Siem Reap is a city in northern Cambodia and the gateway to the world-famous Angkor Wat 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.
Angkor Archaeological Park
Siem Reap International Airport has international flights from and to Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Vientiane, Phnom Penh, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Seoul.
The airport is 7km from Siem Reap town centre. Taxi’s and tuktuks are available.
Pub Street in Siem Reap
The town centre is relatively compact, so walking is a great option.
Well-maintained bicycles can be hired through various guest houses
Motodops (motorbike taxi) are plenty and a full-day service can be arranged. Agree on a price first. We strongly recommend requesting a helmet. Foreigners are not permitted to hire motorcycles themselves.
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 and make sure the driver is absolutely clear about your destination.
Cars with drivers can be hired for single trips or whole days. Most speak a little English but are not tour guides. Taking a licensed tour guide with you to the temples is recommended.
Siem Reap’s small central area offers a great base to explore the city, nightlife and attractions. Gay visitors may stay closer to Pub Street and Old Market area. Many luxury hotels can be found along National Road 6, located about 4 km from downtown.
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.
If you love exotic stuff, some of shops in Siem Reap sell excellent products made from farmed reptilian skins. Check the customs regulations in your country before making your purchase to ensure that you are able to bring the items back home.
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).
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.
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.
The Cambodian language is Khmer. English is commonly spoken in hotels and most bars and restaurants in town.
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.