Cambodia Itinerary : How Many Days Do You Need?
Created by Colleen Sims * 23 October 2023
How Long in Cambodia : 1 Day, 1 Week or 1 Month?
The ‘how long in Cambodia’ conundrum was exactly our problem when we first started planning our own itinerary. In the end we learned that the answer is not how long do you need but how long do you have?
We weren’t even sure if it was possible to organise our own independent visit, but we soon realised that not only was it possible, it was actually really straightforward. Looking back we wish that we’d allowed more time, so read on and learn from our suggestions and experiences before deciding on how many days you’ll need in Cambodia.
How Many Days Should You Spend in Cambodia?
I think it’s easier to ask yourself how many days do you have for your visit. You can see a lot in one week and easily fill a month. If you have time or budget constraints, then 2 weeks is a great amount of time to see the highlights of Cambodia.
I spend hours researching because I want to ensure that we make the very most of our time without :
I’m a born researcher; I join forums and Facebook groups and cross refer our itineraries to well-known organised tours. I like to dig deeper and find unusual or more authentic local activities. Why? Because often we only get one chance to visit a country and finding out how long we need is an essential part of that planning.
Most folks are too busy to undertake this level of research, so use my knowledge and our experiences in Cambodia and cherry pick from the choices below to make the most of your days in Cambodia.
Top Tip : Read through each section below as I will add layers of ideas to the itinerary suggestions, starting from 1 or 2 days to 3 weeks and longer.
Plan Your Own Itinerary : Save Time and Money
Planning your own trip makes sense for a lot of reasons. Friends tell us that they could never go alone on a trip like this but you can. Planning your own itinerary absolutely saves you money, but more importantly you have control over what you do.
You can tailor your trip to include the activities that you love, the level of comfort that you prefer, the ease of travel you want (such as private transfers rather than a bus). Because my post is more than a list “99 best things to do” you can use the following itinerary suggestions to craft your own adventure.
Arrival and Departure Airports in Cambodia
Planning your entry and exit points into Cambodia can save time on travels days and save you money. Cambodia has three international airports :
Most international flights arrive at either the new Siem Reap Angkor airport or Phnom Penh but if you’re looking for a beach getaway then Sihanouk might be useful for you too.
Top Tip : if you are using an eVisa make sure your entry/exit port can accept an eVisa
Our Cambodia visit was part of a longer trip in SE Asia. We flew into Phnom Penh from Singapore but to save on extra travel days, we flew out from Siem Reap to Bangkok with Air Asia, a low cost airline.
There is also an extensive and inexpensive bus network to and from Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. In some cases it is easier to travel on one of the better buses than fly.
Considerations for Your Cambodia Itinerary
When deciding how many days to spend in Cambodia, consider what you love doing because this will provide you with a roadmap of your own preferred destinations.
1 and 2 Day Visits : A Cambodia Stopover
1 Day in Siem Reap
If you only have one day in Siem Reap then visit Angkor Wat with your own guide and tuk tuk. If you prefer you can opt for this highly rated small group Anglor Wat sunrise tour which can help stretch the budget.
We did go early and catch the sunrise and I would 100% recommend that you do the same if time allows; but don’t forget to take bug spray and sunscreen.
In the evening book your seat at the Phare Circus. This is a really excellent show and you won’t regret your choice.
2 Days in Siem Reap
If you have two days in Siem Reap then you can explore beyond the Angkor Wat or if you prefer, you can delve even deeper into the temple complex.
Good to Know : There are two temple circuits at UNESCO Angkor Archaeological Park; the inner and outer circuits. The most famous temple, Angkor Wat, is part of the inner circuit. If you only spend one day in the park then don’t worry because you will see a great deal within the inner circuit.
Follow day 1 above and for day 2 choose from :
For your second evening we suggest you visit Siem Reap Night Market and afterwards spend some time people watching in Pub Street. There are many good restaurants in this area offering a wide range of cuisines; we had a great India meal at Vanakkan.
1 Day in Phomn Penh
If you have just one day in Phnom Penh then your visit would not be complete without going to the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center otherwise known as the Killing Fields. The Khmer Rouge regime shaped modern Cambodia and to understand this wonderful country then this tour is a must.
In the morning take a Guided Tour of the Killing Fields. You can go alone but I do recommend a guided tour to help you make sense and process all that you will see. Most Killing Field tours also include a visit to the infamous Tuol Sleng S-21 detention centre. We were collected from our hotel and had the opportunity to talk in depth with our guide. He also suggested lunch for the group at the end which was a great addition to the tour.
