Siem Reap

Siem Reap, the gateway to angkor wat, in Cambodia
Siem Reap is located on the north eastern side of the Tonle Sap lake and is the main access to visit Angkor Wat. The center remains a rural old town, with French style houses and shops. The area around the old market is crowded with locals and foreigners all day long. A few steps more and you are in the middle of the nightlife area, where the fun lasts till the sun shines again. Other than going to see Angkor Wat, there isn’t much reason to really visit the town itself and I personally don’t like the city.

Typical Costs

  • Hostel Prices: Dormitory rooms cost between $2-6 USD Private rooms cost $3-9 USD at a cheap guesthouse.
  • Budget Hotel Prices: Hotels range from $10-$20 USD for air con, a private bathroom, and a comfortable bed.
  • Average Cost of Food: You can eat rice and noodle dishes for $1 USD and lunch meals at restaurants for around $1.50 USD. Even mid-range restaurants for dinner will only cost $6-8 USD. During dinner time, outdoor markets and street restaurants have dishes for $1-3 USD.
  • Transportation Costs: A day’s hire of a tuk-tuk from the town around the major temples at Angkor Wat and back should cost $12-15 USD. A motorbike taxi should cost $8-10 USD. Visiting temples further out will cost more because of fuel. For trips around Siem Reap, tuk-tuks and motorbike taxis should cost $1-$2 USD for short trips and under $5 USD from the airport into town.

Top Things to Do

  • Tonle Sap Lake - This lake is the biggest lake of Southeast Asia and changes every monsoon and dry season in dimension. You can rent a boat to go along the river and watch the fisherman working. It will cost you about US $20 USD for a few hours, and it will bring you all the way until you reach the Tonle Sap lake.
  • Landmine Museum - Landmines have devastated the country, maiming and killing thousands. These remnants of past wars still cause destruction today. The Landmine Museum has an in depth museum and dormitory residence for up to 30 amputee children and a school. This is very worthwhile cause to check out and donate to.
  • Visit the temples of Angkor Wat - The main reason come to Siem Reap is to use it as a base to visit the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat. They are close by and worth a long visit. For more information, see the detailed section on Angkor.
  • Elephant Rides - If you ever wanted to ride an elephant, this is your chance. You can ride elephants all over Southeast Asia, so if you miss your moment here, there will be another chance somewhere.
  • Apsara Dancing - Though this can seem like a tourist trap given the number of people offering this to you, the dancers are often talented and the dance is very much a part of modern Khmer culture. It’s and authentic, though touristy, way to see traditional Khmer performance art.
  • Tarantula treats – Seen as big, black, scary spiders by most, these critters are a favorite snack throughout the country. Often fried with butter and garlic, this delicacy is an interesting thing to try. Try not to let the gooey insides get to you.
  • Happy Ranch Horse Farm – This ranch offers countryside trail rides by horseback—you can take rides that last anywhere from one hour to four. Wander in and out of the various villages, rice fields, and Buddhist pagodas during sunrise or sunset. It is an awesome adventure.
  • Cambodian Cooking Class – Learning the art of Cambodian cuisine is a fun and more unique tourist attraction. The class sizes tend to be around 6 people and you will learn 3 entire meals as well as get recipe cards at the end.
  • Banteay Srei – Known as the ‘city of women’, this site was built in dedication to the Hindu God, Shiva. With a number of outstanding, red sandstone carved statues, Banteay Srei is an astonishing sight to visit.
  • Stung Thmei – Located near the old market, this village is inhabited by Chams, immigrants from central and south Vietnam.
  • Angkor Silk Farm - For a look at the silk-making process from start to finish you can visit this silk farm, which lies twenty minutes from the city centre. To get there, hop on a shuttle bus at the Artisans Angkor’s main center on Thmey Street. It departs during the mornings, until 1:00 PM.
  • Wat Preah Prom Rath – A newer temple within the city, Wat Preah Prom Rath is only 500 years old. Beautiful reliefs depict everything from man-eating crocodiles to the ever-tranquil Buddha figure. Supposedly, the site of this temple was chosen by a man who landed here while his boat was sinking.
  • The Water Festival - If you’re here around the end of October, make a point of staying for the Water Festival. The festival marks the changing flow of the river’s current, and culminates in a huge boat race. More than a million people flock to watch these boats and the nightly fireworks. The festival begins on the last day of the full moon in October (though some years it falls near the beginning of November), and lasts for three days.

Budget Tips

    • Bike around - Renting a bicycle should cost around $5 USD per day. Be aware that most of the streets around town degrade into small swamps of muddy water and potholes if there has been a recent rain.
    • Hire a Driver for Multiple Days - Chances are your tuk-tuk driver from the bus station or airport will want to also be your driver to the temples.  Use this as a chance to strike up a multi-day deal.

Other Destinations in Cambodia

Angkor Wat Phnom Phen