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Siem Reap

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North-western Cambodia : Siem Reap
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The town of Siem Reap [1], in northern Cambodia, is the primary access point for the Angkor Archaeological Park.

city map of Siem Reap
Roadside Petrol Cambodia-style

Understand

The name Siem Reap literally means "Siam Defeated". These days, however, the only rampaging hordes are the tourists heading to the Angkor Archaeological Park. This once quaint village has become the largest boomtown and construction site in Cambodia. It is quite laid-back and a pleasant place to stay while touring the temples. It is a nice compromise between observing Cambodian life and enjoying the amenities of modern services and entertainment, thanks to a large expatriate community. Since Siem Reap is a major tourist destination, prices in some instances are higher than elsewhere in Cambodia. Expect to receive almost constant offers for motodop and tuk-tuk rides, along with everything else which drivers may be able to offer to you.

Be sure to pick up your free Siem Reap Angkor Visitors Guide and the equally free and useful Siem Reap Pocket Guide from your hotel/guesthouse. It contains lots of info on Siem Reap and the Angkor Archaeological Park, including hotel/bar/restaurant/shop info, travel info, and maps. For the eco-sensitive tourist, check out "Stay Another Day: Cambodia," a detailed guide with local spots that support the environment and community.

Notice the make-shift petrol stations next to the road, selling stolen petrol in old 2 litre Coke bottles. Much cheaper than petrol stations!


Get in

By plane

Siem Reap - Angkor International Airport [2] (IATA: REP | ICAO: VDSR) is the second largest airport in Cambodia.

The following airlines operate service to/from Angkor International Airport:

AirAsia (Kuala Lumpur), Asiana Airlines (Seoul-Incheon), Bangkok Airways (Bangkok), Cambodia Angkor Air (Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh), China Eastern Airlines (Kunming, Nanning), China Southern Airlines (Guangzhou), Jetstar Asia (Singapore), Korean Air (Seoul-Incheon), Lao Airlines (Luang Prabang), Malaysia Airlines (Kuala Lumpur), Silk Air (Da Nang, Singapore), and Vietnam Airlines (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Luang Prabang).

The airport is less than 15 minutes from the town centre by taxi ($7) or motodop ($4). If you have an advance booking in a hotel, ask the hotel for a free airport pickup (in one of their tuk-tuks).

There are separate terminals for international and domestic flights. International departure tax is a steep $25, or $13 for children, payable after check-in and before clearing immigration. Note that usually this must be paid in cash because the credit card facility is unreliable, so have cash with you. Domestic departure tax to Phnom Penh is $6.

By land

New Road between Siem Reap and Poipet (August 2009)

Phnom Penh Sorya Transport [3] Capitol Tours, and GST Express operate bus service to/from Siem Reap. Direct buses go to Phnom Penh ($10), Pakse ($30), Don Det in the 4000 Islands region of Laos ($27), Kampong Cham, Soung, Battambang, and Kor Kong. Advance bookings are advisable, and can also be sorted out by most travel agents and guesthouses for a $1-$2 fee. Buses generally leave between 7:00AM and 3:00PM.

From Thailand, the nearest border crossings are at Aranyaprathet/Poipet, 3 hours to the north, and Hat Lek/Koh Kong on the coast. See those articles for information on how to get to and cross the border. As a result of recent road pavings, the roads from these border crossings to Siem Reap are in excellent condition. From Poipet, you can take a taxi (US$25 minimum, 2-3 hours, max 4 passengers) or an overcrowded bus (US$10, 6 hours, leaves when full, not as comfortable).

The best budget option is to catch a Thai government bus to the border at Poi Pet (don't buy from Khao San Road), buy the Cambodian visa directly for $20, then after being stamped into the country find yourself a group of four to catch a reasonably comfortable taxi to Siem Reap ($25-30). This will get you to Siem Reap on time, in comparable comfort without funding scammers.

Alternatively, you could join the backpacking masses and pay 200-600 baht for an uncomfortable bus ride directly from Khao San Road. WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND AGAINST THESE TICKETS. Buses leave Khao San Road around 8AM and arrive in Siem Reap any time between 5:00PM and 3:00AM. The trip length does not really depend on road conditions but on the mood of the driver. Because he gets a commission if you stay at the guesthouse at which he drops you off, he will try to arrive there as late as possible because if you are tired and afraid of walking around in Siem Reap late at night, you are more likely to stay at that guesthouse. Note that there is no obligation to stay at such guesthouse, regardless of what the guesthouse owners tell you. Even if you start in Bangkok on a big aircon bus, you will almost certainly have to switch to the back of a pickup or stuffed minibus at the Cambodian border. The bus operators and others will assure you that you're better off paying 1,000 baht ($30) or even more for the visa - which should cost $20. Stand your ground and join the line at the border - the bus won't leave without you, because the driver wants the guesthouse commission you represent. As an alternative, you can always walk from the bus stop to the Thai border exit - just keep aware of your surroundings to avoid being pickpocketed or inadvertently walking into a fake border crossing.

By boat

A more expensive and more time consuming option from Phnom Penh ($35, 8 hours) or Battambang ($20-$25, 5 hours) is to take a Soviet style Hydrofoil across the Tonle Sap lake. These can be fantastic trips giving you the opportunity to view life on the lake, floating houses, working fishermen, and to get a sun-tan if you choose to sit on the roof of the boat. However, the trip can be ruined due to bad weather. Remember to use sunscreen and take a waterproof jacket. You will not be able to access your luggage during the journey. It should also be noted that these hydrofoils are polluting an important lake for bird life. If you have the time, it is better to visit the floating villages as day trips from Siem Reap than to see them from the boat.

