3 Days Guide – Onto the Trails of the Ancient Civilisation of Angkor
Siem Reap is a lively town that serves as a gateway to Angkor Archaeological Park. Angkor Wat is an ancient town in Cambodia that once was the crowning glory of the Khmer Empire. It’s also Cambodia’s beloved and best preserved monument and one of the largest religious sites in the world. Only few know that Angkor Wat is just one part of whole Angkor Archaeological Park which contains other amazing temples. Visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site is an unbelievable experience. This 3 days guide will help you navigate through this exquisite complex of Angkor.
Arrive in Siem Reap and get your visa at the airport. You can apply for it before, but it’s easier and less of a hustle to get it upon arrival.
↬ TIP : Have 30 $ in cash to pay for the visa. We had only Euro and even if the Euro stands higher than dollar were asked to pay 35 EUR each “for the inconvenience”. ?
After dropping of your bags at the hotel, head to Haven restaurant to try some of local delicacies.
How to get around
Now you have to find the method of transportation to get to the Angkor Archaeological Park. Almost all of the tourists get a tuck-tuk driver for whole 3 days to take them around. It’s the easiest option. As we like to be independent, we found a scooter rental for 10 $ a day and just rode around ourselves.
↬ Note : Theoretically it is allowed for tourists to ride a scooter. We were however stopped by police once, who asked for a 20 $ bribe to let us go ? and yes, we payed…
Stop at the Angkor Park Pass Ticket Counters to purchase 3 days ticket for 62$. And dive right in.
↬ Important : To enter the temples both man and women must be dressed appropriately. Pants or skirts below the knee and covered shoulders are required.
As it will probably already be late, you can watch the sunset from Phnom Bakheng temple. It’s the best place to view the sunset from in Angkor.
After returning to Siem Reap enjoy dinner at Khmer Kitchen restaurant. It serves great traditional Khmers dishes. Enjoy post-dinner stroll on the local Night Market. You can get great deals here like silk scarfs for only 3 USD.
Start your day very early by watching the sun rising from behind Angkor Wat. Do not expect to be alone. It’s one of the most popular things to do and there will be hundreds of people. Then head inside to visit the most majestic temple of the whole complex.
↬ TIP : Take snacks for breakfast, so you don’t have to return to the hotel. Most tours do that. Therefore the site will empty a bit (remember to collect everything you bring! Don’t litter!)
Enter the ancient city of Angkor Thom via the South Gate and explore the Bayon temple. It was built by Jayavarman VII and it stands in the centre of Angkor Thom. With its 54 towers and 216 faces of Avalokiteshvara is truly an impressive monument. Take your time to walk around it before heading to Preah Khan temple. Preah Khan (literally meaning “Holy Sword” in Khmer) was built in the 12th century as more than a simple temple. The complex also served as a city and Buddhist university.
When you are ready, drive to Ta Som, a small yet captivating and charming temple.
There are few restaurants in East Mebon. It’s a convenient location for late lunch, even if a bit overpriced.
After lunch stop at Banteay Kdei, a peaceful and quiet temple, before reaching Ta Prohm. This place became world famous after ‘Tomb Rider’ movie. In fact locals often call it the Tomb Rider temple. It’s best explored in the afternoon, when the light gets softer and less bright. Climb the stairs, pass the narrow passages and admire the gigantic tree roots covering the walls.
↬ Fun fact : How did this tree get there you might wonder? After eating seeds, birds defecate on the walls of the temples. From this nutritious (yum) base, the seeds are able to grow a system of roots that will survive solely on rain water. After many years, the trees grow to gigantic sizes.
After returning to Siem Reap try a Khmer’s barbecue for dinner. Walk on the Pub Street to experience some of Siem Reap’s crazy nightlife. You can also get a foot massage for as little as 8 USD. Your legs will thank you for it.
Wake up early and after breakfast at your hotel drive to Banteay Srei, a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. This temple is located about 15 km north of Angkor. The walls of temples are decorated with carvings of sensual celestial dancers, very well preserved even 1000 years later.
On the way back stop at other small temples. You will pass by Pre Rup and Prasat Kravan for example. Before returning to Siem Reap have a last glimpse at Angkor Wat in the deem light of the finishing day.
Head back to pick up your luggage and it’s time to drive back to the airport.
Getting to Siem Reap
There is an international airport and flights arrive often. It’s also easy and cheap to fly from major Asian cities like Bangkok, Kula Lumpur or Manila.
The easiest way to get visa is on arrival. It costs 30 USD.
↬ Note : Make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months!
Most tourists get tuk-tuk with drivers for whole 3 days. The driver will pick you up in the morning, take you to the sites and then back to the hotel at the end of the day. It costs around 25 USD per day for 2 people.
You can also rent a scooter (like we did) for around 10 USD per day. It’s allowed to drive around, but be aware that you might be stopped by greedy police wanting to make an extra buck (or 20).
Money and ATM
The currency in Cambodia is riel (KHR), but US Dollars are more than appreciated and welcome everywhere. It’s pretty hard to find money exchange and all the prices are listed in USD.
Most of the restaurants accept cash only. However you can pay by card in the hotels.
There are many ATMs in Siem Reap, you can always get more cash if needed.
What to bring
- Light fabric long pants and long skirts/dresses. To enter the temples you must cover your knees and shoulders: both men and women.
- Hat and scarf as the sun is very strong during the day.
- Mosquito repellant for the evenings and biodegradable sun block for the day.
- Good camera with plenty of memory card.
- A lot of water in reusable water. Try out the bottle with built in filter, that will allow you to drink water from any source!
Where to eat
Otherwise you can try:
Sokkhak River Restaurant one of the best restaurants in Siem Reap.
WILD – Creative Bar & Eatery cute place with stunning outdoor sitting.
Cuisine Wat Damnak absolutely delicious cuisine. Try their 5 course menu.
Where to stay
There is a great variety of places to stay in Siem Reap. The hotels have great value.
↬ Find all the hotels in Siem Reap on booking.com