I recently visited Siem Reap, Cambodia, and fell in love with the city. It’s got a really laid back, multicultural vibe to it and there is so much to see and do. I’ve created a travel guide for four days in the city, including activities, attractions, food and drink. If you’re vegan or veggie, there is so many options for you. Make sure to check out my blog post on food and drink in Siem Reap to see the best places I visited.
Start the day slowly by having a walk around town. When I first get to a new place, I like to have a walk around the centre and see what’s going on. I usually see a few places I’d like to go back to for food or drinks, and get a general feeling of the area. It also helps you find your feet so you don’t have to walk around with Apple maps up constantly. We even found a small temple on the road from out hotel to the centre.
There are a few cafes in Siem Reap, but my favorite for brunch would be either The Hive, closely followed by Vibe. Conveniently, they are basically next door, in Kandal Village. They both have veggie/vegan dishes, coffees and smoothies and a very chilled out feel to them. The Hive was my favorite because of the iced tumeric latte I had. I also got some avocado and tofu on toast, and a beer for good measure. They used bamboo straws for the drinks and all of the ingredients tasted very fresh.
Vibe does vegan, organic and ethically sourced healthy foods. I went for a beetroot hummus, falafel and avocado buddha bowl, but they do smoothie breakfast bowls served in coconut shells which looked packed with fruit.
After filling up with some food, have a wander around Kandal Village, the area that you’re in, and go in some of the shops there. You can find traditional or modern clothing, homewares and more, perfect for finding something to take back home.
Tonle Sap Floating Village
We booked a sunset cruise of the Tonle Sap Floating Village with Tara River Boats after looking at a few different options, and I would do the same if I went again. You get picked up at your hotel at 3:30pm to travel to the boat, stopping at a lotus farm and a crocodile farm on the way.
The lotus farm is really picturesque, with lots of huts that the local people live in. The tour guide was very helpful, and explained all about the lotus and it’s importance in Cambodia, as well as pointing out the houses on stilts that were built to adapt to the rivers changing depths throughout the year.
Once you’re on the boat you will get to see the different floating villages, it really is amazing. They have schools, churches, temples, shops and restaurants all floating on the river, mixed in with the houses and boats. After your tour, you get some food and drinks on a bigger boat just past the villages, where they have a selection of Asian foods and lots of beer, spirits and cocktails, before heading back to town at 7:30pm.
Art Center Night Market
Ask the driver to drop you off near Pub Street, at the Art Center Night Market. You’ll find loads of touristy type things at the markets in Siem Reap, but this one had more vintage and hand made items than the others we went to. I got a vintage ring and a crochet bag from the stalls inside. Everything is cheap as it is, you can haggle, but I never try and go too low as the people in Cambodia are generally not as wealthy as the tourists and a dollar or so to them means a lot more than it does to us.
Miss Wong Cocktail Bar
After you’ve picked up some souvenirs, walk over to Miss Wong Cocktail bar and get one of their Asian inspired cocktails. The bar is 1920’s speakeasy style, inspired by Hong Kong and is so different to the loud bars on Pub Street, so you can sit and have a chat. If you’re still hungry, they also serve home cooked Chinese food.
Quad bike around rural Cambodia
We booked a sunset quad bike tour around Siem Reap and it was way better than I expected. You get picked up from your hotel at 4:30pm, then you get to go with just your group and a tour guide on a quad bike around the rural city outskirts. They give you a quick demo lesson before you ride, and then you get your helmet and face mask and off you go. The quad bikes are really easy to use and you can have two people per bike if you’re not 100% on driving yourself.
I’d recommend taking a bandanna to cover your mouth instead of the face mask that you get, and some sunglasses to protect your eyes. Also, don’t wear white, like I did, as you’ll get covered in what I have now nicknamed ‘Cambodia dust’ which is orangey dust that comes from the dirt tracks. Make sure you have proper shoes on, like trainers, not sandals, and wear long pants.
We went down small lanes, through small villages and farms and then stopped to watch the sunset in pretty much the middle of nowhere. It was perfect.
The company also does day time tours, including full days, half days, or a couple of hours, and an easy tour if you’re not that confident on the bikes. They are called Quad Adventure Cambodia.
You have to take a trip to Pub Street, it’s just a weird, chaotic place to be. Drinks are cheap, so you can either get drunk and go out to the clubs, or sit in a bar and people watch. Either way, it’s really fun.
Artisans D’Angkor is a workshop that allows locals develop skills in ancient Khmer arts and crafts. The aim is not only to revive and preserve the local craft skills in silk production, craving and painting, but to also help underprivileged young Cambodians with their future.
