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Siem Reap

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Siem Reap

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The town of Siem Reap, in northern Cambodia, is the primary access point for the Angkor Archaeological Park.

city map of Siem Reap


Siem Reap, literally "Siam Defeated", commemorates a Khmer victory over the neighboring kingdom of Thailand. These days, however, the only rampaging hordes are the tourists heading to Angkor and this once quaint village has become the largest boomtown and construction site in Cambodia. While it has no attractions of its own (at least when compared to Angkor), it's still quite laid-back and all in all a pleasant place to stay while touring the temples. As business has increased, so have the numbers of people anting your custom. Expect to receive almost constant offers for motodop and tuk-tuk rides, along with everything else that the drivers may be able to offer to you.

Get in

By plane

Siem Reap - Angkor International Airport (REP) has frequent flights from Phnom Penh International Airport (previously Pochentong International Airport) as well as direct flights to/from Laos (Pakse | Vientiane | Luang Prabang), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), Singapore, Taiwan (Kaohsiung | Taipei), Thailand (Bangkok | U-Tapao/Pattaya) and Vietnam (Danang | Ho Chi Minh City). Low-cost carriers Air Asia and JetStar Asia now fly to Siem Reap from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore respectively, but the popular route to Bangkok is still monopolized by Bangkok Airways, which charges accordingly.

The airport is less than 15 minutes by car from the center of town. Visa on Arrival is available for $20 (payable in US dollars) and a single color photo. International departure tax is a steep $25.

By land

Cambodian highways have improved considerably in the last few years (although there's still plenty of room for further improvement) and some routes that were once epic adventures are now sealed roads. For most routes you have the basic options of chartering or sharing a Toyota Camry taxi, sharing a ride in a pickup truck, or if it's a sealed road, taking the bus.

From Bangkok

Street between Siem Reap and the border town Poipet (March 2006

The most popular and direct overland route from Bangkok is via the Aranyaprathet/Poipet border crossing.

From Bangkok to Aranyaprathet, either take a 1st class public bus from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (frequent departures, 160-200 baht) or else travel by train from Bangkok's Hualamphong Train Station (two trains each way daily, all 3rd class, 48 baht).

From Aranyaprathet bus or train station, continue by tuk-tuk (50-60 baht) or motorbike (20 baht) or bus (10 baht) to the border market, and cross the border to Poipet on foot.

The road from Poipet to Siem Reap is not sealed, hence the condition varies seasonally and much depends on when it was last re-graded - for recent reports see Latest Road Conditions between Siem Reap and Poipet.

The fastest and most comfortable way to get from Poipet to Siem Reap is by share taxi - $40-45 for the whole car - in which case the entire trip from Poipet to Siem Reap could take less than 3.5 hours on an good day. If the car is shared between 3 or 4 people this is not as expensive as it sounds.

If $40 is too much, you can take the official bus for a fixed $10 per head. Take the Free Transport (it really is free) to the remote bus terminal about 2 km away. The bus leaves when full and can take about 15 people in a large minibus, with all the bags on the back seat. Extra people will be squeezed onto the back seat if necessary which might not be so comfortable. Two fold down seats in the centre isle are also not so comfortable. The trip is advertised as taking 3-5 hours, but in reality it takes at least 6 hours when the road is not too bad. An enforced stop after 2 hours at a restaurant can add to the time of the trip, depending on how long people want to stay. There is the possibility of additional delays (mechanical faults developing which become suddenly fixed) and it is sad to say that these might be due to the same reasons as the Khao San scam-bus. Ultimately you will be delivered to a guest house in Siem Reap, but there is no pressure to stay.

If even this is too much, you can try to hop on the back of a pick-up truck for a fraction of the price, but this will be more uncomfortable, take longer and probably require a change of vehicle at Sisophon.

