Only have one day in Siem Reap? You’re going to want to spend a lot of it at Angkor Wat and the world famous ruins! Leave before sunrise and catch a tuk-tuk to Angkor Archaeological Park. This extraordinary park lies around 15 minutes from the city center. Make sure you arrive with enough time to walk into the site and find a spot before the sun peaks over the ruins of Angkor Wat. After the sun rises, take some time to discover the otherworldly ruins of Angkor. When you feel like you have a good enough grasp, catch a tuk-tuk to the next ruins. Alternatively, you may hire a tuk-tuk and local guide, who will show you around while explaining its incredible history.
The Angkor passes are sold in three-day and one-week passes on top of the daily pass you will have. But with only one day in Siem Reap, you need to be selective with which temples you see! Departing from Angkor Wat, make your way to Bayon and Ta Prohm. Bayon is also known as the temple of “faces” and has giant carved smiling faces you will spot with every new turn. Travel to Ta Prohm, also known as the “Tomb Raider” temple, where parts of the movie were filmed. This temple has massive tree roots growing over it and will make you appreciate the power of nature.
If you aren’t templed out, your driver or guide may show you more of the ancient ruins of Cambodia. There are enough to keep you occupied for days! However, with only one day in Siem Reap, you may want to head back to the city by mid-afternoon to explore.
After so much walking around the temples, what better way to start the second half of your day than with a massage? Kick back, relax, and soothe your muscles. If you wander around the city, you will see plenty of places offering cheap massages for under $10. If you really want to splurge on high quality, you can get a fantastic massage for around $20.
Once you’re rejuvenated, travel to Wat Preah Prom Rath, Siem Reap’s most colorful pagoda. Here you will see more of a modern temple with ornate decorations. If you time it correctly, you may come across the chanting of the monks. From there, you are only a short stroll away from the Old Market (Psah Chas), where you may wander through stalls of clothes, jewelry, bags, souvenirs, spices, and more. You may grab a snack at any of the food stalls there, but the better option is to head to Pub Street for dinner. This extraordinary street is lined with bars and restaurants. Choose a nice sit-down place to taste the local Khmer cuisine. A great meal to try is Amok, the national dish of Cambodia; a delicious fish curry served in a banana leaf.
Depending on how you’re feeling after dinner, you can stroll Pub Street to stop at various cocktail bars for a drink, or head to the famous Night Market for more affordable shopping.