If you only have 7 or 10 days in Cambodia, this efficient Phnom Penh to Siem Reap itinerary includes Angkor, the capital, and 4 small towns you can visit as optional add-ons.
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There’s a lot more to see in Cambodia beyond the temples of Siem Reap and the bright lights of Phnom Penh.
But if you’re pushed for time, you should focus your travel itinerary on the capital and the jumping-off point for Angkor Wat.
These short Cambodia itineraries are perfect for anyone who only has enough time to see the highlights. Both include time in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, plus the choice of 4 small rural towns you can either visit on your way to break up the journey, or add onto the end for some down time.
Top 5 Cambodia experiences
1. See the sunrise over Angkor Wat
2. Receive a traditional Buddhist water blessing in Siem Reap
3. Learn about the Khmer Rouge at Tuol Sleng and Choeung Ek
4. Take a local food and craft beer tour of Phnom Penh
5. Watch traditional Apsara dancing at the Cambodian Living Arts show
Where to stay in Phnom Penh
Budget: Sla Boutique Hostel is ideally positioned in the heart of Riverside, walking distance from the main tourist area. Envoy Hostel and Mad Monkey, both in the quieter BKK 1 area, are also solid choices.
Mid-range: Double Leaf is my go-to hotel in Phnom Penh. It’s located in Russian Market – my favourite neighbourhood and old stomping ground.
If you prefer to stay near Riverside, Point Boutique Hotel has views to the water, a gin-themed rooftop bar, and is close to all the action of Sisowath Quay.
Plantation Urban Resort, also in BKK 1, is a great choice for luxury on a budget.
All-out: Raffles Le Royal (Riverside) is Phnom Penh’s premier hotel and really can’t be beat for a luxury experience. For something different, designer hotel The Balé is located a bit further out of town and has a peaceful riverfront setting. Read my review of The Balé.
Where to stay in Siem Reap
Boutique: Designer hotel Templation features a deep-water pool and sparsely decorated rooms with ceiling-to-floor windows.
All-out: Jaya House River Park sports an incredible outdoor pool, lush tropical gardens and gorgeous luxury suites.
For more options, refer to my round-up of the best Siem Reap hotels and hostels – or browse more Siem Reap properties on Agoda.
Key things to consider when planning your Phnom Penh to Siem Reap itinerary
- Travelling by bus or minivan in Cambodia is time consuming and will eat into your precious holiday time. Consider flying or chartering a private car and driver to save time on longer journeys, especially Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.
- If you are taking a bus, try to pre-book your tickets online before you arrive to avoid delays. I recommend using 12GoAsia or BookMeBus to pay for your bus tickets.
- Utilise affordable guided tours to get the most out of your visit. For more inspiration, check out my round-up of the best day tours in Phnom Penh and my top picks for Siem Reap tours.
- If you want to add a third destination to your itinerary between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, make sure it’s a logical choice. The beach or islands are not the best use of your time – opt for a small town instead.
Cambodia itinerary 7 days: Phnom Penh to Siem Reap via Battambang or Kampong Thom
This one week Cambodia itinerary starts in Phnom Penh and finishes in Siem Reap. Ideally, you should try to get open-jaw flights, or else you can use Day 7 to fly back to Phnom Penh for your return flight.
If you want to do the reverse route (Siem Reap to Phnom Penh), this 7 day Cambodia itinerary can easily be flipped.
Day 1: Arrive in Phnom Penh
Welcome to Phnom Penh! If you’ve pre-booked a private transfer to your hotel, your driver will be waiting for you at the airport. Transfer to your hotel and get settled in.
If you get into Phnom Penh before lunch, use your first afternoon to explore. I suggest a gentle introduction to city – perhaps a walk around the vibrant Tuol Tompoung neighbourhood or if you’re keen to dive straight in, a late-afternoon visit to the Royal Palace, which re-opens after lunch at 2pm.
When you feel dusk approaching, make a beeline for either Riverside Park or the green space around Independence Monument and join the locals for one of Phnom Penh’s most endearing rituals, the sunset stroll.
