Located in northwest Cambodia is the country’s most known province, Siem Reap, which is of course home to the world famous temples of Angkor Wat. These temples attract over 2 million visitors a year at present, making the small province of Siem Reap quite the busy gateway destination! But aside from the various temples to visit (which will indeed keep you busy for days), there’s plenty of chances to experience the culture, food and people of Cambodia in Siem Reap itself. So here’s what not to miss in Siem Reap!
When You Arrive
Before you even go anywhere there’s the airport, visa, and transport to tackle. Arriving into Siem Reap International Airport is a fairly straight forward process, given the airport isn’t particularly sizeable. Once you land you will immediately enter visa control, where it is possible to buy a visa on arrival. The cost is now $30 (previously $20), and payable in USD. If you don’t have cash you can withdraw US dollars from an ATM right there.
Of course you might also come by land, in which case you will deal with your visa at the border or have already done so at Phnom Penh International Airport.
For transport to the centre of Siem Reap, you will be looking to pay around $7 USD for a car, or as low as $5 for a tuk-tuk. The centre of Siem Reap is 7 kilometres away.
The Cambodian People: What are they like?
Friendly, of course! This is Southeast Asia after all.
You’ll meet many locals during your time in Siem Reap – from tuk-tuk drivers to hotel staff and everything in between, there are plenty of opportunities to mingle with local Cambodians.
Being that Siem Reap relies on international tourism, most people in the city centre will speak enough English for you to order food, ask for directions, and have a general conversation if you happen to strike up one!
What to Eat, Drink, and Do In Town
Aside from the temples of Angkor Wat, there’s plenty more to see, do, taste and sample around town. Here are some faves from a short visit:
The Old Market
Lets call this ‘the everything’ market. There are no shortage of markets in Siem Reap, but this would have to be the most popular. You will struggle to not find what you are looking for – this market has great food, as well as clothing, fabrics, souvenirs, spices, housewares, and oh, just about everything you could ever imagine!
Pub street is (surprise surprise) as it sounds, a street full of pubs and pub eats! For a great people watching experience, find a restaurant located on the 1st floor so you can look down as the antics carry on through the night below you.
Angkor National Museum
If you’re interested in learning more about Khmer culture beyond the temples of Angkor Wat, you’ll find oodles of informative displays inside the Angkor National Museum. Open daily (8:30 – 18:00). $12 USD.
Cooking Class in a Local Village
To experience local cuisine in a unique and fun way, why not join a cooking class!? There are a few on offer, try “Beyond Unique Cooking Classes” for an insight into the local way of life in a nearby village. Find them on the corner of Sivutha Blvd and Alley West. $22 USD.
Cambodian Cultural Village
There are a range of different performances and exhibitions on display should you be interested in learning more about Cambodian culture. One of these is the aptly named “Cambodian Cultural Village”, open daily between 10 – 18:30. $15 USD.
Enjoy a (cheap) Massage
There are oodles of massage parlours lining the many streets of Siem Reap, all offering cheap massage therapies with traditional techniques. You can grab an hour massage from around $6. If you’re willing to pay more for more of the Western conveniences, you’ll be able to score a great massage for around $25 USD.
If you’ve had enough temples for one visit, consider joining a fun day out by joining a quad bike tour with Sabai Adventures Cambodia. There are a range of other tour operators offering similar services, but these guys are the originals.
A Street Food Tour
If cooking Cambodian food isn’t quite in your line of talents, then fear not, you can still eat it! There are some great food tours on offer in Siem Reap which will take you around some of the best local hot spots to eat at. If you’re a night owl, check out the Urban Adventures night time street food tour.
Find Your Zen
If you’ve come to Southeast Asia to try your hand at yoga and find your inner zen then never fear! There’s a yoga studio to meet your needs. While there might not be anywhere near as many yogis and yoga studios as Bali, there is a great studio nearby: try Yoga classes & retreat.
World of Wanderlust visited Cambodia as a guest of Intrepid Travel and ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations).