The Budget Travel Guide to Siem Reap

Why Visit Siem Reap?

Siem Reap is most well known as the gateway to Angkor Wat and the rest of the temples in this amazing ancient complex. When we visited though, we found out that it's so much more than this - make sure to spend at least a few days in this small, relaxed Cambodian city and soak up the atmosphere. The city abounds with amazing food and drink options, from gourmet restaurants where you can enjoy incredible tasting menus from just 25USD to the ultimate in budget street food. After dinner, be sure to take a trip to Pub Street and the iconic 'The Angkor What?' bar that was the first joint on this mini strip - 241 cocktails all night every night as far as we could find.

In terms of more cultural explorations, it's essential to visit the temples of the Angkor Thom Complex - from Ta Prohm and its strange familiarity from the Tomb Raider films to the Bayon Temple with its smiling faces, it's impossible to visit Siem Reap and miss these places. Enjoy a sunrise or a sunset over Angkor Wat itself, and climb all the steps to the top for amazing views. Take a short trip out of the city to visit a completely different way of life in the waterside village situated in Tonle Sap lake. Siem Reap is without a doubt one of the best cities in South East Asia and we can't wait to go back.

Population

A small city with just 230,714 estimated inhabitants, tourism is the main industry

Safety

Siem Reap is known as a pretty safe city – just watch out for the usual tuk tuk scams and pickpocketers

Climate

Rarely below 30 degrees celsius the city has a tropical climate. Visit between Dec-Feb for the most comfortable weather

Currency

Whilst there is a Cambodian currency – Riel – US Dollars are far more widely accepted and dispensed at ATMs

Poverty Rate

This province has a poverty rate of c.45% of the population – keep this in mind when bartering

Getting Around

As with many Asian cities – tuk tuks are a cheap and easy way to get around

When Angkorian society began, Paris and London were not much more than elaborate villages. Europe was crawling with barbarians, and here were the Khmer engineering sophisticated irrigation systems and constructing the biggest temple in the world. — Kim Fay

What to See in Siem Reap

Of course there are days of temples to explore at the Angkor Complex – these are our favourites and a couple of sites from outside of the city

Ta Prohm

Famous for its role as a location for the shooting of the Tomb Raider Films, this temple is known for the way trees grow through its stonework. Try to spot the mini dinosaur carved into one of the stones!

Price Guide: £

Bayon Temple

This temple is famous for being covered with over 200 intricately carved faces that have been remarkably well preserved. It’s an extremely unique temple and, often busy, takes a couple of hours to explore fully

Price Guide: £

temple-reflection

Banteay Srei

Built from red sandstone and dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva, this temple is around 23km outside Siem Reap. Whilst it might be a little further off the beaten track it’s well worth seeing.

Price Guide: £

angkor-wat

Angkor Wat

The ‘crowning jewel’ of the Angkor complex, Angkor Wat is the largest religious building in the world. The site is simply breath taking, especially when seen at sunrise or sunset.

Price Guide: £

Night Market

With over 200 stalls and established all the way back in 2012, the night market is the best place to buy souvenirs. Treat yourself to everything from silks and home furnishings to traditional clothing or even a massage after a long day exploring temples

Price Guide: £

tonle-sap-school-boys

Tonle Sap

Located around 15km outside the centre of Siem Reap, a visit to the community here is a must do. The village is called Kampong Pluk and features everything from houses on stilts to floating markets.

Price Guide: £

Angkor Wat - The History

This temple complex is so striking that its original discoverers couldn’t believe that it was built by the Khmer civilisation in just the 12th Century, and were convinced that its origins dated back to Roman times or beyond. Still bearing the bullet marks from the damage done by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, it’s incredible how well these structures have been preserved.

Angkor Wat sits within the ancient Khmer city of Angkor Thom – which in translation means “Great City” and served as the capital of the Khmer empire for many hundreds of years. The city is 9km squared in size and is believed to have supported a population as great as 150,000 citizens.  It’s the sheer scale that takes you by surprise as you travel down tree lined avenues into the city, where enormous stone monuments and temples are situated on every corner. Intricately carved figures can be found everywhere from the temples themselves to the gates and bridges marking the entry ways and boundaries of Angkor Thom, and show the immense talent of the stoneworkers that built this historic city.

Standing over 200 metres tall from the ground to the highest peak, Angkor Wat is the architectural culmination of this UNESCO world heritage site. As you reach the temple its complexity becomes more evident – with magnificent towers and archways located around the winding paths that take you through the complex. Be sure to witness a sunrise or sunset and it’s more than worth the effort to climb to the summit for stunning views over the city and its waterways.

Where to Eat in Siem Reap

Cambodian food is incredible – from fragrant curries to the most delicious fresh fruit, it’s a foodlover’s paradise. Siem Reap in particular was a city where we found some exceptional restaurants to enjoy the local cuisine. Be sure to try ‘Amok Fish’ curry, one of the most famous national dishes of Cambodia.

Mie Cafe Restaurant

Gourmet food at extremely good value, the 5 course tasting menu is fantastic.

Located at #0085, Phum Treng Khum Slorgram Siem Reap Cambodia, T +855 12 791 371 E chef@miecafe-siemreap.com

Price Guide: ££

Haven Restaurant

Authentic Cambodian food and a charity that works to help young adults by training them in the restaurant.

Located at Chocolate Rd, Wat Damnak area, West of Angkor High School T 078 34 24 04 E EAT@HAVENCAMBODIA.COM

Price Guide: ££

Genevieve's Restaurant

Another restaurant dedicated to supporting the local community and serving excellent Cambodian food, this is close to Pub Street and well worth a visit.

Located at Sok San St | Siem Reap, Siem Reap 3058, Cambodia, T +855 81 410 783, E philrrrr@gmail.com

Price Guide: ££

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Great Small Group Cambodia Tours

We’re a big fan of small group tours, whilst we combine this with independent travel, some of our best experiences have been as part of tours. For meeting fellow travellers and getting a deeper insight into the history and culture of a particular country or region, they’re the perfect choice. These are some of our top picks for budget small group itineraries covering Siem Reap and other areas of Cambodia.

Ancient Angkor Wat Independent Adventure - 4 Days

3 night’s accommodation and 2 full days with a guided tour of the temples of Angkor, this is a great short itinerary to include as part of a larger journey through Cambodia.

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Price Guide: From £340pp

Cambodia on a Shoestring - 10 Days

10 days journeying from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City, this is a great budget option to slot into a more extensive tour of South East Asia and covers Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and the Mekong Delta.

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Price Guide: From £575

Ultimate Cambodian Adventure - 14 Days

For those looking to invest more in their tour of Cambodia, this could be the perfect itinerary. It offers a great combination of free days to explore independently and guided tours of key areas.

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Price Guide: From £965

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