Siem Reap in Cambodia is a beautiful place to visit. Known for its heritage site of Angkor Wat, as well as amazing food, markets and hip little boutiques and ceramics. There’s plenty to do and see. Whilst I was only there for three days, I certainly made the most of it.
Known as temple town, it is the home of the awe inspiring structures in Angkor Archaeological Park. The Angkor Wat complex is absolutely enormous and you certainly need a tour around it. Also ensure to book ahead early, since it is very busy. Be prepared for the heat too as it can get very hot.
Be sure you’re dressed appropriately for Angkor Wat, and any other sacred sites, ie, nothing revealing and covered is best. Think long pants, sleeved shirts, if in a sacred site, cover your needs and shoulders.
Other cultural tips
- Keep noise to a minimum at sacred sites
- Ask people before photographing / especially with monks
We also visited the Khmer Ceramics Fine Art Centre which is developed to train and employ members if the community. We looked around the site, watching the artists at work. You can also buy gifts here, but they are quite expensive.
Phare, the Cambodian circus is also a must see. It’s basically a Cambodian Version of Cirque du Soleil, focusing on street art and acrobatic performances. Performers are from difficult upbringings and graduates from a vocational training centre. They have had the opportunity to become part of this show and earn a wage. It’s inspiring to see their talents, and the story is demonstrated through the performance.
Make sure to take a trip out for food and shop at the markets. Always try traditional Cambodian food, including the noodles or signature beef lok lok – lettuce, tomatoes topped with marinated beef (sugar, garlic, oyster sauce and black pepper) with rice. You should also try some delicacies like spiders, cockroaches and other bugs.
If you’re after a western meal, we liked eating at Blue Pumpkin – essentially a French bakery, patisserie, restaurant and ice cream parlour.
Whilst you’re in Cambodia, it’s best to have a phone to use to get around and since roaming can get expensive, purchase a local SIM from the airport for data and in country calls. In restaurants and hotels, you can generally log into their free wifi.
What else to know
- You need to drink bottled water (don’t ask for ice in your drinks)
- Always have a roll of toilet paper and hand sanitizer in your bag
- Food needs to be cooked, not salad (unless the restaurant prepares their salads in iodine)
- Eat fruit only that has skin you can peel
- You will need a VISA on arrival, approximately $30
It is a wonderful place to visit and the people are so kind and friendly. Enjoy your visit there!