About a year ago, I brought AS to visit my hometown in Taiwan. It was his first time in Asia so we decided to make it a 3-week trip to check out 4 destinations in Southeast Asia! (well, 3, El Nido didn’t work out because a hurricane risked hitting the Philippines) To get from Taipei to Siem Reap we had to first catch a connecting flight from Shanghai. Not only was our flight from Taipei to Shanghai delayed by over an hour, the airplane reeked of cigarette smoke. China Eastern Airlines, folks! An airline we will never fly again.
If you’re not planning on hiring a private guide (who will take you around in an air-conditioned van), count on tuktuks! We used it to get to and from the airport. Zipping around in it was so much fun!
Where to Stay
Accommodation is ridiculously cheap in this part of the world so even 5-star resorts are very affordable. Since we were going to be out all day anyway, I figured there wasn’t a point in splurging. We stayed at the Golden Butterfly Villa. For 30 bucks a night we got complimentary airport pickup, a big clean room, impeccable service, daily breakfast, and a free massage during our stay.
What to Do
3-day Angkor Pass (40USD)
Temples and ruins and more temples and ruins! What else is there to do in Siem Reap?
We hired a private tour guide to take us around the temples and ruins. This was the best idea ever- Mr. Chet is amazing and so full of knowledge. I wouldn’t recommend doing temple runs in Angkor without one. You’ll be able to learn so much more about the history of the Khmer empire! It’s also nice to go temple to temple in an air-conditioned van with ice cold water in that weather. We were there in December (their ‘winter’) but it was still very hot.
Entering through the south gate of Angkor Thom to check out Preah Khan, our first stop.
Banteay Srei after lunch, also known as citadel of women or beauty. It was built using red sandstone which carved like wood. Look at the intricate details!
Banteay Samre was my favourite. Because it’s further away in the east, we had this temple to ourselves.
Pre Rup literally means ‘turning of the body’. It was thought to have been a crematorium.
We woke up at 4am to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat the next day. So worth it.
Bayon Temple- home of the 216 smiling Buddha faces.
Our last stop- Ta Prohm. Also known as the Tomb Raider temple!
This place is bumpin’ with expats and tourists after dark. There are many restaurants, pubs, street food stalls, massage places, and souvenir stands. We spent our evenings here strolling up and down the alleys, checking out the market and haggling for elephant pants!
Try some bugs!
While you’re on Pub Street, head over to a food stall and try some bugs! AS tried a cricket. Neither of us dared putting a tarantula in our mouths… my goodness.
What to Eat
Apart from insects and snakes, there are other local delicacies you should try. The banana desserts, curries, fish amok, and lok lak are all delicious. Food is inexpensive in Siem Reap- you can get a 2-course meal for around 5-6USD.
We came across this cute little place close by our hotel called Genevieve’s. We loved their fish amok and lok lak, and it’s all for a good cause! The Australian owner supports locals and gives back to the Cambodian community. Just did a quick search on Tripadvisor; it’s now rated #1 in Siem Reap!