Get Familiar with Siem Reap Cambodia

Nothing Familiar

Before visiting Siem Reap Cambodia you should know there’s much more to this diverse city than the famous temples of Angkor Wat. Despite being the most popular tourist destination in the country, it’s a melting pot for so many different foods, cultures, and history. Join us as we breakdown the best things to do in Siem Reap, what to eat at the night market, and the infamous pub street. It’s time to Get Familiar with our Siem Reap Travel Guide!

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Siem Reap Travel Guide General Information

Location: Siem Reap Cambodia
Official Language: Khmer
Currency: USD & Cambodian Riel
How Long to Visit: 3+ Days
Airport: Siem Reap International Airport (REP)
Best Time to Visit: December to February for Less Rain and Cooler Weather
Book Recommendation: First They Killed My Father

First Impression: We arrived after 13 hours of travel and an extremely delayed flight. After a long tuk tuk ride in the dark to town we were shocked to see so many street food carts. It made us immediately hungry and excited for all the yummy food to come!

Angkor Wat Guide Tour

Siem Reap Cambodia Cost Breakdown: 

Luxury Hotel: $100+ USD
Budget Hotel: $20-30 USD
Hostel Bed: $2-8 USD
Local Meal: $1-3 USD
Western Meal: $6-8 USD
Beer: $0.50-1 USD
Scooter Rental: $2-4 USD/day
Tuk Tuk: $2-4 USD Around the City
Taxes & Tip: 5% Tip added at some restaurants

Arrive By… Flight Or Bus

Flight: The Siem Reap airport is a 20-30 minute tuk tuk ride away from the city center. While it appears to be small, it’s actually the busiest airport in Cambodia with 70+ flights arriving daily. Many hotels in Siem Reap offer a free pickup service if you let them know your flight information in advance!

Bus: This option is more popular than flights with international buses arriving daily from Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos. Depending on what company you come in on there will be different drop off locations around the city center. Don’t be worried though! You can always grab a tuk tuk taxi for $1-2 dollars to get you to your accommodation.

Tip: Buses aren’t always fun in Asia, so we wouldn’t blame you if you went with another method of Siem Reap travel. We have heard though our travels that Giant Ibis is the best bus to use while traveling in Cambodia. If you want to recommend a different company to our readers please do so in the comments below!

Siem Reap Airport

Stay… Near The River

When arriving in a new city we always face the same question. Where is the best place to stay? Choosing a location and good accommodation can be vital to a great experience.

We ended up staying on the other side of the river from Siem Reap Pub Street and all the action of the city. We had a quick walk into the center, but it was a quiet neighborhood that had great street food nearby. Try to be within a 10 minute walk of Pub Street if you to be close to all the best things to do in Siem Ream.

Siem Reap River

Wear… Somewhat Conservative Clothing

Dress Etiquette: Plan for hot and humid weather, with a mix of rain depending on the season.

Women: Not as strict as the temples, but still good to be cautious of what you’re wearing. It’s not a bad idea to where t-shirts or dresses that cover your shoulders. Skirts or shorts are fine for around town.

Men: T-shirts and shorts.

Eat… Traditional Khmer Food

You will see traditional Cambodian meals labeled as “Khmer food” on menus around the city. Trying these dishes and flavors turned out to be one of our favorite parts of Siem Reap! We’ll talk more below about how the best Khmer food is found near the central area and Siem Reap night market.

If that is too far our of your comfort zone there are plenty of western style restaurants to eat as well. Some items to lookout for are amok, khmer curry, kuy teav (pork soup), and beef skewers. Also, make sure not to miss the crab and pepper of the south!

Restaurant Recommendations

Khmer Grill Restaurant: Traditional and vegetarian menu. Massive plates and good food. Try to go for breakfast or lunch as at night the line can be around the block!

Madam Moch Khmer Restaurant: Traditional, vegetarian, and vegan meals available. The veggie curry and pork ribs are two of the favorites on the menu!

The Brothers: Western and classic Cambodian dishes served in an open air restaurant. We loved the mixed veggie curry and Amok!

ROHATT Cafe: An upscale khmer cuisine restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. The bottom floor acts as a cafe while full meals and dining is served upstairs.

