First time in Cambodia and Siem Reap it is!
To be honest, we aren’t a fan of hot weather country (*Bangkok is an exceptional lol). Didn’t put much expectation on our Siem Reap trip initially. Our main purpose was to visit the legendary Angkor Wat complex – the world renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site, do some cafe hopping, shop for dresses with beautiful prints and laze around in the hotel. But it turned out to be a memorable getaway. Nice city and we don’t mind going back again to check out more of their temples; not to forget, delicious Khmer food!
We bought our ticket during AirAsia sales, at RM300 per person including luggage. Flying time is 2 hours from KLIA2 to Siem Reap International Airport. Not too far, just nice. Took a short nap and we were ready to touch down.
Hello Siem Reap!
Tuk-tuk ride from airport to hotel! Hehe. First time taking tuk-tuk from airport to hotel. The distance between Siem Reap Airport and the town is around 30 minutes. Do wear a mask, else you will be “eating dust & sand” all the way.
TIPS: A lot of Siem Reap hotels offer free shuttle service from airport to hotel. So do check if this service is included while booking, you can save USD7 this way.
Currency in Siem Reap: There are two types of currency used here, USD and Riel.
Sometimes you will get few hundreds of Riel, especially for restaurants with service tax. Doing the conversion of Riel to USD is a hassle for amount less than 1000Riel. So our trick is to accumulate the notes until we get a whole number of 1000, 2000, 300Riel, and pay as USD0.25, USD0.50 and USD0.75 respectively.
We received a 20,000Riel when we paid for hotel. We requested to change into USD, which we will encourage you guys to do so. They would be more than happy to assist.
TIPS: Unless you will be returning to Cambodia very often, else it is not encouraged to bring home a large amount of Riel.
Siem Reap Day 1 Itinerary:
1. The Little Red Fox Espresso Cafe
Dropped our luggage and first thing first – cafe hopping! First brunch stop, Little Red Fox Espresso in Kandal Village – An Australian-owned, Cambodian-managed cafe. This place serves one of the best coffee in Siem Reap. But beyond this, what makes Little Red Fox Espresso stands out is their effort in supporting go green -go clean, promoting sustainability in hospitality.
Had Scrambled Eggs with spinach, bacon and really good Normandy bread. 2.25USD for a small slice of Chocolate Brownie isn’t cheap but oh-so-good you gotta try. They also have specialty drinks like Chilli Mocha, Coconut & Cinnamon Mocha and this Yellow Latte prepared using Turmeric & Kampot Pepper in milk.
The Little Red Fox Espresso
#593 Hup Guan Street
Mondul 1 Village
Siem Reap, 17252, Cambodia.
opening hours: 7AM – 5PM (closed Wednesday)
Contact: +866 16669724
2. Kandal Village Strolling
Had a walk around Kandal Village afterwards. Kandal Village is not exactly a village. More like an upscale art & culture shopping street filled with beautifully designed retails. A lot to discover here, from galleries to spas, home-wares, boutiques, cool fashion stores, handcrafted gifts, cafes and more.
Among the shops to visit include Maison Sirivan for creative clothing; Garden of Desire for jewellery, Khmer 652 for homecooked Cambodian food, Mademoiselle Thyda for spices & tea; Mammashop for homemade pasta; TRIBE Urban Art Gallery, Saarti for artisanal essential oil soy candles and Paradise for handcrafted artisans homeware, just to name a few.
Along Hap Guan Street and partial of the street perpendicular to it
Siem Reap, Cambodia.
3. VIBE Cafe
Quick stop at this minimalist cafe to quench our thirst. VIBE Cafe is a famous, 100% vegan, plant-based cafe in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. The menu highlights a wide selections of wholesome selections, with gluten-free, sugar-free and raw options. Price is one the high side but worth checking out for healthy meal.
Raw Mango & Vanilla Cheese Cake, Amazonian Acai Bowl, Honest Burger with pattie made from bean, almond & veggie, Earth to Table Bowl are popular here. Didn’t order any as we were still full from breakfast earlier. Just Coffee served with homemade cashew milk USD3 and refreshing Passion Fruit Infusion served with homemade coconut sugar syrup USD2 to chill.
4. Check-in Apsara Residence Hotel
Yeah! Time for a hotel tour! Every time when travelling, we will book for cheaper hotel if our air ticket is expensive, and vice versa to have a balance in both. Thought of trying Viroth’s Hotel – the hotel that has been voted as best hotel in the world at TripAdvisor’s prestigious 2018 Travellers’ Choice Awards but sadly, it wasn’t as affordable as it used to be. We ended up with Apsara Residence Hotel. Not a big commercial brand, but worth the stay.
