Siem Reap hotels
The Siem Reap Rundown
As the portal to one of the quintessential wonders of the world, Siem Reap is among the most desirable and in-demand destinations in Southeast Asia, let alone Cambodia. The capital of Siem Reap Province has a royal past that unfurls a peerless, monumental legacy to the multitudes who clamor here from every corner of the globe throughout the tropical dry season. Like Laos, Vietnam and the rest of Cambodia, Siem Reap has requisite French colonial landmarks which combine with venerable Khmer and old Chinese architecture to form a handsome little cityscape. The Old Market area, the primary hive of activity in town, bustles with shops, restaurants and hotels and has become more and more cosmopolitan, in line with the consistent rise in international tourism to Cambodia over the decades.
Of course, the bulk of the focus in Siem Reap is on peerless Angkor. The UNESCO World Heritage Site ranks with the Giza Pyramids, Borobudur, Great Wall of China and Taj Mahal in epic scale and in a telltale, magical ability to elicit awe. Angkor features ruins from as far back as the 9th century, when it was early days for the capital of the Khmer Empire. The flagship attraction, of course, is Angkor Wat. The stunning, unprecedented temple complex built for Suryavarman II in the early 12th century is the face of Angkor but, happily, just the tip of the iceberg in Siem Reap.
Siem Reap's Top 10
10. Cambodia Land Mine Museum is 25 km from Siem Reap but is worth the trip. The museum conveys the horrors of land mines without artifice or melodrama.
5. Phnom Kulen is a clandestine mountain waterfall pilgrimage site with beautiful temple ruins veiled by foliage.
9. Wat Bo is one of the oldest temples in Siem Reap and a fine exemplar of classic Khmer aesthetics.
4. Angkor Thom was the last capital of the Khmer empire and a vital anchor of the Angkor UNESCO inscription.
8. Prasak Neak Pean is an otherworldly island temple in the middle of Jayatataka reservoir.
3. Ta Prohm is a spectacular 12th century temple now beset with thick, gnarly tree roots.
7.Wat Dam Nak is a former royal palace and now a paragon Khmer cultural institution.
2. Angkor National Museum is the foremost archive of Khmer empire artefacts in Cambodia.
6. Preah Khan is a considerable temple compound at Angkor built in the late 12th century.
1. Angkor Wat is the linchpin of Angkor and one of the irrefutable wonders of the world.
Siem Reap History
- Angkor Wat – The main temple in the complex, this wonder tells the history of the area in its carvings.
- Bayon Temple – The ruins of this ancient temple show the diverse past of Siem Reap.
- Angkor Thom – This historical city was built toward the end of the 12th century.
- Ta Prohm – One of the oldest temples in Siem Reap, this wonder has not been fully restored.
- Pre Rup – This ancient religious and historical site is a must-see.
Siem Reap Art & Culture
- Banteay Srei – The sculpted décor of this city outside of Siem Reap makes it one of the country’s artistic gems.
- Phnom Bakheng – Many visitors to Siem Reap take elephants to the top of this hillside temple.
- Eastern Mebon – This architectural achievement is one of the top attractions in Siem Reap.
- Roluos Temples – A group of temples among the oldest in Siem Reap.
- Pub Street – A glimpse into the modern culture of Siem Reap.
Siem Reap Shopping
- Old Market – The original market of Siem Reap, it sells just about everything.
- Central Market – Another great place in Siem Reap to buy souvenirs, baggage and local items.
- Phsar Leu – The most popular market with the locals for food.
- Phsar Samaki – A smaller market but still a great place to find clothing.
- Angkor Night Market – Siem Reap’s oldest night market sells just about everything a tourist might want.
Gay & Lesbian Siem Reap
- Affinity Angkor – This openly gay tour service can handle trips around the temples or any other tour you may want to take.
- Gold Tuk Tuk – A gay-friendly tuk tuk service whose guides know all of the hottest gay venues around Siem Reap.
- Viroth’s – This gay-friendly hotel in Siem Reap offers all the modern amenities.
- Golden Banana Boutique Hotel and Resort – This is a great place for a romantic getaway.
- Miss Wong’s Cocktail Bar – A gay- and lesbian-friendly bar in Siem Reap that has occasional drag shows.
Siem Reap Outdoor
- Phnom Bakheng Mountain – Some visitors choose to take elephants to the top of this mountain.
- Lemongrass Garden Beauty and Massage – One of the best places in Siem Reap to get a spiritual massage or relax in the outdoor garden.
