Read more about my Self Care Sabbatical and the other places I’ve visited!
I had an incredible week in Siem Reap which was a mix of visiting temples at Angkor and just relaxing. Though this town is quite touristy and comes with the usual backpacker pub street, I had an awesome time here. After a disappointing few days in Phnom Penh, I felt like my time in Cambodia was starting to meet my expectations! This was partly because I met some really awesome people – I might not have liked it as much had that not been the case. But the temples! If you come here only to do that, you will not be disappointed.
Getting There & Around: Easy to get there by bus from around Cambodia – a comfortable 6-hour bus ride from PP (including a stop for a decent lunch). There is a nice, though small, airport if you prefer to fly or if you are going somewhere a bit further away. When I left Siem Reap, I flew to Bangkok which was far better than the 13-hour bus ride I could have taken. The airport is not far from town and a taxi should only cost about $9.
The town is quite walkable, but to visit the temples you will need to take a tuk-tuk or a bicycle (or motorbike). When I got off the bus from PP, I got matched with a very friendly tuk-tuk driver who ended up being my driver for the week. This makes it easy to get around and visit temples all week without having to find new drivers all the time. Your accommodation may also be able to pair you with a driver.
Where to Stay: I stayed at Lubd Hostel which was, by far, the best hostel I’ve EVER stayed in. I stayed for 6 nights and could have definitely stayed longer. The hostel is quite new, the rooms are awesome, the food is spectacular. There is a really nice pool with a swim-up bar. There are activities every day and really fun staff. I managed to meet a lot of people at this hostel and had such a great time here.
On the days when I wasn’t visiting temples, I was lounging at the pool with a cocktail in hand. I would suggest staying somewhere on the opposite side of the river from the Pub Street area. It was a short walk to this area from my hostel (about 5 minutes), but we were able to easily get away from that area for a bit of peace and quiet. Suggest finding accommodation with a pool so you can escape the heat and relax on days off from visiting temples.
Things To Do:
Visit Angkor Park! This is probably why you are in Siem Reap in the first place. Tickets are available for 1, 3 or 7 days. I would suggest doing a 3-day ticket if you have the time. I met a few people who did 1-day and visited temples from sunrise to near sunset. That is a LONG day. Splitting up a visit into at least two days makes it a bit more enjoyable because it gets really hot and exhausting walking around in the sun all day. More of my tips for visiting Angkor Park are here
Outside of visiting the park, there is not that much to do in Siem Reap. The town itself is quite touristy, with various markets (day and night) all selling the same stuff. My hostel also arranged a few activities, including a sunset cycling tour to the lotus fields – this was one of my favorite moments in my entire trip. If you can get yourself out to these fields for sunset, do it! We enjoyed some grilled frog and cold beer while seeing a stunner of a sunset. And then somehow we made it back to town on bikes in the dark…
In the evening check out Phare, the Cambodian circus (think more like acrobatics than clowns). It’s a really fun outing though it’s a bit more expensive ($18).
Eating & Drinking:
My hostel had incredible food so I ate there quite a bit. The rest of the options in Siem Reap are pretty standard overpriced spots or less expensive places serving up the same local dishes.
- Haven is a really nice restaurant with a philanthropic edge (the staff are disadvantaged youth brought in for training) – it’s a bit fancier and more expensive ($15 per person for dinner and a drink)
- The Pub Street area is the main place for drinking (and some eating). There are a lot of tourist trap places, but it can also be quite fun around here. Would suggest wandering around to some of the street food carts populated with locals vs eating at the restaurants here. My friend and I wandered for awhile seeing nothing that we wanted before stumbling onto a busy corner full of locals sucking down cockles in chili sauce alongside roasted duck and knew we had found the right spot.
- If you do eat on Pub Street – there is pretty solid pizza at Design V restaurant. It’s a bit expensive (all of these places are overpriced), but not a bad spot to eat and people watch.