Siem Reap travel guide

Siem Reap Tourism | Siem Reap Guide

You're Going to Love Siem Reap

Siem Reap was a capital city within the Khmer kingdom of Cambodia. The city thrived between the 9th and 15th centuries, when most of its incredible complex of stone buildings was constructed. Siem Reap is home to many unique treasures like the Terrace of the Elephants, a must-see on your visit and part of the walled fortifications of the Angkor Thom temple complex.

Siem Reap was brought back to the public eye after a French adventurer happened upon the temple in the 1800s. The city has many relics of its French colonial past, including the Grand Hotel d'Angkor, which was built in the 1920s.

Sleek modern hotels and ancient ruins compete for your attention in historic Siem Reap. You'll find a thriving modern town with a trendy hotel, dining, and nightlife scene, minutes away from one of the world's most incredible archaeological sites.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Siem Reap

1. Angkor Wat

This is the main temple inside the ruins of Angkor. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, five towers surround a large central tower that is meant to represent Mount Meru, a sacred mountain in Eastern philosophies. The temple is considered so crucial to the history of Cambodia that it appears on the nation's flag. Not just one building, this is a complex dating from the 13th century that includes several temples and statues of Buddha in the wonderfully ornate Khmer style.

2. Shopping

This may not be the place to get your designer duds, but there are unique opportunities to buy locally produced goods at the markets. You can buy souvenirs, spices, clothing, and of course food to fuel your shopping expedition in many open air markets, including the oldest night market in Cambodia.

3. Incredible History

The ancient city is an archaeological wonder, with so many places and sites to explore, including Angkor Thom, the former royal city that itself includes several Buddhist temples. Most, like the Banteay Kdei, a Buddhist monastery, have not been restored, and you can explore the buildings, sculptures, and moat in all their ruined glory.

4. The Museums

The Angkor National Museum includes more than 1,000 statues and images of Buddha along with authentic Khmer-era artifacts. Other museums include the War Museum Cambodia for a look at much more recent history.

5. Floating Villages

Aside from the historic ruins, the floating villages are a popular attraction in Siem Reap. There are three, including Kompong Phluk, Chong Kneas, and Kompong Khleang, the quietest of the three, where about 6,000 people make their homes in stilt houses on the river.

What to do in Siem Reap

1. Angkor Archaeological Park: Khmer Wonder

Siem Reap is famous for the incomparable temples of Angkor. An archaeological heaven, the complex is comprised of four distinct sites, each more intriguing than the next, and all of them unique: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, and Bayon. The vastness of these ancient venues will have you wandering mystically for hours. Explore the inner courtyards, some with tropical trees inching their roots through the stones, and find the popular elephant terrace and its enormous faces carved into stone.

2. Angkor National Museum: Completing the Picture

This gem of a museum offers context to the expansive temples of Angkor, covering the whole history of the Khmer Empire through engaging artefacts. Recovered sculptures that cannot be preserved in the vast outdoor temples frequented by so many eager visitors have been brought to this museum for preservation and study. Highlights include the Gallery of the Thousand Buddhas and contemporary, multimedia exhibits to complement the history lesson.

3. Cambodia Landmine Museum: Turning Back the Past

Within Angkor Archaeological Park, this unique museum exists to educate on the importance of eradicating land mines from Cambodia, a country still rife with the remains of a tumultuous past. Aki Ra, the founder of this museum, has made this his life's work, having single-handedly located, disarmed, and collected the thousands of bombs now on display. It is grizzly, fascinating, and most importantly entirely safe.

4. Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre: The Delicacy of Nature

Southeast Asia is a prime destination for tropical flora and fauna, and this enormous butterfly center is the largest in the region. For a break from the temples and the immersive culture of the cityscapes, take it easy in the simplicity of nature and delight yourself with beautiful butterflies. The center cares for an enormous variety of species, while also generating income for the surrounding community.

5. Angkor Night Market: A Little Bit of Everything

Although Siem Reap's main attractions are its world famous temples and museums, the town itself is worth the visit, exuding Cambodian culture through and through. The most local experience around is found at the Angkor Night Market, where bargaining for affordable goods, picking up crafts and souvenirs, and tasting the local treats never gets old. Shining bright with lights in the cool evening air, the delight of this market is unavoidable.

