Siem Reap is the closest town to Angkor Wat. Siem Reap is a town in Cambodia located in the northwestern Cambodian province also named Siem Reap. The provincial capital is located in the south of the province on the shores of the Tonle Sap Lake. The town is most famous for being just 3 kilometers away from the 7th Wonder of the World and an UNESCO World Heritage Site Angkor Wat. This is by far the most visited site in Cambodia and it has made Siem Reap the fastest growing city in the country, with luxurious and budget hotels springing all over the place.
Accommodation in this town seems to be limitless; from luxury hotels and resorts, to small, but comfortable guesthouses, there is definitely a place for everyone to stay. And, the prices are not high either; in fact, some are downright cheap, especially given the level of comfort and service they offer.
Transportation in Siem Reap
Getting to Siem Reap
Cambodia is the second biggest in Cambodia, and the busiest. More than two million tourists use this airport every year. The airport itself is located some 6 km outside Siem Reap, just off National Route 6. It has two separate terminals, for domestic and international flights. All domestic companies have direct flights to Siem Reap. From Phnom Penh, for instance, there are 7 daily flights to this airport. As for international flights, there are currently more than 20 companies offering flights to Siem Reap from foreign cities, mostly in Asia. Most companies offer a free or cheap shuttle service to town from the airport.
Roads around Siem Reap are in pretty good shape, especially for Cambodian standards. Interestingly, the town only has one bus station. The Siem Reap Bus Station is located just outside the town, and to get from there to Siem Reap, and a tuk tuk ride from the station to town costs around $3. All major bus companies from Cambodia have direct lines to Siem Reap, and there is a fair number of foreign operators arriving to the town, especially from Laos and Thailand. Bus fares are pretty cheap, but it is recommended to book tickets ahead, to avoid getting ripped-off when buying a ticket on site.
For tourists that prefer water transport, there are two ferry lines operating to Siem Reap: one from Battambang, and another from Phnom Penh. Trip from Phnom Penh takes around 6 hours and costs $35. The boat goes via the Tonie Sap River and the seasonal lake of the same name. The boat from Battambang follows the same route, but lasts about 5 hours and is cheaper, around $25. These boats are actually soviet-style hydrofoils, still used in Cambodia.
Of course, there is always an option to hire a taxi to Siem Reap, which should cost around $30 from Phnom Penh, depending on one’s bargaining.
Getting around Siem Reap
Since the town is not that big, tuk tuks are still the most popular means for getting around it. They are also very cheap; a ride through town shouldn’t be paid more than $2 per person. There are tuk tuk drivers behind literally every corner in town.
Bicycles are also a common transportation option in Siem Reap. Renting them is enabled in practically every hotel, inn, or guesthouse in town. Some of them even rent it to their guests for free. Many shops around town also rent bicycles, with prices mostly being around $2 per day.
Taxis are used mostly for getting to Angkor Wat, since the town itself is pretty small, and can even be circled on foot. The common taxi fare is about $50 per day. Motorbikes are also present in this town, but renting them to foreigners is forbidden. Shops in Siem Reap also offer renting an electric motorbike, or e-bike. Renting a green-colored e-bike costs around $10 per day.
Exploring Siem Reap
Surprisingly, as more and more tourists come to town to stay here because of its proximity to Angkor Wat, more attractions within the town itself and its surroundings are being discovered. it is fair to say that no visit to Angkor Wat would be complete without spending at least one day to get around Siem Reap and discover its many attractions.
Angkor Wat is, naturally, the highlight of attractions in and around Siem Reap. The ancient capital of Khmers comprises of three main temples, as well as dykes, reservoirs, canals, a moat, etc. The site is the largest temple site in the world, and one of the 7 Wonders of the World. The main temples are the Bayon, Preah Khan and Ta Proh Temples. Situated in the jungle, these once temples had once been hidden in overgrowth. There are also four galleries with bas-reliefs and carvings within the site, which, translated from Khmer, literally means “City of Temples”.
There are three museums in town; Angkor National Museum, Cambodia Landmine Museum, and Cambodia War Museum. Each has its own permanent exhibitions, and is thematically dedicated. Angkor National Museum depicts the history of the Angkor Khmer civilization, with many exhibits from the era placed here. The entrance fee is $12 for foreign tourists, and the museum is located on the road to the Angkor Temples. Cambodia Landmine Museum is located 25 km out of Siem Reap, near Banteay Srei Temple. It houses many landmine collections, as well as the scenes from the era of the Pol Pot’s terror regime. Cambodia is still riddled with remaining landmines, and this museum is the best reminder of it. Cambodia War Museum is the only such museum in the country. It includes displays of heavy artillery, tanks, guns, rocket launchers, bombs, small arms and much more. The Museum is situated on Road 6, on the way to the Airport.
Beside museums, there are also other attractions worth seeing in Siem Reap. Visiting the Angkor Silk Farm, seeing the Apsaras dance shows, heading to the Banteay Srey Temple and Banteay Srey Butterfly Center, with many endemic butterfly species, going to Crocodile Farm or shooting at the shooting range are just a few of them.
And last, but probably not the least, Siem Reap is one of the rare places in Cambodia with lively nightlife and plenty of bars and other venues to explore at night. Prices, although a little more expensive than in most other places in Cambodia, are still pretty low for most standards.
In conclusion, Siem Reap is a fast growing town with many, many attractions to witness and activities to try out. Of course, the first association will always be the Cambodia, but far from it being the only thing worth seeing, the town has a lot more to offer, and, by the looks of it, will offer even more in the near future.