Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap

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The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap

Recently, Mr D and I flew to Siem Reap in Cambodia for a cheeky long weekender. We discovered a gentle, welcoming people, uncovered an impressive design hub, ate great food and ticked off a key Bucket List item: the Temples of Angkor. Here are all the highlights of this quickly transforming city. I’d recommend heading there soon!

 

The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap

The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap
The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap

Hotels in Siem Reap, Cambodia

The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap
The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap

Viroth’s Hotel: a fabulous boutique design hotel with mid-century furniture and a hint of traditional Khmer decor. With its own spa ($27 for a 1 hour massage!) it also offers airport transfers in vintage Mercedes and a relaxing pool-side breakfast – a perfect start to the day. Mr D and I were impressed: this was the best boutique hotel we have stayed at, by a long shot.

Viroth’s Villa: just around the corner from Viroth’s Hotel is its younger brother. It also sets a high bar with its modern design, decor and a plunge pool, whilst offering a slightly lower price point. I highly recommend this option as well.

Or, go super fancy pants and stay at Brangelina’s (RIP) preferred hotel when their brood is in town: Amansara

The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap
Viroth’s Hotel, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap
Viroth’s Hotel, Siem Reap, Cambodia hotels – Design hotel
The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap
Viroth’s Hotel – Cambodian design hotel
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Viroth’s Hotel, Siem Reap, Cambodia – hands down the best boutique hotel in Siem Reap!
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap
Viroth’s Hotel, Siem Reap, Cambodia – hands down the best boutique hotel in Siem Reap!
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Viroth’s Hotel, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Fresh fruit and delicious Cambodian coffee for breakfast by the pool at Viroth’s Hotel, Siem Reap, Cambodia – Siem Reap Boutique Hotel
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Traditional noodle breakfast by the pool at Viroth’s Hotel – the best place for breakfast in Siem Reap
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Vintage Mercedes airport transfer to Siem Reap, Viroth’s Hotel, Cambodia

Siem Reap attractions

The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Sunrise at Angkor Wat. Not to be missed!

Hit the temples – Siem Reap Angkor Wat Temples

Hire a guide to take you through all the temple hot spots – their local intel will help you avoid the crowds as well as providing historical context to one of the most important archaeological sites of Southeast Asia. We found our excellent guide (Mr Kameron In) through our hotel.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat is a must. The Bayon Temple, Ta Keo Temple (for those wanting to tackle an almost vertical stair climb) and Ta Prohm (aka The Tomb Raider temple) are all from different eras and commissioned by different rulers so you’ll see a good cross-section of the thousands of temples in the complex.

If you’re after a less crowded temple experience, drive a few hours out of town to Beng Mealea. A 10th Century temple, now overrun by jungle. Stop to try some of the palm sugar sweets being boiled in giant cauldrons along the road and, my personal favourite, Krolan: sticky rice, coconut milk, green bean grilled in bamboo. Delicious!

Given the early start (4:30am) most visitors do a tour of the temples and then head back to Siem Reap for breakfast, a little shopping, a swim and perhaps a massage.

Shop and Snack in Siem Reap

Wander through the Old Market and surrounding streets and sample the fresh fruit or roasted custard apple from one of the small cart vendors. If it’s hot, head straight for the shaved condensed milk cart.

For local jewellery head to Graines de Cambodge and for artisan blankets and good quality scarves and fabric go to Kings Road Market on the east bank of the river. If you have an hour to kill between drinks and dinner, check out the Art Centre Night Market.

The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap Cambodia temples experience of a lifetime
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap Cambodia temples experience of a lifetime

 

The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Ta Prohm Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia with stunning photographs by Elissa of irislillian.com
Ta Prohm Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia with stunning photographs by Elissa of irislillian.com
Ta Prohm Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap
Ta Prohm Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Ta Keo Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Ta Keo Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Ta Keo Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Beng Mealea Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Junior Monks, Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
The Bayon Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap Cambodia temples experience of a lifetime
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Roadside snacks in Siem Reap. My favourite was a sticky rice, coconut milk, green bean grilled in bamboo combo called Krolan.
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Fresh fruit, the Old Market, Siem Reap Cambodia
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Meat market, the Old Market, Siem Reap Cambodia
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
The flower lady, the Old Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Cart vendors in central Siem Reap, Cambodia
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Fresh fruit and veg, the Old Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia attractions
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Giggles, the Old Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia attractions
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Industriousness, central Siem Reap, Cambodia activities

Where to eat in Siem Reap, Cambodia

The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Restaurant a Siem Reap

Great good in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Cuisine Wat Damnak is one of Asia’a 50th best restaurants for good reason. Set in a traditional Cambodian wooden house, it showcases the country’s indigenous pantry, whilst acknowledging the French influence with an impressive degustation.  They also cater for vegetarians. Mr D was a happy chappy.