Alternatively, you could join the backpacking masses and pay a couple of hundred baht for an uncomfortable bus ride directly from Khao San Road all the way to Siem Reap; any travel agent in Bangkok will be happy to sell you a ticket. Buses leave Khao San Road around 8am and arrive in Siem Reap between 5pm and 3am. How long it takes exactly does not really depend on road conditions, but on the mood of the driver. Because he can "sell" you to a guesthouse in Siem Reap 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, his chances increase that you will stay at the guesthouse of his choice. Even if you start in Bangkok on a big aircon bus, you will almost certainly find yourself in the back of a pickup or stuffed minibus for the Cambodian part of the journey. For the return trip, expect to pay around $11.

Whichever route you take, beware of scams, touts and pickpockets at the Poipet border crossing. Visa on Arrival costs US$20, require one color picture, and you do not need anybody's assistance to complete the process. If you arrive with the Khao San Road busses the chances are high that they will charge you 1000 THB or even more for the visa. Try to bargain!

From Phnom Penh

There are several bus companies that you can take to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. The most popular bus companies with tourists include Capitol Transport, GST, and Mekong Express. Each bus company leaves from a different location, although there are many located around the Central Market. Nearly all of the bus companies have buses leaving at 7:30am and 12:30pm, and the trip costs between $3-$6 (US). Expect to get to Siem Reap in 5-7 hours.

By boat

Fast, Soviet style Hydrofoils also make the journey from Phnom Penh across the Tonle Sap lake. Asking price for a "foreigner" ticket is typically $20-$25, $15 is a good price to pay. There are also services between Siem Reap and Battambang (asking price $15, pay $10).

A word of caution: these can be fantastic trips which give travellers the opportunity to view life on the lake, floating houses, fishermen going about their work, and to get a sun tan if you choose to sit on the roof of the boat. However if you travel on a windy day and you have not kept waterproofs and sunscreen out of you luggage you could be in trouble. These journeys take several hours and without waterproofs and sunscreen you will become incredibly cold and will be burned by the sun at the same time. As the boat is generally packed with travellers, those on the roof will have to stay up there, and once your bags are in the hold, they stay there. Be prepared for the trip and you will love every minute.

Along the Siem Reap River

Get around

  • Most of the sights in Siem Reap can be seen on foot. For the foot-sore and sun-weary, you'll have plenty of offers from locals on motorbikes, simply agree a price and hop on the back.
  • Another excellent way to see Siem Reap is by bicycle. Most guesthouses have bicycles, often free for "round town" use, or $1 (single speed) - $2 (with gears) per day. It's also a good way to see Angkor Wat, but leave early to avoid the mid-day heat.
  • Guesthouses can usually arrange a driver and car for you; this works out at about $20 per day and is a good way to visit the temples if time is short.
  • Alternatively, you can rent a motorbike with driver for a full day for $6 or so. Wear a handkerchief across the mouth / nose as the roads can be very dusty!

Note: The rental of motorbikes to tourists (expatriates, however, are allowed) in Siem Reap is prohibited, however foreigners can ride motorbikes they've rented elsewhere (eg Phnom Penh).

  • Tuk tuk drivers can be hired for $10-13 per day to take you wherever you like, they will arrange meeting places with you or wait where you tell them to. They are a great way of see the surrounds without the barrier of a car window!


  • The reason most people come to Siem Reap is the Angkor Archaeological Park, thoroughly covered on its own page.
  • An alternative trip when you are feeling 'templed out' is to visit the Tonle Sap lake a few miles from town and take a boat trip past the floating villages. The fast hydrofoil to Phnom Penh also passes this way.
  • The silk worm farm, is worth the hike. Take a tuk tuk and drive through the local surrounding villages for a better idea of how the locals live.


  • Hidden Cambodia Dirt Bike Tours. [1] Siem Reap.

Tel. + 855 (0)12 934 412 or (0)12 655 201. HCDBT offers once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to explore the countryside of Cambodia in a safe yet exciting way, by motorbike or 4-WD.


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.

