About Siem Reap
We booked our tickets on the Mekong Express bus for 13$. I highly recommend this bus service about which there are glowing reviews everywhere online too. They provide a minivan pick-up from the hotel to the bus station and the buses themselves are super comfortable with plush seating, toilets, air-conditioning and most importantly, curtains to keep out the harsh sun. The Cambodian countryside is soothing to the eyes and after a while most people on the bus dozed off for a bit. We arrived at Siem Reap at 1:30 p.m. having left Phnom Penh at 8:30 a.m. and there were tuk-tuk drivers jostling for customers at the bus-station to take us to our hotel. Another Air BnB find, our hotel was very strategically located...just walking distance away from the hustle and bustle of Pub street but tucked away into a quiet lane right beside one of the exits to the Arts Market. At 4500 INR for three nights, we thought it was a steal.Our hotel reception, as I am guessing will be the case with all hotels, was a treasure trove of useful information about day tours to Angkor sites and other interesting sights around Siem Reap. It was from here that we booked tickets to the Angkor National Museum for 12$ each it saved us the expense of hiring a private tour guide to be with us on the two days that we planned to devote to Angkor temple sites. It was a smart move as it not only saved us nearly 60$. The hotel also helped us with hiring a tuk-tuk, who at 12$ a day was going to take us on a half day tour of all the major and minor sites.
Best Time To Visit
Best time to visit Siem Reap is from December to February
How To Reach
Book a Package Tour
Watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Return to your hotel for breakfast. Then proceed on a tour to Angkor Thom city and the huge Bayon temple brooding at its centre. Bayon is filled with engrossing bas-reliefs and over 200 massive faces carved on stone towers. An amazing (and pretty surreal) experience. Continue to the other temples of Angkor Thom- Baphuon and Phimeanakas, and the Terraces of the Elephants and the Leper King. Each of these enthralling spaces has a drama all its own. In the afternoon, you'll get the grand circuit tour including Preah Khan, Neak Pean and East Mebon temples. Overnight Siem Reap.
This was our favourite place to hang out and enjoy a nice cold beer! There are many pubs to choose from so enjoy picking one out. Through these streets you will also enjoy seeing the small push carts people have offering snakes, grasshoppers, spiders and scorpions to eat... I must say, I didn't like the look of any, let alone tasting them!
Ta Prohm has been abandoned to the elements, a reminder that while empires rise and fall, the riotous power of nature marches on, oblivious to the dramas of human history. It has been left as it was ‘discovered’ by French explorer Henri Mouhot in 1860. We continued towards the giant pyramid of Takeo, one of the highest temples in the Angkor area. In the morning we also visited the remains of an old Angkorian bridge which once spanned the Siem Reap River.
Kbal Spean in Khmer means the “valley of thousand lingas”. Situated 10 KM from Banteay Srei, it is at the start of the Kulen mountain range and one has to trek up the hill to reach the site. This is not exactly a temple but a shrine of sorts carved on the mountain side itself with a waterfall flowing over it. The trek up the mountain is a good 45-60 min one and the sights along are as unusual as the site itself.
Golden Temple Villa
There are several hostels that offer cheap rates in Siem Reap, but I specifically chose Golden Temple Villa because apart from the usual room features and freebies, they have free bicycles exclusive for guests. The hotel has this quaint and charming vibe, and we were welcomed with refreshing drinks and a bowl of local peanuts. The complimentary breakfast was good and the staff willingly packed it for us so we can take it to our Angkor Wat tour.
Pub Street is Siem Reap's party hub, so grab a drink (or a scoop of Siem Reap's best ice cream at Blue Pumpkin) and soak it all up. Start your evening at Red Piano, on the corner. The French cuisine is good, but it's best known as Angelina Jolie's haunt while filming "Tomb Raider."
The Great Escape
Escape the rooms at "The Great Escape" are so addictive and this one lived up to all expectations! So intriguing and challenging whilst being super fun! Staff were a little hard to understand on the walkie talkie but were very kind and attentive to all our needs. Also very cheap and not just a "time killer" like some other activities turn out to be. You can also book online at: http://www.greatescapecambodia.com/
Belmiro's Pizza and Subs
Located right in the centre of town, Belmiro's is a great little place for western cuisine. The host and waiters bring this place to life and you will be stuffed with any meal you decide to have from here! Truly worth a visit if you feel like having a slice of home away from home!
New Leaf Book Cafe
As a tourist, you spend a lot of money on food and entertainment, and in Siem Reap, it's very easy to spend that money in a way that helps make a difference to the greater community, whether it's buying a cup of coffee from Common Grounds or New Leaf Book Café, enjoying a fabulous modern Khmer meal or seeking out top class entertainment.
Temple Club Restaurant and Bar
For all those budget travellers out there, we really wanted to go see an Aspara dance and dinner show but couldn't afford some $40.00 pp price tag, so instead we found out Temple Club Restaurant and Bar offer free Aspara Shows in the evenings between 19:30 - 21:30 hrs as long as you ordered some food or drinks. We therefore, made this place our dinner location and if you do the same, please please order the Garlic Prawns for starter.... Out. Of. This. World.
With so many temples and places to visit, Siem Reap extends to the second day with a visit to the Ta Prohm, Phrah Khan and Neak Pean temples. After that we head to Artisans D’Angkor and the local market created in 1999 to provide jobs to the rural workers and artisans as well as revive certain Khmer arts and crafts. This is a great place to understand the local culture through its handicrafts as well as pick a souvenir or two to take back home (and support young Khmer artists). After completing the last day in Seam Reap we leave for the capital- Phnom Penh
Karavansara Retreat and Residences
Tucked in a quiet lane just a few minutes from Pub Street in Siem Reap is the elegant Karavansara Retreat. With tastefully decorated apartments, cosy yet spacious rooms and the most amiable and helpful staff, this boutique hotel has something for every traveller. The Taberu Restaurant (located on the property itself) which offers Khmer fusion cuisine and a wonderful breakfast spread is a plus. Additionally, if in case you miss big names, a Hard Rock Cafe is located just down the street.
While not run by an NGO, many of the sophisticated restaurants had projects with the community or donation boxes and flyers to help. Others, like the Butterflies Garden Café had a little shop selling items from disadvantaged communities as well as a portion of their profits going into literacy and schooling programs.