How to See Cambodia in 3 Weeks: Complete Itinerary

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Three weeks in Cambodia is an ideal amount of time to see all the highlights while also exploring some of the off-the-beaten-path places and having time to relax. Spending a month there is too much time for some people, and spending two weeks or less only gives you time to see the most popular sights. While Cambodia is well known for Angkor Wat, there’s much more to the country.

After spending a month in this underrated southeast Asian country, I’ve put together this three-week Cambodia itinerary based on my travels. You can follow it step by step or mix and match, depending on your interests.

Day 1 – 4: Siem Reap

Day 1

You’re going to start your time in Cambodia with the reason that brings most people here – Angkor Wat. You’ll arrive in Siem Reap, the city where it’s located. Take your first day easy. You’ll be catching sunrise at Angkor Wat tomorrow, so you don’t want to tire yourself out.

The most important thing to do on day one is book your sunrise tour (if you haven’t already) and buy a one-day pass to Angkor Wat. Although there are many companies that offer sunrise tours, I recommend booking before you arrive in Cambodia so you can choose a top-rated operator.

If you want to get some background on Angkor Wat before visiting tomorrow, walk to the Angkor National Museum in town. It’s a fairly large museum with well-designed exhibitions on the history of Angkor Wat and the Khmer Empire. Tickets are only $12 USD, which is a good price for the two to three hours you’ll spend at the museum. 

Visiting the Angkor National Museum isn’t necessary if you’ll be visiting Angkor Wat with a guide. So if that’s the case, take a tuk tuk to the Cambodia Landmine Museum and APOPO Visitor Center. Both attractions educate visitors on landmines in Cambodia – how they got there and efforts to demine the country. 

For an even more chill day in Siem Reap, go café hopping. Siem Reap has been well developed for tourism with many modern and cute cafés. The pace of life here is slow, so feel free to dawdle, read, or slowly sip your coffee. No one’s going to rush you.

Another option for a very relaxed first day is walking around the Old MarketArt Market, and the Made in Cambodia Market. These markets are mazes of local goods. Although it’s your first day in Cambodia, they’re a great place to pick up souvenirs – just make sure you haggle.

Before going to bed, read my guide on visiting Angkor Wat. It has everything you need to know to enjoy your time in Angkor Wat tomorrow, including what to wear and pack.

Day 2

Seating area in a temple in Siem Reap

Rise and shine! You’re up bright and early to watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat. As long as the weather’s on your side, you’ll have a picture-perfect moment. But if the clouds cover up the sun, it’s still a peaceful, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

With the sunrise tour taking up the first half of your day, you’ll probably be pretty tired after. I recommend taking a nap (which is what I did), laying by the pool, relaxing at a spa, or hanging out in a café. For people who have an unlimited supply of energy, you can either check out the markets I listed under Day 1 or visit some of the temples in town. Wat BoWat Damnak, and Wat Preah Prom Rath are a short walk away and open to the public.

End your second day in Cambodia by either watching an Apsara performance over dinner or going for a drink on Pub Street. Apsara is a traditional Khmer dance that uses finger, hand, and feet movements to tell historical and cultural stories. One of the best places to see Apsara is the Apsara Theatre, where you can enjoy the performance and dinner in a gorgeous theater.

For something more casual, head to Pub Street – the loud, busy center of nightlife in Siem Reap. Pub Street isn’t everyone’s scene, so if it’s too much for you, walk away a bit and you’ll find quieter restaurants and bars.

Day 3

Your one-day pass to Angkor Wat can actually be used again, so let’s take advantage of it. The sunrise tour brings you to the most popular temples in the Angkor Wat complex, but there are hundreds more to discover.

After waking up early yesterday, sleep in and have a lazy start to the day. In the afternoon, hire a tuk tuk to drive you to Angkor Wat so you can explore it on your own. It’s best to have a list of temples that you can share with the tuk tuk driver. Give them the names of the temples and they’ll know where to go. I recommend visiting Pre Rup, Banteay Kdei, and Banteay Samré. Then, see the sun set at Phnom Bakheng.

You can book a sunset tour of Angkor Wat if you’d like to continue getting historical context for the temples you visit. It’s not necessary though. I really enjoyed wandering around Angkor Wat without a guide because I could take my time exploring every nook and cranny and snap all the photos I wanted.

