Siem Reap is popular with travellers for the renowned stunning temples of Angkor Wat, however there’s plenty more to be discovered in this small city.
Keep an eye out for: Tuk tuks – the easiest way to get around although they might test your nerves as your driver squeeze through tiny gaps!
By plane – Siem Reap has an International Airport however majority of arrivals are from other Asian airports, perfect for those doing a tour of South East Asia. If you are coming from further afield you will likely stop off at either Bangkok (1 hour), Hong Kong (2 hours 30), Singapore (2 hours) or Guangzhou (3 hours) en route. If you need a visa this can be purchased at the airport, it’s best to pay this in US dollars and also remember to bring a passport photo with you.
By bus – If you’re travelling from a neighbouring country or another major city within Cambodia consider getting a coach to Siem Reap. From Phnom Penh the coach journey is around 7 hours including a refreshment break, with the drop of point located a short tuk tuk ride into the centre. I highly recommend booking this route with either Giant Ibis or Mekong Express due to their low record of thefts (luggage is tagged) and for their comfortable coaches. Other common routes to Siem Reap are from Bangkok (12 hours) and Ho Chi Minh City (12 hours); both will involve a border crossing where you can sort out your Cambodian visa on arrival.
By boat – An alternative way to get to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh is to travel across Tonle Sap lake by boat, please note this is not available during dry season (March-June) due to reduced water levels. Crossing the lake takes around 6 hours, which you can spend sat atop the boat watching the view and spotting floating villages en route.
The majority of hotels within Siem Reap are located a few kilometres South of Siem Reap’s top attraction Angkor Wat. This central area is also where lots of shops, restaurants and bars are, along with the famous night market.
Shinta Mani Angkor – This boutique hotel offers the perfect balance of escapism and central location. A 10 minute walk from haggling for a new souvenir or 10 steps away from their gorgeous pool. They have a wide range of tours on offer from exploring Angkor’s temples to wine making!
Phum Baitang – Located further out of the centre, Phum Baitang is made up of 45 Cambodian style luxury wooden villas, some with their own private plunge pool. Guests can enjoy delicious Cambodian cuisine at Bay Phsar restaurant after a long day exploring temples, whilst looking our across the rice paddies.
Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor – Part of renowned luxury chain Belmond, this Khmer style sanctuary is the perfect place to relax. Recharge your batteries at Kong Kea Spa or take advantage of some of the incredible experiences on offer.
Amansara – The ultimate in luxury resorts, this hotel was originally build as a guesthouse for King Sihanouk’s visitors. Included in room rates are use of a chauffeured remork within Siem Reap town and daily excursions to Angkor’s temples.
Amok Curry – Usually served either within a coconut or wrapped in banana leave this yellow fish curry is delicious with rice or on its own.
Insects – Surprisingly tasty you can try various fried insects and deep fried tarantula at street markets, or for a more upmarket way to eat them head to Bugs Cafe.
Balut – Not one for the faint-hearted, this is a fertilised duck egg sold as a snack. I’ll admit that I chickened out of trying one!
Lok Lak – This stir fried beef is seasoned with a Khmer mix of lime, salt and peppers and tends to be served on a bed of salad.
Cuisine Wat Damnak – A must visit for foodies! Offering a sublime blend of French and Khmer cuisine it’s easy to see why this was named one of Asia’s Top 50 restaurants in 2016, make sure to book ahead!
Viroth’s Restaurant – Enjoy traditional Khmer cuisine in a romantic setting, as silk screens separate diners creating intimate dining. Delicious flavourful dishes for very reasonable prices.
Blue Pumpkin – To tickle your sweet tooth head to Blue Pumpkin for delicious cakes and gelato. Take a break from the heat and relax with an ice cream on delightfully comfy sofas.
Bugs Cafe – For adventurous diners looking for an extraordinary meal this should be top of your list. As the name suggests this tapas bar serves a range of snacks all with a creepy crawly twist, some of which are surprisingly tasty!
Water – Tap water isn’t considered safe to drink in Cambodia so stock up on bottled water, you’ll need to rehydrate after a day of wandering around temples in the scorching sun.
Angkor beer – This popular domestic beer even has a mini Angkor Wat as its logo so you have to drink it in the city home to its namesake!
Fruit shakes – For a refreshing drink in the midday sun stop by one of the popular juice stalls. You can pick one or more fruit to be juiced and added to shaved ice and sugar syrup. Passionfruit is my fave!
Foreign Correspondents Club – Once the French governor’s house, this colonial villa has been converted into a hotel, restaurant and bar. Relax outside in the garden with a glass of vino from their decent wine selection.
Go temple hopping around Angkor Wat – Angkor Wat is a huge complex made up of several beautiful temples. Make sure to see the smiling faces at Bayon temple, pretend you’re Tomb Raider at Ta Prohm and explore the stunning famous main temple of Angkor Wat.
Create your own souvenir with Backstreet Academy – Flex your creative skills and walk away with your very own handmade souvenir after a workshop with Backstreet Academy. You can try a range of classes including copper bracelet making and iron pencil sketching.
Watch a performance by Phare Circus – Enjoy an incredible evening of dance, music and acrobatics. If you upgrade to premium seats you get a lovely handcrafted gift to take away.
Play temple themed mini golf – Away from the real temples of Angkor Wat you can have fun trying to get a hole in one around miniature versions. There’s even telephone points to order a cold one whilst on the course!
Set your alarm for Angkor’s sunrise – Wake up bright and early to see the stunning scene as the sun rises from behind Angkor Wat. If it’s a clear day you’ll be able to see the bright orange sun come up after dawn has broken.
Explore the Night Market – Although not as famous as the night markets elsewhere in Asia, there’s a treasure trove of beautiful souvenirs to be found at Siem Reap’s night market. Remember to haggle to get to the right price!