The beautiful riverside city of Siem Reap and my private experience tour last month with a private Angkor Wat guide, Mr. Rain, are two of the most unforgettable trip destinations in Cambodia. With the world-famous Angkor Wat temples as its backdrop, it is a buzzing little city with bustling markets, delicious street food, and a vibrant nightlife, attracting a host of adventure-seeking globetrotters every year. It has a rich culture and is steeped in history, from its ancient jungle temples to its more recent war-torn past.
This pretty town is very walkable, and it can be easily explored in 4 days, making it a perfect destination for a short getaway or an ideal stop-off on travels around Southeast Asia. In this post, I will share my thoughts and real-life experiences to help you plan for your time in Siem Reap.
Is it worth it to start touring Siem Reap for the first time?
Apart from visiting the Angkorian temples, Siem Reap is a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside, dotted with rice paddies, lotus fields, traditional villages, and scenic waterfalls. There are also many attractions and things to do, from visiting one of the fascinating museums to taking a boat trip on the immense Tonle Sap Lake to even taking a Khmer cookery class! This is all possible alone, but it can take some organizing travel and tickets, so it may be worth taking a Siem Reap 4-day tour. A tour will give you a better understanding of the vast temple complex’s history and allow you to explore Siem Reap’s other numerous attractions. Your guide will also help you create a flexible, 4-day Angkor Wat package in the most cost-effective way possible, so there will be no hidden fees or surprises along the way. This allows you to sit back and enjoy the experience of this unforgettable adventure. Here are my experiences of what a 4-day Angkor Wat itinerary looks like, remembering that it is flexible and can be tailored to suit you and your party’s needs.
What to Do in a Day in Siem Reap
- When I arrived in Siem Reap in the morning, I was warmly welcomed and taken directly by Mr.Rain to the hotel for check-in. Once settled, I spent the afternoon visiting the impressive Angkor Wat temple complex, a world-famous UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to hundreds of ancient temples and ruins left behind by the Khmer Empire. I still remember the feeling of seeing the magnitude and majesty of Angkor Wat for the first time, and that will stay with me forever. It was really quite overwhelming, so take time to soak up the magnitude of this incredible sight. This first leg of the tour is a wonderful introduction to Cambodia’s ancient civilization, history, and culture. My tour guide answered my questions as I explored the corridors, court yards, galleries, and towers of this magnificent temple.
- Continuing into the evening, a visual and culinary feast is waiting for me at one of the traditional Khmer dinners and cultural performances. Along with the delicious food, I saw various skilled artists, including the mesmerizingly graceful Aspara Dancers in their stunning traditional costumes. This is a perfect choice of event to see after your day at Angkor Wat, tying history and culture together in a festive yet relaxing environment.
What to do in two days in Siem Reap
- After breakfast at the hotel, I got to meet up with him at 9:00 and was taken to visit the Angkor Thom temple complex, which houses the extraordinary Bayon temple in its center. Bayon is one of the most popular temples, instantly recognizable by its 200 giant stone faces carved into the sandstone, mysteriously smiling down at you from every angle. There are extremely well-preserved bas reliefs here that need some explanation, as the stories they tell are fascinating. He pointed out some of the most interesting and, believe it or not, humorous tales held within these walls and gave you time to explore before moving on to Bapoun.
- The 3-tiered, pyramid-style Bapoun is said to be one of the most impressive temples of its day. It is unique in shape and style from the other temples, with intricate carvings across every available surface of lotus flowers, wild animals, and scenes from Hindu mythology. (It was built to symbolize the Hindu legend of Mount Meru in the Indian Himalayas, believed to be the steps to Nirvana.) As Bapoun Temple is perched high above the park, it offers stunning views over all of Angkor Thom and the archaeological complex, making for a great photo opportunity.
- Moving into the afternoon, I visited Ta Prohm, nicknamed ‘the Tomb Raider temple’, having been used as a location for the famous Lara Croft movie starring Angelina Jolie. I love this temple, and here’s why: It has not been restored, exposing its crumbling walls and fallen boulders. The light here is incredible, as the sun peaks through the shadows of the towering trees and their vast root systems, which grow up, around, and throughout the temple’s structure. Swallowed by the jungle, for me, this is one of the most atmospheric temples in Angkor, creating the setting for an unforgettable exploring experience throughout its interior and exterior walled gardens. It is a real adventurer’s treat!
- In the evening, I was taken for dinner, drinks, and live music in the colorful Pub Street area in the heart of town. This popular neon-lit street can be busy and noisy, but that only adds to its character of it. This is a place where Cambodians and tourists alike flock to clubs and bars to mingle and be merry. I explored the narrow alleyways between the old buildings, which were reminiscent of an old French village. Here, I can recommend that you get a taste of the lively Siem Reap social scene. It is a great area in town to relax, meet up for drinks, and have some wonderful local or Western food. With its hip bars, cafes, restaurants, and the night market just across the road, it is a great place to stroll before returning to your hotel for the evening.