If you feel like you’ve had enough of Angkor Wat after the sunrise tour and you’d prefer to see something different, here are a few options. Aside from visiting any of the attractions I’ve previously listed, you can spend a day with animals at the Angkor Center for Conservation of Biodiversity while supporting a good cause. However, visiting the center requires booking a guided tour in advance.

A great alternative that doesn’t require advance planning is the Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre. Hop on a tuk tuk to drive 25 km north of Siem Reap and see southeast Asia’s largest outdoor butterfly exhibit.

Between all the activities today, make sure you book a tour to Preah Vihear and Koh Ker tomorrow. These two temples are unlike Angkor Wat and they’re quite a drive from Siem Reap, so I recommend doing a tour to see them.

For dinner, get a taste of an authentic, local Cambodian night market. Street 60m is a small night market outside the city center where local families go to eat, drink, and play. Come with an open mind and palate because the best way to enjoy the night market is to try a little bit of everything.

Day 4

If you’ve followed the itinerary, you’ll have booked a tour for today to see Preah Vihear and Koh Ker.

Nearly four hours north of Siem Reap sits Preah Vihear. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the best places to visit in Cambodia. Aside from its stunning architecture, which resembles the temples in Angkor Wat, Preah Vihear has the most amazing views because it’s located on a cliff.

Koh Ker used to be the capital of the Khmer Empire and the main temple looks completely different from any Cambodian temples you’ve seen so far. Instead, the seven-tiered pyramid looks more like a Mayan temple. Its uniqueness makes it a must-visit.

Day 5 – 7: Battambang

Day 5

Your next destination is Battambang, a large city filled with culture and history but is far less touristy than Siem Reap. By taxi or shared minivan, it’s only a three to four-hour ride.

For your first day here, walk through the city and admire the French colonial architecture that’s unique to Battambang. Surprisingly, Battambang also has a small but thriving art scene. As you walk around, pop into some of the art galleries: Jewel in the Lotus Gallery, Romcheik 5, Tep Kao Sol, and Human Gallery. You’ll see fantastic local art and maybe even get to talk to some of the artists.

Before you end your day, you’ll need to plan out how you want to take on Battambang’s best attractions tomorrow. There are four must-see sights: the Bamboo Train, Killing Cave, Well of Shadows, and Bat Cave.

The easiest way to see them is with a tour. You can either take a half-day afternoon tour or a full-day tour. Both are affordable – $20 USD per person or less – and include pick-up and drop-off at your accommodation. With a full-day tour though, you’ll see how local food products, like rice paper and rice wine, are made and taste them. The price difference between the two options isn’t much, so I recommend taking the full-day tour.

Taking a tour is the best way to go because having a tour guide gives you invaluable information about what you’re seeing. Otherwise, there’s little to no explanations at these sights. But if you don’t want to join a tour, you can easily do it yourself by renting a motorbike or hiring a tuk tuk driver.

Day 6

Have fun on either your half or full day out and around Battambang. It’s going to be hot, so be sure to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and water. If you’re taking a tour, they’ll typically provide water.

Day 7

If you haven’t noticed yet, the Battambang’s attractions are mostly outside the city center. You can stick close on your last day here by taking a stroll along the Sankae River, getting lost in the sights and smells of the Central Market, or joining a cooking class.

Battambang is one of the best places to take a cooking class in Cambodia. Because it isn’t as touristy as Siem Reap or Phnom Penh, cooking classes cost less here. You’ll still learn to make Cambodian classics, like green mango salad, lok lak, and amok, and work with fresh ingredients. Some of the best cooking classes in Battambang are Nary Kitchen, Coconut Lyly, Lily’s Secret Garden, and Smokin’ Pot.

For more of an adventure, rent a bicycle or motorbike or get a tuk tuk and visit some of the temples on the outskirts of Battambang: Kampong Pil Pagoda, Wat Samrong Knong, and Ek Phnom Pagoda.

Day 8 – 11: Phnom Penh

Day 8

You’ve been spending time in northern Cambodia so far. Now it’s time to head south to Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. The fastest way to get from Battambang to Phnom Penh is by taxi or private car, which takes five hours. But when you’re on a budget, opt for a minibus instead. Depending on how fast the driver is, the ride is five to seven hours long.

