It wasn’t on the bucket list and didn’t seem like a possibility for us on this trip until someone told us about Siem Reap. We are so glad we took the advise of our friend who suggested it and checked it out. We spent 10 days here exploring the area, visiting Angkor Wat and hanging out at the many hipster coffee shops in the city. If you decide to go, 5 days should be enough to explore the area and get a good feel for the city and after that you should probably move on to another area of Cambodia as it can get a little dull. We did love it though and we do recommend visiting it!
Things to do:
Yes, yes, yes, check out Angkor Wat! In fact, don’t just check it out, get one of the multi-day passes and explore it in detail. I would even recommend hiring a guide if you can for the various temples. This is the largest temple complex in the world and is a remarkable sight. It is about 900 yeas old, but you have a lot of freedom to explore the temples and climb what you want to climb. We really enjoyed our visit and would go back to Siem Reap just to visit it.
We hired a “tuk tuk” for a day to drive us around to the places we wanted to see and it was only $15! We got an amazing “tuk tuk” driver, he was the kindest and most helpful. He had water ready for us once we got back from exploring and when it started raining, he gave us umbrellas. We would definitely recommend Vichet (this isn’t sponsored, we just really appreciated him). Contact him directly +85569561006
Siem Reap Street Market and Night market:
The street markets sell anything you can imagine, anything. From knockoff Nike’s to LV handbags to food and drinks. There is no obligation to buy anything and browsing is just fine but be sure if you go into negotiations that you are actually wanting to buy the item. Whatever price they ask upfront is usually 2-3 times the price you should be paying, feel free to walk away if they don’t negotiate, there is someone selling the exact same item a few stalls down.
The Night Market is a lot of fun and a completely different experience from the day market. The night market is a lot busier with a lot more vendors out. We came to the night market on a daily basis simply to snack at the stalls and brows the merchandise. It’s a must visit.
Pub Street: This is the hub of the city full of restaurants geared at tourists and karaoke in the evenings. It’s pretty hectic and wild but also a lot of fun! Check it out!
This is one of the highest mountains in Siem Reap and has a great view from the top. There is an unimpressive temple at the top which you can skip unless you are really into temples. The views from this mountain are incredible, we hung out for a while up here simply admiring the view.
Lilly Pad Village:
On the way to Phnom Krom there is water lily’s lining the road on the drive, be sure to pull over and check them out. it’s a unique experience to see the community here living in little over water huts.
We were not into it, it’s pretty much just a tourist-trap at this point and wouldn’t recommend it. We did however check out the “land side” of the floating village (since the houses are anchored to land). It was interesting to see but not very impressive, we spent 10-15 min here and took off.
Where to stay:
Where you stay in Siem Reap can make or break the experience for you. Here are our top 3 recommendations for accommodation-
Affordable Luxury- Grand Élysée La Résidence
This is a brand new hotel that is beautiful, modern and comfortable. The staff here was friendly and accommodating. This feels like a true 5 star luxury hotel and we really enjoyed our stay here. Free shuttle to town is a great perk. We had a really good dinner at the restaurant here, be sure to check it out
Secluded Luxury- Angkor Elysium Suites
Located just 15 minutes outside of downtown. This is a great option for those who like it a little quieter. This hotel boasts over-sized suites and a very large swimming pool. They also offer free rides to town whenever you want which makes staying here very convenient.
Luxury on a Budget – Popular Residence
This is a fun and very affordable hotel located close to town. They have incredible staff here that is extremely accommodating and willing to do anything to make your stay great! We recommend staying in one of the junior Suites as it is a very quiet and large room. One of the evenings we had a sunset dinner on the roof which we would recommend!
Where to eat:
- Georges Rhumerie French Fusion Restaurant: this was our favorite restaurant in Siem Reap. The food is INCREDIBLE and the service is top notch. Make reservations before you go because they get very busy for dinner.
- Vibe Cafe: very cute, healthy food cafe. They donate 10% of their profits to help those is need
- Spoons: We loved this place! The food is delicious and the setting is beautiful. They also have a hospitality training school for underprivileged kids to help them acquire working skills. We always love supporting places that give back to the community.
- New Leaf: This is a great cafe that serves coffee and delicious food. They also give back to the community by giving 30% of their profits. How amazing is that?!
- Sister Srey Cafe: We came here everyday! They have delicious food, amazing smoothies/juices, and comfy seating (upstairs) to work. They also donate 20% of their profits to organizations in Siem Reap.
- The Hive: Super hip cafe that serves delicious juices and coffee.
- Dakshins: Our favorite Indian food place in Siem Reap. It is SO good!
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