Siem Reap, Rome and Havasupai Falls are my favorite places on earth. If you are thinking about going to Asia you have to visit Siem Reap. If you have 7-10 days in Asia make sure to fly into Siem Reap for 2-3 days as you can have some once in a lifetime experiences seeing and doing things you cannot do anywhere else on earth. You can sit on a pretty beach and drink many places in the world but Siem Reap offers bucket list type stuff.
Siem Reap truly encompasses the reasons you should travel. Aside from not having a beach it has everything you could ever want in a destination and more! There are only 7 places in the world with one of the New World Wonders and that might not even be the coolest thing you will do there!
I only had 2.5 days there and if you read this site you know I can get a lot done in 2 days! Siem Reap made this hard though as it is an epicenter for culture, it is quintessential Asia, it made me feel like I was in National geographic multiple times and it adds some craziness along the way!
If you have already ready the article above the skip don to Day 2. Below’s Day 1 is the cliff notes of the article above, however f0r more detail definitely read the article above for one of my favorite days I have ever had.
Day 1 – Angkor Archaeological Park, Monkeys, Moats, Bars & More!
Day 1 truly was one of the best days ever. I exercised, saw monkeys, visited a new world wonder of the world, ate scorpion, ate snake, had a 4-hand massage, started a dance party and did a bar crawl! While I don’t expect you to do all of this… if you can… do it! I just gave you essentially the best day but I will break it down here.
Angkor Archaeological Park opens at 7:30am and if you plan on biking, I would get started early so that you can see everything in the area. If you are in a tuk tuk then you have a little bit more time but an early start is still suggested.
How many days should you spend at Angkor Archaeological Park? I think you can do Angkor Wat in one-day if you hustle a little and aren’t a huge history buff. If you are a casual observer than one day is more than enough to see a ton. When should you buy an An Angkor Archaeological Park pass? It is best to buy one the day before at 5pm to avoid lineups and gain early access to the park.
I love to bike and if you go this route spend the little extra on a mountain bike to add some speed and comfort to your day. I suggest renting a bike the day before so you don’t have to wait for shops top open or waste time with the typical delay renting anything can add. You could end up biking anywhere from 25-50 miles depending on how much you want to see. Before you start your biking be sure to grab a fresh fruit smoothie and a large bottle of water.
Here are my favorite places and where you must stop in Angkor Archaeological Park. Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom (which houses Bayon), Ta Prohm, the moat surrounding Angkor Wat and Phnom Bakheng. Some things I loved along the way was the entrance to Angkor Thom as it was incredible then of course once passed the entrance is where you will see monkeys! Ta Prohm is also where they filmed Tomb Raider.
To get the full experience you definitely need to eat from a food stand and try the stuffed frog, smoothies or bbq wrapped in leaves. It is so cheap and full of flavor, which just adds to the cultural experience of this day. I was warned to not eat pre-cut fruit and that is a fair warning for people with weak stomachs. However, everyone is eating from the stands as are locals… so don’t be afraid of the food stands and dive right in.
You could easily spend two casual days at Angkor Wat and go through it at a relaxed pace. However, if you are short on time in Siem Reap or really just want to cruise through it then one day is all you need and it will be one of the best times you could have.
After the archaeological park it is time to relax and grab a quick snack from a food stand before a later dinner. There is no better place to relax than Asia as $15-20 four-handed 90-minute massages are right around the corner! Siem Reap almost ruined massages for me for the rest of my life! Not sure anything can ever match the spas in Siem Reap where you get pampered like no other. They are so cheap and amazing I even added another 30 minute foot massage as well as a fish spa massage to the day!
Once you get your pampering now you can move to the feast and drinks. If you want an appetizer then when you are in the middle of town near pub street there are stands of something special… In Siem Reap another bucket list presents itself where you can eat scorpion, snakes, tarantula, larvae and more. For $1 where else can you face your fears and try these unique delicacies.
Day 2 – Tonle Sap Floating Village
Day 1 was a lot of biking and walking so Day 2 is Day 2 so that you can relax a little and let your guides do the work for you. Day 2 is about to be another Day right out of National Geographic. I can honestly say that as much as I loved Day 1… Day 2 was incredible and another reason why I love Siem Reap so much.
I was picked up in a tuk tuk and whisked away to a new adventure… a visit to the floating villages. I wasn’t sure what to expect on my trip to Tonle Sap and it did not disappoint. As you will hear it isn’t crazy overrun with tourists yet so definitely get there soon. I only saw one other tour group and I truly felt so immersed in the culture and region on this trip.
I was seeing people fishing, mothers with their babies strapped onto their back picking morning glory, went for a cruise in an authentic sampan boat, fed alligators and of course felt like I was in a documentary as we paddled past these houses on stilts.
The day starts being picked up by your Tuk Tuk Driver and being taken 45 mins to the boats where you will start your tour. From there I hopped on the sampan boat and was taken through one of the coolest areas I have ever seen. It was remarkable to be immersed in the village as we paddled in the boat past these incredible stilt houses. Seeing the locals out living their day to day life in the country was honestly one of the best things I have ever seen… this was the Cambodia I came for.
After stopping at a little restaurant/bar on the river inlet I was then told to go walk down this pathway to nowhere. It was a stilt walkway that just meandered through the jungle. It cost me extra money too but whatever… I wanted to see it all and this was a unique path through the tall trees, in New Zealand and Vancouver this same experience costs like $40 so I guess it was a deal. I walked along the tree tops and was also mortified when I saw top 2 scariest spiders I have ever seen in my life…
After the near death experience with said spider, it was back in the boat and off to the floating village. The floating village was a cool thing to see and I was served a traditional lunch. For dessert I was shown some alligators that they had in a cage and got to feed them! They also had a large python as well… it was all quite the experience at lunch. After taking in the views of the floating village it was back in the boat to go back and end the tour. It honestly was such a cool experience and I was happily shocked to see the lack of tourists.
After a nice 6 hour trip it was time for more R&R, shopping and of course a bar crawl. The shopping in Siem Reap was incredible and maybe the best shopping in all of Cambodia from touristy things to knock-off designer items to my personal favorite… the art. I bought two large paintings that are stunning and still hang in my house. I think they were around $50 USD for two very large ones and I they rolled them up for me to take home. Back home is where they get you as it is normally $150 to have a place put them back on a canvas for you.
Anyways… buy the art. I did some shopping, got more massages and just explored the downtown and pub street. I ended up joining a pub crawl to meet some people and that ended up being the best decision ever for reasons I won’t share here. I won the pub crawl, let’s just say that.
Overall on your last day definitely tie up any loose ends like eating the crazy food, take in the cheap spa treatments, shopping, drinks and overall experience. This is not the place to worry about getting your sleep in, especially if you aren’t here long. I would say here and Rome were the two places I don’t think I ever stopped.
I implore you to take in as much as you can in Siem Reap, eat all of the street food, experience the culture, get lost, go see as much as you can and extend your trip here if you can. If you are going to Asia… this place is a must stop so spare 2.5-3 days if you can for an experience of a lifetime.