Phnom Penh is unlike Siem Reap or Battambang. It’s a busy, loud city filled with tuk tuks and skyscrapers. It can be overwhelming for some, so once you arrive, take all the time you need to decompress. There aren’t many places to escape the chaos in Phnom Penh, but two of my favorite small oases are the Sisowath Riverside Park and Wat Botum Park. Going for a walk in either isn’t just a great introduction to Phnom Penh, but it’s also the perfect place to see local life.

If you feel like going out tonight, hit up Bassac Street. The lively street is filled with restaurants and bars where you’ll rub elbows with other tourists, locals, and expats.

The last thing you’ll do today is plan ahead for Day 10. That’s your last day in Phnom Penh, when you’ll explore one of two places outside the city – Mount Oudong or Koh Dach. Mount Oudong contains stupas, temples, and the best view of the countryside surrounding Phnom Penh. It’s about an hour northwest of the capital, so you’ll need to arrange a ride or book a tour.

Koh Dach, or Silk Island, is much closer and can be reached on your own via ferry. Its farmland and artisan communities are a complete contrast to the city. The best way to explore Koh Dach is via a bike tour. But if you want to go without a guide, just buy a ticket at the ferry terminal and hop on the next boat.

Choose which one of these two places you want to see and if you’d like to see them with a tour. While these tours don’t usually book up, it’s better to reserve your spot a few days out instead of the day before.

Day 9

Guy touring the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

When you were in Battambang, you would have started learning about the Khmer Rouge – the genocide that killed millions of Cambodians in the 1970s. Today, you’ll be visiting two important memorials that honor the people who died and educate visitors on the horrific acts of the Khmer Rouge.

First, take a tuk tuk to the Choeung Ek Killing Fields, which is a 20-minute drive outside of the city center. Choeung Ek is the largest and most well-known of all the killing fields, where the Khmer Rouge executed their prisoners. It’s $6 USD for a ticket and audio guide. To show respect for the victims and events that happened there, it’s recommended you cover your shoulders and knees when visiting.

The second memorial you’ll be touring is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. The Khmer Rouge turned what once was a school into a prison, where they held, interrogated, and tortured prisoners. A ticket and audio guide costs $10 USD. The audio guide is a must, since it adds a lot of context to what you see and you’ll hear stories from prisoners.

Before you make your way to Tuol Sleng, take a break to process what you’ve seen so far. Visiting the Killing Fields is one of the saddest things I’ve ever experienced. If you feel like it’s too heavy to see both sites in one day, you can visit Tuol Sleng tomorrow and choose to do something else for the rest of the day.

Some other options include swinging by the picturesque Central Post Office, ascending the only hill in Phnom Penh to find the peaceful Wat Phnom, and seeing the largest collection of Khmer cultural items at the National Museum of Cambodia.

To wind down your day, see the sunset from a rooftop bar. With so many high rises, there are lots of rooftop bars to choose from and fantastic views of the cityscape wherever you go. Here are four of the best bars with great vibes and drinks: Eclipse Sky BarHighGround Sky BarSundown Social Club, and Lantern Rooftop Bar.

Day 10

If you didn’t go to the National Museum of Cambodia or Wat Phnom yesterday, start with both of them. And if you decided to skip the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, begin there. All three are in the city center, so you can most likely walk from wherever you’re staying. Otherwise, it should be a quick tuk tuk ride.

In the afternoon, you’ll pay a visit to the king at the Royal Palace. While you won’t literally be meeting the King of Cambodia, you will see where he lives and the glitz and glamor that’s fit for a royalty. While you’re there, be sure to visit the Silver Pagoda. It’s known for its floor made of over 5,000 shimmering silver tiles.

A visit to the Royal Palace pairs well with a walk along the Sisowath Riverside Park, if you haven’t visited already.

That’s the end of the itinerary for this day, so you can choose your own adventure in the evening. For street food and shopping, check out the Phnom Penh Night Market. For more cultural sights, stop by some of Phnom Penh’s monuments: the Independence Monument, the statue of King Father Norodom Sihanouk, and the Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Monument.

