cambodia itinerary

One Week Cambodia Itinerary: The Best You Can Get

I definitely got a certain type of attitude towards Cambodia. This country shocked me so much that I felt almost depressed when leaving it after one month stay there. Part of the reason was about all scams and lies Mark and I experienced from locals, another part included loads and piles of trash (I swear, I have never seen so much garbage in just one place,) corruption, and some type of chaos.

I guess our mistake was not to think in advance what places to visit in Cambodia and choose “local” life over touristy things. But at the same time, it provided us with an excellent opportunity to see Cambodia in a way that many tourists never get to see.

Honestly, if I never visited this Southeast Asia country, there wouldn’t be much to lose. I don’t imply you should skip Cambodia, no and absolutely not. I know, when your curious mind is eager to tick off one more country on your list, nothing will change this intention anyways. Yet, I believe this is not a destination for a long-time journey. One week is more than enough unless you are coming to spend time just at the hotel or take it very slowly.

So, here is my one week Cambodia itinerary that includes only the best (to me) attractions and sightseeing. In the end, I’ll also mention where I don’t recommend to travel and why. In fact, this itinerary is good not only for those who are spending one week in Cambodia, but you can also easily turn it into two weeks. Just spend more time in each place.


When we were arriving in Siem Reap, I somehow thought that this city had so much to offer. Some sources were saying that Siem Reap was a cute bustling city full of activities and entertainment. In reality, it turned out to be not nearly as impressive as local tourism boards were trying to present it.

Except for Angkor Wat (which is technically not in the city,) the main street, a few museums, cooking classes, the floating village (which is also outside the city), and markets there is not much to do. Poor infrastructure, hectic traffic, and loads of trash take away any desire to explore around on foot.

One day is enough to walk through Pub Street (it’s actually more famous for the nightlife,) visit a few local temples, get a massage, try some local exotic dishes and go to a historical landmark.

one week cambodia itinerary
siem reap itinerary
One of the main streets in Siem Reap

If you are not into museums and walking all day long is not your thing, do a side trip to Kampong Phluk and/or Kampong Khleang. These are small villages with hand-made houses built on water. A trip here is a good half a day excursion. On the one hand, it is a tad sad visiting these villages (at least for us) because you see how poor people are and how hard they try to survive on a daily basis. On the other side, seeing this picture is eye-opening and it helps to re-evaluate our own priorities.

A lot of tour agencies in Siem Reap sell these tours. Although we thought that going with a tuk-tuk driver was easier, cheaper, and more authentic.

If you are into a spa and massages, my best Cambodia travel advice for you is to choose Frangipani Spa. It offers excellent service, high quality of treatments, and a super relaxing atmosphere. I honestly wouldn’t recommend getting massages at the night market at all, even though they are cheap. Frangipani Spa is really the best. And it’s one of the must things to do in Siem Reap.

If you happen to be in the Northern part of Siem Reap, visit Wat Thmei, a “killing field”. I actually highly recommend visiting this part of the city too, especially since it’s a short ride from a center. Wat Thmei is one of those places where thousands of people were killed during Pol Pot’s time. There, you can learn some history, visit the pagoda and even buy locally made clothing (all the money for it goes to people in need.) You’ll find an exhibit with displays showing skulls and bones and telling lots of facts on such a horrible period of time for Cambodians.

Check out this detailed post on all interesting things to do in Siem Reap, it has more ideas for a few days in this city.

The northern part of Siem Reap


Budget Travelers:  Shining Angkor Hotel. If you are a budget traveler, this hotel will be perfect for you. It is so much more comfortable and elegant than any hostel or cheap guesthouse. We originally booked a guesthouse not far from this hotel (wanted to experience some local life, you know) but ran away to Shining Angkor hotel. For less than $25 per night, we experienced a bit of luxury just on a smaller scale. They even got a cute pool where you can recharge on a hot day.

Mid-range: Pavillon Indochine and Nita by Vo Luxury are located in the same neighborhood where Shining Angkor hotel is. Nita by Vo is one of our favorite hotels in Siem Reap where you can hide from the busyness of the city. The location is perfect, just a few kilometers away from the center and the same distance from Angkor Wat. Rooms are exceptionally clean and comfy, the staff is phenomenal, garden, rooftop pool, restaurant, and spa are simply amazing. It is just a perfect luxury spot where every detail is delivered at the highest level.

