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Siem Reap

Suggested Itineraries

With dozens of temple ruins in the Angkor Archaeological Park and elsewhere in Siem Reap, the region has so much to offer to the curious visitor. However, unless you plan to spend weeks exploring the area, you’ll have to be selective in which temples to visit. The following suggested itineraries will help you make the best out of your trip to Angkor, when your time is limited to 1, 2 or 3 days.

Angkor Small Circuit (Day 1)

Visiting these temples in the recommended order is a great way to experience the rich history and culture of Cambodia. The Small Circuit is 17 km long and covers all the must-visit temples in the park. You should visit them in this order:

  1. Angkor Wat:
    • No better way to start your visit than with the most famous temple of them all. Try to wake up early (4.30am) and catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat for a once in a lifetime experience.
    • Built in the early 12th century by King Suryavarman II
    • Dedicated to Lord Vishnu
    • One of the largest religious monuments in the world
  2. Angkor Thom:
    • This 3km2 wallled, moated city has several temple ruins to explore. Make sure to visit the following ruins in this order:
    • Houses the Bayon, Baphuon, Phimeanakas, the Terrace of the Elephants, and the Terrace of the Leper King
    • Built by King Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century
  3. Thommanon:
    • A small, but picturesque temple
    • Located just outside the walls of Angkor Thom
    • Built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII
  4. Chau Say Tevoda:
    • Located right across the road from Thommanon
    • But less attractive than Thommanon
    • Built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII
  5. Ta Keo:
    • A temple-mountain
    • King Jayavarman V’s own state shrine
    • Built in the late 10th century
  6. Ta Prohm:
    • The famous “Tomb Raider” temple
    • Overgrown by jungle
    • Built in the late 12th to early 13th century
  7. Banteay Kdei:
    • Meaning “a Citadel of Chambers”
    • Functioned as a Buddhist monastery over the centuries
    • Built in the late 12th to early 13th century
  8. Srah Srang:
    • An artificial, 10th-century lake
    • A nice spot to unwind after a day of temple-climbing
    • Refresh with a delicious coconut juice on the berge, perfect for reenergizing!
  9. Prasat Kravan:
    • A small, Angkor era monument
    • Unique bas-reliefs
    • Built in the early 10th century.

Keep in mind that the Angkor Archaeological Park is a large and complex site, so it’s important to take breaks and stay hydrated throughout the day.

Take your time and split the Small Circuit into two days for a more relaxed experience, or power through in one day if you’re feeling energetic!

Additionally, it’s a good idea to start early in the morning to beat the crowds and the heat, and to avoid the busy midday period.

Angkor Grand Circuit (Day 2)

Maximize your 3-day pass with the Grand Circuit tour! Explore more key temples with a 26 km journey, just ask your tuk-tuk or taxi driver for the tour. The temples on the Grand Circuit, should be visited in this order:

  1. Preah Khan Temple:
    • Partly covered with twisting tree roots, creating a unique and magical atmosphere.
    • Contains numerous carvings and passages to explore, offering a wealth of history and culture to discover.
    • Built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII.
  2. Neak Pean Temple:
    • Located on a small island that can only be reached via a wooden walkway, making for a unique and peaceful setting.
    • Built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII.
    • Surrounded by water, offering a tranquil and serene atmosphere that is perfect for reflection and contemplation.
  3. Ta Som Temple:
    • Built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII.
    • Offers a glimpse into the spiritual and cultural heritage of Cambodia, showcasing the rich history of the region.
    • A fascinating combination of both spiritual and architectural elements, making it a must-see for any history or architecture enthusiast.
  4. East Mebon Temple:
    • Built in the late 10th century by King Rajendravarman.
    • Contains intricate carvings and detailed architecture that showcases the exceptional craftsmanship of the Khmer Empire.
    • A fascinating combination of both spiritual and architectural elements, making it a must-see for any history or architecture enthusiast.
  5. Pre Rup Temple:
    • Built in the late 10th century by King Rajendravarman.
    • A great spot to catch the sunset, allowing visitors to witness the temple in a whole new light.
    • A memorable experience, offering an insight into the spiritual and cultural traditions of Cambodia, and the perfect end to a day of temple exploration.

Remote Temple Sites (Day 3)

Not templed out yet? Then we recommend to visit some of the more remote temple sites, located outside the Angkor Archaeological Park, but included in the admission fee.