Along the Siem Reap River

Get around

Travel to and around the Angkor Archaeological Park is extensively covered in its own article. The following is a discussion of travel with Siem Reap.

On foot

Most of the sights in Siem Reap can be seen on foot. But be aware that most of the streets around town degrade into small swamps of muddy water and potholes of unknown depth following rain (almost daily in the wet season), making the roads a challenge to navigate.

By bicycle

Many guesthouses will lend you bicycles either for free or for a nominal charge.

By motorbike

You'll have plenty of tranportation offers from motodops (motorbike taxi with driver). Rides within town should only cost $1, although prices can double to $2 at night and during bad weather. Agree on a price first and hop on the back. You can also hire a motodop for a full day for ~$10. Some motodops may be able to provide you with a helmet if you request one in advance.

The rental of motorbikes to tourists in Siem Reap is prohibited. However, foreigners can ride motorbikes they have rented elsewhere such as in Phnom Penh).

By tuk-tuk

Within Siem Reap, tuk-tuk rides should cost $2, with prices doubling to $4 at night and during bad weather. Tuk-tuks are ubiquitous. If you plan to stay in Siem Reap for a few days, it can also be a good idea to build a relationship with one tuk-tuk driver as once they know you they will quite often take you to places off the regular tourist route and allow you to experience the "real" Siem Reap.

A word of advice: pay them for their services only after everything you have arranged is completed. For example, if you arrange for a later trip to the airport and pay them beforehand, chances are that they will not show up. Although you can also bargain on the fees, remember that an extra dollar or two is a great deal of money for your driver and his family.

See

The reason most people come to Siem Reap is to visit Angkor Archaeological Park, which is thoroughly covered in its own article. The town itself boasts quite a number of beautiful modern Buddhist temples which are attractions in their own right.

Piles of mines, Landmine Museum


  • Angkor National Museum, [4]. 1,000 Buddhas. The museum also shows the history of the Angkor complex as well as Khmer culture and clothing using high tech displays and video screens. $12.
  • Landmine Museum, (6 km south of Banteay Srey, 31 km from Siem Reap), [5]. This tiny museum was set up by local deminer Aki Ra to educate locals and tourists about the dangers of land mines. Piles of defused mines and UXO lie around the site and the guides are mostly teenagers who were orphaned or injured by mines, many of whom live onsite. This is a very worthwhile attraction that brings home the scale of the problem and shows you a slice of real Cambodia. The museum moved in 2007, so make sure your motodop doesn't try to take you to the old location in a village near Angkor Wat. You can possibly combine the visit with a visit to Angkor Butterfly Center which is a few kilometers south - http://www.angkorbutterfly.com/abcvisit.html# $1.
  • Wat Thmei Temple & Stupa Memorial to the Killing Fields Near Siem Reap, (short distance outside of the city center). There are some cheaters standing at the temple entrance or on the graves on the right side. After a short introduction they will ask you to give them directly donations/tips for their school in the temple. In fact they are not from the school and are trying to cheat on tourists. Free, donations welcome.


  • Kampong Phluck Floating Village, (off the Highway to Phnom Penh). This is a much more authentic 'floating village experience' than the one close to the Tonlé Sap ferry harbour. Enquire at your local hotel for a day trip to this fascinating village on stilts, which should cost ~$30. It takes about 2 hours to reach the village, depending on the road conditions and water level.
  • Cultural Village, (National Road #6). features small tributes to all the cultures of Cambodia. A wax museum highlights major figures in Cambodian history, and there are miniatures of many national buildings and monuments throughout the gardens. Witness local dancing or a Khmer wedding ceremony at various stages throughout the park. Guides are not necessary but will add a lot of significant insight to the displays. $12; Guide: an extra $5..
Kampong Phluck
  • Silk Worm Farm, [6]. Catch a free tour of the silk farm and have the opportunity to buy silk products. Free 20 min shuttle bus leaves twice daily. (See website for details)
  • 1000 lingas and reclining budha, (50 ilometers from siem reap). Shiva lingas are supposed to be kept wetted all the time with running water. Normally it is done by installing a pot top of the lingas with drip thread. 1000 lingas is a fantastic idea, as one can see the 1000's of lingas on river bed, with clean fresh running water 6-12" overheads. Close to it is reclingin budha statue. A priest here can read your fate with a traditional style fortune telling yantra. close to it is also a fascinating water fall. Enchanting Khmer dresses available at $5 for upto 5 photographs in woods and waterfalls. 100's of tourist can be seen spending hours at these spots. additional $10 with day tour on car or $ 35.
  • Cello Concert, [7]. The free "Beatocello" concert is held each Saturday night at the Kantha Bopha children's hospital in Siem Reap. Concert runs from 7.15 - approx. 8.30pm, features Dr Beat Richter playing his cello, shows a film about his work in Cambodia and speaks on the medical issues affecting children in Cambodia. Donations encouraged.