- Flomo Adventure Tours – These tour guides take you to the countryside of Siem Reap in all-terrain vehicles.
- Puok Silk Farm – This outdoor excursion near Siem Reap is a great way to see how silk is made.
- Cycle Kampuchea – Rural Siem Reap is at your fingertips with this cycling tour group.
Siem Reap Sport
- Explore Siem Reap on four wheels with Quad Adventures Cambodia.
- Ride the countryside trails at Happy Ranch Horse Farm.
- Play a round of golf at the picturesque Angkor Golf Resort.
- Stretch out and stay fit at UberOum Yoga Studio.
- See the jungles up close with Cambodia Buggy Adventures.
Siem Reap Local
The capital of Siem Reap province is a small city of less than 200,000 people. On the whole, visitors tend to navigate the core hotel and restaurant enclave of Siem Reap on foot. The bulk of the action in town hinges on the Old Market area. More upscale resorts proliferate between the airport and the city proper.
Without question, Angkor is the lifeblood of Siem Reap. Few grasp the prodigious breadth of the UNESCO World Heritage Site however. Angkor, at 386 square miles, was the largest pre-industrial city in the world by far and may have sustained a population of up to 1 million people. As a result, the ancient area covers much more than Angkor Wat and envelops other archaeological sites like Angkor Thom, Baksei Chamkrong, Banteay Kdei, Banteay Samré, Banteay Srei, Baphuon, the Bayon, Chau Say Tevoda, East Baray, East Mebon, Kbal Spean, the Khleangs, Krol Ko, Lolei, Neak Pean, Phimeanakas, Phnom Bakheng, Phnom Krom, Prasat Ak Yum, Prasat Kravan, Preah Khan, Preah Ko, Preah Palilay, Preah Pithu, Pre Rup, Spean Thma, Srah Srang, Ta Nei, Ta Prohm, Ta Som, Ta Keo, Terrace of the Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King, Thommanon, West Baray and West Mebon. Cross them all off your list, if you can spare the time.
Siem Reap Eat & Drink
From the vibrant, fresh flavors of Khmer cuisine to typical Western and continental fare, Siem Reap has a small but diverse restaurant scene.
Le Tigre de Papier (Bar Street) is a competent 24 hour pizza and pasta joint.
Green Star (Wat Bo Road) is a lovely not-for-profit Khmer restaurant with a cheery, skillful kitchen brigade.
Joe to Go (#389, Group 8, Phum Mondol 1) is a casual NGO-run coffeehouse with terrific desserts and real espresso.
Blue Pumpkin (Pithnou Street) is a swish bakery, dairy bar and café with Philippe Starck furniture and outlets in Angkor and Puok Silk Farm.
Soup Dragon (Bar Street) is a choice spot for traditional Cambodian breakfasts and has a rooftop bar that donates a percentage of profits to the Angkor Children’s Hospital.
The Touich Restaurant Bar (behind Wat Preah Enkosei Pagoda) is a cool and contemporary take on Khmer classics.
Abacus (off Sivatha Street) restaurant, garden and bar has one of the best Khmer set menus in Siem Reap. The kitchen also whips up good French and fusion fare.
Cuisine Wat Damnak (behind Wat Damnak Pagoda) reboots traditional Cambodian dishes in a magnificent setting.
The Station (Street 07, Old Market Area) may have the best wine list in all of Camboda and is a step up from the backpacker bars.
Restaurant Le Grand Café (Pop Street, Old Market) has beautiful balcony tables, generous portions of superb Khmer and continental cuisine and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Siem Reap Events
Siem Reap celebrates Khmer folk and Theravada Buddhist holidays in colorful fashion. The province is also ripe for ecological and traditional village tourism.
Angkor Photo Festival was the first photography festival in Southeast Asia. The emphasis is on talent from the region but a fair number of international photographers share the limelight as well. The festival takes place in Siem Reap in November.
Pchum Ben (Spirit Festival) is a Khmer ancestor worship festival that takes place in either September or October.
The Khmer New Year falls in mid-April and is a joyful time in Cambodia. Games, venerable rituals, temple rites, colorful garb, special foods and processions mark the occasion.
Silk Farm Tours and the Siem Reap Silk Festival both provide a peek at a vital cornerstone of the export economy in Cambodia.
Tonlé Sap Lake Tours allow visitors to commune with traditional village culture and a foremost UNESCO World Heritage Biosphere Reserve. Tonlé Sap is the dominant freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and expands from 1,400 square miles in the dry season to 6,178 square miles at the apex of the monsoon season.
