A Short Guide to Siem Reap, Cambodia
What can I say about Siem Reap, it’s an amazing place. We ended up extending our planned 4 night stay here, to 7 nights, mainly due to being too hungover to walk around Angkor Temples and putting it off until the next day, but it was also down to the reason that we absolutely loved Siem Reap.
Siem Reap is well known for being the closest city to the world famous Angkor Temples. However, it shouldn’t be thought that the only reason to visit Siem Reap is for a place to stay when visiting the temples, Siem Reap is a fantastic city, with tons to do and brilliant night life.
Accommodation in Siem Reap
After previously staying at two other Mad Monkeys hostels in other cities in Cambodia, we thought why not go for a third and not to break the trend, we decided to stay in Siem Reap’s Mad Monkey for the majority of our time in the city.
A dorm bed in this hostel will cost you $8.80 per night, while a double, en-suite room will cost you $17.60 per night.
Like with the other Mad Monkeys across Cambodia, this hostel is a lively and has something going on every night.
For our last couple of nights in Siem Reap, when we just wanted to chill out, we stayed in another guest house called Orchide Siem Reap. The main reason we stayed here was that it was just around the corner from Mad Monkey. The guest house was very basic, but it was a bit cheaper than Mad Monkey at $10 per night for a double room.
Things to do In & Around Siem Reap
It happened to be my birthday while we were in Siem Reap, like you do, my girlfriend paid for a trip to the shooting range (definitely not a birthday present I’d had before!).
Once we arrived via a tuk tuk from Mad Monkey, we were presented with a ‘menu’ of different guns which you can shoot, as well as a cold can of beer (only in Cambodia, health and safety was definitely not high on the agenda). They tried to tempt us into shooting an RPG at a live cow for $410, I did decide against the RPG though and went for an AK47 instead, at $60 for 30 bullets, shooting at coconuts, instead of a cow. I’d like to say that the beer impaired my shooting ability, but I was just plain terrible.
As you probably well know, the main reason the majority of people come to Siem Reap is to visit the famous Angkor Temples. You can choose to visit the temples over one day or a few days, I’d definitely recommend exploring the temples over a few days. We went for a 3 day pass, which can be used over a 7 day period, for $40 each.
Most tuk tuk drivers who are willing to drive you around the temples for the day will have their own route, which we mostly followed. Recommended routes can also be found in most guides books, such as Lonely Planet. It seems as though the going rate for a driver to take you round for the day is around $15.
Our Angkor Temples Route –
Day 1 –
- Pre Rup
- East Mebon
- Ta Som
- Neak Poan
- Preah Khan
Day 2 –
- Angkor Wat (Sunrise). Quite an unsuccessful day. Mainly due to the Angkor Half Marathon being held on the same day (we didn’t know until we got there) and our tuk tuk drivers reluctance to take us anywhere else while it was on.
Day 3 –
- Ta Prohm
- Banteay Kdel
- Bat Chum
- Sra Song
Located in the heart of Siem Reap. This market is a maze of stalls selling everything you can think of (as with most other South East Asian markets). Right in the centre of Old Market is a food market, which is certainly an experience. When we walked through here, well let’s say, the smell will make you slightly queasy. I wouldn’t advise walking through the food market if you are squeamish.
Places to Eat/Drink in Siem Reap
Cambodia might not be well known for its food and especially after a month in Vietnam, the food was a bit of a disappointment. There was one place in Siem Reap, where we really did enjoy our meal though. There’s a restaurant just off Pub Street called Cambodian BBQ, there are lots of the same type of restaurants, but this one is the original. We went here for my birthday dinner, so ended spending a bit more than we usually would on a meal. The idea is basically, they give you the raw meats and there is a hot plate in the middle of the table, which you BBQ the meat on. There’s loads of different meats you can get, some might not be up everyone’s street. For $29.50 all in, we got; snake, kangaroo, ostrich, shark, crocodile, frogs legs, squid, beef, pork and different types of fish. All served with broth, vegetables and rice, if all that meat isn’t enough!
You’ll often see me talking about how delicious the curries were which we tasted in South East Asia. The curry we had at Dakashan was no exception. We turned up and had a look at the menu outside, when a couple who were eating outside tempted us in by saying it was the nicest curry they’d ever tasted. Who can turn a restaurant down after hearing a statement like that.
While the Lamb Pepper Massala I had wasn’t the nicest curry I’d ever tasted, it would be something I’d definitely recommend. The main downside of Dakashan was that it was a little pricey, at $8.50 for just the curry alone, not including rice or naan bread, cheaper food can be found across the city.
I mentioned earlier that Siem Reap has fantastic night life. On the majority of our nights out in the city we ended up on Pub Street after drinks in Mad Monkey and if you are out in Siem Reap, you will more than likely as well!
Whilst not great for attempting to get up at 4am the next morning the sunrise at Angkor Wat, cheap buckets laced with alcohol are the reason hundreds of backpackers end up here until the early hours of the next morning, which are sold in the streets most popular bar, ‘Angkor What?’