Good To Know : The visit to the Killing Fields and in particular S-21 are difficult. At S-21 I had to leave the group and go sit in the garden. It’s hard to comprehend what happened here. But I have no regrets on taking the tour. It was excellent and I have profound respect for the people of Cambodia but be warned you may find some aspects difficult and it’s ok to take a break.
In the afternoon visit the Royal Palace and gardens. You can visit the palace with a guide but it’s not necessary. We did take a tour but returned later to explore further alone as we felt we missed a great deal and wanted to see things at a slower pace. It’s a beautiful site with many ancient artifacts and displays.
If you have just one evening in Phnom Penh then book a Mekong River Sunset Tour; this is a simple little tour but one of our favourite activities whilst in the city.
2 Days in Phnom Penh
With your tour of the Killing fields and the Royal Palace on day one , you have a few options for your second day :
For your second evening opt for one of the cities Sky bars or visit the Foreign Correspondents club or book a place on a night street food tour; we had a wonderful time on ours. If you’re in town over the weekend then check out Phnom Penh’s night market.
3-5 Days in Cambodia : Perfect Short Stay Ideas
If you have 3 to 5 days in Cambodia then I would recommend that you base your exploration around one location. It would be possible to split your time between two cities but with so much to see there, I recommend that you centre yourself around Siem Reap.
For Evenings don’t miss the incredible Phare Circus, visit the Siem Reap Night Market or soak up the atmosphere in Pub Street. We also took an Evening Food Tour which we’d totally recommend. For a little indulgence, visit the Elephant Bar at Raffles and enjoy their signature cocktail the Airavata (a blend of rum, coconut passion, lime juice, crème de banana and pineapple & coconut juice).
If you have some free time then explore one or two of the many Markets of Siem Reap. Some markets like the Beeswax Market are only open in the morning. Other markets such Made in Cambodia and the Main Market are open all day.
7 Day Itinerary : A Week in Cambodia
If you have a week in Cambodia then it becomes possible to explore beyond Siem Reap. Would you prefer to add a few days in the Jungle walking with the Elephants? Or would prefer a visit to the bustling Capital of Phnom Penh?
One suggestion for a 7 day trip would be 3 days in Siem Reap, 3 days in Phnom Penh and 1 day for travelling between the two. Ideally you can arrange entry into Cambodia via one destination and depart from the other.
For your evenings in Phnom Penh visit one of the cities Sky Bars, take a sunset cruise on the Mekong or a Street Food tour. At the weekend make sure you visit the very busy night market. One evening we booked a tuk-tuk and asked for a quick tour of the city at night; it only cost a few dollars but it was fun seeing the city light-up and very different from during the day.
10 Days in Cambodia : Must-See Options
With 10 days in Cambodia you can easily add a third destination or of you can simply slow down and include some time to relax.
When we travel we like to put aside one day a week with no plans. In Phnom Penh we had a lazy day beside the pool at the Pavilion Hotel and it allowed us to recharge our batteries. This window also allows for unexpected events, like a flight change or bad weather or even sickness.
However, if you prefer to be busy busy busy then we would recommend that you add a few days in Mondulkiri and opt to go walking through the rainforest with the Elephants. This was one of the highlights of all our days in Cambodia.
For travelling between locations take a read of our post on how to get around Phnom Penh and Cambodia; we used buses but you can equally opt for affordable private transfers too.
Your 10 day itinerary could include :
How to Spend 2 Days in Mondulkiri
Take a look at the ideas we’ve listed above for our 1 Week in Cambodia itinerary but add in the following days in Mondulkiri.
Top Tip : We opted for budget accommodation at Manels Guest House in Mondulkiri and it was simply perfect for us. Manel, the owner organised and booked our trips according to our wish list, collected us from the bus and took us back in the early morning for our onward travel. WE LOVED our stay here.
2 Weeks in Cambodia : A Multi Centre Adventure
Two Weeks in Cambodia gives you plenty of time to explore. As with all our suggestions you need to prioritise your list of wants and your arrival and departure points.
We prefer to go off the beaten track. If you’re like us then allow time to explore both Mondulkiri and Kratie. If you prefer the coast then head south to the beaches and islands.
2 Week Itinerary Suggestions for Cities, Rivers and Rainforests
Select your favourite options from our earlier Siem Reap and Phnom Penh suggestions but for Kratie and Mondulkiri we’d recommend :
Things to do in Kratie
Kratie is a great place to break the journey between Siem Reap and Mondulkiri; it’s a very quiet backwater. I’ve allowed one full day here for you to go in search for the elusive dolphins but if you have time then spend longer simply doing very little; this really is the perfect place to unwind.