Do

  • Army Shooting Range, (near Banteay Srey and Kbeal Span). Armament and explosives availability apparently is only limited by how much you are willing to spend. Listening to the soldiers-turned-used car salesmen put the hard sell on a new machine gun is almost worth the trip. This is a true game of Russian roulette - fancy pulling the pin of a 30+ year old grenade and possibly getting the faulty one? Make sure that whoever is supervising you is also willing to stand next to you! $30+ per round. Grenade throwing: $30.
  • Cambodian Village Trips. A unique insider look to a real Cambodian life. Spend time with village kids at their school, harvest or plant some corn, and interact with villagers.
  • Cooking Classes. Several restaurants throughout the city offer courses on Khmer cooking.
    • Paul Dubrule School of Hotel and Tourism, (National Road #6). The school itself offers high-quality hospitality training to underprivileged Cambodians, who recieve scholarships. Definitely pricier than elsewhere, but the attention to detail, cleanliness and comfort are unparalleled. It is, after all, a school for hospitality. Vegetarian- and vegan-friendly. 5-hour class: $40.
  • Dirt Bike Tours.
    • Hidden Cambodia Dirt Bike Tours, + 855 (0)12 934 412 or (0)12 655 201, [8]. Motorbike and 4x4 tours.
  • Habitat Tours. Siem Reap is a hub of ecotourism and conservation efforts.
    • Sam Veasna Center for Wildlife Conservation (SVC), [9]. SVC organizes eco-responsible tours to remote habitats, with the goal of promoting wildlife conservation and benefiting rural communities. Tours range in length from 1 day to 2 weeks.
  • Massage. Several Khmer massage parlours can be found in Siem Reap. Unlike those in Bangkok, these are generally genuine massage parlours and not a front for sexual services. The Khmers believe that the Thai massage is derived from Khmer massage which is just as relaxing (and requires less twisting and turning). 1-hour massage: $15.
  • Swimming Pool @ Aqua, 7 Makara Street (east of old market), (01) 1736243 (). Aqua is an open-air swimming pool with a nice bar. $2.50 per person.
  • Theatrical Dances @ Apsara Theatre, +855-63-963-363. The only air-con theatre in town presents various traditional popular and classical dances and serves a set of local specialties. Booking recommended.
  • Visit an Orphanage.
    • The Sangkheum Center for Children, Chey Village, Siem Reap (A few km past airport on Hwy 6), 855 12 67 56 37, [10]. Children's center for orphaned, abused or neglected Cambodian Children. Buy some rice, T-shirts, school supplies, or other gifts (except for candy as this will do more damage than good), and go out to the children's center for a look at the welcoming village-like setting. The center serves ~50 residential children, and 50 daytime students in the community who are determined to be most in need. Children are aged 2-18, and receive basic care and additional enrichment classes to supplement their public schooling.
    • ACODO Orphanage, Siem Reap, [11]. Every evening at 6.30pm, children from the ACODO orphange put up a 1 hour long traditional Khmer dance performance. This is a free performance but visitors are encouraged to make donations (in cash or in kind) to the orphanage. You can also arrange to volunteer and teach english for the next day (or longer). ACODO is just less than 5 minutes away from the Old Market by bicycle or tuk tuk. See the website for directions.
  • We Are The Champions Performances by the Local Disabled Community, Night Market (back of Night Market adj. to Sand Bar), (+855) 12676826. 8:30PM-9:15PM, every night except Sunday. A two act play written and performed by participants who share with great feeling what it is like to be disabled in Cambodia and the challenges and vision of their lives. As many of the performers are in pursuit of education to better their lives they appreciate donations of school materials such pens and writing books. Free, Donations encouraged.
  • Siem Reap Daily Tours, #004, Sivutha Road (Inside Lisa Guesthouse, at the intersection of Sivutha and PorKambor roads), +855 12 44 23 22, [12]. Tours of Angkor Wat and the Siem Reap surroundings aimed at the budget traveler( Angkor Wat in a Day; Cambodian Lifestyle ; Beyond Angkor Wat; Life on the Tonle Sap lake ). A portion of the price will go to support Village Development Projects such as Wells, Clean Water Filter, School Supply, Toilets. $8 - $31.

Festivals

  • Angkor Photography Festival: Photography for Change, [13]. Annual festival that showcases outdoor projections of regional and international photographers.

Buy

File:Hfb-gold-2009.jpg
Heritage Friendly Business Logo

As elsewhere in Cambodia, US Dollars, and to a lesser extent, Thai Baht are preferred over Cambodian Riel for all purchases except the very smallest. There are a number of large, flashy souvenir shops around town, complete with temple-style decorations and a surplus of staff, which happily charge two to five times the going price elsewhere in town. These are best avoided.

Despite what you may be told at the Thai border, international ATMs in Siem Reap are plentiful, and banks will do cash advances from credit cards.

Heritage Watch [14], a non-profit organization, has launched a campaign that aims to encourage support for Cambodia's arts, culture, heritage and development. Businesses that are giving back to the community are certified as Heritage Friendly by the independent organization and permitted to display either a gold or silver Heritage Friendly logo.

  • Angkor Market, Sivatha Blvd. Siem Reap's closest thing to a supermarket, offering a good range of food, snacks, alcohol and even some souvenirs. Clearly-marked, non-negotiable but reasonable prices.
  • Psar Chas (Old Market), (to the south of town). Sells a reasonably attractive collection of artifacts and tourist junk. Please don't buy anything purporting to be antique; it probably isn't, but it's stolen if it is.
  • Center Market, (at the corner of Sivutha Blvd and Achamean Street). Offers an eclectic collection of clothes and trinkets for good prices. Don't forget to bargain. Most stalls carry the same selection so you can shop around and find the cheapest price. Many of the goods here cannot be found in Thailand.
  • Khmer Ceramics Centre, Vithey Charles De Gaulle (Temple road), Khum Slorkram (on the road to the temples; 30 m. after the traffic light when coming from Siem Reap), +855 92 508 940, [15]. 8AM-7:30PM. The Khmer Ceramics Centre trains and sells the work of young Cambodians in Khmer ceramic arts. 1 hour to half-day introductory courses in ceramics for visitors and their children are also available. Admission is free.
  • McDermott Gallery, FCC Building, Pokambor Ave. (On the river, between the King's summer palace and the Post Office), +85512274274, [16]. 10AM-10PM daily. Elegant, friendly gallery with photography of Angkor by John McDermott, called "the Ansel Adams of Angkor" by the New York Times. Also McDermott Gallery 2, on the passage between Pub Street and the Old Market with world class photography of Asia by severeal different artists. Art buffs will want to pick up a copy of ArtVenues, a free guide to the galleries of Siem Reap.
  • The Red Gallery, FCC Building, Pokambor Ave. (on the river, between the King's summer palace and the Post Office), +85592822323. 10AM-10PM daily. Contemporary Cambodian art, everything from sculptures made from decommissioned AK-47s to paintings, pen and ink drawings, photography, lacquer, bronze and mixed media in a funky, eclectic space.
  • Artisans d'Angkor, Stung Thmey Street, +855 63 963 330, [17]. 7:30AM-5:30PM. A workshop in downtown. Showcases traditional Cambodian handicraft skills such as wood and stone carving, lacquering, gilding and silk painting. Visitors are conducted on a free guided tour where they can see the crftsmen in action. The boutiques display the many items produced. Tours available in Khmer, English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese.


