When people think about Siem Reap the most famous temple of the area (Angkor Wat) comes to mind. However there is so much more to Siem Reap than just this beautiful sight. With only 36 hours here we had to squeeze as much as we could in without wearing ourselves out in the stifling heat! No time to spare!
Hot (literally) off the plane we headed to out first stop, the Cambodian Landmine museum. Here you will learn about the atrocities the Cambodian people suffered in the not so distant past. With displays of weapons, mines and information, this is a well put together exhibition. Well worth a stop.
Bantay Sre Temple
With most people heading straight for the famous sights nearer to Siem Reap we headed out to one temple which was much further out. With less crowds you have the space to enjoy this stunning area. Bantay Sre Temple has a pinkish hue to the stone it is made out of, and looked stunning as the sun was setting. If you are in a tuck tuck beware that the ride will be bumpy due to the humongous pot holes in the roads!
Obviously Angkor Wat! When in Rome……..It’s probably illegal to go to Siem Reap and not see Angkor Wat, and we decided we needed to see the sun rise behind it. It was a very very early start but my goodness was it worth it! It was pitch black but luckily our guide knew the best spot to sit and wait for the magic display. Out of the blackness the temple starts to appear and it’s unlike anything you will have seen before. Once the sun was up we then went inside the complex where there is much more to see. Monkeys run loose so watch for any food & belongings you may have. Be respectful , this is temple in daily use and you will see the orange robed monks performing rituals.
My favourite temple in Siem Reap is Ta Phrom as the jungle is literally reclaiming the land. Trees grow through walls and over buildings, it’s fascinating and eerie in equal measures. Look out for the engraving of a dinosaur on one of the walls and for the peeking face of a lady from behind tree roots over growing her. Made very famous by the Tomb Raider films this is a popular attraction but very worth it. I got this great shot with a bit of patience, waiting for the tourists to move on.
For some reason I assumed that the roads surrounding the temple complexes would be smooth and easy to navigate. They are not smooth, they have pot holes all over the place the size of craters! You cannot simply carefully drive over them, you would get stuck! You have to literally drive around them, which at busy times is a bit tricky. If like me you are also prone to being travel sick this can be a bit unpleasant on the stomach. But in order to see the sights this is something you will need to just get on with.
After a long day of sightseeing you will now be in need of some refreshments, and Pub Street will fill all your needs. As its name suggests it is a street lined with bars and restaurants of all cuisines. There are so karaoke bars, one in which we witnessed a group of Koreans singing Gangnam Style. Hilarious! Take a look around the market and pick up a couple of souvenirs for you or your loved ones. We love a fridge magnet and got a couple as everything is so cheap.
Local Cuisine – Siem Reap Style!
Cambodia may be known for it’s landmark sights but the food here is delicious too! Well some off it. After my husband had finished his Khmer Curry he got up from the table and said he would ‘be back in a minute’. Reappearing a short while later with a present for me, a scorpion on a stick! Just what I wanted? Nope. Insects are widely eaten here due to the citizens being starved during the Khmer Rouge rule and eating whatever they could. This however is not for me. If you are interested though there is a restaurant called Bug Cafe which majors in insect dishes for the brave tourist. If you enjoy trying the ‘local’ food then read my blog about Luang Prabang where we went on a local food tour.
Stay at Shinta Mani Shack – Siem Reap
Not remotely ‘shack like’ this wonderful hotel has it all and is in an amazing location too. A two minute walk in to the centre of Siem Reap and really well placed to reach all of the sights you want to see. With a beautiful pool and stunning rooms this hotel was a really good find and a reasonable price. If we went back I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again.
Get lost in Siem Reap Market
Whether its clothing, food or trinket present you are after, you will find everything in the central market. Bustling with people bartering for goods the market in Siem Reap has a really good vibe to it.
A fine place to spend an hour or so wandering around looking at all the stalls. With so much on offer here to buy at really cheap prices get stuck in and barter with the locals. I ended up getting my so called ‘coveted item’ – also known as a fridge magnet here. We get one at every new destination; I may need a new fridge soon!