For Andy and I, Siem Reap, Cambodia holds a special place in both of our hearts, as it was our favorite city on our 4 country, 7 city honeymoon tour. There was something about Cambodia that just seemed magical. Even though there was still western influence in Siem Reap, it seemed less western than other countries that we visited during our honeymoon tour around Southeast Asia.
Fun Things That We Did in Siem Reap
When going to Siem Reap, the main attractions are the numerous temples around town. We spent 3 days visiting as many temples as we could and never failed to be in complete awe of how massive they were. It blows your mind even more when you factor in that all of these structures were built by hand as they were constructed hundreds of years ago.
Angkor Wat is the most famous temple in all of Cambodia – at 401 acres, it is the largest religious structure ever built. It is so iconic, that it is featured on the Cambodian flag. We got up before the sun rose one morning and watched the sunrise over Angkor Wat. It was a pretty special thing to watch and definitely an experience to see everyone else who woke up early to watch it as well.
After a long day of running around to visit the temples, there are few things that feel better than kicking back and getting a massage. Our favorites were 30 minute foot massages which were typically $3, but we found a salon that only charged $2.
We also experienced a fish foot massage when we were there. For $2 each we were given an Angkor beer and dipped our feet into a fish tank. We just sat there while little fish nibbled dead skin off of our feet. Although it felt a little strange at first, we quickly got used to it. One word of caution, those fish will destroy your nail polish!
Zip lining and ATV riding in Siem Reap
We wanted to do something a little adventurous on our honeymoon. After looking for things to do, we decided that we wanted to go zip lining and ATV riding. Luckily, Flight of the Gibbon offered a package deal where you go zip lining in the morning and ATV riding in the afternoon.
This was one of Andy’s favorite days on our 3 week trip. It was so great to get out of the city for a bit. We were able to see the Cambodian jungle and Cambodian countryside.
Tuk tuk rides
A tuk tuk is the method of transportation for tourists in Siem Reap. Since we had never experienced anything like these before, they were super fun and fascinating to us. It is easy to find a tuk tuk and is an inexpensive way to get around town.
It seems that every city that is touristy has a “main drag” with all sorts of restaurants and bars on it. In Siem Reap, the main drag is Pub Street. The restaurants here vary from traditional Cambodian fare to pizza, Mexican and more. Since it is touristy, the prices are slightly higher than other parts of town but are also the nicer restaurant options. We ate both on and off of pub street and never got sick.
Although we didn’t go out and party when we were in Cambodia, this is where you are going to go if you want to hit the town. I’m bummed out that we left without going to the most famous bar on Pub Street, Angkor What?
Even though we aren’t typically big beer drinkers, we enjoyed different Cambodian beers when we were on our honeymoon. Beers at a restaurants are inexpensive, costing just $1-2. Our favorite of all that we tried was Angkor.
Our hotel, the MotherHome Inn, had a mini-fridge in our room. We were able to pick up Angkor beer at the convenience store around the corner for 30 cents a can and keep them cold until we were ready to drink them. These were great to have available when we would lounge by the pool in the afternoon.
One could argue that this wouldn’t be considered something fun, but we had fun with this. Walking back to our hotel, we saw an eyeglass store that was promoting $9 glasses including the lenses. Since Andy’s glasses were old and the prescription extremely outdated, we decided that we would stop in and take a look.
After visiting that store and several others, we found a pair of frames that we really liked. For just $50, Andy was able to purchase the frames and lenses for his glasses. The shop matched his prescription from the spare contacts that we brought. I decided that although I didn’t need new frames, I would switch out my lenses to my current prescription for only $25.
What to Expect When Visiting Siem Reap
Everything is in US dollars
The dollar is king, even the ATMs in Siem Reap spit out US dollars. We had brought dollars in small denominations with us to Cambodia, but burned through them quickly since we weren’t able to charge anything. Everything is priced in dollars and just about all change that you receive will be dollars. We only got Cambodian Riel once and I believe that this was just because they didn’t have the appropriate change in dollars.
Even though I love putting everything on my credit card to earn miles, sadly the only purchase I was able to charge during our 5 days here was our hotel, MotherHome Inn.
Although it is expensive to get to Siem Reap, once you are there, everything is extremely inexpensive. You can get a meal for less than $5, a beer for $1 and a hotel for less than $40. You could absolutely go even cheaper than this if you preferred to rough it a little bit.
Haggling is expected
Like most parts of Asia, haggling is expected when you’re buying souvenirs or getting a tuk tuk. Don’t be afraid to speak up and get a fair price.
I know that some people hate haggling but I find it super fun. Some see haggling as taking away money from someone who needs it more than they do, I see it as avoiding getting ripped off because I am a westerner. I believe that it is this distinction that makes me enjoy the process.
It’s hot and humid
Even though we were in Siem Reap in their winter it was still hot and humid. Expect humidity levels to hover in the 80% range. Since it is so humid, it actually feels a lot warmer than the thermometer says. There isn’t much of a breeze except when you’re riding in a tuk tuk so expect to sweat when you’re visiting temples during the day.
Make sure that you drink a lot of water throughout the day to keep hydrated. Vendors outside of the temples sell both 20 oz bottles and larger 1.5 liter bottles. We always splurged for the larger bottles and typically were able to finish them before they got warm, going through several a day.
Book a hotel with a pool, trust me you won’t regret it. After running around the temples in the heat of the day, taking a refreshing dip in the afternoon feels amazing.
The people are amazing
Cambodians are an extremely kind and friendly people. Just about everyone that works in the tourism industry speaks very good English and seems to really enjoy interacting with foreigners.
Andy and I did our share of walking around town and never once felt unsafe. If you ever did feel unsafe, it would be very easy to hop in a tuk tuk and get a ride back to your hotel.
Would We Return?
Even though there are so many places that I want to see in my life, Cambodia is one of the few places that I would return to. I think that when we do return, we will go beyond Siem Reap.
I am curious to see the killing fields in Phnom Penh. There were millions of Cambodians that died here when the Khmer Rouge were in power. Even though I am sure it would be horribly depressing, I think it is important to educated on what happened and not forget.
I also am curious to visit a more upbeat destination – Sihanoukville, a beachside town. Since we went to the beaches in Thailand, I am really interested to see how Cambodia stacks up.