What to do in Siem Reap? Here are 5 places and activities not to be missed on your next visit to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Cambodia holds a special place in my heart, since it is the country from which my parents fled from to take refuge in France. So it was with great pleasure that I returned after my first time in 2011, this time with my little family.
The Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Siem Reap
In a setting where the jungle has regained and retained its right, Beng Mealea is one of the most mysterious temples in Angkor. Built on the same level as the famous Angkor Wat, it is a little smaller than the latter, but no less impressive.
The temple of Banteay Srei, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, means “women’s citadel”. Sculpted with extreme finesse in pink sandstone, this temple is the jewel of all Angkor temples. Although it is one of the oldest temples, it has stood the test of time like no other.
Le grand circuit
The visit to the main site of Angkor is divided into two circuits, the large and the small, which can be explored in one day each, aboard a tuk-tuk. The main temples of the great circuit are Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som, Mebon Oriental, Pre Rup and Banteay Kdei.
The small circuit
The small Angkor circuit is the most popular, as it includes the 3 most famous temples:
- Ta Prohm, the most photogenic of all temples, made famous by the Tomb Raider movie;
- Bayon and its famous towers with multiple faces;
- Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s most iconic temple.
Crafts and tradition
We took advantage of our free time to visit the Artisans d’Angkor, who are renewing the traditional know-how of Khmer craftsmanship, such as wood and stone carvings and weaving with yarn made from silkworm.
Our time in Siem Reap was also highlighted by wonderful encounters with families around the world and other great travellers. To mix pleasure and tradition, we held one of these meetings in a restaurant presenting a show of traditional Khmer dances.
For a better preparation
Our visit to Cambodia lasted 10 days, which seemed to pass very (too) quickly. We stayed only in the Siem Reap region, combining 3 days of visits to the Angkor temples, city walks, meals with travellers and afternoons by the pool.
Here is a little anecdote to illustrate the spirit of corruption that prevails in Cambodia. During my first visit to Cambodia in 2011, the customs officer asked me if I was Khmer. As I answered yes, he trusted me and granted me free permanent residency in Cambodia. When I arrived this time with my family, my permanent visa was simply renewed on my new passport and permanent visas were granted to Mateo and Luka, after an exchange of good practice. “You help me, I help you,” said the customs officer. I never thought I would be so happy to bribe an agent with a small $10. Although Jessica had to pay $30 for her visa, I had just saved 90, not to mention free access to all Angkor sites ($62 for a 3-day pass)! I speak in dollars because in Cambodia, although the official currency is the Riel, everything can be traded in American dollars.
We stayed 10 nights at the PO Residence Siem Reap, an excellent hotel with breakfast included, a beautiful swimming pool, and a friendly and helpful staff.
For the visit of the temples, a rickshaw pulled by a motorcycle with a driver can be rented at a fixed daily rate. For city walks, we used tuk-tuks, which we called with the Grab application.
As eating is part of travel, we ate scorpions, tarantulas, silkworms, crickets, ants and other insects at Bugs Café!
Cambodian cuisine was not the most renowned, so we often fell back on Chinese food.
We have not made any futile expenses. The cost of our stay for our family of 4 is:
- 1200.00 USD;
- 120.00 USD per day;
- 30.00 USD per person and per day.
|Expense Category||Amount Spent|
|Flight and Visa||346 USD|
In a nutshell
|Dates||2018-12-26 to 2019-01-05|
|Number of days||10|
|Cities we visited||Siem Reap|
|Inbound||From Myanmar by plane|
|Outbound||To Vietnam by plane|
|Mode of transport||Tuk-tuk|
|Distance travelled (tuk-tuk & foot)||374 km|
|Number of photos taken||3350 (335 per day)|
|Currency||The Cambodia Riel (1 USD = 4000 KHR)|
As we visited the Bagan plain in Burma a week earlier, I had the fond wish to relive the atmosphere of the temples I had known in Angkor 7 years earlier. But when I arrived at Angkor, my hope of reliving this sweet memory quickly vanished. Angkor has indeed changed a lot since 2011. More developed, richer, more touristic, more organized and unfortunately also less unspoilt, less picturesque, less peaceful, less enchanting. Despite all this, Angkor still remains an incredible place to visit!
Next destination : Vietnam!
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I would also like to take this opportunity to share with you the summary of our exceptional world tour as a family!
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Thank you so much for this wonderful blog. I love to travel although I haven’t done more than 5 countries but I since I am in America I have travelled extenaively here. I was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and I greatly appreciate your blog on Cambodia.
How cool! Thank you 🙂 My parents are also Cambodian refugees. They went to France however, where I was born.