Eat

Red Piano restaurant, Pub Street

There are hundreds of restaurants in Siem Reap and you will have no trouble finding something which suits your tastes and budget. If you don't want to eat out, most guesthouses have a basic restaurant attached and can quickly whip up a decent fried rice.

Pub Street is best known as a watering hole, but it has also many nice restaurants that won't break the bank.

In town, there are entire streets catering for the traveler tastes with pizzas, hamburgers, and tasty westernised versions of Cambodian food such as Amok and 'Khmer curry'.

The numerous Karaoke restaurants offer a real authentic experience of modern Khmer dining. Many of the most authentic Karaoke-style restaurants are hidden in the backstreets, though your moto or tuk-tuk driver will no doubt know where to take you. He will be happy to wait (or join you) if you are really out in the boonies. Try to sit far from the speakers and prepare for mozzies. There is often no English menu, but one of the staff will be happy to help you order. Try phnom pleurng, a delicious cook-it-yourself beef barbecue. Another sensational dish, which is only available at these types of restaurants, is the trei bung gancheyt - a whole fish bubbling in a tasty peanuty sauce with green veggies.


  • Fresh at Chilli Si Dang (Fresh), East River Road, next to City River Hotel (2 minutes from Pub Street), +85517875129, [18]. 7am-2am. Beautiful riverside garden out of the hustle and bustle.Enjoy great high quality local and western food, play pool, relax on the balcony and use the free WI-FI with sunset views. Friday Quiz, Saturday BBQ, Sunday Roasts, Specials everyday $3+. (13.356093,103.858362)

Budget

The street directly west of Pub Street is lined with many stalls offering meals of fried rice or fried noodles for about $1. The hawkers seem to have two menus with different prices and simply hesitating in front of a stall and tends to earn a like-it-or-get-your-money-back offer. The food seems to be fairly clean. The markets also offer local Khmer fare but hygiene can be dubious.

  • Angkor Famous, (on the small alley parallel to pub street). Offers tasty Thai and Cambodian fare at reasonable prices. Two-for-one beer specials and friendly staff.
  • Chiang Mai, (on Wat Bo Rd). Basic Thai fare. Lunch: From $1.50, dinner costs a bit more.
  • Chivat Thai 2, (on Wat Bo Rd). Basic Thai fare. Lunch: From $1.50, dinner costs a bit more.
  • Phsar Chas Restaurant, (Street 9). Good food for a very reasonable price. Coconut curry: $1.50; Fruit shakes: $0.50.


