Siem Reap, Cambodia is in the Northern part of the Country. Any Holiday in Cambodia that includes a trip to the famous Temples of Angkor Wat must pass through this City.
You will either fly into the Airport or arrive at the Local Bus Station.
Either way, this city will most likely be where you find your hotel, food, amenities and whatever else you might need for your trip to the Temples of Angkor Wat.
It will make your entire trip a whole lot easier.
This is a city booming with big business since the recent wave of tourists visiting the Angkor Temples. It is generating a lot of money and that is attracting both good people and others looking to snatch a quick buck.
Every local you meet has a Hotel, Tour and Taxi Driver to recommend. They always claim them to be "The Best You Can Find" but are usually inferior.
The problem is that people who work for commission tend to put their own interests ahead of yours.
Some can be pushy and have been known to follow tourists home and even sleep at their doorstep, hoping you'll change your mind (Some call it 'Relentless Harassment').
You might still be able to find good accommodation on your own or even through the local 'Salesmen' if you arrive in town early enough.
Our best advice is to read what is here and then compare prices and read what other travelers have to say over at TripAdvisor.
It can be a real battle to find a safe, reliable, top-value hotel once you are surrounded by locals all claiming to have "The best hotel with best price" for you.
Informed travelers don't often get scammed or cheated.
I may book a hotel online because it is too late once you have arrived. My one rule is that I never pay for the room until I check out.
That way I stay in control. I decide where I'm are going to stay and I decide what Angkor Wat Tours I might take.
It keeps everyone honest. If you pay them up front they lose their incentive to provide you with favorable service.
Siem Reap is a place filled with history, mystery and both ugly and beautiful secrets. It was once a very small town. At one time it was so small that people forgot it was even there.
That ended when French botanist Henri Mahout discovered the Temples of Angkor Wat in 1860.
This part of Cambodia has since become the destination city for any holiday in Cambodia because it's the gateway to the Temples of Angkor Wat and home to an ever growing hoard of tourists coming to see them.
When I first visited Angkor in 2001, I could have run naked through the grassy fields around the Temple.
If you did that now you'd be the victim of a citizen's arrest by people of 12 different nationalities. But you can still find some areas at certain times of the day when you won't be trampled by tourists.
There is also much more to do in a city that once played the role of advanced base camp for to the Angkor Temples.
There is some really good shopping in the markets and generally more to do than in the Capital city of Phnom Penh.
Siem Reap has become the largest boomtown and construction site in Cambodia because of the exploding tourist trade. The City has also split into 2 distinctly separate societies over the last decade.
Siem Reap actually has a 'Wrong Side of The Tracks'. The richest tourists hardly notice the poorest people because they are literally segregated and hidden from sight.
Most any tourist could afford a top luxury Angkor Wat hotel.
For about $80USD you can stay in any one of our 4 favorite 4-5 Star Angkor Wat Hotels / Resorts. Any of them easily make $400USD / night rooms in the West look ordinary when compared to what you can on your holiday in Cambodia.
You will never actually see 'The Other Side of The Tracks'.
We are a budget travel site so we have also chosen 3 of our favorite Budget Siem Reap Hotels from 'The Other Side of the Tracks'.
Some rooms cost as little as $5USD a night! We have only included the very best budget Accommodation in the safest areas and with the lowest costs.
Sometimes room rates can look cheap until you look deeper. Price gouging is common on services such as laundry, transportation and tour rates.
This area is a bit farther away from the Angkor Temples, in the heart of Siem Reap. It is the best area to find good budget middle class Siem Reap hotels and Guesthouses.
There are also pubs galore, markets that sell everything from radishes to wood carvings and also a place filled with Temples where the people meditate according to their Buddhist customs.
Every Possible Way to Get to Siem Reap, Cambodia
If you plan on arriving by plane then you should know that the Siem Reap Airport is one of the most expensive airports to fly into and out of.
A flight from Bangkok to Phnom Penh may cost $200USD but the same carrier from Bangkok to Siem Reap Airport would cost nearly $400USD.
The best way to compare flight tickets to Siem Reap from every flight carrier is by using our CheapOair Search Engine.
Consider flying into the Phnom Penh Airport and taking the $7USD bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. You could save a few hundred dollars but will lose about a full day's time.
Most of the Hostels will arrange to meet you at the airport or the Bus Station and drive you back to the Hotel. Good Value, especially if you're arriving late at night (See picture of Bum).
Otherwise, you'll have to take a motorbike ($4USD) or a taxi ($7USD-$8USD) into the city center.
Avoid all the noise about the best newest way to get to Siem Reap from Bangkok. The mini bus from Khoa San Road in Bangkok is packed, hot and expensive compared to the alternatives.
From Bangkok to Aranyaprathet you can either take a 1st class public bus from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Mor Chit Station) or travel by train from Bangkok's Hualamphong Train Station. See the Cambodia Travel page for more details on getting to Siem Reap from Bangkok.
What to See in Siem Reap
Obviously, you'll be in this particular city to visit the temples. Most people are exhausted after touring the temples. But everyone quenches their thirsts in different ways and some people just get sick of looking at Temples.
So, maybe you'll take a day off touring the Temples and do and excursion. There are a few to note.
Because the Silk Worm farm is only a short distance away you could head up there and see how the silk is made and get to purchase some of the best quality silk at great prices. Angkor Silk Farm, 15 km west of the city.
Learn more about the Puok Silk Worm Farm at TripAdvisor.
This place is filled with more than 1,500 tropical butterflies and a Koi fish pond in a private park. There is also a restaurant in there called 'the Butterfly Garden Restaurant'. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner of khmer cuisine.
The garden is really nice and the restaurant was too expensive for me to try but the smell was great and the food looked delicious.
Learn More about the Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre at TripAdvisor
Central Market is located at the corner of Sivatha Blvd and Achamean Street. This Market has mainly filled with cheap jewelry and souvenirs but also some good prices on clothes.
My wife enjoyed our visit there because a lot of the stuff there is unique compared to China and Thailand.
Psar Chaa Market (Old Market)
The name means OLD but it is a new market near the river.
It is best if you visit the Psar Chaa Market (Old Market) early in the day. It is a market whose meat, fish, fruit and vegetables are at their freshest in the early hours of the morning.
You can also find General goods like souvenir stalls that sell carved wood, brass, silver, T-shirts, clothing, Kramar scarves and a whole lot more.
Psah Leu Market (New Market or Center Market)
Located on Route 6, this big old market is 1.5km East of the city. You'll find food and general goods but I didn't find it worth the ride out.
Horseback riding is very rare in this part of the world (Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam) but the scenery is awesome and worth the time.
I wish I could ride through the Temples at Angkor but I know it would do damage to the delicate sandstone and you really have to stay on designated paths or "BOOM! (Landmine)."
Head out to Happy Ranch International Standard Riding School. They offer all kinds of trail rides of varying lengths. They also give lessons and the guy doing it was from the U.S. so his English was easy to understand.
Learn more about the Happy Ranch Horseback Riding Center by reading what other travelers had to say over at TripAdvisor.
The only air-conditioned Theater in town. They present daily Cambodian traditional, popular and classical dances.
You can sit at a nice table and eat some traditional food from a set of local specialties. Very popular amongst Cambodians and you have to phone and make reservations on most nights.
Learn More about the Apsara Theater from other travelers over at TripAdvisor.
That's all I know. Enjoy your holiday in Cambodia to Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor Wat.
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