Prince d’ Angkor Hotel & Spa – I do not recommend staying at this hotel since they are not as luxurious as they claim to be and often fail on delivering what they promise. But if you are staying somewhere without a pool, you can come here for a quick dip. The hotel’s pool and the area around it are pretty and right in the center.

cambodia itinerary
Swimming in Prince d’Angkor hotel pool on a day pass

Luxury:  Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra, Raffles Grand Hotel, Jaya House RiverPark. All of these hotels are simply gorgeous and there will be no single thing you’ll wish to be better. Jaya House RiverPark prides itself on being green and sustainable. We visited all of these properties and thought they were a delight from top to bottom.


Siem Reap has quite a few amazing restaurants, most of them are located in the city center. But I wanted to highlight two that we loved so much. One of these places looked more like a street food cafe while another one was a nicer casual option.

Au gre du Soleil – an owner of this place is a French guy who moved to Cambodia a few years ago and opened this restaurant. The place is very neat and the food is amazing. A cook, a Khmer lady, makes absolutely delish dishes. An owner tries to go above and beyond to make each visitor happy.

Yellow Bamboo Restaurant – a big choice of Khmer food prepared by a lovely Cambodian family. The setting and the restaurant is very simple, the food is cheap but very good and always fresh.

cambodia food

We had some negative experiences when in many places around Cambodia waiters didn’t give us change in full or lied about the price of a dish. You can read more about it here. But in these two places, we felt very comfortable. The owners were honest and genuine. Restaurants were simple yet still excellent. If you are staying at a hotel that has a nice restaurant, I advise eating there. In this case, you won’t be experimenting and should have only positive moments.



cambodia itinerary

Angkor Wat is probably the only place in Cambodia worth traveling for. In our experience though, two days in this temple complex is more than enough. We had one full day from sunrise to sunset, thought we got plenty and canceled our 2nd day. For us, it was unbearably hot and humid, we simply couldn’t take it.

Some people choose to spend 3 to 5 days there but in my opinion, that’s too much. In a few hours under the scorching sun, you start understanding that all temples look alike. Although, Angkor Thom (a big circle) trees are probably more impressive than those in Angkor Wat (a small circle.) They are huge and overgrow the ruins. 

Most likely, you’ll be visiting that area only once in your lifetime so it’s probably better to dedicate more than one day and explore it thoroughly. However, if you have time and desire, try to venture to one of these lesser-visited Cambodian temples.  

It is worth hiring a tour for the day (not just a tuk-tuk driver) to avoid too much walking in the heat. Walls of Angkor Wat has seen and heard a lot, so having someone who can tell you all the important details and history is a must. Also, try to find a tour guide with decent English. It’s almost annoying paying for a guide and barely understanding what he is saying.

Do not buy entrance tickets from a driver, hotel staff, or tuk-tuk guy. It’s easy enough to purchase them at the visitor center a day before you go.


cambodia itinerary

We had a lot of hope for the capital of Cambodia. But it turned out to be as disappointing as other cities. With lots of trash, beggars, and an extremely high level of pollution, it was very unpleasant to be in this city. Overall, we spent almost two long weeks in Phnom Penh, and most of the time we were either inside of the apartment or in a nearby coffee shop.

Still, we managed to visit the Royal Palace and a few Buddhist pagodas, a night market, do a river walk, go on a city tour and check out a rooftop bar.

Rooftop bars in Phnom Penh, by the way, can help you not only get to know the city from above but distract from the capital’s routine. Visit SORA – the tallest rooftop bar in the entire country. Its location on the 37th-floor guarantees sweeping views and stunning sunset.

Le Moon Rooftop Lounge, located right along the river in downtown, offers fantastic views of Wat Ounalom temple, river, and street life. Eclipse Sky Bar was our favorite. It has an amazing view from the 23rd floor, excellent food, good service, and a wide selection of drinks.

one week cambodia itinerary
From above Phnom Penh is way more appealing than on the ground

For other attractions in Phnom Penh, you can go on a cruise on the Mekong River or a boat trip around Phnom Penh. We also wanted to do that but after witnessing how locals threw trash in the river, bathed in it, and pooped in it, we changed our mind. We are too sensitive, you know. Seeing all that stuff takes all the enthusiasm away.

cambodia itinerary
The guy is dropping trash right in the Mekong river in the center of Phnom Penh. Another guy was pooping just a few meters away while somebody else was catching fish.

