Siem Reap attracts thousands of visitors a year, to marvel at the beauty of Angkor Wat. There are plenty of things to do in Siem Reap; beautiful places to eat at and enjoy, that I’d love to point out for you.
Angkor Wat, and it’s surrounding temples, really are magnificent. I wasn’t sure when I arrived in Siem Reap, if the $37 day ticket was worthwhile. But standing in front of the lotus lake in the half-dawn, waiting for the sun to peek up behind its five grand towers, I got goosebumps. Some days you aren’t blessed with the perfect sunrise, but the magic is always there. A day temple hopping is about $15 by tuktuk, and will give you a chance to see a few different temples.
The Food Co-op (aka the Republic):
This cafe had only just moved location when I was in Siem Reap. It’s set in a beautiful big garden, complete with hammocks and picnic tables in the sun, and lazy couches under an open walled roof. Their concept is to support local farmers and workers, and all their food is ethically sourced. The coffee is amazing, and the food menu is so good. Their pork burger and falafels, hummus and pita are to die for. I loved this place so much I had to go back for seconds.
Eat at the markets:
The night markets have so many stalls, with stirfries and fried rice, most which are $1. I got a delicious thick noodle stirfry, which he made on the spot.
I had the absolute pleasure of finding a yoga class which was instructed by Prasad. His practice, Peacock Yoga, operates in an open darkwood room, above The Republic (how convenient!). He has been teaching for 28 years, 4 of them in Cambodia, and his gentle nature makes for one of the most peaceful classes I’ve ever taken. An hour and a half class is $6, and is completely worth it.
Explore the markets:
Siem Reap has plenty of markets to keep you out of trouble. The night markets across the river come alive once the sun goes down, and are quite a spectacle, across the neon-lit bridge. The permanent market also has plenty to look at, where you’ll find cheap clothing, sunglasses, and a hammock (because why not?!). My favourite market is the handmade market, tucked in behind a row of shops just across the bridge on the left. Their wares are all impeccably crafted. Jewellery made from brass bullet casings, upcycled bags and purses made from various plastics, and a stall with crocheted animals, made by a group of kind deaf girls. I would have happily bought something from every stall here, and it’s nice to be tucked away from the noise of the main street.
Get a massage:
Siem Reap boasts a whole collection of places to get a massage. I got a foot massage for $5 for half an hour, and a body scrub, using homemade honey and sugar, for $15. You can try to barter these prices, but when you find out some of these people only make $150 a month, you might think twice about negotiating too much.
Go out on Pub Street:
Gaudy and fantastic, Pub Street is a great time if you want to boogie with the best of them. Neon lights and impossibly loud music will make for a great night. Temple Bar attracts all sorts, and at 25 cents a beer, you can’t go too wrong.
Go for a bike ride:
Follow the river along, after leaving the town across from the night market. Pass through the ornate arch, and then continue along. It’s a lovely bike, with temples along the way. It’s so nice to get out of the chaos, and wave and smile at the children on their way home from school. Through lotus fields, you eventually reach a mountain, the only one on the horizon, which has a temple at the top. If you have a multiple day temple pass, you can enter, but you can still climb the mountain to get a wonderful view over the plains, or watch the sunset.
Where to stay:
I stayed at The Siem Reap Hostel, which I can’t recommend highly enough. They do so much to support the local economy, and their Khmer staff are all so friendly and helpful. Their free pickup from the bus station is invaluable if you arrive and are uncertain on what you’re doing. The bar has good specials, and their $2 breakfast is great. The pool is cold enough to be a welcome reprieve, and they also rent bikes for free, so you can go exploring. Their tour desk onsite means you can team up with others to share the cost of a tuktuk, and they are so helpful at booking onwards travel. It’s a social, ethical hostel, and I had to extend my stay here.
Siem Reap is a gem in Cambodia, but if you have the time, try extend your stay a few days. It’s such a chilled place, with plenty on offer, and so many cool cafes and markets to explore. There is plenty of things to do in Siem Reap, and I hope you’ve found something in here to make your stay a little more amazing. If you think anyone else would enjoy it, share it around!