Essential Guide to Siem Reap

First time in Siem Reap? Then our essential travel guide for gay visitors is for you.

Essential Guide to Siem Reap

Siem Reap ក្រុងសៀមរាប

Siem Reap is a city in northern Cambodia and the gateway to the world-famous Angkor Archaeological Park.

Besides Angkor Wat, there is much more to appreciate in Siem Reap.  There are French colonial architecture in the Old French Quarter and around the Old Market, arts & crafts, silk farms, wildlife near Tonle Sap Lake, etc.  Today, Siem Reap is a major tourist destination that offers an exotic mix of bustling yet laid-back atmosphere.

 

Gay Scene

While the gay scene in Siem Reap is not huge, a few gay/gay-friendly bars & nightclubs can be found near the Old Market.  The city has also seen more saunas & massage spas for men in recent years.

 

Getting to Siem Reap

Siem Reap International Airport has international flights from and to Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Vientiane, Phnom Penh, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Seoul.

 

Getting around Siem Reap

Bicycle
Well-maintained bicycles can be hired through various guest houses

Motordop
Motodops (motorbike taxi) are plenty and a full-day service can be arranged. Agree on a price first.

Tuk-tuk
Like motodops, tuk-tuks will call to tourists from nearly any street corner. Most tuk-tuks can carry up to four people. Prices can double at night or during bad weather. Agree on a price first.

Car
Cars with drivers can be hired for single or multiple days, but most speak little English and are not actual tour guides. English-speaking, licensed tour guides are recommended.

 

Things to See & Do

Undoubtedly, it is the UNESCO World Heritage-listed archaeological ruined cities of Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm that are the main reason people visit Siem Reap.  The temples are located about 5 km from Siem Reap town, and every hotel in the area is geared up to help you plan your explorations.

Most travellers spend a couple of days exploring the stunning temples and then fly on to Phnom Penh, Laos or Thailand.  But we suggest that you might want to spend an extra day exploring Siem Reap, a town that has evolved rapidly over the past few years with the emergence of some pretty cool bars, excellent restaurants and fashionable boutiques.

Start with a walk down the chic Alley West, a lane that runs parallel to Pub Street, with its boutique shops and art galleries interspersed with cafés and bars.  Call into Art Deli for an espresso and admire this 1920’s French colonial structure that is home to Siem Reap’s budding art, literature and music scene.

Cross the road and continue into an extension of Alley West called The Passage.  Here, you will find more bars and restaurants including McDermott Gallery and its impressive display of arty black and white photos of Angkor Wat.  Further on, The Garden of Desire showcases unique jewellery made from precious gems.  Check out Café Central, a modern, cool and relaxed café.  It’s an excellent spot to unwind and take in the passing crowd with a glass of wine.

Further away is the Foreign Correspondents Clubs (or FCC) which is home to a number of boutique shops and galleries.  From the FCC, continue along the riverbank to “1961″ – a 1960’s style private home that was turned into a local karaoke bar and now resurrected into a creative complex of galleries, artists’ and designers’ studios, dining & shopping destinations including an eight-room “creative hotel”.

Back in town, don’t forget to check out the stylish bars that have opened up throughout Siem Reap and in particular in the hidden lane behind Pub Street.

 

Visa

Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival.

All foreign nationals, except nationals of Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Laos need a visa to enter Cambodia.

Single-entry tourist visa is  issued on arrival at Siem Reap International Airport. This visa is valid for 30 days and costs $20 (paid in cash). You will require one passport sized photo.

 

Airport Tax

Be aware that there is a $25 per person outbound international passenger tax on all flights from Siem Reap and a $6 outgoing tax for domestic flights within Cambodia.  This tax is paid at the airport.

 

Weather

The climate in Siem Reap is tropical. There are two seasons. The Rainy Season (June – October) and the Dry Season – which is divided into two sub-seasons, cool (November – February) and hot (March – May).

 

Language

The Cambodian language is Khmer. English is commonly spoken in hotels and most bars and restaurants in town.

 

Health

Although no vaccinations are officially required for entry to Cambodia, they are recommended. Check with your doctor or a travel immunisation clinic for protection against malaria, typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A and B.

You should bring sufficient quantities of any medication that you are taking as it might not be available in Cambodia.

 

Dress Code

Casual, light-weight clothing is best. A jacket or light sweater many be required for cooler winter evenings.  A hat and high protection sun block are essential for exploring the temples.

Short and T-shirts are acceptable for visiting temples and pagodas. Remember to remove your shoes at the entrance to a pagoda.  If you visit the Silver Pagoda within the Royal Palace grounds in Phnom Penh then expect to dress more formally with long trousers and covered shoulders.