For a cultural experience, I recommend checking out Bophara Center which is more like a research center on Cambodian heritage. It’s a very unique place that covers a wide range of subjects and shows free movies.

Phnom Penh Museum and National Museum of Cambodia are also good options for those who want to learn about history. But honestly, do not expect a lot.

I am absolutely convinced that one full day will be enough time for you to get to know the city. Chances are you’ll want to run away.

But, walking around, dining out, and visiting the main attractions can be done during one day. In case you really want to take it slowly, plan for two days.


one week cambodia itinerary

Some people say that Koh Rong is home to some of the finest beaches not only in Cambodia but in entire Southeast Asia. Perhaps. I haven’t seen every single beach around this part of the world so can’t attest to that.

When we spent 4 full days on the island, we thought the sand and water were absolutely gorgeous. But a sea of rubbish and bad service partially ruined our experience. We stayed on the very east of the island and it was a mistake.

If you want to check out the coastline of Cambodia, do not stay on the mainland and better come to Long Beach in Koh Rong. There, you’ll find a slice of tropical paradise with soft white sand, the clearest aquamarine water, and a few stunning hotels.

The reason I put 3 days is that you may end up loving a place so much that will want to stay longer. Do some research on accommodation before booking a one-week itinerary because Koh Rong may captivate your heart.

WHERE TO STAY: We got the impression that most of the accommodation on the island include guesthouses or beach bungalows that look nicer in pictures than in reality. If it says that a hotel is a 4-star hotel, most likely it will be a 3-star one.

The best hotel in the best spot on the island is the newly built The Royal Sands, located right on Long Beach in an absolutely gorgeous setting. But the price is too high, especially for Cambodia. Nearby Soksan Beach Resort is a much cheaper option. Everything else is pretty average, unfortunately. There are plenty of choices to choose from, just keep in mind they are not as good as portrayed on the Internet.


Sihanoukville – neglected dirty town with filthy beaches, poor infrastructure, and absolutely zero things to do. Instead of wasting your time there, better take a boat to Koh Rong, Koh Rong Sanloem, Koh Ta Kiev, or Bamboo Island.

sihanoukville cambodia
Independence beach boardwalk in Sihanoukville looks.. eh.. a bit dirty. This is only five meters away from the beach. Local people do not respect themselves or others. They abuse the environment. Littering around is totally ok with them

Kaoh Tonsay – is a small island, not far from the mainland, from Kep province. Even if you have more than a week in Cambodia, I still believe coming here is a waste of time and money. This island is very small and there is absolutely nothing to do here. Only a few overpriced bars and low-grade bungalows for a night stay. The beach is dirty and very average. Boats are very old and the ride is sketchy.

Banteay Chhmar – is a remote village in Western Cambodia. It is home to a Seventh Wonder of the World an ancient Khmer temple “Citadel of Cats”. Visiting this place is once in a lifetime experience but if you plan to spend only one week in Cambodia, going here will steal a lot of your time. Except for the temple, there is nothing else to do and the ride alone from Siem Reap will take around 3.5 hours one way. For the most part, there is no gravel road between these two locations so the ride will be also bumpy.

Eastern part of the country – this part of the country is the least developed one and has the biggest amount of explosive submunitions dropped by the U.S. during the Vietnam war. Most of them are found in eastern and northeastern areas bordering Laos and Vietnam. It will take a long time to deactivate those landmines. Do not go to the Eastern part of Cambodia by yourself, you’ll need to have a guide. On a week-long journey coming here probably doesn’t make sense at all.

When working on your Cambodia itinerary, take a look (if you haven’t yet) at scams and lies of Cambodia or daily life in Cambodia to be aware of what to expect. If you are planning to be adventurous when it comes to food, read our guide on food, and drink safety when traveling in Southeast Asia.

To be able to take delight in your trip, do not expect a lot from this country. Also, probably try to plan as much as you can. In such a destination as Cambodia travel without a plan may take all joy away.