The nightly music and dance performance by Cambodian Living Arts on the grounds of the National Museum is a perfect introduction to Khmer culture. The one-hour show kicks off at 7pm and brings together Apsara, Cambodia’s national dance, folk tales, traditional Khmer instruments, and gorgeous costumes. It’s popular, so be sure to buy your tickets in advance.
After the show, walk the few blocks to Friends the Restaurant (bookings recommended) to sample an inspired menu of Cambodian classics with a European twist.
If you have the energy, walk up Riverside to Juniper Gin Bar for a cocktail overlooking the river, or take a tuk-tuk to teeming Bassac Lane for live music and craft beer.
Day 2: Full day in Phnom Penh
If you only have one full day in Phnom Penh, you should dedicate yourself to absorbing as much history as possible. A better understanding of Cambodia’s recent past will set the stage for a successful trip, and hopefully give you a deeper travel experience.
Choeung Ek and Tuol Sleng are two of Cambodia’s more sombre historical sites. Choeung Ek, or The Killing Fields, is known for being a mass-burial site for political prisoners executed by the Khmer Rouge. Tuol Sleng, or S21, was the makeshift prison where many of them spent their final days. Both sites have been transformed into museums where you can learn intimate details about the terrible events that befell Cambodia in the 1970s – and of course pay your respects to the victims.
These are not easy places to visit. I highly recommend joining a guided tour so that you have someone – perhaps even a survivor – to narrate the sites and give you some context. The audio guide at Choeung Ek is fantastic, and you can organise tours of Tuol Sleng on the fly. But questions will come up, and it really pays to have a professional guide to talk things through with.
This small group tour pairs you with an expert guide and includes hotel pick-up and drop-off. It ends on a lighter note, with a trip to a local market to sample some traditional snacks.
After taking a break for lunch, spend your afternoon wandering the grounds of the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. Alternatively, head to Phnom Penh’s trendy Street 240 precinct for souvenir shopping, street art and cafes.
Phnom Penh is supposed to be a comprehensive introduction to Cambodia, so you definitely can’t leave the capital without trying some street food. It’s not all tarantulas and deep-fried crickets (although there is plenty of that, too) – Khmer cuisine features fragrant curries, delicate soups, and more BBQ than you can poke a skewer at.
This local food and craft beer tour with Lost Plate is the perfect entree to Cambodian street food and will have you ordering like a pro in no time.
View my dedicated Phnom Penh itinerary for more ideas of things to do in the capital.
Days 3-4: Battambang or Kampong Thom
On Day 3, it’s time to depart Phnom Penh and start the journey west towards Angkor. The quickest way to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is to fly – but then you miss out on all the glorious countryside in between.
Rural Cambodia is a real treat, and I think it’s worth condensing your time in the cities to spend a night or two under the swaying palms in one of the county’s smaller towns.
Here, I’ve presented two logical stopover options: Battambang and Kampong Thom. Both are roughly halfway between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap; one is on the northerly highway that runs along the top of Tonle Sap lake, and the other is at the bottom of the lake.
Option A: Battambang
Battambang is Cambodia’s creative capital and home to a vibrant arts and music scene. Its sleepy streets are lined with some of the finest examples of French colonial architecture in the region. If you’re into art, culture and food, this is a great option for you.
Battambang is located 300km west of Phnom Penh. The most efficient way to get there is by minivan. A couple of different companies service this route, but I recommend Mekong Express, which costs $12 and takes 5 hours. For this itinerary, I suggest either the first bus of the day at 7.30am, or the second bus at 8.30am.
A private taxi from Phnom Penh to Battambang costs between $75-$160 per car depending on the size of the vehicle. The trip takes 4-5 hours, including hotel pick up and drop off, and you can make as many stops as you like along the way. I do recommend considering this option if your budget allows – you’ll arrive in Battambang feeling fresh and ready to hit the ground running.