Viroth’s Restaurant is a laid back outfit serving traditional Khmer dishes like Amok Chicken, freshwater fish and chicken soup with lemongrass. If you’re game, try prahok (stinky fish paste).

Although you’re in Cambodia you will probably have a hankering for North Korean cuisine. Of course you do. So, make a beeline for Pyongyang Restaurant. It’s run by the North Korean Government and is exceedingly popular.

For the best cocktails in town Miss Wong Cocktail Bar is the answer.

Gelato Lab in Alley W in the centre of Siem Reap has the best gelato outside of Italy.

If you’re after a quiet breakfast, head to Pages Cafe. It’s a small local outfit serving Asian and Western breakfast. While you’re there you can also do a little shopping, and get your nails done as you sip on that creamy Cambodian coffee.

The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
The first of our five course dinner at Viroth’s Hotel – best restaurant in Siem Reap
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Cart vendors in central Siem Reap serve curled condensed milk, Oreos, banana and Nutella. Gastronomic genius.
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
The bubbly lady who served me my heart attack in a bowl of condensed milk deliciousness in Siem Reap
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
The first course of Cuisine Wat Damnak’s degustation in Siem Reap – best hotel restaurant
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Making local delicacy palm sugar sweets roadside, Siem Reap Cambodia.
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Peanuts and smiles, Siem Reap, Cambodia – check out the little kid snoozing under the cart!
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Making palm sugar sweets roadside, Cambodia.

Tips and tricks for Siem Reap, Cambodia

The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap
The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap
  • Chat with the locals. I shared some killer fried water beetle and rice wine with a few construction workers at one of the temples.
  • Sit outside, across the river, from Angkor Wat for the sunrise. Head inside If you’re game to battle the crowds and risk an obscured view.
  • Keep Cambodian time: get up early, relax/nap from 11am – 1pm, then head out for the rest of the day and evening.
  • Take your coffee the Cambodian way: with thick condensed milk.
  • Hammocks are not in short supply. Find one and put your feet up.
  • Buy a visitor’s visa before you go to avoid the queue at the airport.
  • Ride in a tuk tuk!
  • Ask for permission from the monks before taking photos.
  • Dress conservatively when visiting the temples – steer clear of the off the shoulder tops, soz.
  • Plan your trip to Siem Reap soon, before the city is transformed beyond recognition by the steady stream of tourists.

Have you ever been to Cambodia? Where did you visit? If you’re a travel bug, you’ll love our Tokyo, Los Angeles, Portugal, Hong Kong, Iceland and Sydney Travel Guides.

The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap
The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap
The best Travel Guide for Siem Reap, Cambodia
Make the most of the Cambodian hammock, readily available and perfect for a post-lunch snooze. The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap
The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap
The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap
The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap
Sharing stir fried water beetles and crickets at 10th century temple East Mebon, Cambodia – The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap

The Best Travel Guide: Cambodia, Siem Reap

7 Comments
  1. Bonnie Gardiner says

    Fabulous post Liss! Now I have to go! Not sure I’d be game for a beetle stir fry but I’d definitely smash a condensed milk treat xx

    1. Iris Lillian says

      It’s a perfect honeymoon destination, Bonnie – get on to it! xx

  2. Jodadi Humphries says

    Love this, Cambodia is definitely on my list of places to visit so much history. Will definitely keep this on hand for when I do go, great tips and those photos omg! I wish I could jump on a plane now ?

    1. Iris Lillian says

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it Jodadi! If you want an extended PDF version just shoot me an email. Best xx

  3. Emma says

    Love the pics, very beautifully captured. Fried water beetle sounds interesting!!

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