Most people visit Kratie to catch a glimpse of the endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin. You can book a half day tour and spend the morning travelling along the Mekong in the hope of spotting one of these strange looking glorious creatures.
In the afternoon you can explore the small town independently; some hotels offer bicycles or if you’re like us you may prefer to walk. Or take a taxi and visit the Mekong Turtle Conservation Centre or the impressive 100 Pillar Pagoda at Wat Sambor.
Things to do in Mondulkiri
It’s no secret that we loved our time in Mondulkiri. We stayed on the edge of Sen Monorom and so wished that we’d had more time.
2 Week Cambodia Itinerary for Cities and Beach Lovers
If you wish to split your days between culture, city life and some time relaxing beside the sea then Cambodia offers plenty of choice. A good mix would be :
Cambodia’s Island Paradise : Discover Unspoilt Beaches
Cambodia’s islands and beaches may not be as famous as their Thai neighbours but they shouldn’t be overlooked. Some of the most popular beaches can be found at Sihanoukville, Koh Rong, and Koh Rong Samloem.
3 Weeks or More in Cambodia
If you have more time in Cambodia there are plenty of places to explore. Here are a few places worthy of a day or two exploration.
Battambang is a charming city in north west Cambodia, known for its laid-back atmosphere, colonial architecture, and wonderful countryside. Battambang joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and is a great place to visit after the sights and crowds of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
Some of the more popular things to do in Battambang include :
Kampot is a small laid back riverside town in the south of Cambodia, known for its French colonial architecture, laid-back atmosphere, and more importantly its pepper plantations. It’s a good base for exploring more of southern Cambodia.
Some things you can do in Kampot :
The coastal town of Kep is another great place to relax. Kampot and Kep are only 20 kilometres away from each other so you can stay in one and visit the other; or stay a few days in both. Kep is not known for it’s nightlife nor its stunning beaches. Instead expect local life, fabulous fresh seafood and its rather unique crab market. Enjoy stunning sunsets along the beach, swim in the ocean, and enjoying the local cuisine.
Some things you can do in Kep :
The Cardamom Mountains are a vast mountain range in south west Cambodia and home to a variety of wildlife, dense rainforests, and waterfalls. This is the place to go if you love adventure and the great outdoors. There are a number of eco-lodges and community-based tourism projects in the Cardamoms with loads of ideas for many days of activities.
Some ideas for things to do in the Cardamom Mountains include :
Travel between Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Mondulkiri or Sikhanoukville
Cambodia is a big country and moving between these destinations can take a long time. However, you have four choices and budget, group size and personal preference will dictate which you choose.
Top Tip : When we travelled, it wasn’t so much a bus but a large mini-bus. We enjoyed the experience and would do this again but make sure you book a seat at least one row behind the driver. We opted for the front row and had less foot room and hot air pumped out from the engine. I’d choose row 3 next time
Our Favourite Hotel Choices in Cambodia
If you’re travelling around Cambodia and wondering where to stay, here is a selection of hotels that we’ve stayed in, our family stayed in or that we would book. As always we’ve included where possible a Budget, Comfort and Luxury option. Click each link to have a look and book.
Siem Reap Hotels
Phnom Penh Hotels
So How Many Days Do You Need in Cambodia?
When I started this post I never intended it to be as long or epic! But this is a great reflection on how epic Cambodia is. Cambodia is a treasure trove of wonders. We spent several weeks here and we knew that we wanted to see more before we’d even left.
The moment you set foot in Cambodia, you’re swept away by its unique blend of tradition and modernity. The real dilemma when planning your itinerary is how many days can you spare!
Plan Your Cambodia Itinerary
I hope our guide has given you the confidence and the tools you need to plan your own Cambodian adventure; whether for just a few days or a much longer stay.
If you’d like to read more about our travels in Cambodia take a look at :
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Whenever you travel overseas it’s imperative to travel with a good travel and medical insurance policy. None of us expect anything bad to happen, but in the event of an incident, you want to be sure that your insurance will be there for you.
I’ve had the mis-fortune to end up in hospital in Peru, Indonesia, Portugal and Ireland; every time my insurance took care of everything. I would never leave home without full and comprehensive insurance.
Globelink : We have used and recommended Globelink for years and we’ve not heard of any issues. They are a great choice for European and UK Residents.
TrueTraveller : We have this policy now for an extended global trip and we are very happy with the cover, especially considering our ages and pre-existing conditions
Safety Wing : Many of my travelling buddies from the USA have recommended this company to me, although we’ve not used them personally.