Happy travels!

This one week Cambodia itinerary highlights only the best attractions and sights. This country is surprising and shocking at the same time. Check this out and start planning your trip to Cambodia #cambodiatravel #bestofcambodia

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  1. This blog post was very informative and eye-opening. I am sorry to hear that there is so much trash on the streets in Cambodia and that the locals are trying to scam tourists. I was thinking of visiting Angkor Wat at the end of the year when I plan to visit Vietnam but it is a bit of a journey. Also, I am not sure I will enjoy it that much in the heat. Thank you for sharing your insights into Cambodia.

    1. Angkor Wat is such a grand place! If you happen to visit this part of the world come and see it. Traveling just for Angkor Wat from Vietnam may be a bit challenging but worth it. I would probably skip everything else.

  2. Great insights – I appreciate your honesty! It’s been about 20 years since I went to Cambodia, and I remember having a great time in Phnom Penh, but maybe a lot has changed. I also thought Angkor Wat was stunning and the food was incredible, so there are some gems to be found.

    1. Thanks, Anya, for the straightforward account. Do you have any advice for traveling city to city? Bus, train, plane? We only have one week and we only want Siem Reap and Koh Rong, but we might have to fly into Phnom Penh. Any ideas for traveling between these 3 places?

      1. Hi Eric, the best way to get around Cambodia is by bus or public transfer, train is the next choice if you plan to travel between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, from there you can reach Koh Rong by ferry.
        We personally enjoyed traveling by bus, however keep in mind there are different types of buses. I strongly advice avoiding the cheapest ones because they are dirty, make bunch of stops along the way and take a lot of time to get places, and overall they transport the poorest population what affects safety of a tourist. More expensive buses offer a good level of comfort, less time en route and different public.
        Plane would work too between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap if you are comfortable flying. We are personally not. Cambodian airlines offer flights between these two cities but this airline is one of the least safe in the world. We would never be comfortable flying with them. But that depends on you of course. The flight is short, less than hour connecting two cities.

  3. I applaud your honesty and do appreciate how you have carefully given your opinion while also provided alternatives. I have always wanted to visit Angkor Wat because it looks stunning and I think I am now more aware of what to expect for the country!

    1. Thank you, Sami, for your words! If planned smartly, it can be quite an experience. I hope you’ll get a chance to visit and have a wonderful time!

  4. It’s unfortunate that it was so disappointing. And scams and lies are such an awful experience. We dealt with that in Paris. Thank you for your honesty about your time in Cambodia. It’s very helpful to be able to go on a trip knowing what to expect.

  5. A huge portion of the world is often filled with trash and there are scams to be cautious of. Traveling like a local and seeing all of this is as you said is eye-opening, but it also puts money directly to the local economy which enables them to slowly work toward providing viable solutions to create a cleaner environment. Not every destination is pristine and as travelers, we need to make sure we’re doing our part to help them rather than adding to the problem. Thanks for your honesty in providing your week-long Cambodia itinerary.

    1. Unfortunately, with so high levels of corruption in Cambodia, the money tourists spend do not go to the local economy. Statistically, every year level of life and economic development in Cambodia actually goes down. Even tourist landmarks are not taken care of. If you visit Angkor Wat, you spend $50-$100 for the entrance ticket alone (that’s more than what you would spend on the entrance fee to any national park in the U.S..) Millions of tourists visit this area every year (meaning millions of dollars are earned,) but no roads are built, no lightning is set up anywhere near temple complex, a lot of parts of a complex are closed because they are dilapidated. The road to Angkor Wat is cracked and extremely dark. Where does all money go that tourists spend? People live poorly, a lot of them don’t have access to simple things as healthcare, education, clean water, and even food. Of course, they will scam and cheat when they see tourists, that’s obvious. Majority of people in Cambodia do not live, they survive.
      Definitely, not every destination is pristine but in Cambodia you, as a tourist is taken advantage of and seen as someone they can dishonestly make money on. I understand a thought that the money you spend is going to help improve the economy and quality of life of other people is definitely comforting, but let’s look into the eyes of reality – Cambodia, as a country, degrades and we, as tourists, cannot change that no matter how much money we spend there during our holidays. It is sad but it is a fact.

