If you’re visiting Siem Reap soon, you’ve come to the right place. After reading this guide, you’ll know which area to stay in, where to find the best restaurants and how to get around this vibrant city in Cambodia.
What to expect in Siem Reap
Once colonised by France, Siem Reap is a small city with a French flair. Scattered around the city you’ll find French-style homes and shops.
But a taste of France, or a good croissant, isn’t why most people visit Siem Reap. Instead, over two million visitors each year come to explore one of the most spectacular religious monuments in the world. Siem Reap is the gateway to the world famous Angkor Watt.
Built in the 12th century during the Khmer Empire, this incredible Buddhist temple complex boasts over a thousand individual temples for you to explore. And somehow it gets even better! During sunrise, the warm morning glow provides a breathtaking silhouette of the temple’s spires unlike any other.
And when you’re not walking around Angkor Wat in utter amazement, there’s a very different way to occupy your time…Pub Street. Comprised of cheerful Irish pubs, fancy cocktail bars, and cuisine from all around the globe, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find something to satiate your hunger (including delicacies like scorpions).
Is Siem Reap worth visiting?
Of course Siem Reap is worth visiting, purely just to see Angkor Wat. You can’t come to Cambodia and not visit one of it’s most popular sites. Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world, covering an area four times the size of Vatican City and maybe one of the most mind-blowing Buddhist temples you’ll ever see. Is that something you want to miss out on?
How many days should you spend in Siem Reap?
Siem Reap is a relatively small city that aside from partying and visiting Angkor Wat, there isn’t a ton of exciting things to do. Your days might be better spent exploring somewhere else in Cambodia.
We recommend three days in Siem Reap. Whilst Angkor Wat can be done in one day, we think that two days is better. You can take your time exploring the temples, but you’re not spending so long there that you get ‘templed out’. On the third day, you can explore the other sights of the city, or take some time to relax.
To help you make the most of your time in Siem Reap, we’ve put together a list of the top things to do in Siem Reap.
Where to stay in Siem Reap
Siem Reap may not be the biggest city in Cambodia, but there are still a number of areas to choose from when it comes to where you should stay. You’ll need to consider your budget, accommodation and if peace and quiet is important to you.
Here are our favourite areas to stay in Siem Reap:
Location #1: Old French Quarter — centre of the action
Best for: being at the centre of the city and well connected to everywhere, including Angkor Wat.
Who is it for: those visiting Siem Reap for the first time. Being at the centre of the action, you get a good feel of what the city is like. Plus, it puts you within walking distance to most important attractions in the city.
Don’t miss: the stunning architecture. As the name suggests, the Old French Quarter has a touch of French influence which can be seen in it’s colonial buildings, shops and cafes.
Biggest downside: don’t forget that this is the centre of the city, so depending on where your accommodation is, it could be quite noisy.
Accommodation in the Old French Quarter
Even though you’re at the centre of the city, you can easily find affordable accommodation. A cool thing about staying in the Old French Quarter is that a lot of the old mansions have been turned into boutique and luxury hotels.
Private rooms in the Old French Quarter start from $10 a night.
Location #2: Wat Bo Road
Best for: a more relaxing stay in Siem Reap. Wat Bo Road is one of the main roads in Siem Reap, yet the area is much more relaxing than being right in the city centre. The neighbourhood has more greenery and is a bit more quiet.
Who is it for: those wanting to still be close to everything, but looking for a more laid back vibe.
Don’t miss: Wat Bo Temple will be on your doorstep if you stay here. It’s one of the oldest temples in the province.
Biggest downside: you may have to walk a few extra minutes to get to other places in the city. It’s the only downside we could find!
Accommodation in Wat Bo Road
Wat Bo Road is where you’ll find some of the cheapest accommodation in Siem Reap — affordable homestays, budget hotels and hostels. You can also book luxurious stays without having to splash too much cash.
Location #3: Old Market — for unforgettable nightlife
Best for: experiencing the best nightlife in Siem Reap. The Old Market is where you’ll find Pub Street, a street packed with lively bars and drunk revellers.
Who is it for: visitors looking to party all night long and make the most of Cambodia’s cheap bars.
