Southeast Asia is a popular tourist destination for travelers. Many people choose to backpack around this region, going here, there and everywhere with ease. With countless cities to visit in this part of the world, there are a few that truly make it to the top of the list. Siem Reap, Cambodia is one of them. In this small but historical city, there is a lot to see. But, even if you only have a few days, you should be able to squeeze everything in.
Sunrise and an Early Morning at Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat is the largest religious site in the world. This amazing UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-see on any trip to Southeast Asia (or any trip in general!). You can buy 1, 2, or 3 day passes here, and trust us, there is a lot you can do in three days But, if you don’t have that kind of time on your hands, buy the one day pass. You can use the pass starting from 6 P.M (sunset) the night before your pass kicks in. Then, the next morning, come for the sunrise. Make sure you get your ticket the night before either way, so you don’t have to wait on the line in the morning and miss the sunrise altogether.
To get from temple to temple, you’ll need to rent a tuk-tuk driver. It should be around $10 for two people, but prices do vary, especially depending on how long you plan on going for. Start at the main temple in Angkor Wat, explore a little bit, then have your tuk-tuk driver take you around to other temples. Definitely don’t miss visiting Ta Prohm, which is the cool tree-root temple where Tomb Raider was filmed. You can easily spend the entire day here, but you’ll probably get tired after a few hours. Just make sure you wear appropriate clothing, wear sunscreen and perhaps a hat, and watch out for the monkeys and “monks,” who may try to scam you into giving a “donation.”
An Afternoon in Siem Reap
Once you’ve got Angkor Wat out of the way, there are a lot of ways to explore the city in the afternoon. Siem Reap is a relatively walkable city. You can sit at a cafe and enjoy a coffee. Visit a few bookstores like Monument Books and the New Leaf Eatery. Or, have lunch at any restaurant where you can get a plate of fried rice for around $2. If you’re up for a bit of an adventure, you could also try “happy pizza” for lunch, which has some “happy” sprinkled on it which should make you very happy indeed.
Once you’re done with that, there are a few other things you can do. Visit a local supermarket, and try some of the exotic fruit. Sit at a bar and enjoy 50¢ happy hour beers. (It seems to be happy hour every hour in Siem Reap.) Walk through some of the Buddhist Temples and stop into the little boutiques and unique stores, like Friends ‘N’ Stuff. You also have the option of renting a motorbike for about $10, and take a ride around the city. When you tire out, hang by your hostel or hotel lobby to meet some other backpackers.
Once the sun goes down in Siem Reap, the party is just getting started. Sure, some of the locals may hit the sack early, but there are still plenty of places open to have a good time. Head to Pub Street, which is right next to the The Siem Reap Old Market. You could spend hours here, shopping around for souvenirs and enjoying some food and drinks in between. If you’re feeling brave, the market has a selection of some very unique street food you can try, like fried tarantulas and other kinds of creepy crawlies.
So, what are you waiting for? Siem Reap is way more than just Angkor Wat. And, remember. If you do a tour, you’ll get to see even more of the city.