Hotels in Siem Reap, Cambodia
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Siem Reap – The Jewel in Cambodia’s Crown
Since the turn of the century, the once-small market town of Siem Reap has firmly established itself as one of Asia’s most popular tourist destinations. Once simply a stepping stone for more intrepid explorers to take in the majestic 12th Century temple complex at Angkor, the town has evolved into something of a destination in itself, tempting visitors with its world-class dining, chic shopping and laid-back locals. Countless hotels have sprung up in recent years to accommodate the ever-increasing number of visitors, yet in spite of the incessant activity, Siem Reap has somehow retained much of its small-town authenticity.
Built between the 7th and 16th Centuries, the jaw-dropping collection of temples at Angkor are amongst the world’s greatest man-made wonders. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is the primary attraction for the two-million-plus throng of tourists that make the trip to the North West of the country each year, and for good reason. Decorated with intricately carved artwork detailing scenes from Hindu mythology and Khmer history, the temple structures include towers, cloisters and courtyards, some of which have been virtually untouched for hundreds of years. The most awe-inspiring of them all—Angkor Wat—is arguably the finest sight in world travel. Spectacular in both its scale and detail, the architectural masterpiece is best preserved of all the temples and the finest example of a lost empire’s remarkable achievement. The encroaching roots of the Kapok tree only add to the timeless splendour of one of the planets most enthralling experiences.
An Array of Alternative Attractions
Once you’ve tired of the obligatory temple tours, enjoy some of Siem Reap’s countless other attractions. The War Museum commemorates the country’s recent struggles with the Khmer Rouge, while the Landmine Museum educates visitors about the ongoing threat faced by rural populations. The floating villages of Tonlé Sap Lake offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives of traditional fishermen and their families, while Cambodian culture is being kept alive by young artisans at Les Chantiers Écoles—a non-profit organisation teaching traditional techniques such as wood- and stone-carving to Cambodian children. For a fabulous evening of theatre, dance, music and storytelling, try Phare, where a troupe of youths perform an original play rooted in local culture. Learn how to create traditional Cambodian cuisine at a cooking school, work out with like-minded travellers at a yoga school, or traverse the jungle canopy at Flight of the Gibbon, an exhilarating zip line experience.
Magical Markets and Chic Boutiques
As tourists have flocked to this dusty corner of the country, so too have some of its most creative inhabitants. The result is a treasure trove of market stalls littered with one-of-a-kind souvenirs and outstanding examples of traditional Cambodian craftsmanship. Head to one of the night markets to experience local life at its most authentic, dine on delicious delicacies and browse such hand-crafted curios as silk paintings, shadow puppets and stone carvings. These vibrant venues also offer cheap beer and play host to live music performances that entertain into the early hours. The French influence is strongly evident in the town’s array of trendy boutiques, where high-end handicrafts, jewellery and apparel are available. Shop here for more upmarket, designer goods, but still expect to be pleasantly surprised by the price tag. Not-for-profit galleries and fair-trade centres are dotted around the town, offering tourists the opportunity to do some socially-conscious shopping.
Khmer Cuisine – Once Tried, Never Forgotten
From obscure alleyway eateries to bustling high-end restaurants, no trip to Siem Reap is complete without sampling its array of world-class cuisine. Head to the Old Market to sample Cambodian street food at its finest. In particular, look out for Num Banh Chok; a much-loved noodle soup that is all the more delicious eaten after a visit to see the noodles being hand-made by families at a local village. Look out for other local favourites such as Luc-Lac (stir fried beef), fish amok and a variety of insect-based delicacies for the more daring diners, including tarantula samosas and stir-fried red ants. Expat-owned restaurants line Pub Street and cater to increasing numbers of foreign visitors looking to enjoy an array of international dishes as well as imported wines, beers and spirits. For outstanding cuisine with a cause, head to Marum—a hospitality training restaurant for disadvantaged youth operated by Friends-International.
So Many Places to Stay
One thing you will never struggle to do in Siem Reap is find your perfect hotel. To accommodate the burgeoning throngs of tourists pouring into the town, an array of accommodations have appeared to appease all traveller-types and budgets. The hotels and hostels in Siem Reap include world-class resorts, family-friendly stays and outstanding-value options. Sivatha Boulevard, Siam Reap’s main thoroughfare, is part of the Old French Quarter and offers some of the town’s more luxurious lodgings. Wat Bo Road was once a magnet for backpackers but has recently evolved into one of the city’s most stylish districts, playing host to hip bars and trendy boutique hotels. First-timers frequently choose to stay in and around The Old Market Area—the vibrant centre of the town. Lively lodgings here are exceptionally good value, and as such are popular with partygoers looking for a simple place to rest up between adventures.
Price rangefrom NZ$8to NZ$1,779
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