Siem Reap Travel Guide
Siem Reap is home to many ancient temples, the most famous one being Angkor Wat. We arrived into Siem Reap at around 10PM on our first night there. Our hotel sent a driver to pick us up from the airport (a nice perk!), and much to our surprise, he led us to his tuk tuk. For those of you that are unfamiliar, a tuk tuk is basically a cart hooked to the back of a motorcycle. He threw in our luggage, and we were off! We have friends that live in Singapore who met us in Cambodia for our time there, which was so great! (So yes, we knew them. 🙂 After they made appearances in my snapchat stories <username: cobaltchronicle>, I had numerous people asking if we met a couple on our trip and started traveling with them. Ha!)
While planning our trip, numerous people recommended that we suck it up on the first day, wake up early, and check out Angkor Wat (the big mama temple) at sunrise. Boy am I glad we did!
Prior to arriving in Siem Reap, through a recommendation from Trav over at Extra Pack of Peanuts, we booked a driver to escort us from temple to temple on two of the days that we were in Cambodia. Bunthy (our driver) was AMAZING! Prior to arrival we corresponded via email and set a pick-up time of 4:50AM to make our way to explore Angkor Wat at sunrise.
If you have the opportunity to see the temple at this time of day, do it. Just suck it up and set that alarm. It was the most amazing experience and beyond beautiful! Michael and I had no idea what to expect. Ashley and David had been to Angkor Wat previously so they were a little more prepared. I didn’t expect the temple to be so grand and detailed. It was built in the 12th century for goodness sake! It’s just beautiful.
Tips on Visiting Angkor Wat
– Go at sunrise.
– There are tons of coffee/breakfast carts on site so you don’t have to worry about being hungry or un-caffeinated.
– Get a driver! And make sure he has a car. Not a tuk tuk.
– The earlier you go, the better (it’s less crowded and not as hot).
– Ladies: you have to have your knees and shoulders covered. I wore a light maxi dress and brought a denim jacket. It gets really hot during the day and it’s also super dusty everywhere so be prepared for dirty feet or wear closed toed shoes.
– The colors at sunrise were amazing –
– Michael & David with the crowd gathered for the sunrise in the background –
– The grandness of the temple is astounding –
– View from the top –
– Receiving a blessing from a buddhist monk inside of Angkor Wat –
– Coffee & breakfast stand –
Bunthy, our driver, knew exactly where to go, and took us from temple to temple. It was so nice to be able to rely on him to pick the top temples to see (there are SO many that it can get quite overwhelming). Next we visited Bayon Temple, which was built in the 12th or 13th century and is well known for its many faces.
– Around each temple, there are little markets. These were the cutest little sales ladies! 😉 –
Next on our temple tour was Ta Prohm, which you may recognize from Tomb Raider! As a side note, Angelina Jolie aka Lara Croft is very popular in Cambodia! Both for Tomb Raider and for her philanthropic work that she does in the country. Ta Prohm was amazing. It is known for the massive trees that have somehow intertwined their way through the temple walls and now seem to grow right on top of the ancient stone structures.
– This photo really gives you perspective on the grandness of the temple and the trees –
– Our lunch stop –
After a long day of touring, we headed back to our hotel, the Golden Mango Inn for a little relaxation time by the pool. This hotel was perfect for our stay. It is very close to the “downtown” area where the night market is located along with Pub Street. The rooms are nice enough. If you request the rooms by the pool, they are newer and a bit nicer. The cost of the hotel was around $35/night and included complimentary breakfast and in-room wifi. A huge perk is that they have a pretty nice pool, which is perfect after a long day of visiting temples in 90 degree heat!
At night, there is plenty to do in Siem Reap! We visited the night market, where you can find any sort of knick knack, fresh fruit, cheap massages (we got FIVE massages over our 3 day stay in Cambodia – they are so cheap and well worth it!), and you can even get a fish foot massage.
Pub Street is near the night market and is basically a street lined with bars and restaurants. Here you can find all sorts of cuisine. On this particular night we stumbled upon a Mexican restaurant offering $1.50 margaritas! Yes, please!
– Local beer –
Another day of temple touring. You could literally spend an entire week visiting different temples in the Siem Reap area. We toured temples for two days, and that was enough time for us to see all of the main ones. Honestly, they start to blend together if you try to see too many.
– Our AMAZING driver, Bunthy! –
– Lunch in the Pub Street area –
– The night market, but during the day –
I love this photo. Everything about it makes me laugh. And yes, Michael & I did get the fish foot massages. Unfortunately, I only have a video, which is basically just me screaming. It’s an interesting experience and hey, YOLO! I only lasted 30 seconds …
The boys ventured out and tried a few fried bugs AND a scorpion from the bug cart. Yuck.
We had an amazing time in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It’s a really cool city with so much history. It’s a perfect blend of old and new. We spent our days visiting century-old temples and spent our nights at modern, local restaurants enjoying beers with friends!
A few random notes if you’re planning to visit:
– All Apple product chargers work. No need for converters.
– U.S. currency is WIDELY accepted, although they are picky about dollar bills that have marks or tears on them.
– If your cell phone is unlocked, you can easily switch out your SIM card for a Cambodian carrier SIM at the airport. The plans are super cheap – think $3 for 7 days of unlimited data. Worked perfectly.
– Siem Reap is very inexpensive to explore. Meals were $20 max for two people (including alcohol), our hotel was $35/night, foot massages (regular ones, not fish ones) were $3/30 minutes!
– Flying in and out of Siem Reap is easy. They have a large airport. We flew Air Asia into Cambodia and Cambodia Air out. No complaints.
Any questions?! Feel free to email me! I would be more than happy to help out with anyone planning to visit Siem Reap!