Option 1: Kbal Spean – Banteay Srei – Banteay Samre

Banteay Srei is a beautiful and historic district located north of Angkor Archaeological Park. It’s a must-visit for nature and history lovers! Here are some must-see attractions for a full day of exploring. Note that Kbal Spean, the first attraction of the day, is located 42 km from Siem Reap center.

  1. Kbal Spean – Also called the River of the 1000 Lingas, consists of a river and waterfall. The river bed and banks are carved with ancient Hindu symbols. Visiting the site requires a 45 min uphill walk.
  2. ACCB – The Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity is located on the same site as Kbal Spean. You can visit this wildlife rescue center on a guided tour from Monday to Saturday at 9am / 1pm sharp, a minimum donation of US$ 3 is requested.
  3. Banteay Srei – This little gem of a temple, covered in delicate, well-preserved carvings is located 30 km from Siem Reap center.
  4. Cambodia Landmine Museum – As implied by its name, a museum to educate people about the history of landmine use during the Cambodian civil war. Admission is US$ 5.
  5. Banteay Srei Butterfly Center (BBC) – Discover the lifecycle of butterflies and some other native species in BBC’s tropical garden. Admission is US$ 5 for adults, US$ 2 for children.
  6. Banteay Samre – A large, walled temple in “Angkor Wat” style.

Option 2: Roluos Group – Wat Athvea – Phnom Krom

If you prefer to stay closer to Siem Reap, check out these historic sites on your third day. We recommend to start your itinerary with the Roluos Group in the morning and Wat Athvea / Phnom Krom in the afternoon:

  1. Roluos Group
    • This group of temples is located 12 km east of Siem Reap, easily accessible along National Road 6 in the direction of Phnom Penh.
    • The group consists of 4 temples: Bakong, Preah Ko, Lolei and Prasat Prei Monti. Bakong temple, the highlight of the group, stands 15m tall and was the center of the first Angkorian capital.
  2. Lunch in Siem Reap
    • There’s plenty of time for a long lunch break, before heading off for the second part of your trip.
  3. Wat Athvea
    • A nice, but small temple in “Angkor Wat” style, surrounded by beautiful scenery.
    • The temple is located 4km south of Siem Reap center, on the way to Tonle Sap and Phnom Krom.
  4. Phnom Krom
    • Located on a 140m high hilltop, the temple site of Phnom Krom offers spectacular views over the Tonle Sap lake and the Siem Reap countryside.
    • Without doubt the best spot to enjoy a peaceful sunset away from the crowds.
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6 COMMENTS

  1. Hello, I kindly ask for advice in the following aspects:
    We are a family of 4 (kids aged 12 and 14) and we will visit Cambodia only for one day between 5.02.2019 and 9.02.2019 (we land form Phuket at 7.35am and depart at 6.00am the following day).
    1. Which day of the week would you suggest for visiting Angkor?
    We will be going straight from the airport not to lose time:
    2. is it easy to get tuk tuk transport at the airport?
    3. How much time do we need to buy entrance tickets?
    4. Is it better to have a photo of everybody with us?
    5. When everything is done until let’s say 11.00, will we have enough time to go around the small circle route until 5.00? Is is possible?
    I will be very grateful for your reply

    • Hi Anna, any day of the week is fine to visit Angkor. Do note that you are planning to visit during Chinese NY, so no doubt it will be busy at the temples. Yes, it’s easy to get a tuk tuk at the airport, but they sell their tours expensive. Try to book upfront if possible. Contact us if you’d like to arrange a tuk tuk driver for the day. Usually it doesn’t take long to buy the entrance tickets, but again as it’s Chinese NY, it may be busier then usual. No passport pics needed for the Angkor tickets, but you do need them for your tourist visa at the airport (unless you prefer to pay $1 extra / passport to make copies). Yes, it’s enough time to do the small circuit.

  2. Hi!, I’m from the PH and I would like to ask, is it necessary to join a small tour or avail package tours in visiting angkor wat? our itinerary will be the same as the Angkor small circuit.

    hoping for your reply.

    • Hi! If you plan to visit the temples with a professional guide, I would recommend a small group tour, as you can split the cost of the guide with your group. If you don’t need a guide, then I’d recommend to visit the temples individually, as you have more freedom to plan your day.

  3. Hello from Italy
    Please, at the end of December i will have 4 days to visit Angkor Wat temples, I m traveling alone
    With company daily tour do you suggest?

    It s easy visit the area in bike or tuk tuk by myself or there are some tour in bike or in tuk tuk that i could share with?

    About 31December and 1 Jannuary the are could be more busy (more than others days?)
    Many thank s for your kindly attention
    Denise

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