We arrived in Siem Reap after a grueling 24 hour bus ride from Vientiane (one we wouldn’t recommend) and had two weeks to spend in Cambodia in mid-March, arguably the hottest time of year. The town itself is merely a jumping off point for the ancient city and doesn’t provide the cultural experience most are looking for when traveling to Asia, but if you’re want an all night party, you’ve come to the right place.
After a relaxed month in Laos we wanted something more upbeat so we stayed at the Funky Flashpackers Hostel, a brand new hostel donned with a pool, nightly parties, endless drink specials and within walking distance to Pub Street. We gave ourselves a few extra days in Siem Reap to be at Angkor Wat for sunrise and nights to stay out late and spend the morning lounging by the pool.
Siem Reap is a tourist hub which means no shortage of Western Restaurants, street food stalls and big nightclubs. The food is fair and the beer is cheap ($.25). The tuk tuk drivers all over town offer rides to Angkor Wat and for $20/day your private “chauffeur” will lead you through the ancient temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. Although it is too big to tackle by foot, you can explore by bike for a few dollars a day if you’re after a cheaper option.
Sunrise is what everyone arrives for so make sure to arrive at least 30 minutes early. The journey from Siem Reap is only 15 minutes and tickets to enter can be purchased quickly at the numerous entrance points for 1, 3 and 7 day options. We bought a 3 day ticket but only visited for 2 of those days which was enough time for us to see the whole complex.
On day 1 we saw sunrise at Angkor Wat, a magical experience but uncomfortably crowded. We made a bee line to the temple just before sunrise ended to start exploring before the hundreds of people around us entered. The temple is mind-blowing and massive. There is a lot to see and for more information on the history and structures there are books sold everywhere and guides offering tours. The majority of our first day was spent exploring Angkor Wat and a small part of Angkor Thom. Angkor Thom is a much larger complex with smaller temples but again, so much to see.
Our entire second day was spent in Angkor Thom. The most peaceful experience is early morning when everyone is watching sunrise; it leaves the rest of the complex open for exploring. Take a look through our photos to see Siem Reap and Angkor Wat through our lens.