes started nibbling on your dead skin. And I started enjoying it eventually and spent a few extra minutes to get a clean feet.
Get a Massage at a Spa
If foot massage is not enough for you, check out one of the many many spas in the city that gives you full body massage. I have had therapists come over to my room to give massage for a little extra fee before I went for a nap. It’s totally up to you whether you want to go to the spa which definitely has a much better ambiance or have them come over to your room.
Khmer dance show
Apsara dance shows are an excellent, colorful and soul soothing performances to watch on a evening with a dinner. I generally try to avoid any cultural shows put out for tourists. But, on my South East Asia trip, I really wanted to get a feel for the local dances given their connection to India and Hinduism.
Apsara dancing stems from Cambodia’s Hindu and Buddhist mythology. According to Hindu mythology, Apsara’s are beautiful women who come from heaven to entertain the kings. And the Apsara dance of Khmer that I experienced was no less beautiful. Absolutely worth checking it out while you are eating your dinner.
I went with my favorite and reasonably priced tour guide. Check out the link below.
Take a cooking class
Another great way to get to know the local culture quickly and deeply is to learn about how they cook their food. An intimate look at their kitchen, ingredients and cooking process will get you closer to the people.
You walk around the village, pick your own vegetables and eat what you cook. Don’t worry, even if you don’t cook well, the Khmer chef is next to you to make sure you don’t mess it up 🙂 I attest to the absolutely tasty Khmer cousin, even better when I get to make it myself.
I highly recommend cooking class in Siem Reap, or any new country you visit.
Visit Tonle Sap Lake Floating Village
The largest fresh water lake in Southeast Asia, Tonle Sap lake is a seasonal lake that swells up as the rain comes in year after after and drains out in the dry season. Due to this seasonality, the community builds floating houses that can be moved as the water reaches a much higher level.
During raining season from June to October, the lake swells with water flowing from the Mekong River with a whooping 14 meters in depth and expanding to the surface of 10,000 square Kilometers in width. However, during the dry season from November to May it reduces to 3,000 square kilometers with two meters of depth and water flows out from the Lake in to Mekong River.
The flooded forest surrounding the edge of the lake is what makes the lake thrive with biodiversity as the water animals spawn and breed in the forests. There are over 300 species of fresh water fishes and others like snakes, crocodiles, tortoises, turtles and otters.
There are few million people around the lake who live off of the lake by fishing during the peak season. That’s their livelihood.
If you happen to go there during the peak season, it’s quiet a scene. And please respect the lake and don’t throw any plastic into the water.
When I visited the lake was too low for a boat ride, nevertheless I wanted to go see the place for myself and I did. I made a mental note to come back during the peak season to see the bustling village life.
Take a tour to Tonle Sap Lake during the day time or go for a sunset tour You will not be disappointed.
Visit Country Side on a Quad Bike Tour
When the sun sets over the rice paddy fields, as the blue sky turns gold, you would want to be out in the village appreciating life and hanging out with local children.
Take a Quad bike tour that takes you into deep villages at sunset time. These tour operators are mindful of locals and children running around. You can’t be speeding up the bike at these places. Once you get into the rice field (after harvesting is done), and in the clearings, now is the time to put your thrill seeking self to test as you speed through the fields.
Wow, that’s a lot of things to do in Siem Reap without even touch Ankor wat. If you only have 1.5 days like I had in Siem Reap, chose what suits your needs.
After all, you came to Siem Reap to visit Ankor wat didn’t you ?
You would need a minimum of 1.5 days to visit Ankor wat. For that matter you can spend all your 4 days at Ankor wat. It all depends on how deep you want to get into the history and have the eye for appreciating these ancient temples and architecture.
I spent 1.5 days as I mentioned. Day 1, I started from the hostel with a couple of newly made friends on a tuk-tuk and we walked around from 9AM to 3:30PM in Ankor wat. At around 3:30PM, we started lining up for sunset view from one of the temples that apparently has the best sunset views. They only allowed a certain number of people per day, so we started lining up so early at 3:30 to see the sunset view and to pretty much rest from walking the whole day.
It was like hours of waiting and chit-chatting with fellow travelers. Personally if you ask me, it wasn’t worth spending hours waiting in the line for sunset. It was good but not great.
After sunset we came back to the hostel to wind down early. Because next day early morning at 4AM, the tuk-tuk would return to take us back to watch sunrise. And it’s absolutely worth getting there that early to see the sunrise.
However, lately it has become extremely crowded. Minus the crowd factor, this is not to be missed.
After sunrise, we went into the temples again to cover a few more for half day and returned to the hostel for a short afternoon nap.
That 1.5 day was enough for me at Ankor wat.
Visit Cambodia Landmine Museum
Very near Ankor Wat, a local landmine museum has been gaining popularity. A local guy who detonated landmines and collected them in his house slowly became visible to public. He started charging a few bucks every time a visitor would come and now built a self sustaining museum that is run by the money paid by the visitors.
Hats off to this guy who risked his life to detonate all those landmines. Well worth visiting and learning a bit more about the dark history of Cambodia.
After all, how can you even remotely not be reminded of Khmer Rouge. I ended up reading the book First They Killed my Father. To this day, this is the most bone chilling and moving book I have ever read. If you really want to get a perspective of what Cambodia is all about, read that book. You will change as a person.
Swim at Phnom Kulen Waterfall
Just an hour away from Siem Reap, Phnom Kulen National park is a great place to visit on a hot day. The waterfall is considered a holy water by the locals and most of them swim or get into with the with their clothes on.
I highly recommend getting into water with clothes on and respect the local culture. There is also a Bhuddha temple at the national park next to the waterfall.
You can buy food and drinks at the local restaurant as well.
1000 Lingas is another site you will witness at the national park. 1000 lingas are Hindu sculptures, carvings & statues at the riverside archeological site.
It takes a full day to visit all of them. Booking a tour is one option. When I visited, one of the hostel workers took me on his moped through the mud road to reach the waterfall. But, if you are a big group or with a family, organized tours do a great job of picking you up from the room and dropping you back, etc.,
Siem Reap 4 Days and 3 Nights Itinerary
Here is a sample itinerary.
Day 1: Arrive at Siem Reap. Make the most of the day and fit local things to do in Siem Reap.
Day 2: Full Day in Ankor Wat
Day 3: Ankor wat early morning and till lunch. Back to Siem Reap for local things to do or go to the floating village in the afternoon.
Day 4: Phnom Kulen National park day trip
Now that you know all the things one can do at Siem Reap and around, you can customize the trip as you want. Personally though, in December since there was not much do to in floating village, I was happy with Siem Reap 4 days and 3 nights itinerary.
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