Located in the north of Cambodia, Siem Reap is best known as the gateway to Angkor Wat. Spend some time exploring this beautiful town and you’ll soon see why it is a favourite for travelers visiting Southeast Asia.
If you’re doing the old shoestring budget travel, you’ll be thrilled to know you can find a hostel for only $2 a night here (although I cannot vouch for the quality!). My advice would be to head over to Hostelworld and use the filters to set your budget. As a popular travel destination, Siem Reap provides plenty of hostel options for weary travelers.
Although I like to consider myself a budget traveler (which you can probably tell from my dirty backpack and obsession with finding the cheapest food available), sometimes I feel like treating myself to a little luxury. Siem Reap for me was one of those times. The Grand Bayon, named after my favourite Cambodian temple, offered me a gorgeous little escape from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets below. Situated just the right distance from the centre of town to walk comfortably, while being far enough from the noise of Pub Street, The Grand Bayon has plenty of private rooms overlooking the pool (necessary to combat the Cambodian heat!). It is located just off Sok San Road, which offers plenty of super cheap eateries to choose from (Come at me two dollar curries!). My favourite thing about this hotel (besides the complimentary breakfast, which is always my favourite thing) is the amazing staff who go above and beyond to assist you, whatever your needs are. Shout out especially to the cleaning staff who found my portable charger and got it back to me just as I was about to leave! I’d easily recommend this hotel to anyone looking for a bit more privacy than a hostel without blowing your budget.
If you want to find a western meal that you’ll pay western prices for, sure, head to Pub Street in the centre of town and you’ll find plenty of restaurants offering pasta and burgers. You’ll even be able to purchase an array of insects from street vendors (fried tarantula, anyone?).
If you’re like me however and want to try local foods for a fraction of the cost, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Siem Reap. Sprinkled along the riverside you’ll find dozens of small food joints serving delicious Khmer food ranging upwards of $1. My go to as a vegetarian is always some delicious noodles with tofu, yum. Meat eaters should definitely try Fish Amok, a delicious, traditional Khmer yellow curry!
If you feel like treating yourself, check out my favourite restaurant in Cambodia, Banlle. Anyone tried vegan fish and chips before? Guaranteed to blow your mind and your taste buds!
If you feel like a bit of partying, you’ll find plenty of options along Pub Street. Beer for $1 US? Done. Wander around til you find the atmosphere and music that suits your style.
If you can’t walk past a good cheap cocktail though, head to Viva, a Mexican restaurant which have $1.50 US margaritas every night. The mango margarita is easily my favourite, but I had to try them all.
Need some more entertainment? Bar Code (clever name hey) have cabaret shows every night of the week! Drag, dancing and lip-syncing? Honestly what more could you want.
Angkor Archaeological Park
Let’s be honest, the reason you came to Siem Reap was to see Angkor Wat, right? Of course! It’s only one of the biggest religious monuments in the entire world!
You can buy either a 1 day or a 3 day pass for the Angkor Archaeological Park, which will get you entrance into all of the incredible temples in the complex. My advice would be to hire a tuk tuk driver for the day, $20 US should cover that, but make sure to agree on a price before hand, get your tickets and set off nice and early to catch the sunrise.
If you’re like me and you love a good market, Siem Reap has you covered. Get your bartering skills ready, you’ll need them. You can buy plenty of souvenirs ranging from clothing to knock off electronics. Remembering, only barter if you’re serious! The first and real Night Market is the area just next to Island Bar, which has more unique vendors you may not find anywhere else. Plenty of other ‘Night Markets’ have sprung up since the success of the original, and can be found surrounding Pub Street, as well as across the river.
Another popular adventure for those visiting Siem Reap is Phnom Kulen National Park. The main attraction is the incredible waterfalls that providing the backdrop for a place to stop for lunch and a quick swim! Also in the National Park is the Thousand Lingas, and the Preah Ang Thom Pagoda, which houses an enormous reclining Buddha. Entrance into the Kulen National Park is $20 US, and you’ll need to either book a tour or hire a driver to take you around for the day. Also, since the traffic only goes one way you need to go up before 11am, so no sleeping in! Please remember to be respectful here with your actions and clothing, even while swimming I would advise both genders wear shorts and a shirt, and remove your shoes before entering a temple.
- Siem Reap is known as a tourist destination, and as with all well known tourist destinations, it has its fair share of scams and thefts. Keep your things close by at all times.
- If you need more information on Temple Tours Just Siem Reap has you covered. They can give you all the information you need on the temples in the Angkor Archaeological Park, from which temples are the most popular, to booking the right tour for you. Check out their Instagram page too for some Siem Reap inspo!
Thank you to the Grand Bayon Siem Reap and Just Siem Reap for sponsoring my stay!