Located conveniently close to the Angkor temple complex, the small city of Siem Reap is a great place to stay and visitors will find a large number of restaurants, bars and hotels that cater specially to tourists. Most travellers in Cambodia end up in Siem Reap at some time or another as there are many interesting tourist attractions to keep visitors entertained.
After spending the entire day wandering around ancient temples and marvelling at the detailed engravings, it is time to relax and unwind with a good meal and a drink or two. The restaurants in Siem Reap serve everything from traditional Khmer cuisine and authentic Indian curries to pizza, pasta, burgers and fries. Most of the restaurants are located down two intersecting streets in the heart of the city, which makes it easy to see what’s available.
Brief guide to Siem Reap
A number of full-sized modern temples are located around Siem Reap with Wat Bo particularly striking as it features colourful murals and paintings. Also nearby is the royal palace of Wat Dam Nak, and visitors are permitted to venture inside this elaborately decorated temple.
But still the Angkor temple complex is by far the stand-out attraction of the area. Passes are available for one, three or seven days and most people choose to spend at least two exploring as there are dozens of ancient relics to see here. The best way to start exploring is by visiting the temple of Phnom Bakheng at sunset. Set atop a high hill, large numbers of people take up perches on the gently crumbling temple walls to watch the sun slowly set over the countryside.
It is a good idea to get up early the next morning, hiring a moto with a driver for the entire day and travelling around the city of Angkor in style. Many people head to Angkor Thom first, which is surrounded by a huge moat, before moving on to the Terrace of the Elephants, which stretches for over 300m.
It is best to spend the entire first day visiting smaller sites such as Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Preah Rup and Ta Keo as it takes at least four hours to fully explore Angkor Wat. This impressive temple was built over the course of 30 years and measures 65m in height, while the structure covers an incredible 500 acres.
The bars in Siem Reap come in every shape and size and are generally scattered in between the restaurants. There are a number of popular backpacker hangouts here such as Angkor What?, which tempts tourists with its light and friendly atmosphere, free pool table and an extensive drinks menu.
Siem Reap is also a great place to shop for souvenirs. Market stalls and stores stay open from early in the morning until late at night with just about anything and everything for sale from second hand books to locally made handicrafts and postcards.