Mid-range

  • Alliance Art Cafe, Wat Damnak Road, [19]. Housed in a French colonial building built in 1953, on the former grounds of the French Cultural Center, this cafe combines a French restaurant and also pays homage to its Cambodian context with a fine Cambodian selection dishes within an art exhibition space.
  • Blue Pumpkin, Pub Street, [20]. Upscale, clean, air conditioned, WiFi connection.
  • Butterflies Garden Restaurant, (On the east side of the river, in the Wat Bo area), [21]. A small garden enclosure filled with butterflies and excellent fare. The restaurant employs local disadvantaged youth to catch butterflies, which are released at 11AM Mon-Thu into the garden. Private dining areas in the garden are a lovely venue. Extensive menu, vegetarian-friendly. Meals from $3-$6.
  • Café Moi Moi, Angkor Rd (to the left, after Meridien, before ticket booth). An unpretentious alfresco restaurant with a delightful little garden, serving up Khmer dishes, some traditional, some with a Japanese twist. Nibble some pickles and sweet peanuts, try their famous pumpkin pudding for dessert and wash it all down with a large beer. Amok: $3.50, Prahok: $3.
  • Chamkar, (in the old market). sty, clean, all vegetarian. Offers cooking classes.
  • Curry Walla Indian Cuisine, on Sivatha road. Halal. Serves vegetarian & non-vegetarian Indian fare. Offers free internet access to all customers as well as guidebooks for reading. From $2.50.
  • Curry Walla 2, Night Market Road. Same as above.
  • Ecstatic Pizza, (Pub Street, opposite Province Hospital). $4-$7.
  • Happy Angkor Pizza, (Pub Street). depending on how the police are feeling that day either may or may not sell you cannabis-laced "happy" pizza. It may pay to subtly confirm with your server that the pizza will be "all the way happy" but don't try the "extra happy" unless you know what you're doing. Also, note that if they are willing to sell you any herb without the pizza it is likely to be of poor quality.
  • Happy Herbs Pizza, (Pub Street).
  • Kama Sutra, Pub Street (opposite D's book shop). Authentic slightly upmarket Indian food. $7.
  • Khmer Family. Tasty and cheap local grub, although it's rather toned down for the foreign palate and often tastes like Thai food without the chillis. Pleasant, breezy second-floor balcony. $2-$4.
  • Khmer Kitchen, (alley behind Pub Street). Good value and very popular.
  • La Volpaia Pizzeria, #0263 Vithei Charles De Gaulle (on the way to Angkor Wat, in front of Stad Chas, between Angkor National Museum and Sofitel Hotel), (855) 063 764 184, [22]. noon-2:30PM and 5:30PM-10:30PM. Italian Cuisine specializing in pizzas and pastas and grilled steaks. A/C dining room, VIP rooms, outdoor and garden seatings.
  • Maharajah, (old market area). Indian halal restaurant, free Wi-Fi.
  • Mandalay Kitchen''', Mandalay Inn, Psar Krohm Road, 063 761 662, 092 865 356. Home-cooked style Cambodian and Burmese food. Air-conditioned and free WiFi.
  • Samapheap, (on the eastern riverbank a short hop down from Route 6). large and popular restaurant, catering to both Khmers and tour groups. The menu is extensive, service is quick, and the food is good. $2-$5.
  • Singing Tree Cafe, (At the entrance to Alley West just 20 meters off Pub Street and the Old Market), [23]. an unusual place combining delicious and affordable home style cooking with environmental displays. Large (mostly vegetarian) menu comprised of both authentic Khmer home cooking and large selection of grilled sandwiches and fresh salads, juices and shakes. $2-$5.
  • Socheata I & II, Pub Alley. Plastic chairs and a few geckos. Huge menu, good service. For the more adventurous, you can also get frog dishes here. From $2.
  • Temple Club/Temple Restaurant, Pub Street. Good food, good service. Many meals good for 2 person or for one very hungry one. Try their banana spring rolls! Free Apsara dance in the evening. Before 6pm: Meal & beer for $3.
  • Viroth's Restaurant, Wat Bo. Very good Khmer restaurant, always quite full with foreigners (be prepared to book or to wait to get a table). A very extensive menu with Vegetarian options wherever possible. $5-$8.
  • Viva, Pub Street. Siem Reap's first and only Mexican restaurant, with a menu containing just about everything you'd expect in a typical Mexican restaurant. Good food, reasonable prices.

Splurge

  • Abacus. Beautiful garden setting and a temple-stone bar. Renauld, the Maitre 'd, adds flair and style, and the excellent menu is a real treat. At around US$10 for a main, you might not be eating here every night if you are on a tight budget, but it is well worth splashing out at least once.
  • East India Curry, Located at the top floor of the Claremont Angkor Hotel on Street 20, the restaurant offers tasty Indian food with views of the city. A full meal including drinks will run you $15 per person. Plenty of vegetarian options available.
  • L'Angelo, Le Meridien. Probably Siem Reap's most daring restaurant, serving fusionesque Italian cuisine like foie gras on a bed of white asparagus and balsamic vinegar ice cream in a setting so achingly modern that the only decoration is a cloud of black dots on the white wall. There is a price to pay though a full meal with a glass or two of wine on the side can easily set you back around $100 for two.
  • Le Malraux. tel +855-63 966-041. In the heart of the city, on Sivatha street. French cuisine and Khmer specialties, all made with local and fresh products. Open early in the morning for breakfast.
  • Meric, Hotel de la Paix, tel. +855-63-966-000. Acclaimed by some as the best Khmer restaurant in all Cambodia, it is set in a chic hotel with a minimalist modern feel. You are liable to forget where you are. The chefs here painstakingly source out the freshest (and strangest) ingredients to build their multi-course seasonal menu (US$31++ optional wine pairing US$16++). A typical set will have you dining on dried snake salad and grilled frog, but rest assured, it all actually tastes good. Arrive before 9.15 PM for the four course prix-fixe Khmer meal with wine selection. Sit in airconditioned comfort, or outside tables and lounge furniture. The hotel also has a modern bar with local art displayed.

Drink

Most of Siem Reap's watering holes are concentrated in a few lanes north of Psar Chas (the old market), mainly on a street known appropiately as "Bar Street" or "Pub Street". Drinks usually $2 and up, although most if not all bars have happy hours before 8PM and draft Angkor often goes for as little as $0.50. When ordering beer - be careful, if you order a bottle of beer and the beer is open when delivered to the table - there is a good chance it is watered down - ask for the bottle to be opened at your table.

