Three days is the bare minimum to see the main sights at Siem Reap. Obviously, longer the better. For a smoother trip, hire a car. Here’s a suggested three-day Itinerary. It manages to cover the major sights. It may seem a little cramped. But it worked for us and should for you as well. If you like to linger on at a place, by all means, do that. Some of the places can be skipped.
Day 1: Start at South Gate of Angkor Thom, proceed to see the Elephant Terrace, Leper King Terrace, enigmatic Phimenakas & the royal enclosure and then the majestic Bayon.
After a lunch strap on your Tomb Raider gear and head to Ta Prohm and catch a glimpse of Angkor Wat at sunset. You will come back here the next day. So just take in the views.
Day 2: Pack your breakfast and get an early start. No matter what time of the year, everyone wants to catch the sunrise over the Angkor Wat towers. So be prepared to squeeze. After the million photos of the sunrise and its reflection in the pond, head in. You will need at least four hours. The head to Ta Som and Neak Pean before breaking for lunch.
Next, check out Preah Khan and plonk in for the sunset at Bakheng. Again expect a crowd.
Day 3: This day will be a little rushed. Start with Banteay Srei, then proceed to Banteay Samre, Bakheng and Preah Pithu. Optionally add in Bapuon, Tep Pranam and Suor Prat towers.
Traditionally everyone talked about the ‘Petit’ and ‘Grand’ circuits when visiting Siem Reap. here is a low down.
Petit Circuit: Angkor Wat, Bakheng & Angkor Tham. Plus Thommanon, Chaosay Tevoda, Spean Thma, Hospital Chapel, Ta Keo, Ta Nei, Ta Prohm, Kutisvara, Banteay Kdei, Srah Srang & Prasat Kravan
Grand Circuit: Angkor Wat, Bakheng & Angkor Tham. Plus Pre Rup, East Mebon, Ta Som, Kroi Ko, Neak Pean & Preah Khan
- Carry USD. You don’t really have to change it. Works everywhere. You will, however, get the small change in Cambodian Riel. Check exchange rates.
- The taxis are fairly cheap and can be booked for day trips. Negotiate.
- VISA: Indians and most nationals get a visa on arrival for USD 20. or you can apply for an e-visa here.
- Embassy Alert: Royal Embassy of Cambodia in India, W-112, Greater Kailash Part-II, New Delhi, 110048, India. Tel: (91-11) 292 144 35, Fax: (91-11) 292 144 38, E-Mail: email@example.com~Indian Embassy in Cambodia, No.50, Street No. 214, Samdech Pan Ave., Sangkat Boeung Raing, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh, Tel No.: (+855-23) 210912 / 210913, Fax No. (+855-23) 213640 / 210914, website
- Eat local food. Not just for the taste. It’s usually fresh from the sea or farms and low on the hardcore spices. Very palatable and smooth on the intestines.
- You will need a minimum of three full days at Siem Reap to do the temples any justice.
- Go to the local boutique hotels. They are reasonable, come with a decent attached spa and pack your big breakfast box for those sunrise trips.
- While at it,. also try to catch a cultural show (with buffet dinner) in one of the many places in Siem Reap. We went to the Apsara Terrace. It showcases traditional Khmer dance and performances.
- What’s more. the Cambodians are very child-friendly and so are the temples. They will love spotting various animals and stories on the bas-reliefs.