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Siem Reap

Photo © HikHak

Travel Guide Asia Cambodia Siem Reap

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Introduction

Motorcycle Monk - Siem Reap

Motorcycle Monk - Siem Reap

© All Rights Reserved andymoore

Siem Reap owes much of its popularity as a tourist destination to the fact that it is the gateway to Angkor Wat, one of Cambodia's prime attractions. Thanks to the ancient temples nearby, Siem Reap has turned into a focal point of Cambodian tourism, with dozens of hotels and guesthouses springing up over the past couple decades.

Siem Reap itself features a combination of Khmer, Chinese and colonial architectural styles. Old Market is one of the town's more vibrant, traditional areas. Siem Reap is also the capital of the province Siem Reap.

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Neighbourhoods

Psar Chaa is the square at the centre of downtown. Most of the city slowly radiates from Psar Chaa. The river runs roughly north south with most of the city on the west side of the river. Lately Siem Reap has started to sprawl out a fair amount & some of the larger more expensive resorts are now located on the outskirts of the city. Most of what travellers need is located in the downtown area near Psar Chaa including accommodation for any budget or comfort need.

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Sights and Activities

Angkor

Angkor is the ancient city that is home to Angkor Wat, possibly one of the most famous tourist sights in the world. The city dates back to over 800 years and was the capital of the Khmer Empire for several centuries. After several dynasties and periods of height and decline the city eventually fell to the Thai in the 15th century. The Khmers then relocated further east. This place is why Siem Reap is on the map and is a must see for any world traveller.

Tonle Sap

Tonlé Sap is the large river lake in the center of Cambodia. For most of the year this lake is only a metre deep but during the rainy season the Mekong reverses flow and the lake swells in size and becomes over 9 metres deep. It is the largest lake in Southeast Asia and of huge importance to Cambodia.

Museums

  • The Land Mine Museum is a good small outdoor museum located over the river that gives a history of land mine removal in Cambodia. It is also a small charity meant to help children that are the victims of land mines.
  • War Museum is a great large outdoor museum with left over weapons from the war. There is everything from old AK-47s to tanks and artillery cannons. The tour guides are veterans of the revolution and tell a very personal and moving story about the weapons and the effects they had on the Cambodian people.
  • Angkor National Museum is a new and large museum, cost entrance: US$12 camera: US$2.

Shopping

Shopping is a must in Cambodia as there is bound to be something of interest for everyone - from the lovely silk shawls and clothing to traditional musical instruments and books.

  • The Old Market Area, especially the boutique shops around it, is a great place to shop around.
  • Senteurs D'Angkor facing the Old Market is a boutique shop selling good quality silk shawls and clothing which are gift wrapped in hand woven palm covers. They also sell silk bags and gift wrapped spices and home decor. Silk shawls range upward from US$6 and blouses and shirts upwards of US$10.
  • Angkor Candles, #565, Pi Thnou Street (Old Market area) - next to Kokoon and Blue Pumpkin, sells carved candles of Angkor Wat as well as the Apsaras and other figures.
  • Kokoon which is next door to Angkor Candles sells silk clothing and bags.
  • The Night market is similar to the Old market area but is open in the evenings and nights as the name suggests. Great place for shopping for cheap souvenirs and gifts which are less than US$5.
  • Touts around the tourist sites sell souvenirs at very cheap prices. Most of the quality of the items sold are not good but it is difficult to resist the pleading sellers who are often children and women. The traditional musical instruments though are a great buy at US$1 per bamboo flute or a cow-bell etc.

Spas and foot massages

With all the walking during the daytime, visiting temples and other areas of interest, one often feels the need to have a good foot massage to regain the energy in one's feet for the next day. There are several places around the old market area that offer foot massages. However, many of these are not of good quality though very cheap at US$6 for an hour of reflexology foot massage.

