Siem Reap is a popular destination in Cambodia that rose to fame due to the nearby ruins of Angkor Wat. The majestic stone buildings contains a wide array of intricate stone carvings and preserved temples. Siem Reap in Cambodia will definitely take you to a journey of revisiting the rich culture of Khmer in the 9th-15th centuries.
During my Indochina trip last December 2019, I can still remember that exploring Siem Reap is surely one of my favorite countries to date! The Kingdom of Wonders welcomes every tourists coming from Vietnam or Thailand to a wonderful temple escapade. Traveling to Siem Reap DIY-way is a very easy trip anyone can do even for solo female travelers like me! Well if you’ve been following my website recently, you probably already know that I’ve been a fan of DIY trips ever since a million years ago. In this travel guide, let’s talk about Siem Reap and how to rock-DIY it!
Get ready for breath-taking historical temples, strolling late night in Khmer-style street, getting drunk at the famous pub street or learning more about Khmer culture and gastronomy. All these adventures under one epic trip to Siem Reap in Cambodia. For backpackers, get ready for another culture to explore! Here is Cambodia presenting its rich and stunning culture and traditions.
Helpful Travel Guides
Getting to know Siem Reap
Before starting your trip to the Kingdom of Wonders, I have gathered important facts you first need to know. Let’s get to know Siem Reap below!
Best Month to Visit Siem Reap
There are 2 seasons you need to expect before visiting Siem Reap Cambodia. Take note that the best time to visit is during the dry season. Just be aware that it is also the most touristy season because it’s the best time to roam around and do photo-ops in the majestic temples.
|DRY SEASON||RAINY SEASON|
|Months||December – April||May – November|
|Pros/Cons||Season with most tourists||Wet weather and high humidity|
Currency Accepted in Siem Reap
Although Cambodian Riel is the official currency in Cambodia, the most accepted currency anywhere in Siem Reap is USD. For some reason, visitors and tourists, even locals, admits that USD is widely used in the country compared to Cambodian Riel. The reason behind this is because Cambodian Riel like VND and THB are all worthless outside their country. There is no value in this currency when you take it outside their country. Even when you bring it to money changer stores, they will not accept or buy your Riel. This is why Indochina backpackers seldom use Cambodian Riel and use USD instead.
Tip: If you just want a few Cambodian Riel bill as a souvenir, don’t worry because you don’t have to go to money changers to get a Riel. When you pay to establishments even in local stores and stalls, they will give you a mixed change of USD and Riel. Make sure to just politely ask the vendor to give you Riel instead.
The language spoken in Cambodia is Khmer. Don’t worry because most people, including the locals, can speak and understand English. But if you don’t want to risk your chance of asking for directions, might as well download a Google app translate!
Below are helpful greetings you may keep in mind:
|Thank you||Arkoun (ar-kun)|
|Good bye!||Leahaey (lea-hay)|
|How much?||Bonman? (bon-man)|
Cambodian Visa Requirement
Note that for Philippines passport holders, there is no need to secure a Cambodian Visa. Below are the countries exempted to secure a visa. On the other hand, countries not stated can secure Cambodian visa on arrival. You may check this link for more information about Cambodian Visa.
Now that we already got to know about Cambodia and the relevants information we must keep in mind, let’s now check on the pre-travel check-list for your trip! Should you have additional question not stated in this pre-travel guide, comment below!
How to go to Siem Reap
There are a lot of ways for you to get to Siem Reap. Whether you are planning to go there by plane or by land travel from its neighboring countries. Siem Reap is a very open-door country to its lovely visitors who wish to get to know their culture and traditions.
Option 1: Via Plane
The only airport that operates in Siem Reap is the Siem Reap International Airport (REP). It is the second busiest airport in Cambodia next to Phnom Penh. To filter the cheapest flights heading to Siem Reap, you may book through the platform below:
Option 2: From Ho Chi Minh City
Alternatively, you may book flights from Ho Chi Minh Airport (SGN) to Siem Reap (REP). If you are planning to travel by land transportation or by bus, check out my step-by-step travel guide below!
Option 3: From Bangkok, Thailand
Another famous gateway to Siem Reap is traveling from Bangkok to Siem Reap either by plabe or by bus. To check the step-by-step guide on how to cross the boarders by land transportation, I made a separate guide for you! Check it out below:
Transportation in Siem Reap
Getting around in Siem Reap DIY-way is easy peasy! Tuk-tuk is the most common transportation in Cambodia. It looks like a motorbike pulling a carriage. A ride from one place to the other within Siem Reap will cost you 1-2 dollars for the whole tuk-tuk. Hency, you will still be paying 1-2 dollars even if you are alone.
Where to Stay in Siem Reap? (Siem Reap DIY)
I stayed in Heart Language Angkor Hotel. It’s a few minutes away from Pub Street and Night Market. Also, the backpacker’s rate here is very cheap plus they have a private swimming pool. I booked my stay here with Agoda. Check them out below!
Alternatively, check out the rooms available around the area below!
Where to eat in Siem Reap? (Siem Reap DIY)
For backpackers or budget travelers, check out Pub Street for different kinds of food and styles of Khmer street-food! I really recommend this place for restaurant-hopping. There is a series of a seemingly unending food stalls offering different kinds of food like rice meal, desserts, street-food, grilled seafood, etc.
For recommended restaurant and for an authentic taste of Khmer Gastronomy, check out Embassy Restaurant in Siem Reap. The Khmer cuisine by the Kimsan twins will surely give you the magnificent flavours of the Kingdom of Wonders.
