Siem Reap travel guide
“Adventure is not outside man; it is within.” – George Eliot
Siem Reap: Cambodia’s second largest city and the gateway to the mythical Angkor Wat temple complex is a city unto itself – both Cambodian and comparatively western compared to the rest of the Kingdom. With that in mind, we thought we’d throw in a quick guide on how to spend your time in this diverse town.
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(Also check out our Cambodian coffee guide here!)
Take two days for Angkor Wat
It would be ridiculous to visit Siem Reap without taking the trip to the infamous Angkor Wat temple complex and, if we are being honest, you may as well take the plunge and spend two days up there, doing both the grand tour and the smaller circle. A stunning landscape of temples and monkeys, Angkor Wat is unlike anything we’ve seen in a long time and organising your tuk tuk in advance in order to be there for sunrise (around 5am!) is 100% worth it, with watching the sun come up from behind the peaks of Angkor Wat is breathtaking. Just be sure to take some comfortable shoes and some water bottles in case your driver doesn’t have any (or buy coconuts inside), you’re going to need em!
Try your hand at Khmer cuisine
If you haven’t had the chance yet in Phnom Penh, or if this is your first stop in Cambodia, a khmer cooking class is an absolute must do! I know I already mentioned this in our guide to Phnom Penh but, with the local cuisine becoming a central part of the tourist board’s advert to travelers, it would be a shame not to give it a shot! With both morning and afternoon classes available at several restaurants in Siem Reap, there’s sure to be a slot to suit.
Wander the markets
The Old Market and night markets may not be as large as their Phnom Penh equivalents, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a great bargain in there somewhere within the sprawling mass of stalls. From food and clothing to souvenirs and other trinkets, you can find practically anything you could need. On top of that, there are also some cute boutique’s around Kendall Village and around the Royal Gardens area that are well worth the walk. As usual though, be sure to haggle to find the best price and be prepared to walk away from a bad deal.
Leave the city centre
In a small city as condensed at Siem Reap, it is often worth getting out of that area, and Siem Reap has just the thing! Take an afternoon visit to the War Museum, and hear about the Cambodian Civil War from people who lived it and felt the impact of it in their own words or go for a walk to some of the more contemporary temples around the royal gardens such as Wat Kesaram, Wat Preah Prom Rath. If you have some extra time on your hand and still like the temples, a quick visit to Bakong is worth the short trip up highway 6.
Take a look at the local artisans
If you’re looking for some souvenirs with an ethical slice, Artisans Angkor is definitely the place to go. With a workshop located minute away from Old Market, Artisans Angkor is a charity organisation training Cambodians how to make statues, jewelry, silk and other products by hand, giving small farms and villages a route to a better life. On top of that, the group run a daily shuttle to several their silk farms outside of the city that is similarly insightful.
Swim if off!
With most of the hotels in the city boasting swimming pools and bars, the notion of just laying back and ordering a cocktail is completely underrated! There may be a fair amount to do, but don’t forget to take some time to yourself and relax, especially with the heat and humidity around there!
Alternatively, check out our coffee guide to Siem Reap here!
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