Where to stay and what to do in Siem Reap
If you’re keeping up with our blog you’ll remember that in my last post about Cambodia, I promised to write three more detailed posts about each of the places we visited. This post is about Siem Reap, the first place we visited in Cambodia.
It was love at first sight with Siem Reap. Within hours of arriving Jake had declared it his favourite city destination so far!
Our accommodation – V&A villa
While in Siem Reap we stayed at V&A villa. V&A is run and owned by Andy and Voleak. Andy is English while Voleak is Cambodian so they are perfect for answering questions and providing local knowledge. They are lovely hosts and we felt safe and welcome at V&A.
The Villa is beautiful with bright orange stone, electric blue windows and a swimming pool. There are a lot of handsome buildings in Siem Reap. The architecture has strong colonial and Chinese influence. I should have asked Andy about the history of the building when we were there but I didn’t think until later.
Our room at V&A was our biggest room so far and it had a bath which I loved! It’s the only place we’ve stayed where we had a bath tub, anyone who knows me knows how much I love a bath even in the heat of Cambodia, much to Jake’s surprise.
The location of the hotel was a 15-20 minute walk from town on the main road to Siem Reap airport. The location was great for the airport and Angkor Wat. It was fine for getting into town in the day time but I was a little scared at night and we’d usually get a Tuk Tuk home.
If you don’t mind a walk I’d recommend staying at V&A. If your interested I’ve reviewed all the hotels we’ve stayed at so far on Trip Advisor and Jake is going to add a widget to the website soon so you will be able to see where we’ve stayed and what we thought! Hopefully our reviews can help you plan your own trips to South East Asia.
We had some of our best meals in Siem Reap. It was our first taste of Cambodian cuisine and we loved it.
It was in Siem Reap that we first tried Amok, a traditional curry steamed in a banana leaf. It’s really tasty and a must try for anyone visiting Cambodia. We had Amok at Genevieve’s restaurant and it was lush!
Siem Reap also offers a variety of tastes from around the world. Our favourite meal was from ABABA curry house an Indian restaurant behind the night market.
Things to do
Siem reap isn’t massive but we liked that. We walked into town most days and quickly got our bearings, well Jake got his and I followed him! Travelling really has highlighted that I have no sense of direction. Jake and I joke that if I think we should go one way it’s most likely the opposite direction is the right way to go.
One of the main streets in Siem Reap is Pub street where beers are $0.50 and margaritas are $1.50. Khmer Family quickly became our “local”, it was a great place to sit and watch the world go by with a cheap beer.
The town centre is filled with the usual shops and stalls similar to what you’ll find in Thailand with the addition of many stalls selling silver. My favourite shops in Siem Reap are those that support local causes by selling items made by local people. You can easily spot these shops because they aren’t selling the usual mass produced souvenirs instead the stock is unique, high quality and hand made. The prices are slightly higher but I feel like that wee bit extra goes towards supporting those in need in a responsible way. I don’t usually give to beggars but I am happy to support schemes like this. The abundance of these shops made it feel like Siem Reap has a plan to support those in need.
We visited Angkor Wat and did the small tour over one day. Visiting this wonder costs $20 (£14), a bargain! We went early, 6am, to see the sunrise and finished by mid day. We had a tuk tuk driver who ferried us from each temple, we like a good walk but the distance between temples was a little too much for us! I really enjoyed visiting the temples. My favourite temple was Ta Keo. It was pretty steep to climb but it got the adrenaline going. What struck me was how quiet it was. At times I felt like we had the temples to ourself which definitely added to the experience and is an advantage of visiting Angkor off season. Jake has written a full post on Angkor Wat if you’re interested in reading more about our visit.
Angkor National Museum
We spent a morning exploring this museum and learning about Angkor Wat and Hinduism. We didn’t know much about either of these before we went so it worth the visit. The museum is well laid out and curated. The only downside is the cost, the $12 entrance fee and the $3 audio tour makes visiting this museum almost as expensive as a day pass for Angkor Wat itself! Despite the price I would recommend visiting before you go to Angkor Wat, it was a good way to enhance our experience and give us a basic understanding of the relics and gods that are carved into the temples.
When I try to rank the places we visiting in Cambodia I can’t do it because they were all different and offer their own version of Cambodia. Siem Reap offers friendly locals, cheap beer and the wonders of Angkor. It’s a no brainer that it should be on the itinerary of anyone visiting Cambodia.