4 day Siem Reap Itinerary
Read on to find out about our 4 day Siem Reap itinerary and some helpful tips about the city!
The Kingdom of Cambodia is comprised of 25 provinces with a population of over 16 million people with around 90% being local Khmers (Khmer being the official language of Cambodia). The official religion is Buddhism and almost 90% of the population are of this faith. The rest is made up primarily of Muslims and Christians. Cambodia has a monarchy with King being seen as a representative for local Cambodians but has no power. The country has had the same Prime Minister for 38 years from the Cambodian People Party!
There are two seasons in Cambodia – monsoon and dry. The dry seasons lasts from November to April with temperatures reaching upwards of 38 degrees during the day! From May to October the monsoon brings rain (sometimes just for 20 minutes at a time!) and high humidity with temperatures around 32 degrees.
The official language of Cambodia is Khmer but many locals can also speak French and English. Some are pretty much fluent and others have good basic language skills. The majority of the population work in agriculture (rice cultivation, cassava and pepper) and tourism.
How to get to Siem Reap
Due to time constraints, we only visited Siem Reap, although we would love to return to visit Phnom Penh (45 minute flight from Siem Reap) and Koh Rong. Siem Reap is situated in northwest Cambodia on the shore of the Tonle Sap Lake (the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia). It saw a dramatic increase in tourists after the popular Tomb Raider film (Angeline Jolie) was filmed in Ta Phrom, one of the temples within the Angkor Wat complex and she adopted a Cambodian child. The name of the city literally means Siem defeated which refers to the victory of the Khmer Empire over the army of the Kingdom of Siem (now Thailand) in the 17th century.
We flew with British Airways to Bangkok (11hrs 30 mins) using our Avios points which brought our flight down to just £215 for the taxes. We allowed a four-hour gap in arrival time to book a flight from Bangkok to Siem Reap with Bangkok Airlines which cost £110. Be warned this is a small plane (only two seats either side) with the propellers on show but the flight was fine! The staff were super friendly and even offered snacks for a short 1hr 15mins journey.
Entrance Requirements and Currency
Unless you are from one of the 10 Asean countries, visas are required for entrance in to Cambodia and it costs $30 for one month. You can apply here before you travel which was a fairly simple process. Just screenshot any reference numbers as you go through as automatically generated emails can take time. You just upload a picture to the website and you can print out the visa. Alternatively, you can obtain a visa on arrival at the airport but you must bring two passport size photographs and fill out the forms.
The dollar is widely used in Cambodia, although local currency (Riel) is accepted but cannot be changed back up in the UK. There are tons of cash points in Siem Reap but most charge a $5 withdrawal fee.
Lastly, the main mode of transport around Siem Reap is a tuk tuk which are usually around $2-3 for a trip to the centre (sometimes a little more in the early hours) and $5 to the airport. Small tips are always appreciated.
Day One of 4 day Siem Reap Itinerary
If you are visiting Siem Reap, a tour to the Angkor Wat temples is an absolute must. We highly recommend visiting at sunrise if you can force yourself to get up early! Group tours are available from $13 but we chose a tuk tuk driver with a private tour guide which was $75. You can read all about our tour in this blog post.
All in all, our tour lasted from 4:30am to 1pm and we took in lots of the main temples and information, including a stop for breakfast. If you are in Siem Reap, a visit to the Angkor Wat complex is the number 1 attraction and for a good reason!
Day Two of 4 day Siem Reap Itinerary
After an early morning at Angkor Wat, we spent our second day wandering around Siem Reap. We started off at the Old Market where there are many stalls selling souvenirs, clothes, shoes and a small section in the middle selling local produce and some cooked food.
After the Old Market we walked to the French Quarter, where many colonial French buildings still exist. I found that there was nothing in particular to see here but perhaps I didn’t look in the right places!
We then made our way down to the river and visited Wat Preah Prom Rath Buddhist temple which is one of the oldest temples in Siem Reap built in the 13th century. It was free to enter and there were a number of small temples within the complex and colourful statutes. Definitely worth a trip as it is right in the centre, although slightly hidden through a courtyard. After the visiting the temple, we walked down by the river and crossed the bridge to another market.
Artists from the Phare Circus are students and graduates from Phare Ponleu Selpak’s vocational training centre in Battambang. The association was set up in 1994 by 9 young men coming home from a refugee camp after the Khmer Rouge regime. They found that the arts offered great skills and reprieve from their troubled pasts.
They founded an art school, public school, music school and theatre school and, of course, the circus school. Today more than 1,200 pupils attend the public school daily and 500 attend the alternative schools.
The Phare Circus performers use theatre, music, dance and modern circus arts to tell Cambodian stories. Lasting one hour, the show changes every few weeks allowing the performers to tell different stories. We loved the mixture of theatre (there were subtitles), music and circus performances. We witnessed amazing strength from the performers with several ‘tricks’ seeming impossible to perform.
The Phare Circus is definitely worth a visit in Siem Reap with performances daily from 8-9pm. There are three tickets available:
- A ($38) which are reserved in the centre
- B ($28) which are unreserved around the A block
- C ($19) which are unreserved at the sides (sometimes your view can be blocked)
The theatre is quite intimate so the C tickets are absolutely fine. We opted for B and had a great view. Well worth a visit.
Day Three of 4 day Siem Reap Itinerary
We spent an afternoon with Siem Reap Shuttle visiting Kompong Phluk floating villages. During our tour we had a boat ride along the river, explored the main village, a boat ride through the floating forest and watched sunset.
The full blog post on Kompong Phluk can be found here.
Day Four of 4 day Siem Reap Itinerary
Our final day was spent on a day tour around Kulen Waterfall and Mountains with Siem Reap Shuttles. During our tour we stopped at an amazing viewpoint in the mountains, visited a number of temples and the reclining buddha and swam in the waterfall.
The full blog post on Kulen Waterfall can be found here.
East London Girl: 4 day Siem Reap itinerary
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