When you arrive in Battambang, drop off your bags, grab a bicycle, and start exploring the centre of town. If you’re interested in architecture, download a copy of Khmer Architecture Tours self-guided walking tour map. Trot down Buffalo Alley, admire the stunning French architecture along the waterfront, and duck into as many cafes and patisseries as you can handle (make sure Kinyei Cafe, my favourite cafe in Battambang, is one of them).
Visit Romcheik 5, one of the leading independent galleries in town. Stop in at Bamboo Hotel for an aperitif by the pool, then head to social enterprise restaurant Jaan Bai for a traditional Khmer dinner.
For more Battambang inspiration, see my list of the best things to do in Battambang.
On Day 4, spend a relaxing morning in Battambang before jumping on the 2pm bus (3 hours; $8; reserve tickets via Baolau). This will get you to Siem Reap just in time for sunset.
Where to stay in Battambang
I love The Sanctuary Villa and always recommend it to friends who are visiting Battambang. It’s located on the edge of town, and features a huge pool surrounded by leafy gardens, open-air pavilions, and suites that open straight out onto a courtyard. The free bikes are a real bonus.
Bric-a-Brac Boutique Hotel in the centre of town offers heritage-style rooms and is perfect for couples. The Place, also in the centre of town, offers dorm-style accommodation or private twins and singles for a very reasonable nightly rate.
Option B: Kampong Thom
If your main purpose in visiting Cambodia is to see temples, then Kampong Thom is a worthwhile stopover on the way from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. The temples dotted around this tiny provincial town are thought to be some of the oldest religious structures in Cambodia. The best place to base yourself is Sambour Village, a small riverside settlement just off the highway. Most of the temples are easily accessible from here.
Cambodia Post VIP Van runs two minivans from Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh to Kampong Thom at 9.30am and 2pm daily. The trip takes 3 hours, and tickets cost $6.
Alternatively, there are regular coaches throughout the day from Phnom Penh’s Central Market. Tickets cost between $6.50-$11 depending on the service, and the trip takes 3-3.5 hours.
A private taxi from Phnom Penh to Kampong Thom costs $75 and takes 4 hours.
Sambor Prei Kuk is the biggest temple and Kampong Thom’s main draw-card. Older than Angkor and nestled deep within a forest, it has a magical, untouched aura about it.
Remote Preah Khan and the ‘leaning tower’ of Prasat Kok Rocha are among the dozens of other sanctuaries in the area that can be visited. In an afternoon, you can tour a couple of them by either organising a guide through your hotel, or finding a friendly tuk tuk driver and going DIY.
The next morning, walk around the town itself and visit the charming local market before boarding a bus for the remaining 170km or 3-hour journey to Siem Reap. Your hotel should be able to organise seats on the bus for you. Alternatively, you can book a private taxi via BookMeBus (4 hours; $75).
Where to stay in Kampong Thom
Sambour Village Hotel overlooks the river and is walking distance from the centre of town. It offers boutique rooms and a full program of (very reasonably priced) activities, including temple excursions and a sunset cruise.
In Sambour Village, you’ll also find a few restaurants, a supermarket, and ATMs. If you need a place for dinner or lunch, try Love Cafe & Pizza for Western fare.
Day 5: Full day in Siem Reap
Having arrived in Siem Reap the night before, you should be well-rested and pumped for Day 5, your first full day exploring the temples of Angkor.
Take a moment to decide how many days you want to spend temple hopping, as this will determine what type of ticket you buy. A one-day pass for Angkor costs $37, while a three-day ticket is $62. If you plan on spending both your days in Siem Reap at the temples, then you can save a few dollars by purchasing the three-day pass.
There are many different ways to see Angkor Wat – by tuk tuk, by bicycle, or by joining a guided tour. I’ve tried all these options over the years, and honestly, I can’t tell you how invaluable it is to have a certified English-speaking guide along for the ride. A guide brings to much more value to the experience by providing context and history, and of course taking care of all the logistics so you’re free to enjoy yourself.