  • Bodia Spa, which is located above U-care pharmacy on the road opposite Pub Street, is a great place for a good massage. Foot massages cost US$ 20 here but the service and ambience is worth it, starting from the lotus tea and cold face towels to the leather couches and soft lighting and bird and water sounds around the place.

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Events and Festivals

  • Bon Oum Took Boat Festival is every October/November and attracts thousands of Khmers to watch amazing boat racing on the river
  • Angkor Half Marathon is a yearly half marathon in December that runs through the temples of Angkor Wat. The money raised is donated to several local charities.

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Weather

Siem Reap has a hot and humid tropical climate. It is dominated by the wet southwest monsoon from May to October and the dry northeast monsoon from November to April. Temperatures are between 23 °C and 26 °C at night, and 30 °C to 35 °C during the day most of the year, but April sees temperatures of 40 °C occasionally. September and October are the wettest months. The best time of year to visit is during the dry cool season from mid December to mid-February.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max32 °C33.3 °C34.6 °C35.5 °C35.2 °C33.5 °C32.7 °C32 °C32.2 °C31.3 °C30.6 °C31 °C
Avg Min19.7 °C20.8 °C26.1 °C25.1 °C25.4 °C24.8 °C24.8 °C25 °C24.5 °C23.9 °C22.4 °C20.3 °C
Rainfall0.7 mm3.5 mm28 mm61.2 mm175.9 mm221.3 mm236.6 mm151 mm276.1 mm248 mm81.7 mm10.1 mm
Rain Days0.823.8817.220.421.819.221.421.410.43

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Getting There

By Plane

Siem Reap International Airport (REP), about 6 kilometres from town, has flights with Air Asia and Malaysia Airlines to Kuala Lumpur, Asiana Airlines to Seoul, Bangkok Airways to Bangkok, Cambodia Angkor Air to Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City, China Eastern Airlines to Kunming and Nanning, China Southern Airlines to Guangzhou, Jetstar Asia to Singapore, Korean Air to Seoul and Busan, Lao Airlines to Luang Prabang, Silk Air to Da Nang and Singapore, and Vietnam Airlines to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Luang Prabang.

By Car

It is possible to hire a car to get to and from Siem Reap and the Thai border and Phnom Penh.

By Bus

The buses going west towards Thailand are on very bad roads and it is worth hiring a car. The buses going east towards Phnom Penh drive on excellent roads making them the cheapest and easiest option for going to any location in the eastern part of the country.

By Boat

Although it is still possible to take the boat to Phnom Penh most people don't do it anymore. It leaves very early in the morning and takes all day. Lastly the cost of taking the boat is about 5 times more then taking a bus, so you have to be a real enthusiast to go for this option. Or be a very adventurous type of course.

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Getting around

Tuk Tuk driver called Nats..

Tuk Tuk driver called Nats..

© All Rights Reserved geranddebs

By Car

Although most people do not hire a car to take them around the ruins it is possible to do. Remember that most cars are old and pretty run down so they might not be that comfortable.

By Foot

If staying in a hotel or guesthouse near the city centre walking around is the best way to get around town. To get out to any of the sights transport has to be arranged or a bike needs to be hired.

Motorbike/Tuk-Tuk

There are countless motorbikes and tuk-tuks around town to be hired. Remember to bargain the rate down no matter what. Tuk-tuks can be hired for about US$10 to 15 a day and motorbikes for about half the price. Remember that the shade on the back of a tuk-tuk can be really nice when the sun is high in the sky. It is no longer possible to hire a motorbike without a driver for the day to go around Angkor.

By Bike

Renting a bike and biking around Angkor is a possibility. Just remember that it can get very hot during the day and shade can sometimes be hard to find. Also Angkor is a large city so it is easy to get lost. On the plus side it is nice to enjoy the ruins without the loud noise of a motor roaring away all day.

