After falling in love with Cambodia during the first trip, I promised myself I’d be back soon. Fast forward to four years later, I surprised my boyfriend with a trip to Siem Reap initially telling him we were just driving to Tagaytay for the weekend. After two visits, I decided to make this post solely focusing on a few tips and suggestions you should keep in mind while planning your trip to this Southeast Asian nation.
Later this week, however, I will be linking a detailed itinerary and travel guide to this post, which I hope will be of even bigger help.
So here are my 8 top tips for your trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia:
1) Choose a centrally-located hotel, preferably along Pub Street
The first important thing to decide on is where you’ll be staying. To visit Siem Reap without spending your nights along the lively and dynamic Pub Street would have to be one of the biggest mistakes one could make, so it’s important to choose a hotel / hostel that has direct access to it.
✪ Highly Recommended: Central Suite ResidenceI chose this hotel as it is literally a stone’s throw away from Pub Street – a minute walk to the entrance to be exact. Despite its proximity to the party central of the city, you’re isolated from all the noise. Aside from having a great location, Central Suite Residence has great rates starting at US$80++ per night including complimentary breakfast, round trip airport transfers, access to the pool, in-house spa discounts (which I loved, by the way), and of course, the cherry on top the trip: impeccable service. The room & bath are spacious and fully-equipped with everything you would need! So instead of going on and on about how great this hotel is and this post turning into a hotel review, just go and book this hotel for your trip, and let me promise you that you will not regret it.
2) Spend at least two days exploring the temples in Angkor Wat
People mistakenly think that Angkor Wat refers only to the main temple, pictured below.When in reality, Angkor Wat also pertains to the temple complex covering a whopping 162.6 hectares. And within this complex are several other temples that are definitely worth a visit. As the main Angkor Wat temple has continuously been increasing in terms of popularity, it is pretty refreshing to visit the other less-known temples within the complex as there are barely any other people in sight.Spending just a day in incredible Angkor Wat is one of the biggest mistakes you could make when planning a trip to this ancient wonder. You will enjoy it for sure even within a short amount of time, but you’ll have an even grander time if you set aside at least two days. So make sure you do so to fully-appreciate each and every place you visit in this gorgeous temple city.
3) Indulge in the local cuisine
If you look through my posts from my first trip to Cambodia, you’d know that Siem Reap was actually one of the places where I decided to ditch my usuals orders and indulge in the local cuisine. Before that trip, I had always been iffy about trying local dishes, but since our tour guide strongly recommended trying a few Khmer dishes, I did – and how glad I am that I decided to be somewhat adventurous! During my second trip, I made sure to enjoy the local cuisine once more – which you should surely do if you’re ever in Cambodia. I highly recommend Beef Lok Lak & Fish Amok.
4) Try different restaurants every night along Pub Street
Let me just put it out there: Pub Street has changed immensely from the first time I visited Siem Reap. It’s now a booming area with several bars and restaurants to choose from and even better: with really cheap prices! One mistake you wouldn’t want to make, which I honestly usually do, is not trying out several restaurants while visiting a foreign city. It’s always a tad bit tempting to dine in that same trusted restaurant again and again, which we kind of did during this trip; but we ensured to try out other restaurants as well! A few of those I’d recommend are:
- Khmer Family (where we dined at least thrice)
- Temple Bar
- Blue Pumpkin (for some dessert)
5) Go beyond the temples: Quad Bike Tour
By your last or second to the last day, you’ll have templed yourself out (if there is such a term, haha), so one thing you must do is to do Quad Bike tour through the Cambodian countryside. This incredible experience will surely be one of the highlights of not only your trip – but your life! We took the 1.5 hour tour, which sounds long, but it felt like it went by too quickly that we wished we did at least half a day! So if you’re planning your trip to Siem Reap, don’t miss out on doing the Quad Bike. Don’t worry about not knowing how to drive – I had zero experience before this, yet I did pretty well. I strongly recommend you take the tour with Cambodia Quad Bike – more about this on my next post!
6) Give back to the community
In relation to doing the Quad Bike tour, every tourist must learn how to give back to the community. The very reason why I deem riding the Quad Bike through the Cambodian countryside as one of the highlights of my entire life was the fact that we got to give out little food packs to the kids who lived therein. While we were the ones giving out the little food packs, we actually were the ones who were rewarded and blessed with the warm smiles of these beautiful Cambodian kids who just simply took my breath away. So if you’re planning to do the Quad Bike Tour or even simply planning a trip to Cambodia (or anywhere else pretty much), please do not ever forget to give back.
7) Get to know the people
Cambodian people are marvelous. Their kindness and generosity continue to surprise me, which is something I will always and forever look forward to when visiting Cambodia; so I do hope that if you ever get the chance to visit this beautiful country, you don’t skip out on getting to know the locals – as simple as having small conversations with them will surely go a long way.
8) Book a tour guide: Veasna – one of the best guides you’ll ever have
Lastly, one thing you have to do while planning your trip to Cambodia is to lock-in a tour guide. Comparing both guided trips I’ve done versus my friends who did it on their own, my experience had more of an impact and I did appreciate it more, as I learned all about the history of all the places we visited; and this was all thanks to one of the best tour guides I have ever come across: Veasna.
Veasna is not only a great tour guide who will willingly tell you countless stories about not only the history of the places you visit, but the people behind all of it. He will take beautiful photos of you, which would be the best souvenir you could bring home.After my first trip to Cambodia, I came up with a list of reasons why you should choose Veasna as your tour guide and even during my second trip, all the reasons still proved true. If you’re not yet convinced at this point to book your Siem Reap tour with Veasna, then do read my post: The Best Way to See Siem Reap, and by the end of the it, I hope you’ll have decided to book with him! Not only will you have a tour guide, but you’ll gain a friend.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org should you want his contact details.
Taking all these little tips into account, I do hope that this post has helped you in planning your trip to the breathtaking Kingdom of Cambodia. Stay tuned for my next post: 4-Day Siem Reap Itinerary & Travel Guide.