Siem Reap is a lively city that attracts backpackers from all over the world. I stayed in a hostel for 4 nights and met people from Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Australia, USA, China, and Brazil.
So what is everyone coming to See?!
Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples attracts an every increasing rise in tourism each every year and boasts of spectacular sunrises and ancient ruins.
Other than Angkor Wat, Siem Reap could be almost anywhere in Asia. There’s cheap bars, lively nightlife, scooters, chaos, tuk tuks, bartering, and cheap souvenirs everywhere.
The ride from Phnom Penh is a rather long and bouncy bus ride. Unless you fly though, most people seem to have bounced through the Cambodian country side to get there.
Because I can’t recommend seeing Angkor Wat enough, you will have to spend a few nights in Siem Reap … so here are a few ideas for your next trip!
The US Dollar – US dollars are preferred in Cambodia. Everywhere accepts USD and Cambodian Riel. Many times, if you pay in USD they will give you change in the Riel.
1 USD = 4,000 Riel
Be wary Tuk Tuk drivers – These guys will be your best friend and they will all want to be your driver when you go see Angkor Wat. I recommend using your hotel/hostel Tuk Tuk drivers. If the hostel/hotel trusts them they may be better than a random one in the street.
If they can’t drive you somewhere, the second question they will ask you is if you want to buy weed (or any other drug for that matter). I didn’t hear any horror stories while I was there about buying drugs, but a certainly would not recommend buying from these guys.
50 cent Beer Test. If you are spending more than 50 cents for a beer in Siem Reap then you are paying for luxury or convenience. Don’t get me wrong, that’s okay and you will pay a bit more here and there. Just use “50 cents” as a general rule of thumb for the price of beer. It’s one of the great things about being in Cambodia!
Things to do:
It is absolutely breathtaking and definitely worth seeing. Angkor Wat and the surrounding area is AT LEAST 1 full day, and more comfortably doable in 2-3 days. (Look out for an article specifically on Angkor Wat!)
Pub Street is packed with tourist traps, souvenirs, and of course … cheap beer! It is a pretty lively place with lots of tourists and lots of energy. Check it out if you still have energy after Angkor Wat!
3. Markets – Like every other Asian city, Siem Reap has outdoor markets and night markets. If you want to do 2 in one, just leave a bit early when you are headed to “Pub Street,” and check out the Night market beforehand – it’s right next to it!
4. Aspara Dancing
Traditional Cambodian dancing. I didn’t see a show but I wish I did. You can usually catch a show and buffet kind of arrangement for around $10. I’ve heard they are actually pretty awesome … kinda like Cambodian Flamenco Dancing!
Don’t expect the Cirque Du Solei, but this is actually pretty awesome! Trip Advisor claims it is “unmissable” and I saw a lot of advertising and marketing for it through out the city. It runs daily at 8pm.
Cambodian Food is delicious and the beer is cheap! Try a 50 cent “Angkor” beer on tap and a local dish … you won’t regret it. It’s all awesome!
7. Hot Air Balloon (expensive)
I would say save your money on this one based on going in a hot air balloon before. It’s rather boring (my humble opinion) and always very expensive. If you want to do it though, prices run around $125/person.
8. Flight of the Gibbon
I know nothing about this, but it’s another option while in Siem Reap. I believe this is about a half day deal and you can see a lot of Gibbons in a sanctuary. Prices are around $79/person.