  • Angkor What?, Pub Street. The pub that started it all, still going strong after ten years and covered in years of scribbled notes from travellers to prove it.
  • The Dead Fish Tower: Near CCB Bank, Phsar Chas. This trendy spot features live crocodiles, a full menu of both western and local dishes, and great entertainment. The Dead Fish is a laid back bar/restaurant, where patrons sit on the floor. A night at the Dead Fish could likely include some combination of live western acoustic guitar music, followed by a Khmer traditional dance performance.
  • FCC Angkor, (west river bank next to post office), [24]. Opened in October 2002, this is far and away Siem Reap's hippest place for a bite and a drink. A branch of the legendary Phnom Penh Foreign Correspondents' Club, the FCC offers food (~US$5) and drink (~US$3) in a marvelous blend of modern style and colonial architecture if at a fairly steep price, at least by Cambodian standards.
  • Giddy Gecko, Walking Street. Western run bar and lounge with an eclectic array of music and a chilled out atmosphere. The up and coming real pub street of Siem Reap.
  • Laundry Bar A popular French-owned expat hangout with a sophisticated setting and chilled atmosphere, this is definitely a late-night bar. It features a huge selection of music albums for sale at $5 for 7 albums (on one MP3 disk). Free pool table.
  • Le Tigre du Papier, Pub Street. Free movies most evenings, a huge selection of used books upstairs and cheap shots of the aniseed liquor pastis. French-run.
  • Linga Bar, the only 1 of 2 gay-friendly bars in the village that attracts gay and straights alike. In the words of the owner, your grandmother would feel comfortable here. Great drinks opposite the markets, parallel to the "bar" street.
  • Martini, a lively Khmer nightclub with great local music, some shows, and lots of activity. No entry charge, a token parking charge for bikes, and a flat rate of $2 a beer.
  • Miss Wong, The Lane. An atmospheric and relaxed cocktail bar with good reviews. New Zealand-owned.
  • Soup Dragon, Pub Street. A restaurant/bar on one of the corners of the "bar" street in the old part of town. Great sunset vista from their rooftop with the added bonus being it is the same time as happy hour - two for one cocktails, drinks range from $2-$4. The food is mostly Vietnamese, good and cheap plus they make their own ice cream.
  • Sports Bar, Alley Street (Just Behind Pub Street old market). More than just a sports bar, with free pool table and 3 large HD TVs. Great place to watch rugby and football while you're abroad.
  • Temple Club, Pub Street. A popular western-orienated (but Khmer-owned) nightclub featuring Angkorian decor, three free pool tables, and a rocking dance floor, it's not uncommon for this place to be open until sunrise. Inexpensive drinks hide the fact that the beer is watered down and the glasses are small sized. You may have to wait some time at the bar for a drink, the bigger the club gets the less care there is for the customer.
  • The Warehouse. Just finished a massive refit. One of the best atmospheres in town. Great cocktails and inventive pub fare on all three levels. The ground floor tends towards raucous good times while the 1st floor offers free pool, Nintendo Wii, a large flat screen tv for sporting events and a table football table to entertain you. The rooftop has one of the best views in Siem Reap, with a chic lounge atmosphere and a semi-open kitchen. Free draft beer offered at various times on Friday (with an Angkor Wat ticket), though courtesy dictates you have a drink or two before or afterwards or dine from the food menu.
  • Banana Leaf Cafe (Bananaleaf restaurant), Pub Street. Small contemporary street side café, with week-end live music. Efficient and professional staff will entertain the crowd until late hours. Great affordable cocktails and the unique crocodile burger...for you predeator!


Sleep

Accommodation ranges from towering air-conditioned hotels by the airport (mostly for get-in-get-out all-inclusive tours) to local rooms-for-rent and a range of modest guesthouses in town, particularly on and around Wat Bo road.

If you arrive with a tour bus or van you will be taken to a suggested guesthouse. Usually these are not too bad and you'll probably be too tired to argue.

If you arrive by plane, you may wish to contact a guest house or hotel in advance. They will then usually arrange for free transportation to their place. Otherwise just take a motorbike ($1) or a taxi ($2) to town. If you don't know any place to go to, they will ask for your budget and will then suggest the one that pays them the best commission so you might end up paying $1-$2 more than if you went direct.

When choosing accomodation in Siem Reap, be aware that whilst the area around Siem Reap remains one of the poorest in the country, many of the larger hotels in this area are owned by multinational conglomerates with little or none of the profits returning to, or benefiting the local populace.