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Eat

Siem Reap - Foodstalls

Siem Reap - Foodstalls

© All Rights Reserved Herr Bert

There are several western restaurants around the downtown area. Remember that most guesthouses have restaurants attached to them but it is good to branch out and spread the wealth. If looking for local food there is an open air market just south of downtown near the Popular Guesthouse.

In the center you will find many restaurants offering a Khmer BBQ. It is not the cheapest way to eat in Siem Reap, but it gives you the opportunity to try a number of meats which you might not have tried before like: crocodile, shark or snake.

  • River Garden restaurant (Oxcourt) is a lovely restaurant away from the busy town area and offers delicious meals presented nicely. The restaurant is located within the premises of the guesthouse.

There are some great eating places in the Old Market area, especially on Pub Street and at Sivatha Blvd.

  • Soup Dragon Cafe on Pub street serves a nice mixture of Cambodian, Thai and western food for reasonable prices ranging from US$4-6.
  • Banana Leaf is a popular night spot with blaring loud music that overwhelms the entire Pub street and has street seating.
  • Khmer kitchen located on the parallel street to Pub Street offers nice and simple Khmer meals and is much more quieter and simpler in its presentation.
  • Le Tigre De Papier which is next door to Soup Dragon Cafe mainly focuses on pizzas, pastas and lasagne.
  • Blue Pumpkin in the old market area besides Angkor Candles and Kokoon is a great place for coffee and those with a sweet tooth, especially for chocolate themed desserts.
  • Chusska, Indian Vegetarian Restaurant - pure Indian vegetarian restaurant in Siem Reap, Lunch&Dinner. St# 7,Old Market ,Siem Reap, Tel 012 212138.
  • Taj Mahal Restaurant, Halal - Classic Indian, Near to pub Street B/W Red Piano & CAB bank, old market area, Tel 0888765100.
  • Maharajah Restaurant, Halal - Royal Indian, Sivatha Road Old Market Area,Front Of Terrasse Des Elephants, Tel 092 506622.
  • Curry Walla - Serving vegetarian and Non-vegetarian authentic Indian fare on very reasonable prices. Add: B05, Sivatha Blvd Svay dangkum, Phone: 063 965 451 / 092 459 723.
  • Taste Of India - All the heavy weights are here included Samoas, Thali, Tandoori, Dosa, Naan , Roti , Paratha, extensive menu is included with 75 different dishes. #109, Sivatha Street, In the corner of old market road Junction, Phone: 063 969 109 / 089 436 096.
  • Viva Restaurant is a Mexican/Khmer restaurant with an odd mix of dishes on the menu, but they are tasteful and actually good value for money. Address 697 Street 09, Krong Siem Reap / Phone +855 92 209 104.

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Drink

Siem Reap actually has a great nightlife! There are many different kinds of bars for the different kinds of travellers. There are nicer high end pubs and rowdy backpacker dives. There is even one bar that has Pol Pots toilet seat! The best thing to do is walk around the Psar Chaa and walk into a place. New watering holes pop up frequently, although some of the old trusty bars have remained. There are even some Cambodian discos located around town that can give an interesting insight into modern Khmer nightlife.

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Sleep

In the last 10 years the options for sleeping in Siem Reap have grown unbelievably. There are now countless guesthouses, hotels and resorts to choose from. Be careful because buses from Bangkok tend to try to put new arrivals in hotels way outside the city centre. The better and more popular places are much closer to downtown though. New places open up every week. And some places close down as well, so check beforehand

Budget Accommodation

* Green Town Guesthouse - US$7-18 all rooms with include breakfast, free bike, free pick up and transfer(phone:+85512963749, 012635893, E-mail :info@greentowngh.com) Address Street 21 ,#0182, Wat Bo village, Salakamroeuk commune Siem Reap city, Good for backpacker to stay just located the east side of river near Central market and 10-minute walk to Old market .

