CambodiaTravel

A Guide to Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited in Asia. Being a gateway to the historical temples of Angkor, Siem Reap is a mix of modern and old with its history and its touristy hip spots – restaurants, bars and hotels. In the day time, we would go temple exploring then go back to the hotel for a massage or a dip in the pool before dinner and drinks.

I went to Siem Reap in August – the hottest month of the year in Asia, not knowing that the temples of Angkor have a requirement that all females have to wear tops with sleeves and bottoms have to be below the knee. If you wear anything that is too skimpy, they may not let you in the temples.

Destinations

Temples of Angkor

Angkor Wat

Bayon Temple

Ta Prohm

Pre Rup

Tonle Sap River

Banteay Srei

Highlights

  • Siem Reap was like a breath of fresh air for me. Despite the raging heat, each temple was so worth the visit and being able to immerse myself into its history was an incredible experience. Every temple has left me in awe.
  • I went to Angkor Wat during the sunset and it was a different experience than the other temples. Watching the giant yolk set as the shadow takes over the historical site brings out a different feel to the experience in comparison to a daytime visit. I would recommend either a sunrise or sunset visit to Angkor Wat.
  • The people of Siem Reap made my experience extremely memorable. Everyone was so cheerful and welcoming but it also made me realize how much this country needs financial help. Not only is the government not assisting their people, but Cambodia is truly a poor country that needs our help. Here’s a link where you can help in making Cambodia a better place for their children and citizens.

Cambodia Tips

  • Siem Reap isn’t really for a family trip, especially when you have children. The trip doesn’t have any amusement parks or fun activities – it leans more on the cultural and historical side of trips. I would recommend going with adults and your friends instead of bringing children.
  • It’ll take you a few days to see all of the temples in Angkor, so take your time with them and enjoy each one in its own beauty and uniqueness.
  • Try Cambodian coffee and their diverse cuisine – yes, eat the Red Tree Ant dish. I dare you.

Challenges

  1. Language barrier. It was quite tough for us to navigate around the area when many Cambodians didn’t really speak English but our hotel helped us with that so it wasn’t so bad. Some visitors even hired a tour guide but as long as you get where you’re going, you’re pretty much good to go.
  2. The heat. If you’re not used to heat in general, it’s easier to feel dehydrated or exhaustion from the sun. Pepare yourself for the raging heat – pack a towel, lots of water (bottled, don’t boil), and try to stay cool at all times.

Money

Cambodian money is worthless so bring USD. People in Cambodia actually prefer USD because it’s worth a lot more than their money. Don’t bring out too much and bring small change because as long as you bargain, you’ll be using a lot of dollar bills.

Transportation

Transportation in Cambodia is simple but make sure you carry a map to let the driver take you to the right location. You can either rent a bike or get on their cyclos (equivalent to our taxis) or if you want to be even more adventurous, get on a river boat!

Eat

I found their cuisine to be extremely unique with their selections of meat and fish. There were all sorts of flavours in their savoury dishes – spicy, salty, sweet, fishy, and sour. They’re really into frying, soups, baguettes, pastes and stews such as curry. I would recommend trying everything because the dishes are all very local and authentic. You can’t really get Cambodian food in most places outside of the country.

Play

The most play I got was climbing up and down the steep temple stairs. No, you won’t find rollercoasters or any of that in Cambodia. As I’ve mentioned above, Siem Reap is a historical trip destination where you go to experience a country’s origins and story.

My Thoughts

I absolutely loved Siem Reap, from its villages to its historical temples. I didn’t really focus on the modern sides of the city because I was templed out by the end of each day. Siem Reap is a place where backpackers would love and it’s truly place where everyone should go at least once. Whether its with friends or family (not as recommended), the city is beautiful and just to see the temples and its marvel was absolutely extraordinary. Siem Reap is a once in a lifetime experience for me but I would gladly go back to explore more of its wonders.

Akun, Cambodia.

 

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