What to do in 3 days in Siem Reap
- As a part of your 4-day Angkor Wat package, today I started to journey a little further afield, allowing you to take in some of the beautiful Cambodian countryside. After breakfast, we drive 32 km northeast of Siem Reap to the stunning beauty of Banteay Srei temple. It is also known as the Citadel of Women and nicknamed the ‘lady temple’, standing out from all the other temples because of the striking colors of its pink sandstone. It has some of the most delicate, intricate carvings and is decorated with some of the finest examples of Angkorian art that cover its entirety. The mythical guardians that watch over the temple, as you will see, are actually fine copies, with the originals now being housed at the Angkor National Museum. Banteay Srei is much smaller than the other temples that you will have visited by now, but it is so uniquely pretty and of great importance in the world of art. It was dedicated to Shiva, and its décor is so impressive that it has been called the ‘jewel of Khmer art’. This is not hard to believe once you have marveled at its unique beauty. It’s hard to pick a favorite temple, but the ‘lady temple’ is also at the top of my list, along with Ta Prohm.
- In the afternoon, we visited the spectacular Kbal Spean riverbed, 18km from Banteay Srei. Incredibly, it is home to over 1000 carvings of Hindu deities and symbols and is referred to in English as the “River of 1000 Lingas” (phallic symbols)! I advise you to bring a water bottle and appropriate shoes, as you will be taking a pleasant stroll along a beautiful jungle path. This path splits into two, one leading to the riverbed and the other to the waterfall. (I have heard there is a large carving of Vishna at the very end of the upper riverbed, which I haven’t seen, as the weather wasn’t ideal on the day I made this trip, but do ask your guide!). You may later want to take the path leading to the waterfall to cool off from the heat—a refreshing end to the day’s exploration.
- In the evening, you will have an entirely different experience, enjoying a stunning sunset dinner cruise on the Tonle Sap Lake (the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia). Being a girl from the seaside, I like to get out on the water as often as possible, and this is a favorite early evening excursion for me. Along with delicious food, you will be able to relax on the viewing deck, enjoying the surroundings and the traditional fishing boats from the local floating villages passing you by. You will be treated to the spectacular display of pinks and oranges of the Cambodian sunset and, sometimes, enormous cloud formations that reflect perfectly on this great expanse of water. There is no better way to end a day than by going back to your hotel.
What to do in 4 days in Siem Reap
- After breakfast, you will visit the Angkor National Museum, which houses a large collection of beautifully preserved artifacts and treasures from the Angkorian period. There is an impressionable, world-class collection on display in the religious, historical, and royal galleries. This is also a modern and state-of-the-art museum, with presentations, touch screens, and commentaries, making it a visual treat for visitors. I can highly recommend it, especially to those who wish for a deeper understanding of Khmer civilization and culture. At this point in your Siem Reap 4-day tour, you will be armed with knowledge as to where these incredible artifacts come from and their meanings.
- In the afternoon of my final day, we were treated to a visit to the floating villages on the Tonle Sap Lake, where we learned about the unique culture and way of life of these communities, who live entirely on the water. We also visited Kampong Pluk floating village, with its 8- to 10-meter-high stilted houses peaking above the surface of the water, where the only way to get around is by boat. This is also a place of outstanding natural beauty, alive with mangroves, hundreds of species of birds, and freshwater fish (of which the people largely depend on). You will journey on a traditional boat through the floating forest, visit an island pagoda, see the school, and be able to interact with the locals. This really is a wonderful trip, especially for those who have never witnessed an environment like this before. It was one of the best experiences I had when I first arrived in Siem Reap. I now have friends there and love to visit as often as I can!
With your tour coming to an end, in the evening you will enjoy a farewell dinner at one of Siem Reap’s many fine dining restaurants, no doubt recounting stories of the last few days. This will bring your Siem Reap 4-day tour to a close, hopefully loaded with many travel tales to tell back home, and possibly leave you wishing to return one day, as many often do.
There is much to do in and around Siem Reap, from visiting some of the many temples on its doorstep, taking the various boat trips available, to exploring life in the bustling heart of this beautiful, welcoming little city. It would be impossible to cover everything in a short time, but now you can see what is easily achievable with a 4-day Angkor Wat package deal. It is a recommended destination for all ages, as aside from the temples, there are activities galore, like taking a pottery class, visiting the silk farms, or taking cooking classes. Siem Reap also boasts some amazing tropical gardens, an aquarium, and a wonderful elephant sanctuary. With Siem Reap’s wealth of evening entertainment and restaurants, there really is something here to suit all tastes and interests.
If you are planning a trip to Siem Reap, the most popular time of year to come is from November to April, when the climate is dry and hot (though relatively cooler than the rainy season!). There is a vast choice of accommodation, with some of the best luxury hotels in the country, or for the more modest traveler, there are countless beautiful boutique hotels. For students and budget travelers, the hostels are numerous and well-managed, often with swimming pools and bars to relax and socialize in at the end of the day. AirBnBs and homestays are also very popular, and for these, you will find all the information you need online. The choice is yours, as there is something to cater to everyone’s budget.
If you would like to learn more about the cost of the 4-day Angkor Wat tour, I can recommend the 5-star service of Mr. Rain Proum. Please feel free to contact him at the recommended service below. He will be more than happy to answer any questions and create a bespoke itinerary for you. You will be able to discuss the price of the 4-day Angkor Wat Tour according to your budget, the places you wish to see, the cost of tickets, the transport you desire, and the distances involved.
I hope this has given you some good ideas and helped you plan your visit, however, you choose to do it! I wish you all a wonderful stay in Siem Reap and safe travels!