1. Angkor Archaeological Park: Khmer Wonder

Siem Reap is famous for the incomparable temples of Angkor. An archaeological heaven, the complex is comprised of four distinct sites, each more intriguing than the next, and all of them unique: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, and Bayon. The vastness of these ancient venues will have you wandering mystically for hours. Explore the inner courtyards, some with tropical trees inching their roots through the stones, and find the popular elephant terrace and its enormous faces carved into stone.

2. Angkor National Museum: Completing the Picture

This gem of a museum offers context to the expansive temples of Angkor, covering the whole history of the Khmer Empire through engaging artefacts. Recovered sculptures that cannot be preserved in the vast outdoor temples frequented by so many eager visitors have been brought to this museum for preservation and study. Highlights include the Gallery of the Thousand Buddhas and contemporary, multimedia exhibits to complement the history lesson.

3. Cambodia Landmine Museum: Turning Back the Past

Within Angkor Archaeological Park, this unique museum exists to educate on the importance of eradicating land mines from Cambodia, a country still rife with the remains of a tumultuous past. Aki Ra, the founder of this museum, has made this his life's work, having single-handedly located, disarmed, and collected the thousands of bombs now on display. It is grizzly, fascinating, and most importantly entirely safe.

4. Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre: The Delicacy of Nature

Southeast Asia is a prime destination for tropical flora and fauna, and this enormous butterfly center is the largest in the region. For a break from the temples and the immersive culture of the cityscapes, take it easy in the simplicity of nature and delight yourself with beautiful butterflies. The center cares for an enormous variety of species, while also generating income for the surrounding community.

5. Angkor Night Market: A Little Bit of Everything

Although Siem Reap's main attractions are its world famous temples and museums, the town itself is worth the visit, exuding Cambodian culture through and through. The most local experience around is found at the Angkor Night Market, where bargaining for affordable goods, picking up crafts and souvenirs, and tasting the local treats never gets old. Shining bright with lights in the cool evening air, the delight of this market is unavoidable.

Where to Eat in Siem Reap

The Sugar Palm offers traditional dishes starting at only ៛20,250. East meets west in the fusion menu at Haven, where profits go to help young adult orphans and mains start at only ៛12,150. Cuisine Wat Damnak is operated by celebrity chef Joannes Riviere in a traditional Cambodian wooden house, and features five or six-course menus that start at about ៛101,250. Be sure to try the local rice wine, a regional specialty made by many households. Sombai is a commercial version that adds rum to the rice wine kick.

When to visit Siem Reap

Siem Reap in November
Estimated hotel price
C$ 13
1 night at 3-star hotel
Siem Reap in November
Estimated hotel price
C$ 13
1 night at 3-star hotel

Siem Reap lies in a tropical zone, with a hot climate that sees a wet season between April and November, and a drier season the rest of the year. Average temperatures hover around the high 80s and low 90s all year round. The dry season of December to March is usually popular with tourists.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Siem Reap

Plane

Siem Reap lies just over four miles from the Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport (REP). Taxis to town are an inexpensive alternative at ៛28,355 or so, with rates set so you don't have to worry about negotiating after a long flight. A tuk-tuk ride (an auto rickshaw) will cost you about ៛20,000.

Train

There are trains from Bangkok that arrive at the Aranyaprathet station, which lies less than four miles from the Cambodian/Thai border. From there, it is possible to take a taxi or mini bus shuttle into Siem Reap. A shared ride will cost about ៛48,600, while a car all to yourself should run about ៛195,000.

Car

Siem Reap is accessible by car from Phnom Penh and is not far from the border with Thailand. Driving from Bangkok is theoretically feasible via NR6. However, because of stringent requirements, most private vehicles would not meet the border stipulations of both countries, and so driving on your own is not recommended. There are many car and driver services that can do the work for you for about ៛200 or less.