You can visit the workshops, take tours to the silk farm and also visit the shops. All tours and visits are free, and any profits from the goods sold in the shops goes back into funding more places for young adults on the craft training courses.
It’s really interesting to see how all the products are made and they really are amazing. There is so much time, effort and skill behind every piece. If I had room in my case for everything, I would have bought the whole shop.
Just across the road from Artisans D’Angkor is Moringa. They serve Cambodian food, craft beer and cocktails in a tropical beer garden, most of it was vegan or veggie too. We got tofu nuggets, spring rolls, samosas and some baked brie. All of the food was so tasty, it was one of the best meals I had in Siem Reap and it was just lots of different snacks really.
Cambodian Phare Circus
I didn’t really know what to expect when we booked the Phare Circus. I didn’t know if it was going to be like a cheesy one with clowns and stuff, but it wasn’t. It was like a dance and performance, with a little bit of comedy and lots a crazy acrobatics. It is definitely worth a visit. They even sell popcorn, snacks and beer on the way in. They do different shows on different days, you can check online and also book tickets via their website.
The circus performers are all graduates from the Phare Ponleu Selpak Vocational Training Centre in Battambang, which helps troubled young people find a way to express themselves, and also make a living via the arts. Money from ticket sales, and anything bought in the shop goes back into the centre to help put more people through training.
This was my favorite restaurant in the city. I had the fish and I must have said ‘this is so good’ every minute or so. The seating was just a simple outdoor area with some tables and lots of plants, with a canopy over it, but you could see the chefs cooking the food which I always love watching. The food wasn’t the only reason I loved this place, it was also a training facilities for EGBOK (Everything’s Gonna Be OK) students. EGBOK is a hospitality organisation that is aiming to alleviate poverty in Cambodia by training underprivileged young adults to become self supporting and create successful careers.
See the Angkor Wat Temples
The main attraction of Siem Reap is the Angkor Wat Temples. The temple complex is huge and there are thousands of temples all around the complex. The tickets are available from the ticket office, so make sure to ask your tuk tuk driver to take you to the ticket office and not to the temples. We tried walking around the temples, but after walking round the first one, we were so hot that we ended up getting a tuk tuk driver to take us around. He just waited outside for us whilst we explored and then drove us to the next one. I’d recommend doing this. You can probably book a tour at your hotel, or you can do what we did and just grab someone at the entrance.
Photos really don’t do the temples any justice, in real life, they are so much bigger and more intricate than you could ever imagine. It really is a once in a lifetime experience.
You can easily spend the full day here, like we did, I think if you’re only in Siem Reap for a short time, just do a day. You can buy two and three day tickets too if you’re there for longer and would like to explore the further out temples.
I stayed in J’s Links Angkor Boutique and I would highly recommend this hotel. It was a 10-15 minute walk to the main area for shops, restaurants and bars which was close enough to walk every day. It was only a dollar or two in a tuk tuk as well, so if it’s too hot to walk or you’ve had a few too many Angkor beers, you can always hop in a tuk tuk. The hotel includes breakfast which is off a menu, not a buffet style, which means it’s always freshly made, and you can even get it delivered to your room. The food during the day is also amazing, they do fresh Cambodian food, the spring rolls were amazing.
Our room was huge with a king sized bed, a sitting area and a bathroom with a shower and a bath. The room has a mini fridge that is filled with a fresh fruit platter when you arrive and gets replenished with water every day. Staff were always friendly and wanted to help as much as they could, they also offer tuk tuk or taxi transfers to and from the airport, and have a good selection of tours on offer if you’re not sure what you’d like to do during your stay.
We flew with Malaysia Airlines who were amazing. We flew from Manchester to Kuala Lumpar and then flew to siem reap from there. We got lots of food and drinks on the plane and they had loads of recent films and series to watch.
Travel tips for Cambodia
- Take US Dollars instead of Cambodian Riel. Riel is worth so little compared to any other currency so you’ll end up with a purse full of notes. Everyone uses dollars anyway.
- If you need more money, most cash machines work with Visa, Mastercard and UnionPay. I’d recommend a Monzo card so you don’t have to pay withdrawal or exchange fees. Get £5 free for signing up to Monzo here.
- Be careful of scams, as in any Asian country you’ll always be charged more, but know what you should be paying
- Download the WeGo App for tuk tuks, it works like uber but you pay in cash at the end of your trip. It’s a lot cheaper than getting one on the street.
- Check with your doctor in case you need any jab top ups as there is a lot of mosquitos
- ALSO take LOTS of good mosquito spray to avoid being bitten
- Get your e-visa online before you travel to cut queues at the airport when you arrive. This post contains everything you need to know about e-visas for Cambodia.