Service is nice from the start as staff handed over towel, welcome drink and superb pumpkin custard once we arrived. They even upgraded our room to deluxe suite with bathtub when we mentioned we were here for anniversary trip! How lovely!
Location is strategic too. Only 5 minutes walk to pub street, 2 minutes to Made in Cambodia Market with numerous eateries nearby. Do go to the swimming pool for a dip if you have time!
5. Dialogue Cafe
Was too early for beer cheers in Pub Street so we decided to continue our cafe hopping session. Zoom-in-to-the-max on Google Map and happy to find this Dialogue Cafe located 200m away from our hotel. Only to know later that it is opened by award-winning barista!
Definitely our favourite cafe in Siem Reap thus far. Awesome ambiance with thoughtful decoration especially the wall art. Needless to say, coffee is great.
While for food, check out Pork Bowl USD3.50 – a modern take on the traditional Khmer Pork & Rice breakfast dish. Generous bowl of rice, topped with
Dialogue Siem Reap
Street 27, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia,
Opening hours: 6.30AM – 11.50PM daily
6. Made in Cambodia Market
Made in Cambodia market is just 2 minutes away from Apsara Hotel, a great place to shop for souvenirs. Differ from many of the shops nearby, the born of Made in Cambodia Market is to create more job to the Khmer people, offering direct income and skills development for the community.
You’ll find a lot of locally made, handcrafted items here. Get one if you love them. They have stage performance on weekend evening too. It is quiet overall, but nice for a short walk before/after dinner. Perhaps a little more effort needed to bring the entire market to live.
Made in Cambodia Market
corner of Achar Sva Street and Street 27
Street 27,Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Opnening hours: 12PM – 10PM
7. For Life Restaurant
Dinner time! First try on Khmer food and we were sold! Summergirl found this restaurant named For Life online. It was humbly located within the market alley near Su Su, hidden from main pub street. A bit reluctant to go in at first when we reached, as it was rather empty with only two tables of customers. We were like: if it is recommended restaurant, it shouldn’t be so empty on a weekend evening isn’t?
Glad that we didn’t give this place a skip. We ordered blindly because menu is extensive. Everything turned out so good, be it Lok Lak, Red Curry or Dish Amok. Begin wondering how can such a nice restaurant has so few diners. Definitely underrated! Please go support For Life when you are in Siem Reap. High recommended restaurant to go for reasonably priced, delicious Khmer delicacies.
Cold beer at 0.85USD is must-have. Some restaurants along pub street selling beer at USD0.50, but be ready to pay more for the food.
TIPS: Lok Lak is a must-try local dish in Siem Reap. It put together Western and Asian influence, stir-frying with chunks of beef with special sauce.
For Life Restaurant & Bar
# 11, Mondol 1 Village, 17252,
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Opening hours: 10AM – 11PM
8. Pub Street
Most happening streets in Siem Reap at night. Most tourists will gather here for Happy Hour draft beer, cocktails and wine at cheap price. Lost count on the amount of restaurants and bar here, but most of them are on brisk business.
9. Siem Reap Night Market
Just like any other night market, Siem Reap Night Market offers from street snack, drinks to shirts, home wares, accessories, silk cloth and more.
Other than food & drink, do not forget to bargain.
10. Hard Rock Cafe
Oh didn’t know they have Hard Rock Cafe here. Again, Summerkid got his Siem Reap edition guitar pin from the Hard Rock Souvenir Shop. USD19. Lol.
Back to hotel. Rest early and couldn’t wait for Angkor Wat sunrise next day!
Siem Reap Day 2 Itinerary:
Woke up at 3.30AM and get ready to meet our driver at 4.30AM for Angkor Wat 1 Day Tour.
1. Angkor Wat Ticket Purchase
TIPS: Normally driver will bring you to the ticket office first. But still, it is good to let them know you do not have ticket yet, especially if you are going without a tour guide like us.
Angkor Wat ticket station is not near to the temple entrance like many other tourist attractions. It is about 4KM from Siem Reap town. For one day ticket, it is only valid on that day, which means you need to purchase it on your day of visit. Alternatively, if you have time, get your ticket right before the booth closed in the evening, because ticket purchased after 5PM is considered valid till the following day.
