Siem Reap is the gateway to the Angkor Wat temples. It is the capital city of Siem Reap Province in Cambodia. The city has plenty of hotels, resorts, and restaurants as it is a popular tourist destination in Cambodia. Siem Reap in Cambodia is definitely one of my favourite cities. As part of my yearly travel during my birthday, I had visited Cambodia with my mother. We had explored the two cities, Phnom Pehn and Siem Reap (mainly).
I suggest spending at least 4 days in Siem Reap to cover most of the touristy places. For a detailed itinerary on what can be done for 5 days in Siem Reap, refer Best 5 days itinerary.
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How to get to Siem Reap?
I really liked the local transportation in Cambodia. The transportation ranges between buses to taxis. And the best part is they accept payment in USD or Cambodian Riel or both.
Transportation in Cambodia between the cities
I took the Giant Ibis buses to travel between the cities – Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Their booking was very simple and it was online. The process was to select the route, date, and number of passengers and to make the payment using a credit or debit card.
The buses are completely safe and one can also book the sleeper seats for the night journey.
Note: I had booked them even before I landed in Cambodia.
Transportation within the city
The best way to travel within the city is Tuk Tuk. They are cheap, fast, and most importantly fun. As an example, I paid only USD 7 for a Tuk Tuk ride for two people from Phnom Penh city to Phnom Penh International Airport – Yes, it’s that cheap!
Note: They accept only cash and they do accept USD.
Tip: Haggle with the Tuk Tuk driver and you sometimes end up paying half the price he/she asked for.
Just a word of caution for taking a Tuk Tuk in Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is a very huge complex with lots of temples and hence it can get a bit uncomfortable riding the Tuk Tuk. So, when my mother and I visited the Angkor Wat, we took a bus tour and we were seated comfortably on the bus.
Stay in Siem Reap
A great place to stay at Siem Reap is the Spring Palace boutique hotel. I absolutely loved this property and I had a good time during my stay.
The location can be a bit challenging as it is a bit far from Angkor Wat.
Property (Spring Palace Boutique Hotel)
The property overall is a big property. They have many classes of rooms. The rooms were spacious and clean. The bathrooms were big and there were no issues whatsoever. They also have a swimming pool and a spa.
There is an in-house restaurant at the hotel and the food is delicious. They make good Cambodian dishes and is a good for trying the Cambodian cuisine. I did feel the food was a little pricey when compared to the food available at the market.
In a nutshell, the property was a comfortable stay.
Note: The hotel arranged for a pickup and drop from/to the bus stop.
The staff at the reception were very helpful and approachable. They attended quickly and addressed every concern very diligently. Each and every staff whom I interacted with was friendly. Being a solo female traveler, I always look for safety – and I must say that I felt completely safe with all the staff in the hotel.
The staff also provided us with the information on the sightseeing places. They arranged for the cycle rickshaws and taxis too.
The booking was online through the Makemytrip. The entire booking process was seamless and easy.
- Name: Spring Palace Boutique Hotel
- Website: http://springpalace.asia/
- Address: Thmor Meas Road, Siem Reap, 17254, Cambodia
- Cost: USD 150 for 3 nights for double deluxe room
I loved the rooms, bathrooms, amenities, cats, and the staff – I loved everything about this hotel. If I visit Siem Reap again, I would stay at this hotel again. I loved it that much and I completely recommend this boutique hotel for anyone visiting Siem Reap.
Unique things to do in Siem Reap
Apart from the routine of visiting Ankor Wat temples, there are two other interesting things that have to be done while in Siem Reap. Also, I also suggest trying out the amazing cafes that serve breakfast in Siem Reap.
Phare, The Cambodian Circus
My mother clapped cheerfully every time an artist jumped high on a tray held by other artists or an artist went high up performing aerobatic stunts on a rope. She had seen the artists perform in awe. We were at a Cambodian Circus.
A bit of context
In the morning, I had asked my mother if she had ever been to a circus. My mother had replied that she had been to one when she was very little. And there I had booked two tickets for Phare, the Cambodian Circus (thanks to my colleague’s daughter who had told me about the famous Cambodian circus).
- Cost for circus: USD 18 per person for general admission (Seat C).
- Cost for Tuk Tuk: USD 6.
- Purchase: Tickets can be purchased at any tour agency in Siem Reap or online.
- Ask the Tuk Tuk rider, he/she will take you to any travel agent that sells the tickets.
We reached the place at around 7:30 PM and the show started at 8 PM. The circus was very minimalistic with no big sponsors or amazing costumes. But the performances were awesome. The artists were splendid. Each segment of the show was better than the previous one. The vibe, effort and energy was jaw-dropping. And the music was so catchy. In a nutshell, this is something that one should never miss when in Siem Reap.
Pleasing my mother is not only difficult but close to impossible. Nothing impressed my mother other than her soap operas on television. Okay, that’s a bit exaggeration. To sum it up, I can never please my mother. But this time I had hit the bullseye, she had loved the circus.
Apsara Dance Show
From the time I have landed in Cambodia, I have been chanting about the Apsara Dance show. Even my mother, who is traveling with me now, is tired of listening about how good the show is. I had booked the dance show at Phnom Penh on the day we arrived, but since my mother was very tired, we had to cancel the show.
Today the plan was to go to see the Cambodian Circus. Unfortunately, we did not get the tickets we wanted for the circus. But – guess what? We are here at Koulen restaurant to watch the Apsara dance show.
What is Apsara dance?
The show portrays the Khmer heritage of Cambodia. It is a mix of the ballet of Apsara, the dance of Mekhala, and the Hindu mythological tale of Ramayana.
The performance was really splendid. The costumes were grand and beautiful. But the only thing I felt missing was some kind of booklet or a single sheet of paper explaining the dance performance. That would have been helpful in following what each of the dance segments was.
How to book and how much does it cost?
There are plenty of places in Siem Reap where one can watch the Apsara dance. We went ahead with the one suggested by our Tuk Tuk driver – Easy Tour.
The show costs USD 12 with the buffet dinner. And the show lasts for an hour starting from 7:30 PM till 8:30 PM. The Tuk Tuk ride cost another USD 4.
Is it safe for solo female travelers?
Even though I traveled with my mother, I traveled through to various places in Siem Reap alone. And I would say that I did not have any issues as such. The city is very safe for solo female travelers. However, like any other place, be cautious especially at nights and trust your instinct.
As I mentioned earlier in the post, I loved traveling in Siem Reap. I had a great time there visiting all the temples of Angkor Wat and especially doing the things that are unique and not every traveler does when they visit Cambodia. I would definitely suggest having these two things in your list of things to do while in Siem Reap.