Things to do in Siem Reap
Frankly speaking, you can check out the famous spots in Siem Reap in just a day or 2. For me, I went around Siem Reap in just 2 days during my Indochina backpacking trip. Below are the places you can visit and things to do in the Kingdom of Wonders.
Explore the Majestic Angkor Wat
The Angkor Wat is undeniably the most visited, most famous and most touristy destination in Siem Reap. Pictured in Cambodia’s flag, the Angkor Wat is a Hindu-Buddhist temple and is also the largest religious monument in the world. The best time to go here is during sunrise when the Angkor Wat is reflecting in the water at the front.
Below is the updated admission fee as of 2020 for Foreign visitors:
|Number of Days:||Rates:|
|1 Day Pass||USD37|
|3 Day Pass||USD62|
Angkor Wat DIY-way
To get here, you have to rent a tuk-tuk to take you to the Angkor Wat and other temples nearby like the Bayon temple, Ta Phrom and Angkor Thom. Renting a whole day tuk-tuk is 18USD. It would be better if you come in 3-4 people so you could split the tuk-tuk rental fee. If you are traveling alone, you may haggle down to 15USD.
Travel Tip: Better find a tuk-tuk driver that will take you to the temples for the whole day. It is cheaper that chartering tuk-tuk for every temple you go to.
Before entering the temples, your tuk-tuk driver will take you first to the office to purchase an Angkor Wat Permit (USD37/1 Day Pass). After that you can now go to the temples and explore the Angkor Wat and appreciate the vast complex of intricate stone carvings. Click here for more information about the Angkor Wat and things to do.
Book Angkor Wat Tour with Klook
Alternatively, you may book your Angkor Wat tour with Klook! This is recommended especially if you are traveling alone. But, if you are in a group the cheapest way is to rent a tuk-tuk.
Visit Kulen Waterfall
My tuk-tuk driver Thon actually told me that there is another tourist attraction in Siem Reap which is the Kulen Waterfall. Treat yourself to a scenic drive up Phnom Kulen and explore the abundant greenery of Kulen Waterfall.
Book your Phnom Kulen Waterfall tour with Klook:
- KULEN WATERFALL DAY TOUR
Bar-hopping and Exploring Khmer cuisine in Pub Street & Angkor Night Market
A night-life you should never miss when in Siem Reap is the Pub Street and Night Market. Taste different kinds of Khmer-style food in Pub Street or get drunk in an alley filled with bars and restaurants. Beside the Pub Street is the peaceful alley of the Night Market where you can buy souvenirs. Some of the souvenirs to expect are: elephant paintings, clothes, key chains, ref magnest, cobra snake wine, elephant stuffed toys, etc.
Check out the Angkor National Museum
If you are interested in the era when the Angkor Wat was built, you must check out the Angkor National Museum! The museum features treasures and artifacts from the golden era of the Khmer Kingdom. In here, you will see more intricate stone carvings during the era of Angkor Wat.
Sample Itinerary & Expenses
DAY 0: Arrival in Siem Reap
Ride a bus from HCMC Vietnam to Siem Reap or;
MNL – REP airport
Check in at Heart Language Hotel (USD5/PHP250.00/night/person)
Day 1: Angkor Wat Tour
6AM Wake up time, breakfast (USD2/PHP100.00)
7AM Angkor Wat Tour, Bayon Temple, Ta Phrom (Expenses: USD18/PHP900.00 tuk-tuk for a group of 3-4 pax, USD37/PHP1,850.00 Angkor admission fee)
12NN Lunch (USD3/PHP150.00)
4PM Back in hotel, rest, freshen-up
6:45PM Tuk-tuk to Pub Street (USD2/group of 3-4 pax)
7PM Dinner in Pub Street and buy souvenirs in Night Market
10PM Lights out
Day 2: Kulen Waterfall Whole Day Tour
7AM Wake up time, breakfast (USD2/PHP100.00)
8AM Hotel pick up (PHP1,815.00 with Klook)
4:30PM Back in hotel, rest, early dinner (USD2/PHP100.00)
Day 3: Siem Reap City Tour
7AM Wake up time, breakfast (USD2/PHP100.00)
8AM Check out bags, leave in the hotel
9AM Angkor National Museum (USD12/PHP600.00)
11AM Lunch (USD2/PHP100.00), free time
TOTAL EXPENSES FOR 3 DAYS: USD127/PHP6,350.00 for a solo traveler.
Pro tip: Better travel with friends so that you can split the fees for tuk-tuk expenses and other DIY travels.
Important Contact & Tips from Joan’s Footprints (Siem Reap DIY)
- For Angkro Wat Tour, contact Sir Thon Thon through his Facebook account. He is a local from Siem Reap. Say hi to kuya Thon for me!
- Angkor Wat Tour will be less expensive if you will charter a tuk-tuk for the whole day if you are in a group of 3-4. Otherwise, booking a tour with Klook will be the best option for you.
- If you are coming from Vietnam or Thailand, make sure that you have converted your VND of THB to USD or Cambodian Riel. VND and THB doesn’t have value outside their country and it is NOT ACCEPTED in Cambodia as a currency.
- Make sure to check out Ta Phrom Temple during the Angkor Wat Tour, it’s where some of the Tomb Raider was filmed.
- In Night Market, make sure to haggle down with the price of souvenirs. Foreigners are like walking dollars in their eyes so be sure to negotiate with a reasonable price.
- Elephant paintings outside the Angkor Wat temples are cheaper compared if you will buy in the Night Market.
- Siem Reap DIY-way is very easy! It’s ideal to solo travelers even for female solo travelers too.
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