Siem Reap – Best Things To Do & Tourist Attractions
Siem Reap is a historic city that houses the world’s largest temple, Angkor Wat Temples. Those temples are very important for the country. Even there is a silhouette of Angkor Wat temple on Cambodia’s flag. The temples, attracting people with their pictures, architecture, and history, host millions of tourists every year. Also, other places to visit in Siem Reap are worth seeing. The temples, Pub Street, museums, and other things to do in Siem Reap will make your vacation great. In this Siem Reap Travel Guide, You will find information about many topics such as the best places to visit, when to go, where to stay, nightlife, temple sunrise tour.
Siem Reap Travel Guide
Have you ever thought where the name of Siem Reap came from? The Khmer and Siamese Kingdoms have faced a lot in history. When the Khmer Kingdom defeated the Siamese Kingdom, they called the city ‘Siem Reap’, meaning ‘Siamese was defeated’. By the way, the Siamese Kingdom is the current Thailand Kingdom.
This city, which has a population of 140 thousand, developed in terms of tourism after the Angkor Wat Temple entered the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1992. Thanks to these amazing temples, many tourists and travelers come here to visit. Also, there are many beautiful places to visit in Siem Reap as well. So this city will amaze you.
How is life in Siem Reap? Maybe poverty might come to mind first, but there are high-quality restaurants and cafes in the city. It is also a good city where you can live nightlife with its fun places. The good places are especially around Sivatha Street. Also Pub Street, one of the most famous places, is already in Sivatha Street. By the way, I suggest you read this post ‘Places to visit in Cambodia‘.
Is Siem Reap safe?
I had no trouble during my stay. Whether walking the street at night or going from one place to another with tuk-tuks… It was a very fun holiday for me. Still, it is better to be careful.
The Cambodian currency is Riel. But the American dollar is acceptable in the country. The price of almost everything starts at 1 dollar.
Important note: As I mentioned, they accept the US dollar in the country, but sometimes they can give you Cambodian Riel as a change when you pay cash at restaurants or bars. For example, the bill is $20, and you have $100 in cash. In this case, first, ask if they can give you dollars in cash. Otherwise, they can give Riel as change. And also keep in mind that in some places, they do not accept credit cards.
Where is Siem Reap and Cambodia?
Let’s start with ‘Where is Cambodia’ first. It is a country located between Thailand and Vietnam in Southeast Asia. Also, It has a border with Laos in the north of the country. Moreover, Cambodia has beautiful beaches and tropical islands in the Gulf of Thailand.
Where is Siem Reap City? Siem Reap is about 150 km away from the Thai border. It is the second-largest city in the country. Although the largest city is Phnom Phen, the tourism center of the country is Siem Reap. Because many foreign tourists visit here every day.
How to Get to Siem Reap City?
It is easy to find flights to the city from anywhere. On the other hand, you can cross the border from Bangkok (Thailand) and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam). Many travelers go to Siem Reap from Bangkok by bus. If you just want to fly, I suggest you check the website of AirAsia. Because AirAsia has cheap flights most time. Especially flights from Kuala Lumpur to Cambodia is cheap. You can search for other flights on Skyscanner as well.
How to Get a Cambodian Visa?
a Cambodia visa can be obtained in 2 ways. E-visa or visa on arrival. I preferred to get a visa on arrival and got my visa at the Siem Reap Airport without any problem. You can get the visa for a few forms and 30 American dollars. Visa procedures are proceeding very fast. They did not want pictures or something, but it is still better to have your pictures.
If you want to get an e-visa online, you have to pay $37. You can get it from this website; https://www.evisa.gov.kh/
How to Go to the City Center from Siem Reap Airport
A tuk-tuk driver waited for me at the airport because the hotel I stayed at has a free pick-up service. It takes about 20 minutes between the airport and the city center. Contact the place you stay and find out if there is a free pick-up service. Otherwise, you can find a tuk-tuk at the airport to go to the city for around 5 dollars.
Where to Stay in Siem Reap & Accommodation
Siem Reap is very cheap in terms of accommodation. You can stay in the hostel for 3-4 dollars per night. If you want a hotel room, you can find a decent hotel including a double breakfast for 15 dollars per night. I stayed at Blossoming Romduol Lodge. This hotel with a small pool was clean and the employees were very helpful. You can also search for other hotels by using this link. The city is already small but I recommend you to stay in places close to Pub Street for nightlife.
If you want to rent a house, you can find a cheap place on Airbnb. To get a $ 29 discount code on Airbnb, sign up via this link. You can even use Couchsurfing if you want to stay free at the local people’s home.
How many days should I stay in Siem Reap City?
Siem Reap Travel Guide recommendation; You should stay here for at least 3 nights. Definitely take time for 1 or 2 days to temples, 1 day to Tonle Sap Lake and floating houses. If you have too much time, you can go to Phnom Kulen Waterfall or museums in the city. Or you can just take a day off to rest because Angkor Wat Temple tour is really tiring.
Cambodia Siem Reap Nightlife
The nightlife of Siem Reap is lively in Pub Street and its surroundings. There are many quality restaurants, cafes, and bars. We tried different places every evening. The restaurants we tried were good. Eating and drinking prices are not so expensive. There are already different alternatives for every budget. Especially the street foods are so cheap.
Around Pub Street there are many mobile cocktails bars. They put a laptop on the counter and you can open the music you want and drink. The prices are also very reasonable. Cocktails start at $ 1.50. Their local beer is called Angkor. As a result, Cambodia nightlife is very nice, lively, cheap, and safe. That is one of the best things to do in Siem Reap.
What to Eat and Drink in Siem Reap City?