Best Food in Siem Reap

Dine… On the Streets

At night the street food scene explodes in the city. It’s important to note that the Siem Reap Night Market is just for clothing and Cambodian souvenirs. The best food can be found on all the street carts lined up along the river and around the central market.

Additionally, there are a few small stands that you’ll see pop up and grill meats openly on the streets. You won’t regret eating local as it’s both the cheapest and best food to experience during your Siem Reap travel.

Siem Reap Street Food

Drink… Angkor Beer

If you’re looking for good cheap draft beer can you really beat fifty cents? Yes, you didn’t read that wrong! You might think that more tourists means higher prices, but not when it comes to beer in Siem Reap. When Angkor draft is literally cheaper than water, there’s no reason not to throw back some cold ones on Siem Reap Pub Street after a day of temple hopping!

Beers on Pub Street Siem Reap

Get Around The City… By Walking

Once you’re in the city center along the river everything is within walking distance. You can work your way though the maze of Pub Street (which is actually made up of several smaller streets), cut through the central market, and check out all the different food stalls on the water with ease. The central area of Siem Reap is actually quite small so you wont have a problem getting anywhere. Just watch out for the crazy traffic when crossing the streets!

18 Angkor Wat Facts That You Won’t Believe Are Real

Explore By… Tuk Tuk

Tuk tuk taxis run the transportation game in Siem Reap travel. From the moment we arrived at Siem Reap airport to exploring Angkor Wat, we always utilized the tuk tuks! Thinking back on it, I don’t even know if actual taxis or cars are available unless you’re staying at an elite hotel.

Rides around town will cost $1-3 US dollars depending on your bartering skills, and a trip to the airport should cost $5.  The best thing to use a tuk tuk for is to visit Angkor Wat! You can hire a driver for around $20 for an entire day of exploring all the temples.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat: One Day Tuk Tuk Tour

Siem Reap Tuk Tuk

Relax… At a Spa

Siem Reap Cambodia is known for having some of the cheapest spas in the world. From fish tanks that will clean your feet to high end luxury day spas, there’s really something for every type of traveler. Manicures and pedicures will only set you back a few dollars, while hour long massages can be as cheap as $6 USD. 

Shop… At the Local Markets

The local markets are some of the best things to do in Siem Reap! There are three different markets in town that are all unique and worth checking out. Picking the right one just depends on what you’re looking for.

Central Market: Right around the corner from Siem Reap Pub Street, the central market was our favorite in the city. There is a clothing and souvenirs section, and also a local part with fruits, meats, and seafood. Around the outer edge of the market food stalls line the streets, and there are some restaurants built into it as well.

Cambodia Craft Market: This upscale craft market is just on the other side of the river from town. Prices are higher than the other markets so it gives off a different feel than the more local ones.

Siem Reap Night Market: There isn’t one official night market in town, but instead several spread around the city. You can find them simply by the massive neon signs that light up and say “Night Market.” We walked through several and found them to have mostly similar items as the central market. 

Siem Reap Night Market

Experience… The Cambodian Circus

Phare, the Cambodian Circus is one of the top things to do in Siem Reap. However, this is not the traditional Circus you are thinking of! It runs more as a talent show with different acts displaying their best tricks and skills. The acrobatics are amazing, and the traditional music makes for a fun backdrop during the show.

Take in History… In Angkor Wat

Is it even possible to come to Siem Reap and not visit the famous temples of Angkor Wat? We had an amazing week in the city, but would be lying if we didn’t say that this was the highlight of our trip.

The temples are the reason everyone comes to this city, but Pub Street and the Siem Reap Night Market makes for an awesome addition! For more information on how to plan your trip to Angkor Wat check out our article below.

→ How to Plan a Visit to Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Siem Reap

Stay Active… On A Bike Tour

If you’re looking to stay active and see more of Cambodia then hop on a bike tour. You’ll spend your afternoon cruising through the countryside and seeing a part of the city that you never have before.

Still, we wouldn’t recommend just renting one and cruising around because there aren’t exactly designated bike routes. Pay the extra money to take a tour and have a guide show you some of the best areas and things to do in Siem Reap!

Siem Reap Bike Tour

Spend the Night… People Watching on Siem Reap Pub Street

At night area that makes up the famous Siem Reap Pub Street is closed down and become swarmed with a massive amount of people. Every restaurant spills onto the street blasting music and the cheap beers flow freely. Pull up on the street, grab a fifty cent beer, and watch the action of the night pass you by.

