Siem Reap, Cambodia: Travel Guide

March 24, 2015

Siem Reap Cambodia was certainly one of the many highlights to our South East Asia tour. My trip around SE Asia was a combination of backpacking mixed with two weeks of luxury travel since my father joined in. Making the transition from 20 person hostels to hotels is always interesting, but for a few weeks it was quite enjoyable.

Angkor Wat reflection (Angkor Wat Temple, Siem Reap)

The hotel I booked for us in Siem Reap was one of the best hotel experiences of  my life. My brother and Dad would also agree. We book via Booking.com since they had the best deal and prices started around $100 per night. The name is the Golden Temple Hotel and this is my review below:

“I have stayed in thousands of hotels across the world ranging from 5 star hotels to budget hostels/hotels, etc and this was by far the BEST accommodation I have had in my travels to 50+ countries. The facilities, location, atmosphere and especially the staff were all phenomenal. Alice, our receptionist/personal assistant, was the highlight of our stay in Cambodia and our entire 5 week trip in SE Asia. Our room included a beautiful view of the pool, free massage, concierge cellular phone and dinner. Everything was fantastic and I will certainly be making a trip back to Cambodia just to stay here again. Thanks for a wonderful experience!”

Golden Temple Hotel Siem Reap(Golden Temple Hotel Room View)

The only downside to staying in hotels is the lack of mingling with other travelers. Luckily, a friend of ours was staying at the party hostel in Siem Reap, called The Mad Monkey Hostel. This place was pretty awesome too, it had a swimming pool and bustling rooftop bar. Even if you’re not a guest you can access the bar for their nightly parties!

Siem Reap is a pretty small town and you can walk from one end to the next within 15-20 minutes. So what is there to do in Siem Reap?

Explore the Temples in Angkor Wat

Visiting the temples is the main attraction for Siem Reap! I recommend hiring a Tuk Tuk or private guide. We booked our tour via the Golden Temple Hotel and it was great. The tour came with  transport and an English guide. It was really handy to have a guide since most people get shuttled around on Tuk Tuks and don’t really learn much about the history of Angkor Wat. The cost was extremely affordable and I believe it was around $50 for three people and it included breakfast.

Angkor Wat Sunrise Siem Reap(Angkor Wat Sunrise)

The tour started at sunrise and it was incredible! We were lucky the weather was clear enough, since some days the sunrise can be hidden due to fog and clouds. The guide showed us around Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple, and Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider Temple).

Ta Promh Temple Cambodia(Tah Prohm Temple)

You could spend weeks or months exploring all the temples in Siem Reap! But these are three of the most popular. They are also the most heavily populated with tourist, but also are stunning.  I recommend at least dedicating one full day to exploring the temples or  two days  if you are really want to see all the highlights plus some extras.

Tomb Raider temple(Tah Prohm Temple aka Tomb Raider Temple)

Bayon Temple Cambodia(The Bayon Temple)

Go to the Circus

The Siem Reap Circus is actually one of the top rated things to do in Cambodia. My brother went to this and he said it was pretty amazing. It is not a typical “Circus” but more a display of Cambodian history and culture performed through acrobatics and music. If you are looking for something unique to do, then defiantly check out Phare, The Cambodian Circus!

Ride an Elephant

When you are on your way to the Bayon Temple there are elephants you can feed and ride for a fee. It is just a 10-15 minute ride on flat ground. It was a great experience, but I couldn’t imagine riding an elephant for longer than that since it is pretty uncomfortable. I have always wanted to see elephants up close, they are fascinating animals!

Cambodia Elephants

Have a night out on Pub Street

I was pretty shocked to see a decent nightlife scene in Siem Rerap. Basically there are two main bars/clubs that all the backpackers go to. The drinks are reasonable and the atmosphere is bustling. Outside of Pub Street there are actually a lot of bars, clubs and restaurants. They offer something for every traveler, some of the venues have really good live music as well.

Rent Bikes and go Exploring!

There are a number of bike rentals around the city, it is pretty affordable and a great way to see the surrounding areas. The roads seem pretty safe to ride bikes on since everyone seems to be going rather slow, but of course be careful since the drivers in SE Asia don’t seem to really have any method to their madness of driving.

Shopping

We didn’t do much shopping here, but there are a ton of little shops all throughout the city. There is a wide variety of handmade goods along with the typical tourist trinkets and gifts. The town is pretty small so you can check out a lot of shops in between commuting back to your accommodation.

Enjoy the local cuisine

Cambodian food is really delicious and has a number of influences from China and France that have created some amazing cuisine. I recommend going to the Chanrey Tree Restaurant. Try the Fish or Chicken Amok, you won’t regret it!

Siem Reap has something for everyone, I really loved this city and glad we spent a full 5 days here instead of trying to cram in another city. Have you been to Cambodia? Leave a comment below and share your favorite experiences in Cambodia!

6 comments

  1. Comment by AJ

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    AJ Reply March 25, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    Mike,
    Although Cambodia wasn’t on our list of sites to visit, your photo of the temple in Siem Reap is awesome and made me want to see it in person.

    • Comment by SwigMeetsWorld

      SwigMeetsWorld

      SwigMeetsWorld Reply March 29, 2015 at 10:45 am

      AJ, Looks like you need to plan a trip to Asia! I think you’ll like it more than you think. 🙂

  2. Comment by Nicole {Life's Tidbits}

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    Nicole {Life's Tidbits} Reply February 3, 2016 at 2:14 am

    We are going to Cambodia in March. I was considering the Golden Temple Hotel and now I’m sold. Thanks!!

    • Comment by SwigMeetsWorld

      SwigMeetsWorld

      SwigMeetsWorld Reply February 26, 2016 at 2:24 am

      I hope you enjoy your stay in Cambodia!!!

    • Comment by SwigMeetsWorld

      SwigMeetsWorld

      SwigMeetsWorld Reply April 6, 2016 at 12:36 am

      Hey Nicole! How did you like your trip to Cambodia? Hope you enjoyed Golden Temple as well 🙂

  3. Comment by John (Great Escape)

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    John (Great Escape) Reply March 4, 2016 at 6:33 am

    That’s was an amazing guide, thanks for share.

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