  • Tropical Breeze Guesthouse US$8-20 All rooms with free breakfast, free bike, free pick up and transfer (phone:+855977624488, 012963749 ,e-mail :info@tropicalbreezegh.com) Address #0293,Wat Damnak Village Salakamrouek commune Siem Reap City. Nice quiet place to relax, walking distance only 4-minute walk to Phsar Chas (Old market Pub street) Note: Please booking on line you'll get all free stuff.
  • Popular Guesthouse - (Phone:(855) 12 916165, Email: chom@camnet.com.kh, Address: #033, group 10, Viheachin Village, Svaydangkum commune) - a good backpacker guesthouse located just south of downtown. Although the staff can be a bit distant at times, the rooms are good and there is a nice rooftop restaurant that is nice for meeting people.

Mid-Range

  • The Saem Siemreap Hotel is a very attractive 4* hotel within easy Tuk Tuk distance of downtown. Clean & comfortable rooms. It has attentive, friendly staff & a beautiful pool. Not much happening in the hotel bar of an evening, try the beer garden directly opposite the front door.

Upscale

View our map of accommodation in Siem Reap or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Work

Markt in Siem Reap 3

Markt in Siem Reap 3

© All Rights Reserved irezumi

Most options for working in Siem Reap are half-volunteer English teaching positions. Although it is possible to find the occasional western waitress or bartender working in a downtown pub. Some foreigners liked Siem Reap so much they just opened up there own guesthouse, restaurant or bar.

Volunteer

  • SAGE Foundation Schools - Near Siem Reap welcomes volunteers to help for one week or longer. They mainly need English teachers, no experience required.

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Learn

Currently the only way to study in Siem Reap would be to arrange a study abroad program with a third party organization. This is because the current universities in Siem Reap do not have programs for foreigners.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There are several small internet bars located around the downtown area of Siem Reap. Most places have pretty good connections at high speed but don't do anything more then basic email. If looking for a faster connection it's better to just wait till being in a bigger city. In general prices are not much more than US1-2 an hour. Remember to take off your shoes when you enter as a sign of respect and to watch out for small shrines that are on the ground.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

There are several international phone centers near downtown Siem Reap. Also many hotels sometimes have international phone cards at a good rate. The country code of Cambodia is 855. To call out of Cambodia, dial 001 followed by the country code and telephone number of the other party. Many of the internet bars also have international calling options and you can also arrange calls at post offices. Services are usually run by the governmental telecommunication network Camintel. You can find telephone cards in many shops, starting from serveral US dollars to around US$50. Samart, Mobitel and Shinawrata are the main mobile phone providers, with Mobitel offering the best and most widespread services, although calling from outside towns (countryside) is still tricky.

Post

Most hotels and guesthouses will sell stamps and mail postcards for you. Cambodia's national postal service offers a wide range of services, though in general things go slowly and are not always very reliable. That said, things have been getting better over the years, and you can expect for your postcard or letter to finally arrive after 5-10, depending from where you send it (avoid small towns) and to where you send it. Prices are around 2000-2,500 Riel to countries in Europe, Asia, Australia and North America, and it's slightly more expensive sending it from more remote places in the provinces. Post offices in Cambodia generally are open from around 8:00am to 5:00pm, with some regional variations. Sendings parcels is only possible from the capital Phnom Penh and it's very expensive as well. You might be better to send it from Thailand, or otherwise check private companies like DHL, TNT or UPS, which are more reliable and might even be cheaper!

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Accommodation in Siem Reap

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Siem Reap searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Siem Reap and areas nearby.

Contributors

as well as hasbeen (7%), dr.pepper (4%), rasheeed (3%), Herr Bert (2%), albela8 (1%)

Siem Reap Travel Helpers

  • Nisha J

    I stayed in the city and volunteered. Roamed around the town including some villages. Went to local markets to buy stuff and tried to learn some local words as well.
    Familiar with the city map et al.

    Ask Nisha J a question about Siem Reap

This is version 123. Last edited at 8:44 on Nov 20, 17 by Utrecht. 23 articles link to this page.

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