SiemReap is the destination town for the Angkor Archaeological Park. It also houses several temples or Wats and also the Angkor Museum. The city is strewn with hostels, hotels and resorts to cater to the demands of the Angkor travellers. Siem Reap is also popular for its Pub Street, which is a walking street dotted with bars and pubs on both sides and is the prime hub of Siem Reap's nightlife.
What to See:
Siem Reap's main attractions are the -
1) Angkor Archaeological Park. The temples are divided into 5 segments - (A) Angkor Wat & Angkor Thom, (B) Little Circuit, (C) Big Circuit, (E) Kulen Mountain, and (F) Outlying Temples . These circuits can be covered in 3-4 days usually, but you can also pick the most famous temples and skip the rest (unless time is a major constraint, i wouldn’t suggest skipping any). We did the Angkor tour by hiring a tuktuk. The rates will vary according to the temples you want to cover. Tuktuk drivers will charge extra for early morning sunrise at Angkor Wat. The Angkor ticket needs to be bought from the APSARA office. Entry tickets are sold for 1 ($37), 3 ($62) and 7 ($72) days.
A) Angkor Wat (sunrise point) & Angkor Thom (Bayon, Baphuon, Elephant Terrace, Terrace of the Leper King, Phimeanakas, Phnom Bakheng (sunset point))
B) Temples of the Little Circuit - Ta Keo, Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider shooting site), Banteay Kdei, Sras Srang (sunset point)
C) Temples of the Roluos Group - Preah Ko, Bakong, Lolei
D)Temples of the Big Circuit - West Mebon, Ta Som, Neak Pean, Preah Khan, Pre Rup (sunset point)
E) Outlying Temples: Banteay Srei, Banteay Samre, Beng Mealea
2) Kulen mountain: Kbal Spean waterfall (1000 lingas are embedded under the riverbed), Preah Ang Thom
3) Floating Villages: The most notable ones being Chong Kneas, Kampong Phluk and Kampong Kleang
Where to stay:
Siem Reap too has multiple options of accommodation ranging from dorms in hostels (mad Monkey being the most famous one) to mid-range boutique hotels to luxury resorts. We stayed at Residence101 at the Wat Damnak village which was just a 10 mins walk from the Pub Street.
Mode of transport:
Tuktuks are available everywhere. The Angkor tour can be done by tuktuks. They will charge $20-22 for daily Angkor trips. Trip to Kbal Spean and Banteay Srei can cost between $25-30.
For long distances, avail the local/ luxury buses. Giant Ibis runs buses on both Phnom Penh and Bangkok routes, while Mekong Express only plies between SR and PP. Nattakan Transport is also popular on the Bangkok route. All these operators run luxury buses with comfortable seats (and wi-fi) and toilets on-board (though they might not function on most days). The Bangkok buses do not have wi-fi but they provide refreshments and lunch. There are mini-vans also plying on the routes. They are smaller and faster but not the safest option around. Private cars and taxis can also be hired, but they are more expensive.
Where to eat:
Pub street has multiple options for a good meal. Try Easy Speaking (degustation menu with crocodile, frog legs, ostrich meat are served), Red Piano (Angelina Jolie's favorite during the Tomb Raider shoot), Khmer Grill (for authentic Khmer cuisine), and many more.
Where to drink:
When in Siem Reap, head to Pub Street for your drinks. Draft beer at $0.75, cocktails for $3-5 and liquor for $3-4 are available. The mobile bars are even cheaper. Try Angkor What? bar which is famous amongst the tourists, Miss Wong's and the Temple Club (great place to shake a leg).
Where to shop:
Bargain shopping at the Night market and the Psar Chhas (old market) for clothes, souvenirs, sculptures, rice paper paintings (available outside almost every Angkor temples) and more. Scented soaps and organic cosmetics are popular buys here.
Staying safe: Siem Reap is comparatively safer. We did not receive any words of caution or warnings about bag snatching. Nevertheless it doesn't hurt to be cautious. Just follow the basic rules of safety as you would in any other places.
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