There are different options when it comes to food and drink. Since there are so many western tourists, there are restaurants with western cuisine, and there are also places that sell local dishes. I tried crocodile pizza. It was delicious, frankly. The most famous food in Cambodia is ‘fish amok’.
You should also try tropical fruits and shakes. There was also someone selling palm juices while visiting the temples. To be honest, I did not like it so much, but it is still worth trying.
Siem Reap Shopping
Night markets are very active in Siem Reap. You can find all kinds of souvenirs, dresses, traditional clothes, local foods, spices, herbal teas, or something else. Night markets are located around Pub Street. Apart from shopping, you should definitely visit the night markets for walking and spending time in the evenings. Siem Reap Night Market and Angkor Night Market are lively places.
There are also a few small malls in the city. We had a look at the shopping mall named Lucky Mall before going to the airport. But there wasn’t much.
Siem Reap Tourist Attractions
Below I have briefly explained about tourist spots and where to visit in Cambodia Siem Reap.
1- Angkor Archaeological Park
There are multiple temples in Angkor Archaeological Park. And these temples spread over a very large area and it is impossible to visit them all in one day.
Angkor Wat Temple is the biggest temple in the world. So that is why it is at the top of the list of places to visit and things to do in Siem Reap. It has truly magnificent architecture and structure.
Where is Angkor Wat Temple? The largest temple in the world is about 7-8 km away from the city center. The temple area was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1992 and has become the symbol of the country.
Like most tourists, we watched the sunrise during the Angkor Wat Temple tour. Although it is a little difficult to get up at 4 in the morning, it’s really worth it. You have to buy tickets before going to the temples. A 1-day ticket is $37, a 3-day ticket is $62, and a 7-day ticket is $72. We bought a 1-day ticket and made the temple tour called the small tour with the tuk-tuk we arranged through the hotel we stayed in. You can get a sunrise small group tour on getyourguide.
After leaving our hotel, we first came to the ticket offices with tuk-tuk. It was still too dark, but too many tourists were waiting in line to buy tickets. Still, we didn’t wait for long.
Aside from the temple tickets, we paid $18 for a small tour to the Tuk-tuk driver. Actually, it was normally $15, but we gave him an extra $3 to watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat Temple. If we arrange a tuk-tuk from the outside, it might be a little cheaper by bargaining, but we preferred the tuk-tuk set by the hotel. Because it is safer. In the meantime, because we left the hotel in the early morning, our breakfast was made as a package by the hotel staff. I think most hotels and hostels have this kind of service.
Includes Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom (Bayon), and Ta Prohm temples. You can also see Ta Keo, Banteay Kdei, and Prasat Kravan temples with a Small tour. Meanwhile, the Ta Prohm temple is the place where the movie Tomb Raider was shot. You will remember Angelina Jolie starred as Lara Croft in the movie.
2- Tonle Sap Lake and Floating Villages
Tonle Sap Lake is just south of the city of Siem Reap and is the largest lake in Southeast Asia. The lake expands and deepens 7-8 times because of Monsoon rains. Normally the Tonle Sap River flows into the Mekong Delta, but when the monsoon rains begin, it reverses and flows into Tonle Sap Lake. So this makes Tonle Sap Lake very interesting. You can buy Tonle Sap Lake & Floating Villages tour on getyourguide website.
There is really an interesting life in the village of Chong Kneas above the lake. Everything is built on the lake; houses, grocery stores, schools, churches, etc. To see poverty here makes people upset, to be honest. People live in places like a shack. The main sources of income are fishing. They already start to learn how to swim and drive a boat when they are very young.
Tonle Sap Lake is also one of the world’s largest floodplain. Also, it is the country’s freshwater reserve. It has already been recognized as the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve Area in 1997. It hosts hundreds of different types of fish, birds, and reptiles.
3- Phnom Kulen National Park – Phnom Kulen Waterfall
Phnom Kulen Waterfall, which is a nice spot in the list of places to visit in Siem Reap, is located approximately 1 and a half hours away from the city center. We told the hotel we were staying that we would go to the waterfall and they booked a daily trip for us. The price was around $30 per person. They picked us up from the hotel in the morning and then headed to the national park.
You see different places while going to the waterfall. For example; a Buddhist temple, a holy river, and a reclining Buddha statue. And then finally you arrive at the waterfall. You can enter the water and swim to become cool. We stayed in the waterfall for about 40 minutes. On the way back, we took a break in a restaurant. You can eat and drink something.
The waterfall is among the things to do in Siem Reap, but if your time is limited, you don’t do this tour. I think this tour is more expensive than it should be. Because I have seen more beautiful waterfalls before. If you want to do this tour, check this link.
4- Cambodia Landmine Museum
This is one of the most mined countries in the world. Because of Khmer Rouge, there are millions of unexploded ammunition and mines in the post-war country. While working in the fields, there were a lot of people who stepped on mines and died or maimed.
You can visit the Cambodia Landmine Museum, which is on the list of places to visit and attractions in Siem Reap, between 7:30 and 17:30 every day. The museum is approximately 27 km from the city.
5- Cambodia War Museum
More than 2 million people were massacred as a result of the war which took for decades. People have suffered a lot. As I mentioned above, there are still millions of mines in the country and there are people who die and are injured due to these mines.
So you can get information about what happened in the past in the museum. You are getting a guide for that. If you are curious about the history of war, you should really visit here. The entrance fee is $5.
6- Angkor National Museum
Angkor National Museum, another museum on the list of places to visit in Siem Reap, is located on Charles de Gaulle Street in the city center. The museum displays artifacts found during archaeological excavations and is a museum where you can learn about Angkor Wat Temples. The entrance fee is $12.