We were too happy on cafe hopping and forgot about this. Summerkid was really kiasu and afraid that he would need to be in long queue, then late for his precious Angkor Wat sunrise. Haha. Thankfully, we saw like over 30 tickets counters once reached. The longest ticket counters we’ve seen in life. Lol.
Some of the counters already in operation even though it was just 4.40AM. Joined the queue for 1 day ticket, managed to reach our turn in 10 minutes. Paid – took picture – ticket ready in 5 minutes.
1 Day – USD37 per person
3 Days – USD 62 per person
7 Days – USD 72 per person
1 Day – only valid on the date of purchase
3 Days – valid for 10 days from the date of purchase.
7 Days – Valid for one month from the date of purchase. Visit Angkor Wat on the 7 days of your choice.
The Angkor Ticket Office/ Angkor Enterprise
60, Apsara Road, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Contact: +855 63 965 414
Opening hours: 5AM – 5.30PM
You might be wondering: Can I buy my ticket ahead? Online or through travel agent? The answer will be no, for now. They are articles saying that online ticket service will be available soon, but not much info on that yet. According to what we read from official website Angkor Enterprise –
” The Angkor Ticket Office (Angkor Enterprise) is the only place where you can purchase entrance tickets for the Angkor Archaeological Park. Tickets purchased elsewhere are not valid. “
2. Angkor Wat Sunrise
Next thing, rush to the sunrise spot. It was really, really dark. Literally see nothing, and we just kept walking, following the crowd in front. Turn on your phone torchlight, walk carefully as the road isn’t all flat. There are holes, stones along the way. Almost fell down several times.
TIPS: Starry sky above your head if weather is good. So look up =D
It took us 20 minutes to reach the “pond”, where Angkor Wat sunrise activity takes place. Crowded, manage to get a “seat” near to the center of the lake. Waited…and the sun begin rising when it was close to 6AM. Aww… how beautiful!
The other side of the serene view – the reality. Lol. The reflection of Angkor Wat comes from the “mini pond”.
3. Angkor Wat Temples
Next entering the Angkor Wat Temple – the symbol of Siem Reap. Located about 6KM from Siem Reap town, Angkor Wat complex is an important archaeological sites in South-East Asia.
Measuring 162.6 hectares, it is also the largest religious monument in the world, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It welcomes millions of visitors a year, clearly, a popular attraction in Cambodia, and main reason for many to visit Siem Reap.
The Temple is originally built as a Hindu Temple dedicated to the god Vishnu for the Khmer empire, then gradually transforming into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. Differ from other temples within the complex, Angkor Wat is the only temple that faces West, while the rest face East – which makes Angkor Wat is great place for sunrise.
4. Bayon Temple
Baphuon was built in the 11th century, dedicated to Hindu. In 16th century, Buddist tried to convert the temple from Hindu to Buddist. Hence today, you can see the trace of two religions from the templete’s architecture. It has gone through restoration by France. Many stones fall down from the temple, due to the not so strong foundation.
6. Terrace of the Elephant
7. Terrace of the Leper King
8. Ta Keo Temple
Built in late 10th century till early of 11th century by King Jayavarman V, Ta Keo is a mountain temple in Angkor, located about 300m to the East of Angkor Thom.
The construction of the temple has been left unfinished for more than one thousand year, and there’s no static reason for this halted project. Some says that when it was half built, a lighting struck at one point, signifying bad luck and caused the work to stop. Some said that after the death of King Jayavarman V, there wasn’t any instruction to continue the construction.
There is also saying that the temple, which was built from sandstone, was too hard to add decoration, leaving the building to have minimal carving, like what we seen today.
The most memorable part for us was the extra steep staircases that were so difficult to climb on. Wanted to give up halfway but decided to make it to the top for a view of angkor from better angle.
“To climb, or not to climb?”. Lol.
9. Ta Prohm Temple
The second last temple for our Angkor Wat Small Circuit trip, also our favourite temple throughout the whole trip. It is also called Tomb Rider Temple, as some of the scenes in movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, starring Angelina Jolie, were filmed here.
10. Check-in King Rock Boutique Hotel
It was still early after Ta Prohm Temple so we requested to go back to the hotel. Check-in to King Rock Boutique Hotel – second hotel in this trip. A bit old but love the design. Over 50m sq spacious suite with wooden flooring, comfy double bed and a private balcony that opens up to views. Definitely a steal for less than RM300 per night.
Big love for that bathtub!
11. Sunset at Bakheng Temple
If you choose to go back to the city/town, usually the driver will pick you up at 3.30PM, so that you can be in Bakheng Temple earlier, have enough time to “climb” the hill and get ready for sunset. It took us 20 minutes to reach the temple, and only 300 visitors are allowed to go up at a time.