Budget

  • Dead Fish Tower Inn, [25]. Friendly. Nice Restaurant. Live music every night. Fan Double: $12, rooms up to $20.
  • Earthwalkers, (Sala Kanseng Village, 1.5 km from city centre just off Highway 6), + 855 (0) 12 967 901, [26]. Fantastic place with clean, high quality budget rooms. Restaurant, wifi, free breakfast, friendly staff, and a nice pool/bar area. Run by Norwegians. Away from town. Fan Single: $12; Air-con Single: $17; Fan Double/Twin: $15; Air-con Double/Twin: $20; Quad: $20.
  • Garden Village Guesthouse & Hostel, +855 (0)12 217 373, [27]. Free airport pickup, free internet (slow). Restaurant. 80 rooms. Dormitories are open-air stilted houses made from bamboo mats and thus quite cool and airy Dorm bed: $1; Single: $6; Double: $7; Twin: $8; Triple: $9; Beers: $0.50.
  • Jasmine Lodge, Road No 6,307,Taphul Village,Svay Dangum Commune, + 855 (0)12 784 980 (), [28]. Free internet & wifi. Restaurant. 47 rooms. From $6 to $22, including breakfast.
  • Lisa Guesthouse, #004 Sivuth Road (#004 Sivuth Road), 012442322, [29]. checkin: 2pm; checkout: 12pm. Clean, high quality budget rooms with hot & cold shower, cable TV, private bathroom. Restaurant, wifi, free pick up, friendly staff, and a nice bar area. 2 minutes walk to old market & night market. Single room with fan $6, Double / Twin $8. Single / Double / Twin with Air-Con $10. $6.
  • Mandalay Inn, (A few blocks from the Old Market). 36 rooms. Has spacious, clean and comfortable air-con rooms with hot shower and cable TV. Very friendly staff. Tour Desk and ticketing, free WiFi, in-house restaurant with good food. $7-$16.
  • Prince Mekong Villa, Thapul Village, House 405 (in the northern part of town), +855 12 437 972, [30]. Free breakfast, laundry, and bicycle rental. The owner is a sympathetic well-travelled German-Swiss with lots of good advice on how to visit the Angkor sites with the smallest crowds possible. Standard room: $12, Family room: $18; VIP room: $22.
  • Prohm Roth Guesthouse 251 Pub Street extension, +855 (0)12 46 64 95, [31] prohmroth_guesthouse@yahoo.com Very clean and cosy, located 2 minutes walk from Pub Street. Rooms from $6 single, $8 double, hot water, western toilet, air con, fan. Super friendly staff who can assist with all your queries. Can organise pickup from bus station/airport. Highly recommended.
  • Rosy Guesthouse, Slar Kram Village, [32] [33] Tel: +855 063 965 059; Mobile: 855 012 181 40 11. Rooms with fan, air-con, satellite TV, DVD player and private bathroom with hot shower from US$15-30. Smaller shared bathroom rooms with fan only, cable tv and DVD player for US$8. Free Wi-Fi in all areas, free computers in reception, free to rent DVDs, free book swap, free guide books for reference, free pool table, free bar games, free Wii on big screen... the list goes on. Delicious food, very friendly and helpful staff.
  • Shadow of Angkor,[34]. 353 Pokambor Avenue, Siem Reap; email: shadowofangkor@gmail.com. Telephone: +855 063 964 744; Mobile: 855 012 968 881. One block from the Old Market(Psar Char), and on the river. - close to Pub Street. It is in a French colonial building with a decent Restaurant and bar. Very clean, though not soundproof, rooms with air-con, hot water, cable TV, free internet from $7 to $20. Run by a Cambodian family (Seanghour and Davy), very hospitable and friendly family and staff.
  • Skyway Hostel,[35]. Just on the national road 6 next to Phsar samaki market, this charming little hotel has good location, brilliant staff, great service, beautiful air-con rooms, free internet access and a good restaurant. They will pick you up at the airport and will arrange day-trips, guides and anything you might need while in Siem Reap. Room rate from $6-$20 per room. Tel: 855-12369569, skywayhotel@yahoo.com.
  • Yellow Guest House, [36], #363, Taphul Village, Svay Dangkum Commune, Siem Reap Cambodia, Tel: +855-63-761-558, hotel_yellow@yahoo.com. Very clean, high-quality and well-furnished rooms. The guest house itself opened in 2007, so it is in excellent condition. Prices range from $3-16 depending on number of beds and amenities. It's located in a convenient location to the Angkor Temples, and away from the bustle of the central town area. It is about a 15 min walk into the central town area, but it's a great place for a quiet and peaceful rest. The staff speak great English, as well as several other languages, including Japanese and Thai. Tuk tuks and bicycles to the Angkor Temples are available. There are also fast computer terminals to access the Internet in the common area. There's a no shoes/flip-flops policy indoors, so the floors are kept in very clean condition.

Mid-range

  • Advisor Angkor Villa Siem Reap,[37]Advisor Angkor Villa located in downtown of Siem Reap with Khmer style furniture, just a relaxing and peaceful place for your short holiday.2 minutes walking to Old Market & Pub Street, 5 minutes walking to Night Market & Artisan D' Angkor, in front of Siem Reap River & garden of Ta Prom Hotel.Single fan $7, Double fan $10, twin fan $10, family fan (3-5pax) $17.Single A/C $12, Double A/C $15, twin A/C$15, family A/C (3-5pax) $30
  • EI8HT Rooms [38]. Tel: 012 800860. Rates are $18 single in new wing & $22 single in garden wing. A stone throw away from "The Alley" and "Bar St" (its on the otherside of Slvatha St...see their website). Nice rooms and great service. Gay-friendly.
  • Golden Banana Boutique Hotel, [39]. 5 minutes walk from market/bar area, quiet garden setting, swimming pool, gay-friendly. Free-standing a/c rooms with hot shower. Breakfast included, Khmer style lunch/dinner. Transport and temple guides can be arranged. Golden Banana Ded & Breakfast: Fan room: $15-$20+10%tax; Single air-con: $23+10%tax; Double air-con: $25+10%tax; Twin air-con: $28+10%tax.
  • Molly Malone's, [40]. Irish-themed bar and restaurant (run by a non-Irishman )has a number of air conditioned rooms, starting from $20. Family-sized rooms available. Friendly staff and good food, located in the center of town.
  • Mom's Guesthouse, #0099, Phom Wat Bo, [41]. One of the longer-running guesthouses in Siem Reap, now in a new if somewhat characterless building. Mom will be happy to make all sorts of travel and transport arrangements. Rates $15/20/$30 for air-con singles/doubles/triples with breakfast, hot water and airport transfers included.
  • Paul Drubule Hotel & Tourism School, [42]. 4 nice guest rooms. Proceeds go to maintaining a tourism school. Airport transfer included. Recommended $20-$35.
  • Shining Angkor, #560 Group One, Kok Chok Commune, Siem Reap, Cambodia, (+855-63) 963 096, [43]. An excellent mid-range hotel with 21 rooms located in Siem Reap. Offers free tuk-tuk service to the center of Siem Reap, and a free pickup by car from the airport as well as free breakfast. The staff is very friendly and helpful, and the decor is in traditional wooden furniture with Buddhist elements. Highly recommended, and family owned, so profits return to the community.
  • Steung Siemreap Hotel[44], right located in the corner between orld market and pub street. Your choice made to Steung Siemreap Hotel is right as it is in the best location of the town. It is in he historic building of French Colonial. Hotel has 76 rooms with full facilities and amenities as four star standard. From $70. Enquiries and booking can be made to (resv@steungsiemreaphotel.com) or phone +855 12 249249.
  • The Kool Hotel, gay-friendly hotel with rooms starting at US$ 39 with breakfast included. [45], +855(0)63 96 96 90, reservation@koolhotel.com, No.018, National road 6, Taphaul, Svay Dangkum.
  • The Villa Siem Reap, 153 Taphul Road, Siem Reap, +855 63 761 036, [46]. The Villa Siem Reap is centrally located in Siem Reap several minutes walk to shopping, restaurants and the old market. Standard rooms start at $18, Superior from $25, Deluxe from $30, Villa Bungalows from $45. Runs excellent excursions to temples and floating village.