One last thing before you end the day – book a sunset cruise on the Mekong River for tomorrow. It’s the perfect way to close out your time in Phnom Penh. Sunset cruises are affordable, starting at around $15 USD per person. For a bit more, you can also have dinner onboard.

Day 11

It’s your last day in Phnom Penh, and you’ve either found an appreciation for the bustling city or can’t wait to leave it. Regardless, you’ll be traveling outside of the city to less-touristed places today. Hopefully you followed the itinerary on Day 8 and decided to visit either Mount Oudong or Koh Dach, along with whether to book a tour.

If you missed that step though, don’t worry! You can still visit one or both of them without a guide.

Alternatively, there are still many things to see in and around the city if you want to stay close. Koh Pich, which is east of Phnom Penh, was a swamp before being converted into a satellite city in 2000. It’s a nice area to wander around, with restaurants, apartments, and a riverside walk.

An interesting place to escape the brutal heat is the SOSORO Museum. The modern museum covers 2,000 years of Cambodian history through the lens of the economy and currency.

One other option is contemplating the work of local and international artists at art galleries. Some of the best galleries are DinArt Gallery, Sra’Art Gallery, and The Gallerist.

And if none of those appeal to you, check out my list of the 32 best things to do in Phnom Penh for more ideas.

Finally, cap off your day with the sunset cruise that you booked on Day 8. Admire the vibrant, color-changing sky as you float down the Mekong. What a way to end your time in Phnom Penh.

Day 12 – 15: Kampot

Day 12

After nearly two weeks of being in large cities, you’re finally headed toward a quiet, small town. Say goodbye to the bumper-to-bumper traffic. Buckle in for a three to four-hour drive via minivan or taxi and say hello to Kampot, the agriculture town that’s best known for its prized peppercorn.

The best way to spend your first day in Kampot is to visit one of its peppercorn farms and get lunch there. Hit the road in the morning and you’ll arrive in Kampot by early afternoon. After you check in to your accommodation and drop your bags, walk over to Bo Tree Farm’s The Kampot Pepper Shop or the La Plantation Shop. Tell them you’re interested in taking a tour of their pepper farm and they’ll arrange a tuk tuk to take you there.

Both offer free guided tours of their farm, include a tasting of their peppercorn and other products, and have an on-site chef that cooks up delicious dishes using their pepper. I visited Bo Tree Farm, which is a small family-run operation, while La Plantation is a large commercial farm. After the tour and tasting, order lunch there to get your first taste of Kampot pepper.

For the rest of the day, explore Kampot on your own. It’s a nice little town to walk around, with few vehicles. In the evening, go to the Preaek Tuek Chhu River to join locals and expats in watching the sunset.

Day 13

About a 50-minute drive from Kampot, Bokor National Park is the main historical attraction here. Exploring all the sights takes half a day. So when you factor in travel time, plan to devote most of your day to this.

Bokor Mountain has seen a lot of history and changed hands multiple times. It was originally intended to be a resort for the French until it was abandoned by them in the 1940s, during the First Indochina War. After that, Bokor Mountain was used by Cambodian royalty and the upper-class as a summer getaway. When the Khmer Rouge took power in the 1970s, the mountain changed ownership and usage again.

Now, the park is owned by the Cambodian government, who plans to redevelop and breathe life back into it. The mountain and its sites are all open to the public, so you can either visit it on your own or take a guided tour. If you decide to go without a guide, rent a motorbike or hire a taxi and visit the Black Palace, the statue of Yeay Mao, Bokor Hill Station, Wat Sampov Pram, and Popokvil Waterfall.

Day 14

The area surrounding Kampot is such an interesting place to explore by bicycle. You’ll experience the Cambodian countryside, see rice and salt fields, discover small yet beautiful temples, and meet friendly locals. It’s difficult to get lost, so don’t be afraid of renting a bike and riding without a destination in mind. Make sure you take sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and plenty of water with you. There’s very little shade once you hit the road.

Otherwise, I recommend taking Jason’s bike tour. His six-hour tour is an excellent way to learn even more about Cambodian culture and history and to get a more local, authentic experience of the country. At just $15 USD per person, it’s a very affordable day activity that also includes a home-cooked meal at a local’s house.