Just 60m comparing on flat land, Bakheng Temple is considered one of the most ideal place for sunset.
TIPS: Keep your ticket nicely, as there’s several check point where the. If you lost your ticket. Sorry, you’ll have to buy again from the ticket counter.
TIPS: You may ask if the hotel can prepare breakfast box for you. Usually they will. We got some not so nice bread, bottled water, banana and egg! Not something special but good enough to feed to tummy before a long walk, or while on the road.
12. The Christa Restaurant & Bar Dinner
Was so tired after a long day so we had dinner at The Christa Restaurant & Bar nearby. 5 walk from the hotel. Food here is relatively cheap but taste wise, we prefer For Life Restaurant.
So tiring that we gave up going to Siem Reap Art Center Night Market that is just few minutes away. Doze off straight after taking shower. Good Night!
Day 3: More Cafe Hopping, Market Shopping and Cocktail Chilling!
1. Breakfast, King Rock Boutique Hotel
Rise & shine!
Buffet breakfast in the hotel. Small spread but everything was good especially the noodle soup – tender beef slices, pipping hot soup that was comforting at very sip. Never seen Summerkid ordered noodles soup in hotel breakfast but he had two bowls of this. *loud applause hahahaha. DIY a big breakfast too – Double sunny side up, baked beans, bacon, sausages and salad.
Today’s itinerary was “eat-full-nothing-to-do” kind of day. Spent half day walking through one after another restaurant in Pub Street, figuring out which one to go in for lunch later.
2. Pub Street in the Morning
Most of the restaurants are thoughtfully designed, tourist-oriented. Food is more expensive here but hey, Siem Reap is always economically focusing on the foreign tourism after all. Pick the restaurant you like and enjoy. The bill will not hurt your wallet entirely.
Pub Street is lively, vibrant at night but it turned so much cozy and calm during daytime. Ideal for lazy brunch with a glass of bubbly. We personally like this super spacious restaurant located at the junction of Pub Street.
3. Ice Cream Stop, Blue Pumpkin Cafe
Stopped by Blue Pumpkin Cafe recommended by Summergirl’s colleague. She was told that this cafe has a real big, comfy sofa upstairs but we were too early and staff didn’t allow us to go up. Bought double scoop Rum & Raisin + Strawberry flavours ice cream at USD2.75. Way too sweet though.
Mondulkiri Village, 2 Thnou Street,
Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Opening hours: 7AM – 11PM
4. Coffee and Smoothie Bowl, Sister Srey Cafe
Next, Sister Srey Cafe, probably the most happening brunch spot in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The cafe is established in 2012, and has been doing great with a vision to create a space to educate, empower Cambodians. They focus on training, higher education, environmental sustainability. A percentage of their profits are also donated to their efforts towards landmine clearance.
Food wise, Sister Srey Cafe offers from healthy Roasted Pumpkin Soup, Lentil Burger, Bodia Bowl, Local Feta & Watermelon Salad, Matcha Smoothie Bowl, Dragon fruit Smoothie Bowl to hearty meal like Sister Srey Beef Burger, Pork Banh Mi, Sweet Chilli Stir Fry, Bacon & Egg Roll, just to name a few. And yeah, coffee is a must here.
Sister Srey Cafe
#9, 200 Pokambor St, Riverside – Old Market Area,
Siem Reap Cambodia
Opening hours: 7AM – 6PM daily
Contact: +855 97723 8001
5. The Colourful Umbrella Street
Yea, you can easily miss out this hidden alley adorned with colourful umbrellas. It is located in the Alley West, near Gelato Lab. Not impressed at the first sight but the outcome is not bad though. Try to take few more pictures if you can bear with the hot sun above your head.
The Alley West, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Direction guide: Look for Trattoria Pizza
6. Lunch, Amok Restaurant
Still full from the snack-ing here and there but decided to have lunch as this will be our second last chance for Khmer food before leaving Siem Reap. As the name implies, Amok Restaurant specializes in Amok – a classic delicacy with fish/meat in rich, creamy curry (*correct us if we are wrong). Fish Amok is similar to our otak-otak, or Hor Mok in Thailand. Other version like chicken amok, beef amok, are also available and you can have a set of Amok Degustation to savour 5 types of amok (fish, chicken, beef, vegetable and pork) in this restaurant.
