Monday, 19 March 2012

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Street scene, Siem Reap
Siem Reap appears to have developed largely to service the needs of the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit nearby Angkor Wat every year.  By all accounts, it started with a few backpacker hostels and cheap eateries to cater for the intrepid travellers who found their way to the heart of Cambodia.  Now, however, there is a wide range of accommodation and dining facilities on offer to meet the varied demands of the wide range of tourists who visit.  The result is a delightful mishmash of a town which exudes a great atmosphere, particularly at night.  It provides the perfect base for exploring Angkor Wat and has something to suit all pockets.

We were in town for three nights.  We arrived by boat from Battambang and picked up a tuk-tuk driver at the dock to take us the 15km into town (it was the dry season so we weren't able to go as far up river as you can in the rainy season!).  Once there, we checked into our hotel and went for a wander around town.  We found a decent selection of shops with many more international products available than we have at home in Vietnam.  We whiled away an hour or so watching the world go by as we sipped on deliciously cold beer.
FCC, Siem Reap

For dinner on that first evening, we headed for the FCC.  We had had such a good experience at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Phnom Pehn (I wrote about it here), that we wanted to repeat it.  All I can say is that we shouldn't have bothered!  FCC Siem Reap is simply trading on the name of its authentic counterpart in the capital.  The food and service were but a pale imitation and the ambience was non-existent.  I wish we hadn't sullied our memories of the original!

Traditional dancers
For our other two evenings, we stuck to Pub Street which isn't nearly as tacky as it sounds!  What it is is an area of bars, clubs and restaurants covering two or three streets.  There is a huge range of cuisines on offer - everything from Indian to Italian to Indonesian.  Not having eaten Italian food since leaving Veneto last September, we were tempted by a restaurant offering home-made pizzas cooked in a wood-burning oven.  We opted for the conventional toppings rather than the 'happy pizza' option which we were led to believe had a liberal sprinkling of cannabis resin on top!  We were not disappointed!  The pizza was almost up to the standard of Funghetto's, our local pizzeria in Ca' Savio.

On our last night in Siem Reap, we went to a Cambodian restaurant where, as well as fantastic food, we were treated to a traditional dancing show.  To eat, we ordered a mixed platter for two people which consisted of a range of curries, spring rolls and rice dishes served in banana leaves.  Every dish was fresh and tasty, but we particularly enjoyed amok, the local speciality.

Elephant statues by the river
Other than the restaurants and bars, Siem Reap has many other places where you can just sit and 'people-watch', not least along the riverside which makes for a pleasant walk punctuated by several benches placed beneath the trees where you can take advantage of the shade.  The night markets are also worth a look although, perversely, we actually found it better to visit these places early in the morning when not all the stalls were open but those that were seemed to be offering silly prices for being 'the first customer of the day'.  Whether or not this was just a line, we were happy with our purchases!
Dried fish at the market

Overall, we really enjoyed our time in Siem Reap and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if we find our way back there someday!

You can see more of my photos of Siem Reap here.


  1. There are a few things you can do in the town of Siem Reap to enjoy, but not enough for more than a day. A trip to the old market and the nearby roads is a must. This is a conventional market that provides both outsiders and residents.
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  2. Nice Post.I think Siem Reap is nice place for traveling.