I like this full-day tour of Angkor for several reasons. First and foremost, it ticks all the boxes in terms of what you want to see on your first day in Siem Reap: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon and Ta Prohm – AKA The Grand Circuit. It’s well-paced, and groups are kept to a small size of 10 people maximum.
Just be ready for an early start! The tour begins with a 4.10am pickup to get you to the park in time for sunrise at Angkor Wat. Transfers and transportation around Angkor are included in the tour price, but you’ll need to buy your own tickets for Angkor Archaeological Park (there’s a stop at the ticket office in town included for this purpose).
Breakfast and lunch can be purchased inside the temple grounds.
After the 8-hour tour wraps up, you’ll be dropped back at your hotel. Enjoy some well-deserved chill time by the pool before heading out again in the evening to visit the Angkor Night Market and to grab dinner at social enterprise Marum Training Restaurant.
Day 6: Full day in Siem Reap
If you enjoyed your first day of temple hopping, use your second full day in Siem Reap to visit some of the further-flung Angkorian sites in the province. I recommend either a full-day tour to the pretty pink-stone Banteay Srei, or for the more adventurous, a trip out to the remote Koh Ker and Beng Mealea temples north-east of Siem Reap.
If one day of temples was enough to satiate your appetite, there are lots of alternative activities to choose from, including a waterfall hike or a boat trip on the Tonle Sap lake. For more ideas, see my round-up of the best Siem Reap activities.
If a chill day is in order, you could quite happily spend the day in Siem Reap city. I’ve listed out some of my favourite things to do in Siem Reap in the 10-day itinerary below.
Whatever option you choose, finish the day with a twilight stroll around the grounds of Wat Damnak before sitting down to dinner at Cuisine Wat Damnak (bookings essential). The 5 or 6-dish set menu changes fortnightly, and showcases hyper-local ingredients prepared using heritage Khmer recipes blended with the techniques of French gastronomy.
Day 7: Depart Siem Reap or Phnom Penh
Just like that, your action-packed week in Cambodia has drawn to a close. If your flight is in the afternoon, welcome your final day in the Kingdom with a one-hour traditional Buddhist water blessing. I couldn’t think of a better way to say ‘farewell’.
Transfer to Siem Reap airport for your flight home or back to Phnom Penh.
Cambodia itinerary 10 days: Siem Reap to Phnom Penh + Kampot/Kep or Kampong Cham
This 10-day Cambodia itinerary builds on the previous one week itinerary but follows a slightly more relaxed pace, including a whole extra day in Siem Reap.
For this itinerary, I recommend starting in Siem Reap and working your way back to Phnom Penh overland. The reason I structured the itinerary this way is so you can have your ‘relax time’ at the end of the trip.
Day 1: Arrive Phnom Penh – fly to Siem Reap
If you can’t get a direct flight to Siem Reap, just organise a domestic flight from Phnom Penh. Flight time is only 45 minutes, and prices are usually very affordable. Find cheap flights from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap on 12GoAsia.
Once you arrive in Siem Reap, transfer to your hotel and get settled in.
You should have time for a walk around Angkor Night Market, which starts at 5pm, before enjoying dinner at either Cuisine Wat Damnak or at Marum.
Days 2-4: Siem Reap
Follow the two-day Siem Reap itinerary outlined above, visiting Angkor and The Grand Circuit on your first day, and either Banteay Srei or more remote temples on your second day.
On your third full day in Siem Reap, you have the option of either returning to Angkor, taking a day trip, or having a temple-free day.
If you find yourself all templed out, a tour with socially responsible company Ayana Journeys might be just what you need to feel reinvigorated. Their Secrets of Siem Reap itinerary takes you through the streets of the city in the early morning by bicycle, visiting local markets, pagodas, craft workshops, and other interesting ‘hidden’ spots.
For an easy day in Siem Reap, head to Dialogue for a barista coffee or Sister Srey for a smoothie bowl. Wander through the vibrant Kandal Village and do your souvenir shopping at Saarti, Trunkh, Garden of Desire, Louise Loubatieres and the other independent boutiques. If you have any room in your suitcase after that, head to the Made in Cambodia Market to shop Clay Cult handmade jewellery, Dai Khmer natural beauty products, and other locally made goodies.