Famous Pub Street Siem Reap

Be Careful Of… Pick Pockets

Like all major touristic areas it’s important to watch your personal belongings and stay aware. The packed pub street, Siem Reap Night Market, and crowded river food area is known for this. While it isn’t as prevalent as other major cities around the world, it’s still good to be cautious of petty crime visiting Siem Reap Cambodia.

Get Lost… In the Central Market

As we mentioned in the best markets in Siem Reap, the central market was our favorite! It’s not just filled with souvenirs and goods like the other markets, but has so much more to explore. The entire back section is filled with meats, fruits, and sauces while restaurants surround the outside. Take some time to snake your way though the different isles of the market to really see everything it has to offer.

siem reap central market

Watch Out For…. ATM’s & Money

Money is a strange thing in Cambodia and something to be aware of. Everything is listed in US Dollars as that is the preferred currency. Yet when dealing with change you will sometimes be given the local Cambodian Riel back. Where it gets stranger is that only bills in perfect condition will be accepted. Make sure to keep them straight and don’t crumple them. 

If there is the littlest tear, mark, or imperfection it’s almost useless. Also, breaking a $100 bill is a whole task on it’s own. When going to the ATM try to take out $80 USD or $180 for example instead of multiples of $100. This way you can at least have some $20’s which are easier to get change with.

Day Trip… to the Floating Village

Not far from Siem Reap Cambodia is the massive Tonle Sap Lake which is home to several floating villages. It is important to know that there are two ways to make the trip.

You can hire a tuk tuk for around $15 USD to take you, wait, and then bring you back to Siem Reap. From there, you will have to pay for your own boat trip onto the lake. Your other choice is to book a tour through your hotel or a local travel agency that has everything combined.

Siem Reap Travel Tip: It may not be worth going during dry season in Cambodia, as the there’s little to no water in the lake!

Continue On… To the Cambodian Islands

If Siem Reap is only your first stop in Cambodia there’s no reason to leave yet! Far too many travelers just visit Cambodia for Angkor Wat, and don’t stay to discover everything else this country has to offer.

After seeing all the best things to do in Siem Reap, travel to the south and spend a few days eating your way though the capital of Phnom Penh. Then explore the southern cities like Kampot and Kep, and eventually make your way to the stunning Cambodian Islands. From Siem Reap you can take a 12 hour overnight bus, or a 45 minute flight to paradise!

Cambodian Islands

Have any questions about Siem Reap travel, or want to share more of the best things to do in Siem Reap? Leave us a comment below!

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar

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Where To Stay In Siem Reap Cambodia

Ultra Luxury – Park Hyatt Siem Reap – Ultra luxury in the heart of Siem Reap. We’ve recommended a lot of Park Hyatt’s over the years as they’re one of the nicest hotel chains in Asia. Siem Reap might take the cake though!

Fun Vacation – Chateau d’Angkor La Residence – Stay near all the action, but still have the ability to escape the craziness of Siem Reap Pub street. Upscale hotel with traditional amenities and a beautiful pool to cool down in.

Budget Travel – Chamraoen’s Home – This was our home during our stay in Siem Reap and we loved it! We were a quick walk to the Siem Reap Night Market, and had amazing food right outside out door. Great wifi, clean rooms, and owned by a very helpful family. They even set up our tuk tuk driver for Angkor Wat!

Hostel Life – The Siem Reap Chilled Backpacker – There’s plenty of hostels in Siem Reap as it’s a huge backpacker haven. At the Siem Reap Chilled Backpacker you’ll be just a 10 minute walk from the central market, and have pool and hang out spots to go with your dorm bed.

For more places to stay in Siem Reap Cambodia you can explore the latest prices here!

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Cambodia Travel Planning 

 Flights: We always find deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. That’s how we got flights from Thailand to Siem Reap Cambodia for under $50 USD!

 Transportation: 12Go is what we use to book ferries, trains, buses, and private transfers while traveling through Southeast Asia. 

 Accommodation: Compare competitive sites for hotels such as Booking.com and Agoda. Also, Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for activities all over Cambodia. You can book everything from an Angkor Wat small group sunrise tour to visiting the Kompong Phluk floating village, and even take a Cambodian pottery class

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Here’s all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists! Including electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

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