Day 15

Your previous two days have been go, go, go, so take your last day in Kampot to slow down. Take a yoga class at Monkey RepublicSimple Things, or Yoga Barn. Go café hopping or check out the wide range of restaurants. Paddleboard or kayak the Preaek Tuek Chhu River – you can rent equipment at Champa Lodge and Bopha Prey Guesthouse. Swim in the Secret Lake.

If none of those are up your alley, take a look my list of the 16 best things to do in Kampot.

Day 16 – 17: Koh Rong

Day 16

You might not expect it but Cambodia has two beautiful islands – Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem. You’ll be spending time on Koh Rong first, soaking up the sun and enjoying the beach life, before switching to Koh Rong Samloem.

To get to Koh Rong, you’ll need to take a three-hour minivan to Sihanoukville and then transfer to a ferry. Ferries depart from the Sihanoukville Port Autonomous and take about 45 to 50 minutes. While ferries run frequently between 8 AM and 5 PM, I recommend arriving in Sihanoukville on the earlier side so you don’t feel rushed.

Be aware that there are no ATMs on the islands and few places accept credit card. If you’re in a pinch, you can get cash on Koh Rong for a fee. It’s best to take out more than enough cash to cover the next four days before you leave Kampot or while you’re in Sihanoukville.

Once you get settled in your accommodation, grab some food and make a beeline for the nearest beach. For sunset, the best place on the island is Sok San Beach.

Day 17

An important thing you need to do today is to check the boat schedule to Koh Rong Samloem, since you’ll be moving there tomorrow and you can only buy a ticket in person. There’s at least one boat each day, although the departure time changes. To check the schedule and buy your ticket (it only costs $5 USD per person), swing by Koh Toch Beach. The boat will depart from here tomorrow and will stop at both M’Pai Bay and Saracen Bay on Koh Rong Samloem.

I recommend sorting out your boat ticket early in the day. Then, you can spend the rest of your time enjoying the beaches and water. Check out Lonely Beach and Long Set Beach and go snorkeling or kayaking.

Day 18 – 19: Koh Rong Samloem

Day 18

Out of the two islands, Koh Rong Samloem is the smaller and less developed one. Be prepared for no or poor wifi and limited electricity. While Koh Rong Samloem offers much of the same things that Koh Rong has, you might end up enjoying the quieter, off-the-grid vibes more.

Once you arrive, Lazy Beach and Sunset Beach are two of the best beaches for sunset. You can also go snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking. If you’d like to go diving tomorrow, Bubbles Up Dive Center is the best dive shop on the island. For a land adventure, trek through some jungle and up the hill to the Old Lighthouse.

Day 19

On your second and last day on Koh Rong Samloem, tackle some of the activities you didn’t get to yesterday or simply explore the island.

At night, you’ll wrap up your time here by seeing magical bioluminscent plankton sparkle in the water. You’ll need to have complete darkness for the best chance to see bioluminescence. Ideally, there’s no moon or light pollution, so walk away from the brightly lit main areas like Koh Toch. Although you can try to seek out bioluminescence on your own, there are also many bioluminescence tours you can join.

Day 20: Return to Phnom Penh

On your second to last day in Cambodia, you’ll be making your way back to Phnom Penh so you can fly out of the city tomorrow. Say goodbye to the island life and hop on the ferry to Sihanoukville. Then, take a minivan from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh. The drive takes about three to three and a half hours.

Depending on the time you arrive in Phnom Penh, you can spend the rest of the day doing anything you didn’t get to when you were here earlier. There’s also nothing wrong with just relaxing and not doing much. In these three weeks, you’ve seen an incredible amount of Cambodia and done so many things.

Day 21: Depart Cambodia

I hope you’ve had an amazing three weeks in Cambodia. You’ve seen the highlights while also getting a glimpse of smaller, quieter, and less touristy parts of the country. Although small, Cambodia packs a lot in and is much more than its most famous attraction, Angkor Wat.

More resources for traveling Cambodia

Looking to shorten or extend your Cambodia trip? Here are some other itineraries based on how long you’ll be staying:

The Ultimate 3 Week Cambodia Itinerary