When it comes to Siem Reap, Angkor Wat may be the first thing that comes to your mind. And yes, this Cambodian landmark and one of the greatest archeological sites in the World surely is a reason to visit this laid back Cambodian city. However, Siem Reap truly offers much more than this. Amazing food, amazing people and loads of fun will make your stay in Siem Reap unforgettable!
What’s the best time to visit Siem Reap?
The best months to visit are November-January. The weather is dry and sunny and the temperatures are still bearable. April may be the hottest month to visit, but still pretty dry. The rainy season starts in May and lasts until October which means daily showers and, at times, hurricanes.
Khmer New Year, the most popular festival in Siem Reap takes its place in April and lasts for three full days. This Buddhist festival and the National holiday feature lots of traditions, dance and games and it’s, without a doubt, the most exciting celebration in Cambodia.
Few facts about Siem Reap:
Siem Reap attracts tourists from all over the World cause of the Angkor Wat in a first place. More than half tourists that visit Cambodia make their trip to Angkor Wat which makes the annual number of 2 million visitors. As of 1992., the lost city of Angkor, including Angkor Wat, is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Over the time it became the symbol of modern Cambodia, and it’s featured on their national flag. It gained even more popularity after the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was filmed there.
One Day in Siem Reap Itinerary
Top things to do in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Follow this guide and make the best of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do on your one day in Siem Reap.
Visit the Angkor Temples
Even though it gets super crowded you definitely shouldn’t miss Angkor Temples, UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Cambodian landmark. Wake up super early cause the dawn is the time of the day when the magic happens. It may seem super early, but it’s really a spectacular experience.
What you need to know is that the Angkor site is huge. There are temples spread out over a vast 100 square kilometer jungle site. It takes days to properly explore each part of the complex so it’s important to get a great guide, map or a guided tour.
Angkor Wat may be the most famous among temples and it’s the best representation of the classical style of Khmer architecture. It was built as a Hindu religion temple, but was later turned into a Buddhist one. Numerous Buddha statues that can be seen all over the temples, are clearly additions to the temple which later replaced the statues of Hindu gods in the late 13th century.
There are temples which are covered in greenery, as well as temples that are bound by the massive roots of huge trees. One of the Angkor temples, Ta Phrom, is one of the temples with the trees growing over its ruins. It became widely famous after the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was filmed there.
When the Angkor complex was discovered it was decided that the giant trees, such as ficus and silk tree (which roots were so merged with the ancient temple walls) won’t be removed cause they eventually became a whole.
Try Fish Amok
There are a few restaurants on the Angkor site that offer traditional Khmer dishes. Take a lunch break and order Fish Amok, the traditional Khmer meal – spicy fish soup with vegetables and coconut milk. The flavor may be a bit unusual at first, but it’s definitely super tasty.
Have a tuk-tuk ride
While in Siem Reap, you shouldn’t miss a tuk-tuk ride. An engine-powered rickshaw, is an essential form of urban transportation in many Asian developing countries, and those in Cambodia are called Tuk-tuks.
The ride and the traffic may be chaotic, but quite charming. Make sure to arrange a price in advance, and make sure to bargain as they always try to charge you a fortune at first. It’s also possible to hire a tuk-tuk for an Angkor day trip. It costs 20 USD and it’s one of the most convenient ways to reach the site.
Try some street food
In Siem Reap the street is where the greatest bites can be found. For 2$ you can get a beef in sweet and sour sauce, vegetable noodles, grilled chicken sticks or any other Cambodian dish. Make sure to try their fresh fruit juices and milkshakes as they are way more delicious that those you can find in the stores. Another great thing to try are the roti pancakes. It looks almost like a banana pancake, but surely is the most delicious dessert in the world. Of course, don’t forget to try fresh coconut water straight from the coconut.
Take a cooking class
You’ll easily fall in love with Cambodian cuisine that would be a shame not to take a cooking class and learn how to prepare all those delicious dishes. There’s an abundance of cooking classes so it may be a bit harder to choose from. Check out the Cooking classes on Tripadvisor and choose the one that fits you best.
Have fun at the Night Market
The Night Market that runs each night is the most exciting market in Siem Reap. It’s not just a place for some bargain shopping but also a place where you can have loads of fun. Make sure to get a 2$ foot massage while watching a ladyboy show. You can also get a 1$ fish massage. It may not be that pleasant at first, but after you get used to tiny fish bites it gets super fun.
Spend the night at the Pub street
The most famous street in Siem Reap, and the best place to spend an amazing evening is a Pub Street. This lively street, lined with bars and restaurants, may be a bit crowded and packed with tourists, but still is the best place for a night out. There are some insanely cheap deals on drinks – you can find 0,5$ half a liters of beer as well as 5$ whiskey coke pitchers.
Taste the Cambodian BBQ
There is an abundance of restaurants in the Pub Street where you can try some of the Cambodian specialties like Khmer BBQ. Instead of usual BBQ meat you’ll get a chance to try crocodile, snake and frog meat and they will grill it just in front of you. It’s not super special in taste, but it’s definitely worth trying. They call it Phnom Pleung, which is literally translated as “Fire Mountain”.
Where to stay in Siem Reap?
La Rivière d’ Angkor Resort
La Rivière d’Angkor Resort is a beautiful, tropical-style resort located on the promenade of Siem Reap river. There is a wide range of restaurants, shops and bars around the area. The resort also features an outdoor pool and sauna as well as the fitness center.
FCC Angkor Boutique Hotel
FCC Angkor Boutique Hotel combines Cambodian tradition with the modern designs, in a tropical atmosphere that ensures relaxing moments after exhausting sightseeing. The hotel features outdoor pool and a beautiful lounge area around the pool. It’s located in the Downtown Siem Reap area, therefore great for those interested in sightseeing. Great location and amazing interior make this hotel one of the best in Siem Reap.
Shinta Mani Angkor
Shinta Mani Club, an upscale boutique hotel showcases contemporary designed rooms and public spaces such as pool and the lounge area in an Angkorian-inspired design. This exceptional hotel enjoys a tranquil and leafy setting and still feels very luxurious.
Pool Party Hostel
Pool Party Hostel offers modern rooms, a large free-form pool with tool and khmer style restaurant serving khmer and western food. It is a great place for young people, including back packers to meet other travelers. It’s centrally located, only 15 min walking to the Old Market and the Pub Street.
One Stop Hostel Siem Reap
Another great place for those who prefer the hostel stay in One Stop Hostel Siem Reap. The hostel is perfectly located, very close the famous Pub Street.
Onederz Hostel Siem Reap
Onederz Hostel Siem Reap is a quite big hostel with a great facilities that include two swimming pools, one located on the rooftop where a beautiful view at sunset can be admired and a wide range of lounge areas and terraces, great for socializing with other travellers.
Extra tips for visiting Siem Reap
– Bring some comfortable shoes and leave your flip-flops at home since the Angkor Site really is a huge and you’re surely going to walk for hours.
– Bring some modest clothes or at least cover up otherwise you won’t be able to enter some temples.
– Don’t forget to bring a sunscreen and a hat. The sun is very strong and you’ll easily get exhausted if you don’t use the sun protection.
– Don’t forget to bargain. Especially with tuk-tuks and market vendors. Even if something seems cheap to you, it doesn’t mean it’s their final price.
– The USD are widely accepted in Cambodia and almost everywhere in Siem Reap.
– Make your trip to Siem Reap even more exciting! Check out Tripadvisor for the detailed list of all the activities and organized tours in Siem Reap or around the area.
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