A trip to Cambodia isn’t complete without a stop in the popular city of Siem Reap. This thriving community serves as the starting point for trips to Angkor Wat and nearby floating villages. It’s also a hub for culture, cuisine and shopping. Three days in this electric town gives travelers enough time to explore and recoup before venturing further into the Cambodian countryside.
Day 1: Visit the Temples
If you’re going to Siem Reap then you’re going to Angkor Wat. This incredible UNESCO World Heritage site is the largest religious monument in the world. Built in the 12th century by Khmer King Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat is as impressive today as it was hundreds of years ago. Lush overgrowth covers some of the sacred space that’s easily accessible from Siem Reap, and visitors often spend an afternoon exploring the temples. It helps to hire a tuk tuk to drive between other popular Wats, like Banteay Kdei and Bakong, before heading back to the city center.
Day 2: Explore the City
Siem Reap may be a destination because of its close proximity to Angkor Wat, but the bustling hub for travelers also has plenty to do and see beside the temples. Spend a day exploring all the town has to offer, from lively shopping to fabulous cuisine. Begin the day with a hearty portion of traditional bai sach shrouk—a savory dish of pork and rice—at one of the local street carts. Then peruse handmade crafts and silk goods at the Siem Reap Art Center before heading to the Old Market, where stalls are packed with popular Cambodian artifacts. Grab a snack in the market’s northern end before heading to Pub Street for the evening. Locals and travelers alike gather at this crossroads to enjoy cold beers, cheap food and plenty of people-watching.
Day 3: Floating Villages
Spend a final day in Siem Reap venturing outside the city limits on a guided tour of one of the nearby floating villages, like Kompong Khleang. See the lush green countryside on a ride to Tonle Sap, and then hop aboard a river boat for an up-close look at a unique culture that exists nowhere else in the world. Explore stilt houses, floating pagodas and weathered schools from the comfort of a guided riverboat.