Splurge

  • Amansara, [47]. Prince Sihanouk's former guesthouse, close to the main entrance to Angkor Wat. From US$650.
  • Angkor Village Hotel & Resort, tel. +855-63-963-361. [48]. The architecture of both hotels is directly inspired from cambodian traditional villages. Built in true khmer tradition, the wooden houses nestled among tropical ponds and gardens, secluded from the hustle of the town, offer peace and serenity . From $147.
  • Casa Angkor, Oum Chhay / Oum Khun Street, tel. +855-63-963658, [49]. Former boutique hotel now expanded to three times its previous size and trying to claw its way upmarket. It looks pretty from the outside, the miniature pool is nice and the polished cycle-rickshaws add a cute touch, but at heart it's still a thoroughly generic mid-range concrete barracks that doesn't deserve the price tag. From $80.
  • Hôtel de la Paix, Sivatha Boulevard, +855-63-966000, [50]. The newest and, just maybe, the best five-star in town. Tastefully done in a colonial-modern fusion style, with pool, spa and very good restaurants. Location is very central. From $245; Spa suite with private swimming pool: $715.
  • La Residence d'Angkor, River Road, Siem Reap. [51]. Cenrtrally located near the market and with easy access to the temples. The hotel is finished in stone and wood and reflects traditional architecture, centred around a baray-inspired swimming pool.
  • The One Hotel, Angkor, The Passage, tel. +855-12-755-311. [52]. Located in a charming central side street in a freestanding French colonial building, this hotel has only one (1) suite for one or two guests. Street view balconies and a private roof top jacuzzi garden. $250.
  • Suites and Sweet Angkor, Phum Krous, Khum Svay Daungum, Siem Reap. [53]. 9 villa resort, situated in tropical gardens. The villas offer privacy and each of the suites, face a traditional Khmer lake, that includes a private pool surrounded by awooden terrace.
  • Le Meridien Angkor, Vithei Charles de Gaulle (the road to Angkor), tel. +855-63-963900, [54]. Opened in 2004, the ordinary-looking exterior hides what feels like a slick, modern big city hotel. The large pool/spa complex, set off from the main building, is particularly remarkable. From $150.
  • Prince D'Angkor, Sivatha Blvd, tel. +855-63-763-888. [55]. Upmarket hotel and spa. Fairly central location a 10-minute stroll from the center of town. From $180.
  • Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor, [56]. Siem Reap's Grand old hotels, originally built by the French. Subject to a boycott in some quarters as, when their waiters and bartenders had the audacity to ask to keep their tips, they fired the lot.
  • Steung Siemreap Hotel, [57] is right located in Psa Chas or Old Market corner. Rebuilt hotel onto the French Colonial Characteristic. Free airport pickup. $70-$200.
  • Sofitel Phokeethra Royal Angkor Golf and Spa Resort Vithei Charles de Gaulle , Khum Svay Dang Kum, [58].

Stay healthy

For general information on health in Cambodia, see the article on Cambodia.

Care/Treatment

  • Royal Angkor International Hospital, National Route 6, Phum Kasekam, Khum Sra Ngea, +855 63 761 888, [59]. Owned by the Bangkok Hospital Group and caters specifically to tourists. The care is not cheap, but it is of a very high standard. There is a fully stocked pharmacy, General Surgeon, Orthopedic Surgeon, Pediatrician, etc. Fractures, intestinal problems, medicines, etc. shouldn't be a problem.

Contact

The Tourist Transport Association [60] has an office just behind the tourist information office in Siem Reap, which you can contact if you have any questions or queries.

Internet cafés abound in Siem Reap, prices being US$.75-1.50/hour. Speed of connection, and speed of PC, very much depends from place to place.

  • I CLICK INTERNET, on Sivathat Street just connecting to Old Market Or Pub Street. Aslo cheap overseas calls. Tel: +855 12 987498 or info@i-click.biz.
  • E-Café, on Sivatha St north of Psar Chas, [61]. A cut above the rest in connection and service quality, as well as price.
  • Figo's cafe's food is a bit more expensive, but offers free wireless internet to its customers.

Most hotels will have cable TV with many international channels (BBC, CNN etc.) as well as those from surrounding countries. There are several FM radio stations, which include international broadcasters BBC World Service on 99.25MHz and Radio France International on 92.0MHz.

Stay safe

Street vendors and beggars are present in notable numbers. Due to the competition for generous travelers' money, some have developed cunning, if underhanded, techniques to get your attention. The most notable are the "beggar army" normally located around the South/West end of Pub Street. Young children will come up to you in the crowd and grab your hands, leading you to a store where they will then try and have you buy food/milk/water for them. Sounds like a more humanitarian way to help than simply giving them money, right? But once you leave the store, the goods you bought for them end up being resold to other locals, with their handlers getting the cash. Also, beware of the children reaching into your pockets or purse and grabbing what they can. In addition to these children, other children or young women will often walk around with younger children cradled in a krama. If you want to make a difference for the people of Siem Reap, consider visiting the Handicap International site near the Hospital, the Children's Hospital, or donate through an International Charity like Red Cross.

Young adults may try and pass themselves off as representatives and donation-collectors for orphanages. They will show photos of themselves in the orphanage, claim to be volunteer workers themselves, etc. Again, do not donate direct to these "collectors" as none of your goodwill will make it to those who need it - instead deal with a recognised charity.

Siem Reap has long since been thoroughly demined.

Get out



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