When To Go
Conditions in Siem Reap-Angkor waver between hot, humid and sticky throughout the year. The tropical wet and dry climate provides one patent tourist window to exploit, however, from November to February. The dry season is not only devoid of rain, for the most part, but features cooler temperatures of 67.5°F (20°C) to 91.5°F (33°C). The downside is that throughout the period, both Siem Reap and Angkor are chockablock with tourists and tour buses. Hotels, restaurants, transportation et al. are duly more expensive.
If you come from March to May, however, tourists pay in other ways. Temperatures run from 79°F (26°C) to 96°F (35.5°C) throughout the three-month span and the swelter is inescapable. The subsequent wet season provides some relief but wreaks havoc with rivers and roads. Most of Siem Reap’s 58 in (1,450 mm) of annual precipitation falls between June and October.
What To Miss
The mystical charm of Angkor gets somewhat lost amid the myriad distractions of souvenir vendors, buskers and the like. Huge markups for basic crafts and trinkets is the norm at the UNESCO World Heritage Site and, as such, visitors would do well to give opportunistic merchants a wide berth and purchase gifts or souvenirs in Siem Reap proper (or Phnom Penh and Bangkok even). Needless to say, the incipient rise in international tourism to Angkor in recent years - the Cambodian government has a target of 3 million visitors a year in mind - has led to the kind of monument abuse and desecration that UNESCO and cultural conservationists frown upon.
With that, a number of freelance tour guides in Siem Reap give legitimate licensed ones a bad name. Make sure to book a valid organized tour when you venture to Angkor or source out a reliable guide if you plan to go solo. A decent guide will cost somewhere in the vicinity of USD $20 for a day. If you prefer to go it alone, purchase the comprehensive English-language “Ancient Angkor” guidebook at one of the temples on-site. The info therein is accurate down to bas-relief details and serves as a suitable Angkor compass of sorts.
The water villages and markets of Siem Reap Province are of obvious inherent interest to travelers. While must-see, visitors need not book a separate tour to view them as the riverboat from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh offers sufficient glimpses of village life on the water. If this is how you plan to travel to the Cambodia capital, skip the relatively expensive river tours.
Lastly, the Cambodian Cultural Village is a manifest trap. Though popular with tourists, it is much more of a theme park money-grab than a genuine depiction of venerable Khmer culture.
Siem Reap International Airport handles more passengers than any other airport in Cambodia. The government has plans to eventually replace it, however, with a new airport 60 km from Siem Reap. Destinations served by the hub include Bangkok, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh, Phuket, Seoul-Incheon, Singapore, Taipei, Vientiane and Yangon.
A host of bus operators offer service from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap-Angkor. A newly paved road makes the journey more comfortable and shorter than in years past. Many travelers to Thailand choose to bus over to the Cambodia border, acquire a quick visa and then split a taxi to Angkor with a few others. Share taxis are a good option from the Cambodia capital as well.
Within Siem Reap, a compact city center makes it easy for pedestrians to get around. Copious vehicles for hire abound in town, from tuk-tuks and motorbikes to conventional cabs. Additionally, many hotels and small guesthouses rent out bicycles for the day. Angkor is approximately 20 minutes from Siem Reap.
As the home of one of the most visited attractions in Asia, Siem Reap provides Cambodia with a reliable destination for international tourism. The capital of Siem Reap Province has a rich past that reveals a diverse heritage to visitors from around the globe. From the old French quarter to Chinese architecture, Siem Reap has many landmarks of interest. A turbulent 20th century, most notably under the Khmer Rouge Communist Regime of Pol Pot, has thankfully made way for a new era of relative prosperity.
Of course, most of the attention in Siem Reap is on peerless Angkor. The UNESCO World Heritage Angkor Archaeological Park covers over 400 km2 and features ruins from the 9th to 15th century, when the area was the capital of the Khmer Empire. The most famous attraction in the park is Angkor Wat, the temple whose five towers are indelibly familiar. With tourism to Angkor on the rise over the past two decades, Siem Reap has become a hospitable hub, with great museums and restaurants.
Attractions & Activities
Restaurant & Nightlife
Siem Reap is very hot and humid for most of the year, most notably from March to May. Relative protection from tropical storms is certainly beneficial for tourism, despite the summer wet season. Average temperatures waver between 19°C and 35°C throughout the year.
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