    2. How do you help them by spending money there? The level of corruption and scams is so high, you don’t even know where your money goes.
      Their society at first needs to change the attitude and have a desire to change the way of their lifestyle and readjust the values to fit in the civilized world and only then it will make a difference.

  6. Wow! This article is so helpful. I have a plan to visit this country so just bookmarked this post. Thanks for mentioning the Bophara Center; that seems interesting. I have read various blogs on Cambodia but I came across Bophara Center for the very first time.

  7. I love your honesty about your experiences in Cambodia. This makes your recommendations for a 1-week itinerary so much more valuable. I guess if you’re taking the trouble to travel to Cambodia, then Angkor Wat should be one of the things to see. It’s good to know that one full day is enough to get a good general impression of the temple complex.

  8. Oh yes!!! Been to Seam Reap and I totally love it!!! the temples are amazing, the hotel was awesome and the food too good and too cheap. I would love to go back!!! Love the photos here!

  9. Yeah I wasn’t a massive fan of Cambodia- I actually cut my trip short and headed to Laos. Best decision I ever made!!

  10. Thank you for creating such an honest post. Cambodia has some incredible natural beauties, however, just like most places, it can also have a darker side. This is a great post for people who are just beginning and aren’t quite sure what to expect! Thanks again!

  11. Sorry but I have to disagree with some points just to add another perspectuive for others.

    1) its not always miserably hot at angkor wat it would depend on the time of year, if that is truly the only thing stopping you from a second day, go when its not so hot! I went in November its hot but not hot enough to cancel your plans

    2) Very much disagree about taking the tour vs tuk tuk in Siem Reap- a tuk tuk driver will drive you all day on your own schedule and itinerary for $20 it is one of my greatest experiences in travel. It is so cheap convenient and I still think about the friend we made from our driver! An amazing experience not to miss!

    3) Sihanouk is not all trash! So sad that you saw that, head to the beach and you will have the best time, I also find it rude to say the locals dont care about themselves or where they live, to each their own but I dont agree and find it a hostile thing to say about a dirt poor country.

    Cambodia is my favorite country in the world overall due to the Siem reap temples and the easy tuk tuk experience as well as the beautiful beach in Sihanouk! Please dont miss it and take this blog with a grain of salt, other aspects I did find true but wanted to mention this- about to go back so I am looking around at blogs to see what I missed and was surprised to see this

    1. It is a totally disgusting country, why would anyone who respects himself would want to go there?
      Maybe to volunteer and help them learn how to start treating the environment and each other with respect and care but definitely not to travel there to pour money

    2. I agree Amber, the comment about locals not respecting themselves was so classist it made me sick. I hate to think that people this judgemental travel and somehow miss the beauty in other places.

      1. We just arrived home from two weeks in Cambodia. I have travelled to Thailand, Vietnam and Laos in this part of Asia and I unfortunately have to agree with your post. We did Siem Reap, which I actually found to be a fairly charming town (by SE Asia standards), but the capital and Koh Rong were hugely disappointing.

        I did not experience any scams, felt safe at all times and found the people to be lovely, BUT the garbage EVERYWHERE just made me sooooo sad. Along with it of course are rats that are more than unnerving. My advice is the same as yours. Fly into Siem Reap, go to Angkor Wat, take a cooking classes, see the acrobatics show, enjoy the sweet little cafes and night market and then leave this country!!! I think a good amount of time is 4-5 days in that city only, and go. The countryside between Siem Reap and PP is uninteresting, the drive to Koh Rong ferries, not particularly interesting, but will say had the best highway in the country.

        In Siem Reap stay at Moon Residence, you will be in LOVE. I will never return to this country and would only recommend Siem Reap only. My take away is I will carry a garbage bag with me on every walk in Canada to ensure my country never looks like that.

        1. Hi Tanis, thank you for your meaningful comment!

          It is very sad to hear that the garbage problem is only getting worse. Unfortunately, it is too deeply rooted in the way of living in Cambodia and is considered normal by many people.
          That’s why in order to change it, the government should set very fundamental laws that would make radical changes. Overall, society on its own is not cable of improving this situation even though there are individuals who take initiative in their hands.