Don’t miss: the lively bars. That’s honestly the only and main reason why you would stay in this area.
Biggest downside: if you’re not looking to party then the loud music and drunk travellers might get slightly annoying after a while.
Accommodation in Old Market
You’ll find a number of hostels close to Pub Street, making the most of their target audience — backpackers looking to party. The Old Market is still situated in the city centre, so accommodation prices are very similar to those found in the Old French Quarter.
Best places to eat in Siem Reap
Every day Siem Reap’s, already good, gastronomy scene seems to be getting better, with new spots popping up all the time. One of our favourite things about Siem Reap’s food scene are the number of restaurants and cafes that have social causes attached to them, some of which we’ve included in our best eats below:
Spoons Cafe and Restaurant — delicious food with a social cause
Spoons Cafe and Restaurant goes beyond serving tasty food, it enables underprivileged Cambodian young adults to become self-supporting through education, training, and employment opportunities in the hospitality industry. To date, they’ve helped over 400 young adults start a career in hospitality.
They teach the students how to prepare authentic Cambodian dishes using the freshest locally produced ingredients, which ends up on your plate as a delicious and filling meal.
Pou Restaurant and Bar — creative and innovative dishes
Ever wanted to try red tree ants? Well at Pou Restaurant and Bar you can! Chef Mengley says that ‘to be great, food should be fun yet sophisticated, innovative yet familiar and expressive.’ He certainly knows what he’s doing when it comes to food. It’s incredible!
On the menu you’ll find innovative dishes made with only high quality produce that truly do justice to Cambodian cuisine. A must visit in Siem Reap!
Sambo Khmer & Thai Restaurant — cheap and cheerful Cambodian cuisine
Looking for cheap and tasty traditional dishes, then we have just the spot for you. Sambo has a huge selection of dishes to choose from, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The staff and ambience of this place is also what makes it special. They always have a smile on their face!
How to get around in Siem Reap
Siem Reap is a relatively small city, which makes getting around super easy. Most places are within walking distance, but if that’s not the case, there are plenty of other modes of transport available.
If you’re only exploring the city, most places that you’ll want to see are within walking distance. It’s a good way to burn off all the delicious Cambodian food that you’re eating!
If you want to travel a bit further, and turn getting from A to B into a bit more of an adventure then we recommend using a bicycle to get around. They’re a great way to explore Siem Reap, especially if you want to visit the temples or explore the countryside. Many hotels and guesthouses offer bicycles for rent, and there are plenty of bike rental shops throughout the city.
Bike rental starts from $3/day.
You’ll see these three-wheeled speed machines whizzing about all over Siem Reap. To flag one down, all you need to do is stick out a hand and within seconds one is likely to stop. Another way to hail a tuk-tuk is using the Grab app or PassApp — note that you’ll need a Cambodian number to be able to use PassApp.
The advantage of using an app to get a tuk-tuk is that you’ll be guaranteed that you’re paying a fair price. You won’t have to haggle like you do with the ones on the street. To give you an idea of fair tuk-tuk prices in Siem Reap:
- Siem Reap International Airport to city centre — $5
- 1-3 km ride — $1-2
- Tour of Angkor Wat temple — $15
We agree that tuk-tuks aren’t the most comfortable form of transport, especially for longer journeys. They’re more expensive than tuk-tuks, but more comfortable and often have air conditioning.
Like with tuk-tuks, you’ll find them driving on the streets and waiting outside popular spots in the city. You can also use Grab or PassApp to hail a taxi and guarantee a good price.
How to get to Siem Reap
|Siem Reap International Airport
|Siem Reap Airport to Siem Reap
|Sihanoukville to Siem Reap
|4-11 hours excl transfer
|Kep to Siem Reap
|Battambang to Siem Reap
|50 minutes-8.5 hours
|Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
|Kampot to Siem Reap
|Don Det to Siem Reap
|from 550 THB ($15.30)
|Bangkok to Siem Reap
Now that you’ve finished reading this guide, you’re almost ready for your adventure in Siem Reap. The next step is to create your personalised itinerary with our top picks of what to do in Siem Reap. Simply choose your favourite activities and places to visit, and you’re all set to make lasting memories in Siem Reap.
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Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.