Home to the world’s largest religious monument, tourists from around the globe visit Siem Reap to explore the awe inspiring Angkor Wat.
In addition to the magnificent temples, Siem Reap has much to offer visitors including an array of fantastic restaurants and cultural experiences from the amazing Phare Circus to a visit to the silk farm, traditional Apsara dancing or even a bee tour.
Probably the easiest but most expensive option is to catch a flight to Siem Reap Angkor International Airport. The airport isn’t too far from the main town – it takes approximately 30 minutes by tuk tuk. If you have already booked your accommodation check to see if free airport transfers are available.
One of the cheapest and most popular ways to travel to Siem Reap is by bus from Bangkok. With prices starting from only 200thb it is sometimes referred to as the ‘Scambodia Bus’ because of attempts to extort increased visa fees when you reach Cambodia. As long as you’re not duped into paying any more for your visa (find out more about the scam here) this is an incredibly cost effective way to reach Siem Reap from Bangkok.
You can also catch a train from Bangkok to the Thai border town of Aranyaprathet and make your own way from here to the Cambodian border where you will be able to arrange onward bus travel to Siem Reap. It will cost a more than the bus mentioned above but you won’t have to argue about visas.
If you’re travelling to Siem Reap from elsewhere in Cambodia then you should be able to find numerous bus companies travelling here. It takes around 6 hours from Phnom Penh and 10 – 12 hours from Sihanoukville.
Not to miss
The world’s largest religious monument and the nation’s icon, Angkor is an ancient marvel and an absolute must see. 1 day, 3 day and 7 day passes are available from the main Angkor booking office (all tuk tuk’s will take you prior to going to the temples if you let them know you don’t have a ticket)
Getting around Angkor:
Walk – you would have to be pretty fit to explore Angkor on foot as many of the temples – particularly on the outer circuit – are kilometres apart. After exploring the temples themselves the breeze gained from a tuk tuk or bicycle journey is much welcomed!
Bike – less demanding than walking, cycling is another option for exploring Angkor with bicycles available to rent from many places in Siem Reap. The best time to cycle around would be in the cooler months of November and January as temperatures can reach upwards of 34 degrees in March and April. There are plenty of vendors selling drinks throughout Angkor if you don’t want to carry heaps of water with you.
Tuk Tuk or Moto – the easiest way to explore Angkor is by tuk tuk or if you’re a solo traveller then a motorbike taxi can be a cheaper option. Almost all tuk tuk drivers in Siem Reap have maps so you can show them which temples you wish to visit – they know the complex well and often provide some good route suggestions, helping you see as much as possible.
Angkor Visitor Code of Conduct
Be a responsible visitor to Angkor by following the APSARA code of conduct.
Phare blends “contortion, juggling, acrobatics, balancing and aerial arts with theatre and modern dance forms” – Phare Circus.
Not only do you get to see an amazing show, but when you attend the Phare Circus you are also contributing to a fantastic cause…. Phare Performing Social Enterprise has three complimentary social missions: Provide gainful employment to Cambodian youth from difficult social and economic backgrounds, financially sustain our parent organization Phare Ponleu Selpak NGO school thereby contributing to the rebirth of Cambodian modern art. You can buy tickets online or purchase them in a few locations in Siem Reap. Tickets can be bought on the night but buy in advance to avoid disappointment.
The Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB)
The Floating Villages of Tonle Sap
Distance from Siem Reap – 32km Boat tour of village – $15 pp Flooded Forest Eco Tourism boat tour – $7 pp
Distance from Siem Reap – 55km Boat tour of village – $15 pp
Other Attractions & Sights
Angkor Silk Making
Angkor National Museum
The Beatocello Concert
“Backstreet Academy is a marketplace which empowers anyone to create a unique travel experience. Locals who are amazing at what they do create one-of-a-kind tours or activities that you’ll not get anywhere else.” – Backstreet Academy
From kite making, to fear factor challenges, photography excursions to cookery classes, Backstreet Academy offers something for everyone with lots of guides providing a variety of activities to do in Siem Reap. Browse the various activities and tours and book on the Backstreet website.
Take an Art Class
Flight of the Gibbon
Take a Pottery Class
Food & Drink
The quality of food in Siem Reap is fantastic with lots of great restaurants to choose from offering a variety of international and Khmer cuisine. Pub Street is lined with restaurants offering a huge variety of dishes from around the world. If you’re craving a wood fired pizza or a great burger this is where you’ll find it. Sok San Road is quieter than Pub Street but is home to some unique bars and is a great place to go for a drink and escape the crowds. Here you will find the infamous X bar featuring Siem Reaps only rooftop half pipe. If you have a larger budget check out the Kings Road village where you will find some excellent, although pricier restaurants in tranquil surroundings. Located on Achar Sva road, across the old market bridge alongside the river, it is also home to the only Hard Rock Cafe in Cambodia. Siem Reap also has some wonderful not for profit training restaurants that support great causes and dish up fantastic food. These include: Haven (often need to book in advance), Marum which is run by the Tree Alliance, Blossom Cafe Training Centre, Genevieves Restaurant, Sala Bai Training Restaurant, Bayon Pastries, Sister Srey Cafe, Joe-To-Go Cafe and Common Grounds Cafe.
Accommodation is plentiful in Siem Reap however rooms and dorms can get booked up fast in the high season as people flock to the city to explore the ancient temples of Angkor. As Siem Reap has become a major tourist destination, prices can be a little higher than elsewhere in Cambodia, but you have an ever expanding range of accommodation options to choose from. If you’re on a super tight budget there are plenty of hostels available in Siem Reap but private rooms can also be found for reasonable prices – from around $5 for a fan room and starting at $12 for air con. If you want to stay somewhere a little more luxurious with a pool, prices start at around $25 a night. There are new hotels, hostels and guest houses popping up in Siem Reap all the time. Use review sites to find potential places and then check it out yourself before you book if you want to be assured it meets your needs.
Formerly the backpacker central area of Siem Reap, Wat Bo Road now attracts a broader mix of tourists. You’ll still find lots of backpacker accommodation here as well as some ‘flashpacker’ and luxury options. A 10 to 20 minute walk away from the centre of town, Wat Bo is the perfect place for those who want to be close to the action but enjoy some peace and quiet too. A lively backpacker scene is also emerging in West Central Siem Reap on and around Sok San Road.
For those of you looking for an extra special experience head to the French Quarter which is home to some of Siem Reaps most iconic hotels including Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor built in 1929. If you prefer a countryside setting Siem Reap also has some great accommodation options further out of town that give more of a taste of ‘real’ Cambodia.
Hostels & Hotels with Heart
The following organisations do some amazing work with local communities and disadvantaged youth in Cambodia and we thoroughly recommend staying with any of them: Mad Monkey Hostel Siem Reap, The Soria Moria Boutique Hotel, Sala Bai Hotel School
Cambodia City Guides