A First Timer’s Guide to Siem Reap, Cambodia

pub street siem reap cambodia

Siem Reap is located in Northwestern Cambodia and is the gateway to the ancient world of Angkor Wat and other archeological ruins.

Most tourists come here to visit the temples, but this city also offers something for everybody. It’s full of spas, high-end hotels, shopping, cultural activities, partying, and etc.

Siem Reap is very touristy and busy, but don’t let this deter you from visiting!

siem reap night market

How to Get to Siem Reap

You can reach Siem Reap by flying or by bus. However, flying can be quite expensive. We were coming from Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, so the choice of transportation to reach Siem Reap was by bus. The journey time takes approximately 6 hours, since it’s located 320 km NorthWest of Phnom Penh. Giant Ibis Bus Transport is the only bus company in Cambodia that sells online tickets. We had a really good experience going with them (similar to our Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh journey).

Cost: $15 USD/per person
Morning bus departures: 7:45 am, 8:45 am, 12:30 pm
Nightly departures: 10:30 pm, 11 pm, 11:30pm

There are two stops which includes one 10-minute bathroom stop and a 30-minute lunch stop.

giant ibis bus

Currency in Cambodia

Take out US Dollars prior to entering Cambodia, or exchange for USD while you’re there. The Cambodian Riel (KHR) is the official currency, while USD is the unofficial second. 1 USD = Approx. 4,000 – meaning you’ll be carrying around hundreds of thousands of KHR if you decide to only take out the local currency. You’ll see that the locals use a mix of KHR and USD, often accepting USD and giving back change in KHR. Almost all places will quote you prices in USD, because the Cambodian bills just become too much to carry.

E-Visa

Don’t forget to check if you require a visa or need one on arrival!

Where to Stay

There are lots of small districts to choose from when visiting Siem Reap. Most first-time visitors choose to stay near Pub Street, since this is where many bars, restaurants, local street food and the main walking street is located. We stayed at The Orientation Lodge and it was only about a 10-15 minute walk to Pub Street. The rooms are beautiful and massive! Furthermore, the restaurant downstairs is amazing (a bit on the expensive side though)!

Use my discount code on Booking.com to get $25 CAD off your first booking on Booking.com!

This blog post has a very detailed breakdown of the different districts in Siem Reap.

What to Do in Siem Reap At Night

Go Temple Hopping

Read my guide here on how to visit the vast Angkor Wat Complex!

angkor wat sunrise
angkor wat

Pub Street

Pub Street is a super colourful and vibrant area to walk through. It has plenty of bars, restaurants, markets, and massage parlours providing $3 USD massages!

pub street siem reap cambodia

Try some fried scorpions if you’re feeling brace! If not, get the ice cream rolls instead for only $1 USD! We didn’t eat at any of these restaurants due to the fact that we only wanted to eat local food. Keep reading ahead for where to get the best grilled pork and chicken dishes!

pub street siem reap cambodia
pub street siem reap

Angkor Night Market

Hours: 5pm – 12am

Angkor Night Market is open every evening at sunset and is a really fun and popular place to buy some souvenirs. The vibrant atmosphere makes it a great place to take a stroll even if you’re not interested in buying anything. Finally, don’t forget to bargain!

siem reap night market
siem reap night market
siem reap night market

Siem Reap Art Center Market

Hours: 4pm-11pm

Siem Reap Art Center Market is located across the bridge opposite the Old Market. There is a huge variety of local art, souvenirs, clothing, handicraft and decorations to choose from.

siem reap art center market
siem reap art center market

Local Vendors Food Stalls

siem reap center art market

If you’re coming from Pub Street, turn left when you see the Siem Reap Art Center Night Market sign as shown above. You’ll see a street lined up with many local street food stalls. THIS is where to eat the best local, cheap food. Just make sure to order the grilled pork and chicken, because it’s so tender and delicious! Expect to only pay $1 to $1.50 USD per dish, hence, we ate here almost every night! This street also has the best fresh fruit shakes.

local food stall siem reap
local food stall siem reap
This local food has the best grilled pork and chicken dishes!
local food stall siem reap

Visit a Floating Village

If you’re interested in seeing traditional fishing homes, head to one of the floating villages nearby. Kompong Phlouk and Kompong Khlean are the 2 closest fishing villages. Just ask your tuk-tuk driver to take you!

Visit the Landmine Museum

Hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm
Entrance Fee:
$5 for Adults
Free for children under the age of 10
Free for Cambodians

Due to Cambodia’s previous civil war, brutal Khmer Rouge regime, subsequent genocidet, this country is still filled with landmines planted from the war. As a result, It continues to kill or injure dozens of people every year. Landmines still remain even though millions have been cleared.

The Landmine Museum was created to educate visitors on the landmine history, its dangers and their ongoing presence in Cambodia.

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