Siem Reap Travel Guide

Siem Reap Overview

Although arguably Cambodias most touristy town, Siem Reap still maintains much of its sleepy tradition amidst the fast paced and developing modern luxuries and entertainment. Sat in the northern rural regions of the country, the town serves as the thriving gateway to the ancient 12th Century temples and ruins of Angkor Wat and throws up a fascinating insight into Cambodian history, culture, charm and cuisine.

 
Undoubtedly the main attraction of a visit to Siem Reap is to explore the remainders of the Khmer Empire just north of town at Angkor Wat, however, the town itself is full of unexpected charm and an altogether pleasant place to wander the shady streets and gain first hand experience of Cambodian life. Take a walk around the Old French Quarter and gaze in awe at the array of architecture before stopping of at the Royal Gardens, either to admire the shrines and statues or to simple sit back and watch the locals go about their business. Stretching from the Royal Gardens, south to the Old Market, Pokambor Avenue lines the peacefully flowing river that runs down to Tonle Sap.
 
On the south side of town and facing the river, Psar Chas (Old Market) is one of numerous colorful markets scattered around town selling all imaginable artifacts and tourist geared souvenirs. Situated in the colonial area of town, the market comes to life late in the afternoon with an abundance of cafés and restaurants welcoming lazy travelers after a day of exploration. As the sun begins to set the aptly named Bar Street, owing much to the large expat community, opens its doors to serve up food and drinks at a laidback pace to suit all.
 
Fast growing in popularity, getting in and out of Siem Reap is becoming easier by the day, especially with flights serving destinations such as Bangkok, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Buses and shared taxis run regularly between town and Phnom Penh, Poipet, Sisophon and even onto Bangkok. Boat journeys, although longer, run from Battambang and Phnom Penh, and offer the chance to view floating homes, life upon the lake and to top up the suntan. Siem Reap is certainly a place to relish and not rush, therefore making your way around on foot or bicycle is an ideal way to go as the locals do.

Things to do in Siem Reap

Siem Reap Attractions:

Angkor Wat - One of Southeast Asias finest temple complexes, built in the 12th century as a mausoleum for King Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat is a breathtaking feat of architectural talents and religious splendour. Encompassed by a wide moat and with its 5 glorious towers, representing Mount Meru, it is arguably one of the most captivating religious sites on earth. The best time to see the full glory is at sunset when it becomes a wonderful golden city.
 
Angkor Thom - The final and most supreme capital city of the Khmer era, built as a royal palace by King Jayavarman VII at the end of the 12thC, is home to numerous endearing monuments that have impressively stood the test of time. Within the ancient walled city are the colossal Bayon, a temple of 54 towers all possessing 4 carved faces, the temple ruins of Baphuon, thought to represent Mount Meru, the Elephant Terrace and Terrace of the Leper King. The city is entered via one of 5 striking gateways, with a 13km path connecting them all.
 
Banteay Srei - Otherwise known as the Citadel, Banteay Srie is a reddish/pink 10thC temple dedicated to lord Shiva. Miniscule in comparison to its regions counterparts, the temple is famed for the immensely detailed and elaborate carvings of female goddesses 
 
Kbal Spean (River of 1000 Lingas) - Amidst the jungle of the Kulen Mountains the water rushes over an intriguing riverbed, which has been intricately carved with phallic symbols and depictions of Vishnu and other Hindu gods.
 
NB entrance fees to all of the above and the other sites within the Angkor Archaeological Park are included in an Angkor Pass, of which 3 are available: One-day $20, Three-day $40 and Seven-day $60.
 
Angkor National Museum - Celebration of the history of Angkor Wat and Khmer heritage, with an abundance of interactive exhibits but perhaps lacking real artefacts. Open daily from 9am - 6pm. Entrance US$12.
 
Cambodia Landmine Museum - Huge collection of mines and arms accompanied by documentation of their destructive potential. Outside is an interesting garden of deactivated hidden mines. The museum is a wing of the NGO CLMMRF (Cambodian Land mine Relief Fund). Open daily from 7am - 6pm. Donations welcome.
 
Krousar Thmey Exhibition Centre - Showcase of the ecological and cultural importance of the Tonle Sap. The centre was created as an educational aid for underprivileged children and accountable for the invention of Khmer sign language and Braille.
 
Aspara Dance - Enjoy an energy filled performance of ancient Cambodian dance that was formerly only performed for the royalty. Noteworthy shows are held at Aspara Theatre, part of the Angkor Village Hotel, and have been performed in the region since 1920.
 
Siem Reap Nightlife:
Siem Reap proudly owns a number of drinking spots, where beers are cheap and the atmosphere is generally laidback. Bar Street, just north of Psar Chas is where the main action lies with popular spots such as, Angkor What?, the first bar in town, the lavish Elephant Bar at the Grand Hotel dAngkor, the ever so relaxed Linga Bar, the lively Funky Munky and The Red Piano for Tomb Raider cocktails!

Hotels in Siem Reap

Budget Hotels Siem Reap

Earthwalkers - Friendly and laidback, Scandinavian run guesthouse. Tel (855) 12 967901.
Golden Takeo Guesthouse - A favourite with Japanese, offering some of the cheapest rooms in town. Tel (855) 12 785424.
Moms Guesthouse - A Siem Reap long-timer offering good value rooms and a friendly smile. Tel (855) 12 630170
 
Midrange Hotels Siem Reap
Golden Banana Bed & Breakfast - Superb ensuite rooms to match the excellent pool. Tel (855) 12 855366.
The Red Piano - Comfortable guesthouse with great associated restaurant. Tel (855) 63 963240.
Salina Hotel - Popular, long established hotel with restaurant and pool. Tel (855) 63 760487.
 
Luxury Hotels Siem Reap
Grand Hotel dAngkor - Elegant and lavish hotel, part of the Raffles group. Tel (855) 63 963888.
La Residence dAngkor - Luxury and serenity right next to Angkor Wat. Tel (855) 63 963390.

Siem Reap Weather

Siem Reap Travel Resources

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