Found in northwestern Cambodia and not too far from the Thai border, Siem Reap is the gateway to visit Angkor Wat; a spectacular collection of ruins from the Khmer Kingdom. The town is rural, with the old quarter boasting some great restaurants and bars built for the ever-growing number of tourists. Worth a visit when in Asia and a top destination for budget backpackers.
Visit the beautiful Angkor Wat Ruins whilst in Siem Reap – this is a must. The Landmine Museum gives a depth exhibit on the destruction caused in past wars, whilst a Cambodian cooking class is high on the list of things to do in Siem Reap. The south of Cambodia offers a haven of quieter beach resorts and villages like Kampot, Sihanoukville or Koh Rong.
Hostel/Budget rates – Dorms and family-run guesthouses can be found anywhere between $3 – $15.
Midrange Hotel rates – $20 to $50 depending on facilities
Luxury Hotel rates – high end hotels around $80+
Transport – Tuk Tuks are cheap and cost around $2 – $6 to get around Siem Reap, whilst hiring a Tuk Tuk driver for the day to take you around Angkor Wat will cost around $10.
Average cost of food – Food is incredibly cheap in Siem Reap, with rice and noodle dishes being found from $2, mid range local restaurants cost $3 -$10 per head whilst meals cost between $10 – $15 per head at popular restaurants in the Pub Street district. A great thing about Siem Reap is that you will always find a place to suit your budget and needs. You can find cocktails for $2.50 with local beer ranging between $0.50-$1.50. The Cambodian BBQ restaurant is a favourite of mine and an experience in itself.
Where to stay
Hostel/Budget – The Funky Flashpacker is a great choice for those on a budget, just a few yards from the Night Market and Pub Street. This hostel offers clean and modern rooms, with dorm beds starting at $7, double rooms starting at $20 and a hotel pool to relax in after a long day exploring temples. The newly renovated Jiu Yan Wu Angkor Hotel is another popular choice for backpackers looking to meet fellow travellers, dorm rooms start from just $2 (!!!) a night but make sure you choose the air-conditioned rooms during hot months.
Top End – For those who wish to splurge, the Sala Lodges is an ideal place to stay for romance and relaxation. Sala Lodges offer contemporary wooden bungalows with stunning decor, prices starting at $197. High-end luxury can be found at De Sarann Villa, with villas starting at $270 a night; all with private pools.
How to get there
Fly – Direct international flights are available from many popular cities in Asia, including Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. Domestic routes from Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville are limited and costly. A taxi from Siem Reap Airport into the centre of the town costs around $5.
Bus – Buses from Phnom Penh are available, costing $5 -$13 depending on level of service, but beware the trip can be bumpy due to damaged roads. Direct buses are also available to and from Kompong Cham (US$6, taking 5-6 hours), Battambang (US$4.75, taking 3 hours) and Sisophon (US$3,75, taking 2 hours). International bus tickets are available to and from Bangkok but be wary of companies over-charging for your Cambodian visa on entry into Cambodia.
A days tuk-tuk hire with driver will cost approx $10 ideal for visiting the major temples at Angkor Wat. Tuk-tuks, motorbike taxis and hired cars are cheap and will set you back anywhere between $2 for short trips to $5 for a taxi from the airport into town and vice versa. Many guesthouses offer bicycle hires for those wishing to cycle around the city.