In the afternoon, visit Neam’s House, a fascinating private villa-cum art gallery. Drop into the Artisans Angkor workshop for a craft demonstration or visit their silk farm and weaving centre on the outskirts of town. Join a pottery workshop for something hands on – or for something hands off, just book a massage at Bodia Spa.
At the end of the day, catch the nightly performance of Phare Cambodian Circus, an incredible display of physical theatre and acrobatics.
Day 5: Siem Reap to Phnom Penh
There’s no stopover on this itinerary, so it’s time to head directly to Phnom Penh. You can either fly, or take the scenic overland route.
Buses and minivans depart throughout the day (starting from 8.45am) from Siem Reap bus station and take between 6-7 hours to get to Phnom Penh. I recommend Giant Ibis for this journey – they have a good safety record and very comfortable luxury coaches. Tickets cost $15 and can be reserved online in advance.
A private taxi from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh costs $120 when booked online and takes approximately 6 hours.
When you arrive in Phnom Penh, walk along Riverside Park, grab a sunset drink at Juniper Gin Bar, and eat dinner at Friends the Restaurant.
Days 6-7: Phnom Penh
Follow the two-day itinerary outlined above. Find more inspiration for how to fill in your extra time in my complete Phnom Penh itinerary.
Days 8-9: Kampot/Kep or Kampong Cham
With Phnom Penh and Siem Reap ticked off the list, you can use your ‘bonus’ few days in Cambodia to relax. For this itinerary, I’ve included two options – which just so happen to be my two favourite small towns in Cambodia: Kampot and Kampong Cham.
Note: You can trim off a day in Phnom Penh to give yourself some extra time at the end if you wish.
Option A: Kampot/Kep
Located south of Phnom Penh near the coast, Kampot is Cambodia’s quintessential laid-back riverside town. It’s the perfect place to unwind with a good book – and with one of the best food scenes in the country, you can load up on yummy Khmer cuisine before you leave. Paradoxically, Kampot also has plenty of outdoor adventure activities on offer, including standup paddleboarding, kayaking and even caving.
Spend your afternoon in Kampot lazing by the river or out on the water in a kayak. If you love architecture and history, you’ll be happy padding the streets of this pretty little town, stopping to visit the Kampot Provincial Museum and a few of the galleries in town.
On Day 9, you can either stay in Kampot or take a tuk tuk or boat to the nearby seaside town of Kep for some beach time and a visit to the crab market. If you do decide to spend the day in Kampot, consider booking in for a tour of one of the pepper plantations, or joining a trip to nearby Bokor National Park. Leave enough time for a drawn-out dinner at Ciao, my favourite restaurant in Cambodia.
Plan your trip with my epic list of 41 things to do in Kampot.
Where to stay in Kampot
For a truly unique experience you can’t find anywhere else in Cambodia, book a room at Hotel Old Cinema. This gorgeous little boutique hotel is set inside a refurbished pre-independence movie house, and features retro fittings, an indoor pool, and original pressed floor tiles. Read my write-up of Hotel Old Cinema.
For more Kampot guesthouse, bungalow and hotel recommendations, refer to my complete Kampot accommodation guide.
Option B: Kampong Cham
North of Phnom Penh along the Mekong river, Kampong Cham is similar in size to Kampot but has a very different feel. This is a very local town that sees comparatively few tourists. If you want to get off the beaten track without travelling too far afield, I highly recommend spending a few nights in Kampong Cham.
To get to Kampong Cham, take an early morning bus (3.5 hours; $6.50) or minivan (3 hours; $10) from Phnom Penh.
The afternoon of Day 8 can be spent in town, while on Day 9, you should hire a bicycle and explore the temples and landmarks around the city, including the mysterious ‘French Lighthouse’. Make sure you’re back in time for sunset, when everyone flocks to the riverfront to eat street food and promenade along the wide footpath.
Plan your trip using my Kampong Cham travel guide.
Where to stay in Kampong Cham
Mekong Hotel, a massive 70-room riverfront property, is Kampong Cham’s most popular hotel. It’s a bit shabby around the edges, but it’s clean.
Day 10: Depart Phnom Penh
If your flight is in the evening, take an early morning bus back to Phnom Penh before heading to the airport. Otherwise, you might like to pre-book a direct taxi transfer straight to the airport.
Cambodia itinerary 14 days: Siem Reap to Phnom Penh via Kampong Thom & Kampong Cham + Kampot/Kep
If you have 2 weeks in Cambodia, you can craft a nice itinerary that combines the best bits of the 7 and 10 day itineraries outlined above.
I recommend the following route:
- Day 1: Arrive in Siem Reap
- Days 2-4: Siem Reap
- Day 5: Kampong Thom
- Days 6-7: Kampong Cham
- Days 8-10: Phnom Penh
- Days 11-13: Kampot/Kep
- Day 14: Depart Phnom Penh or Siem Reap
Planning a trip to Cambodia? Here are some of the resources and tools I personally use to organise my travel plans in the Kingdom.
– Find affordable flights to Cambodia on Kiwi.com, a booking site that mixes and matches airlines to find the best route (there’s a money back guarantee if you miss a connection).
– Use iVisa to check if you need a tourist visa for Cambodia and apply for an expedited visa online.
– Pre-book your hotel transfer from Phnom Penh Airport or Siem Reap Airport.
– Find the best hotel deals in Cambodia on Agoda, book a Cambodia hostel, or find a unique Airbnb (sign up here and get $55 AUD off your first Airbnb booking).
– Buy your Cambodia bus tickets online in advance through 12GoAsia or organise a private car and driver through BookMeBus.
– Download Pass App to book tuk-tuks and taxis on the go.
– Find the best cooking classes and foodie experiences in Cambodia.
– Find the best city tours and day excursions in Cambodia.
– Try an alternative tour or DIY experience with social enterprise Backstreet Academy.
– Pick up a copy of the latest Lonely Planet guidebook for Cambodia.
5 things to pack for Cambodia
- A reusable water bottle. Absolutely essential in Cambodia for minimising plastic waste and staying hydrated. I love my S’Well water bottle – it’s vacuum insulated to keep water icy cold for the whole day, and it doesn’t sweat. If you like your mango smoothies, pack a reusable smoothie cup as well.
- Rehydration tablets or sachets. At the end of a long day bike riding or exploring temples, your body will be crying out for electrolytes (believe me!). I prefer Hydralyte tablets because they come in a handy tube. If you forget to bring some from home, the Double D brand is sold at most pharmacies and grocery stores in Cambodia.
- Rain jacket and travel umbrella for the wet season. Wet season is my favourite time to travel in Cambodia because the countryside is so verdant. Downpours come out of nowhere, so it’s essential to have a rain jacket with you at all times (I love the packable rain jackets by Lomon for women and EZRUN for men). I also carry a travel umbrella in case it’s too hot and steamy to wear a jacket. This one is UPF 50+, making it great for sun cover as well.
- A sturdy day pack. An anti-theft backpack is particularly good for the cities, especially Phnom Penh. Opt for a minimalist backpack that doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb.
- Cambodia guide book. I prefer Lonely Planet’s dedicated Cambodia guidebook or regional guidebook that also covers Laos, Vietnam and Northern Thailand.
More Cambodia travel resources
- Best Siem Reap tours for every budget and interest
- Where to stay in Phnom Penh
- Where to eat breakfast in Phnom Penh and where to find the best coffee in Phnom Penh
- 51 free things to do in Phnom Penh – the ultimate list
- Resort style swimming pools in Phnom Penh
- How to use PassApp to book a tuk tuk in Cambodia
- 41 things to do in Kampot
- Where to stay in Kampot
- My guide to Battambang, Cambodia’s cultural capital
- My guide to Kampong Cham, northern Cambodia’s most charming town
- My guide to Kratie, home of Cambodia’s best sunset!
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