Phsar Kandal (Center Market) at the corner of Sivatha Blvd and Achamean Street offer an eclectic collection of clothes and trinkets for good prices. Don't forget to bargain down the price. 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.

  • With currency, locals prefer US dollars or Thai Baht the local currency is for only seriously small purchases.
  • Buying from the local children, the books and postacrds are from shops that hire the kids on a very small commission to sell. Kids selling braclets and other curio's usually make these themselves or a member of there family does so the money goes to the family. If you don't want to be swarmed by them, offer to buy a meal instead of their gear.


  • Samapheap is a large and popular restaurant pleasantly located on the eastern riverbank a short hop down from Route 6, catering to both Khmers and tour groups. The menu is extensive, service is quick, prices are reasonable (most mains $2-5) and the food is good.
  • Chiang Mai and Chivat Thai 2 on Wat Bo Rd offer basic Thai fare. Lunch sets start at $1.50, dinner costs a bit more.
  • The Markets - If you get tired of paying US$ 3 and up for a lunch/dinner you may try one of the markets. You can get a whole meal for US$ 1 and below there.


  • Most of Siem Reap's watering holes are concentrated in a few lanes north of Psar Chas (the old market). Dependable standbys include Angkor What? and Dead Fish. Drinks usually $2 and up, although most if not all bars have happy hours before 8 PM.
  • The FCC Angkor (west river bank next to post office), opened in October 2002, 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 (~$5) and drink (~$3) in a marvelous blend of modern style and colonial architecture... if at a fairly steep price, at least by Cambodian standards.
  • The Soup Dragon is 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.
  • Linga bar, the only gay bar 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.


Accommodations range 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, particular 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 in advance. They will then usually arrange for free transportation to their place. Otherwise just take a motorbike (US$ 1) or a taxi (US$ 2) to town. If you don't know any place to go to, they will ask for your budget and will then 'suggest' one.


  • Earthwalkers, Sala Kanseng Village, 1,5 km from city centre just of Highway 6, tel. + 855 (0) 12 967 901, [2]. High quality budget accommodation with comfortable rooms with fan or A/C from $4 to $17 with full en suite facilities.
  • Two Dragons Guesthouse, Wat Bo, [3]. Guesthouse run by Gordon Sharpless of Tales of Asia fame. A/C, hot water, cable TV, and the self-proclaimed cleanest rooms in Cambodia, from $7.
  • Rosy Guesthouse, Slar Kram Village, tel. 012 916 930, 012 951 692. Rooms with fans, satellite TV and shower with hot water inside. Rates are US$ 5. or (855)
  • Home Sweet Home Guesthouse, No. 0111 Wat Bo, tel. 063 760 279, [4]. Rooms with fans and shower inside are US$ 8, shower outside are US$ 5.
  • The Queen House Villa, No. 0209 Wat Damnak Street, Tel. 011221838, [5]. Big, clean rooms with fan, hot water, A/C, start from $ 6,--. Free breakfast and bicycles. Just 2 Minutes from the center!
  • Family Guest House, No. 019 Mondoul 2, Svay Dangkum, tel. +855 (0)12 841 864. Newly built concrete building with aircon and fan only rooms, TV and hot water available. Restaurant with good Khmer and western food. Start at $6 (main season).


  • Mom's Guesthouse, #0099, Phom Wat Bo, [6]. 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.
  • Molly Malone's, [7]. Irish Bar and Restaurant has a number of air conditioned rooms, starting from $20. Friendly staff and good food, located in the center of town.



Internet cafes abound in Siem Reap, prices being $0.75 to $1.50 per hour. Speed of connection, and speed of PC, very much depends from place to place.

  • E-Cafe, on Sivatha St north of Psar Chas, [8]. A cut above the rest in connection and service quality, as well as price at $1.50 an hour.

Get out

  • If you haven't seen enough temples yet, the commanding hilltop ruins of Preah Vihear next to the Thai border might be worth a trip.