We opted for other dishes instead, because we had tasted amok numerous times and wanted to check out other Khmer delights. Had Fried Rice, Crispy Vermicelle Salad, Deep Fried Spring Roll, Pork Slices & Vegetables Soup. A bit over-ordered but satisfying lunch.
Street 9, Mondol 1 Village,
Krong Siem Reap Cambodia.
Opening hours:10.30AM – 11PM
Contact: m+855 (0) 63 966 441
7. Shopping Street, Pub Street
Continued the day with some shopping in Pub Street. From clothes, accessories, silk, wooden wares, candles, handmade soft toys, magnets, souvenirs, etc., there are a lot of things to buy along the main pub street.
TIPS: Get ready to bargain. Start from 50% of the quoted price. if not, get at least 30% off. Things they sell are similar from one shop to another, just some staffs are easier to deal with, while some aren’t so friendly. Try your luck and stay sweet.
And then Summerkid got this fruity-summer shirt. Hahahahaha.
8. Art Centre Market Siem Reap
Personally, we felt that shops in Art Centre Market Siem Reap give better price, especially the row of shops facing main road, near the river. We asked for discount and seller nodded the head saying OK. So we just paid once the bargain priced sounded reasonable.
9. Pool Time with Evening Cocktail in Hotel
Back to hotel and rest. Spotted few Insta-worthy spot so might as well dont’t go to waste.
Especially love this small path with rattan lamp hanging from high ceiling. Swimming pool with a small bar attached is Instagrammable too!
Last night in Pub Street Siem Reap hence we decided to splurge a little, on cocktails.
Get to know about ASANA Old Wooden House and Miss Wong Cocktail Bar thanks to Google Map, Instagram and Tripadvisor. Don’t think we will come here if we walk aimlessly on our own. 0.50USD draft beer at the main pub street is cheap, but we strongly recommend you to chill & drink here, for once, even though it might cost you USD5 per glass of cocktail.
10. Khmer Herbal Cocktails, ASANA Old Wooden House Cocktail Bar
Ahh.. ASANA Old Wooden House appears like our Kampung Attap House. Nostalgic, opened-air design where diners can choose to dine outdoor, then adjourn to the wooden house for after dinner cocktails.
This place is famous for their Khmer Herbal Cocktails, priced at 4.75USD. Tried Siem Reap Monsoon – Sombai infused rice spirit with Lemongrass, Mango Green Chili, Kaffir Leaf, Rice Paddy Herbs and Sugar Cane Juice. Sweet based, flavours elevated with spicy notes from chili.
ASANA Old Wooden House Cocktail Bar
10, Street 07,
Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Opening hours: 11AM – 1AM daily
Contact: +855 92 987 801
11. Oriental-themed Cocktail Bar, Miss Wong
Miss Wong has a long cocktail list that we took us forever to decide. So ended up asking for recommendation from staff. Miss Wong Punch, Rose & Lemongrass Martini and Passion Fruit Cosmopolitan are said to be signature here.
Ordered Rose & Lemongrass Martini that actually saved that whole visit. It looks nothing like a clear-water drink but the first sip got us wow.. good stuff. Clean in taste with strong kick of Vodka, subtle floral finish. Thanks staff for recommending this!
Give a skip to their dim sum if you happened to be here. Ordered Steamed Beef & Black Mushroom Dumpling and Steamed Pork & Shrimp Shumai that cost us USD3.50 per basket but the taste is just not right. Super weird. Not sure about other dishes like Singapore Fried Noodles, barbecued Pork & Wonton Noodles Soup, Tea Smoked Tofu Pockets with Mushroom Fillings, Hot Pots, Barbecued Pork Slider.
Miss Wong Cocktail Bar
House No.2 Road,
The Lane, Siem Reap Cambodia
Opening hours: 6PM – 1AM daily
Contact:+855 (0) 924 283 32
Wanted to visit WILD Creative Bar but it was full house. Bought two chicken wings back to hotel and the end. Good night!
Day 4: King Rock Boutique Hotel – Siem Reap International Airport- KLIA2
Left the hotel at 6.30AM in tuk-tuk. Staff was so thoughtful and packed us breakfast in a box. The distance between hotel and airport is just half an hour but do depart early (2 hours+ ahead) as the queue at check-in counter can be long, and moved very slow. By the time we passed the custom, we already heard announcement asking us for boarding immediately.
If you managed to check-in early, find a restaurant or cafe to rest. Dining options are quite ok – Starbucks (*before the custom), Coffee Club, Burger King, Angkor Kopitiam, they even have Yoshinoya.
Bye Siem Reap! You have been lovely!