How to see Siem Reap in One Day

Siem Reap is the unofficial tourist capital of Cambodia. Every year over a million tourists descend on Cambodia and Siem Reap – all for pretty much one reason: Angkor Wat. The elaborate structures and temples make up what was the once the biggest city in the world and the seat of the Khmer Empire. We were forced to see Siem Reap in one day and we think we got a pretty good impression of the place. I’ll share with you what we did and how you can see the main parts of Siem Reap in one day.

How to see Siem Reap in One Day

Angkor Wat

It’s the main reason to visit Siem Reap and for many, the main reason to visit Cambodia. In a nutshell, it’s just as incredible as you might have hoped.

Angkor Wat Siem Reap

You can visit for 1 day for $37, 3 days for $62 or 7 days for $72. If you’re an Angkor Wat enthusiast, the 7 day option is a good deal – it’s the only way you can even nearly see it all. If you’re a fan of temples get the 3 day pass. Or, if you’re like us and not especially into temples (and you have to see Siem Reap in one day!), a one day pass is enough.

We hired a tuk tuk driver to take us around the short loop. We paid $23 for the day – I wouldn’t be surprised if you could get this cheaper by shopping around. Note that you can’t just walk around Angkor Wat, the place is huge. Your options are really a bicycle, a tour bus or a tuk tuk.

Get out of bed at 4am to catch the sunrise. It’s honestly worth it. The sight is really incredible – just hope it’s not cloudy like it was for us! The real advantage of a 4am start though, is that you see the best stuff when it’s still relatively cool.

The Angkor Wat temple really is something to see. It’s massive (we actually got a little lost inside it) and if you go to the top the views are incredible. Note that you’ll need sleeves on your shirt and something to go past your knees if you want to get in.

Angkor Wat Views

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm was our favourite temple. It’s a temple built right in the middle jungle and the sight of a Lara Croft movie scene. The really fascinating thing is how nature is actually claiming back the area. In the 800 years since it was built, great big trees have sprouted up and cracked the walls of the temple. Now, you get this great effect of huge trees actually growing within the temple.

Get there early and walk around before the heat of the day. Climb the temples and imagine what this place would have been like 800 years ago. Honestly, I’m not the biggest history buff out there, but I was bowled over by this place.

Markets

Get back from Angkor Wat just after midday and walk around the markets and shops in Siem Reap. The only industry bigger than tourism here is garment manufacturing. Because of the low wages, many of the biggest clothing companies manufacture here.

We saw lots of authentic looking Under Armour and Nike clothing at the markets for a fraction of the price you would pay back home.

Pub Street

The aptly named street is a lot of fun. Bars, restaurants and pubs are the only things you’ll find here.

If you woke up at 4am, try to hold out as long as you can. We found a bar that did pints of beer for $0.25 – those will keep you going!

$0.25 Beer Pub Street Siem Reap

Free pool tables, good food and some of the cheapest beer in Asia mean this place is worth a visit.

Pub Street Siem Reap

If you’re considering Cambodia and Siem Reap in your travels around Thailand, Vietnam and the rest of South East Asia, I’d say go for it. If you want to take it leisurely, there’s enough to do here for 3-4 days, but you can see certainly see Siem Reap in one day if you need to.

13 Comments Add yours

  1. Wow! I definitely stayed here for almost a week haha. Sounds like an eventful, yet exhausting, yet fun day!

    1. Zac says:

      Haha it was certainly all of those things! We did it in one day more by necessity – we started volunteering the next day and wanted to see Siem Reap 😂

  2. Wow that is a lot to pack into one day, looks like you definitely made the most of it! We’ve been back a few times as there is so much to see and we weren’t able to do it all in one go either. Love it there!

    1. Zac says:

      Yeah I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we went back! We really liked it too 😊

  3. Great info! Thanks for the post!

    1. Zac says:

      Thanks for your kind words, glad you got some value 🙂

  4. I dont know how you could do this, I love the city so much I was so sad I only had four days to spend. I’d cry if I only had one day!!!

    1. Zac says:

      Ha it was more because we had no choice! I think we do hope to see it again some day, but did the best with what we had 😂

  5. myathenian says:

    You described perfectly Siem Reap!!! I really loved this place and its people!

    1. Zac says:

      Thanks! We were big fans too, can’t wait to go back.

      1. myathenian says:

        My next will be India! Lets see!

  6. Tom Hyde says:

    Hey Zac, how what accommodation would you recommend in Siem Reap and Cambodia in general? Thinking of incorporating this into our travels 🙂 thanks for the blog.

    1. Zac says:

      Hey Tom, we stayed here in Siem Reap: https://abnb.me/EVmg/I7ERuQduZI I think we paid £26 for two nights for the place. Easily the nicest accommodation we’ve had in months and they pick you up from the airport. There’s some lovely places in Siem Reap because of all the tourists – other places in Cambodia aren’t so nice in our experience. Thanks for reading.

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