  12. We are in Cambodia now, moved to Phnom Penh a few days ago from Siem Reap and I’ve just changed our flight to leave sooner. There is something significantly wrong with this country, from the attitude of many people to the horrible pollution.

    We didn’t experience scams, mostly because we arranged everything in advance with a tour agent and now with the hotel reception stuff. But two days ago when still in Siem Reap we went to eat street food and found one place full of local people (thinking it was supposed to be good then) and ordered samlor soup. While we were still standing by the road ordering a soup there was one lady walking by with a movable cart selling dry bugs or insects or something who offered us to buy them too. My husband shook his head and I just said no pulling back and showing her with my body language that it’s not our thing.

    Then we went to sit at the table waiting on our food. When the food arrived we started to eat and owners were looking at us giggling, we couldn’t understand what was wrong. After a few spoons, I noticed there were a few small insects in my soup as well as in my husband’s bowl. I waved to the owner and showed it to him asking what it was but he just responded something in his own language and just laughed, and then just pointed to that lady who was selling bugs and just said “but it is good, it is so good”. Other visitors who were there just tried to hide their laughs and owners were laughing at us talking something in Khmer language.

    At first I thought I was going to puke right there at the table but we immediately left not understanding what to do but knowing that they added those dry insects to our soup on purpose. It was absolutely cruel. When we returned to our hotel I cried very hard, later told the story to the reception and even though they sympathized a lot and offered me a free tea with a meal, they also tried to justify those people saying they wanted us to try those bugs and this is it, and people eat bugs in Cambodia and that’s actually food and nothing will happen to us after eating those insects.

    It was a bad idea to go try street food as well as it was a bad idea to come to Cambodia at all. I was scammed on my travels in Asia, but no one ever put bugs in my food just to make fun of me. Cambodia is one of the worst countries I have ever visited.

    1. Hi Sarahy, I honestly don’t know what to say. It sounds crazy. I have dozens of reasons why I don’t like Cambodia but the food we ate there was good for the most part.

      I am very sorry this happened to you and I just hope that already in the nearest future when you remember this unpleasant situation, it will not be triggering any negative feelings in you.

  13. We are in our 70s and have travelled all over the world and lived on 3 continents.
    We are currently in Cambodia for 10 days, starting off in Siem Reap. It’s very hot and humid so sightseeing has to be done at a very slow pace which means you see more. We only travel by tuk tuk and local transport when we can. However we did fly by Angkor Airways from HCMC to Siem Reap for a very low fare, and have always flown by very local cheap airlines world-wide when we’ve chosen to distance wise and have never had any trouble doing so. We do a lot of research before we visit a country both from guide books and travel blogs so that we know what there is to see and what not to bother with. For instance we spent two awesome hours in the Angkor Museum in Siem Reap, a world class establishment, to learn more about Angkor Wat and the surrounding world heritage sites before we got there.
    I’m rather disappointed with your review of Cambodia but not unsurprised. There are way dirtier places in the world than Cambodia and very often the locals are kinder and more tolerant because of their circumstances.

    1. Hey Ruth, I also lived on 3 continents and traveled all over the world and found dirtier places in the world than Cambodia (as I’ve been to quite a few of them) where locals were much kinder, more friendly and more honest, taking into consideration their difficult life and circumstances. That’s why I didn’t like Cambodia – because it was quite the opposite from all those other poor places I’ve been to, including distant corners of SE Asia.

      But I am not surprised to see your comment, people in their 70s from the western world countries with money to travel have the privilege of being able to insulate themselves from many of the problems that others face in this country. Why notice problems at all, right? The most important thing you had a pleasant tuk-tuk ride and enjoyed your visit to Angkor Museum!

  14. I agree with a lot of your assessment of Cambodia having traveled there three times, including once for work. It’s certainly not for everyone. I personally didn’t think the scamming was that bad, at least not compared to Vietnam or India. And totally disagree with your assessment of Angkor, but I guess it depends what you like. The issue is that apart from. Angkor, Cambodia’s problem as a tourist destination is that most of what it offers (beach, city, nature, etc.) is better in most of the neighboring countries. For most people it still makes sense to just do Siem Reap as a long weekend and skip the rest of the country.

  15. We went to the spa you recommended while spending one week in Siem Reap and it was great, definitely recommend!

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