Bus

Bus service is available directly from Bangkok to Siem Reap through Transport Co./Nattakan, a company operated by the Thai government. Buses also arrive daily from Phnom Penh through a number of companies including Asia Win Alliance, Golden Bayon Express, and Mekong Express, starting at about ៛24,500.

Airports near Siem Reap

Airlines serving Siem Reap

United Airlines
Good (2,838 reviews)
KLM
Good (348 reviews)
Air France
Good (399 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,324 reviews)
SWISS
Good (454 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (1,206 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (958 reviews)
Austrian Airlines
Good (278 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (308 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (320 reviews)
Finnair
Good (694 reviews)
ANA
Excellent (139 reviews)
Thai Airways
Good (58 reviews)
Japan Airlines
Good (465 reviews)
Qantas Airways
Good (178 reviews)
Vietnam Airlines
Good (20 reviews)
Air New Zealand
Excellent (74 reviews)
Virgin Australia
Good (94 reviews)
AirAsia
Okay (25 reviews)
Garuda Indonesia
Excellent (18 reviews)
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Where to stay in Siem Reap

The Old French Quarter - this is where you'll find the trendy - and the wealthier - side of town, chock full of restaurants of every kind and many luxury hotels and resorts. You'll find both Chinese-style and colonial French architecture, along with crowds of tourists from all over the world.

Popular Neighborhoods in Siem Reap

Pub Street - as the name implies, this is the place to be for nightlife in Siem Reap. Here the bars, cocktail lounges, and nightclubs are open until 4 am daily, and you'll find options at every price point from luxurious retreats to beer halls full of backpackers.

Wat Bo - you'll find many restaurants and accommodations in this bustling area of town on the east side of the river. It is also the place for shopping from local artisans who specialize in goods like wood carvings and jewelry, often including rubies. You'll also find Wat Damnak, the former royal palace, Siem Reap Art Center, and the Wat Bo temple in this area.

Most popular hotel in Siem Reap by neighborhood

Where to stay in popular areas of Siem Reap

Most booked hotels in Siem Reap

Borei Angkor Resort & Spa
Excellent (8.8, Excellent reviews)
C$ 120+
Angkor Paradise Hotel
Excellent (8.5, Excellent reviews)
C$ 51+
Tara Angkor Hotel
Excellent (8.5, Excellent reviews)
C$ 60+
Anantara Angkor Resort
Excellent (8.7, Excellent reviews)
C$ 296+
La Residence Blanc D'Angkor
Poor (0, Poor reviews)
C$ 42+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Siem Reap

Public Transportation

There is no public transportation system in Siem Reap, but cheap taxis and tuk-tuks fill the gap.

Taxi

Taxi service may cost you as little as ៛4,050 for a trip across town. Motorbike taxis and tuk-tuks are also hugely popular in Siem Reap, and you'll generally find them a cheaper alternative to the automobile variety. A tuk-tuk can usually be rented for the whole day for about ៛60,750.

Car

With chaotic traffic at times, and a shortage of parking spaces, a car rental is something you can probably do without in Siem Reap. If you need one, a rental should cost about ៛405,800 per day and local providers include Avis, with pick-up trucks and vans the most popular choice. A car with a driver is a better alternative, and should cost you about ៛142,000 per day. You'll find many drivers looking for day fares along the Siem Reap River and near the Old Market area.

The Cost of Living in Siem Reap

Shopping Streets

Angkor Night Market Street, located just off the main tourist hub of Sivutha Street, is where you'll find the night market, open most days from 4 pm to 11:30 pm. The Siem Reap Old Market or Psah Chah is located right in the heart of town on the west side of the river, and offers bargain shopping for clothes, jewelry, souvenirs, food, and much more.

Groceries and Other

There are many well-stocked supermarkets in Siem Reap, including Angkor Market. Lucky Supermarket is another favorite, with Thai Huot a more locally oriented alternative. A quart of milk should cost about ៛8,100, and a dozen eggs will set you back about ៛6,500.

Cheap meal
C$ 3.33
A pair of jeans
C$ 20.29
Single public transport ticket
C$ 1.36
Cappuccino
C$ 2.71
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