Siem Reap has been a home to majestic temples in Northwestern Cambodia.
A day or two of exploration of the city is enough for a glimpse and short experience of the architectural wonders plus gives you spare time to roam other parts of the city.
Siem Reap is very accessible even to first time tourists on budget.
Most hotels over an airport transfer for minimal fees and this is very convenient especially if you’re arriving late at night with your luggage. There aren’t much taxis in the city but there are the famous TukTuk’s (a three-wheeler type of rickshaw famous in Cambodia).
We stayed at Mother Home Boutique for two nights. The hotel has great reception and staff. Breakfast was also good and complete. The rooms were spacious and new. I enjoyed the whole stay in there,plus, it’s near the temples and the markets.
Roaming around Siem Reap is very easy. You could rent an all-day Tuktuk for $15 to $20 for a maximum of 4 persons. There are also bike rentals for those interested in hiking them up on their own.
Temple passes are good for one day for $20 from 5am to 6pm. They also have passes for consecutive days if you’re planning on staying longer. Your photo would be taken on the spot so bring your ticket everywhere.
Since we were on a group tour, we visited the main attractions in Siem Reap: the Angkor Thom, The Bayon Temple, Ta Phrom Temple, and of course, the Angkor Wat.
Heading to the center of the Angkor Thom, pass by its southern gate that is guarded by the 54 gods and 54 demons. Apparently, 9 is a lucky number for them (as 5+4 is 9). Here, most of the your guides and tuktuk drivers would suggest that you get off the vehicle to have photos taken and walk through the gate yourself. They’ll meet you at the other end to continue your ride.
The center of the Angkor Thom is not far from the gate, The Bayon Temple. The temple is said to represent the intersection of heaven and earth. The Bayon temple is a known for 49 towers that sits 216 smiling faces.
I liked the Angkor Thom and the Bayon Temple. The Bayon Temple is very unique and offers and exciting experience. You have to go up steep stairs and hold onto some furnaces to keep your balance. The climb to the top was no easy deed but it was fun and worth it.
The architecture is superb on every wall and pillar and the presence of the smiling faces makes you feels welcome in the temple. It feels like climbing the original temple and exploring its hidden messages.
Near the east gate of the Angkor Thom is the Ta Phrom temple. This is different from the usual temples since this was based on Hindu Architecture. The temple is undergoing restoration to preserve the uprooted trees that holds the structure closer to the ground.
Ta Phrom is famous for the location of Hollywood movie, Tomb Raider and it has been one of the most visited places in Siem Reap.
The Ta Phrom is smaller than the Bayon Temple and it offers easier walks and planty of photo spots. There are a lot of spots wherein you could take photos under the uprooted trees and the pillars of the temple.
The first half of the morning would’ve sufficed to visit the temples mentioned above. It was mentioned that sunrise is also an awesome view in the Angkor for the early risers. If you also have time, in Bayon Temple, there is an elephant ride that would bring you around the temple. this surely would be an awesome experience.
Ask your Tuktuk driver or tour-guide to bring you to the local restaurants of Siem Reap for lunch. majority of their foods are spiced with chili and pepper. Some have the Vietnamese-Chinese fusion but they all taste good. Cambodia is also famous for their jasmine tea so it would never hurt to give it a try.
After lunch, save the afternoon for a visit to the World’s Seventh Wonder, the Angkor Wat. Famous for its majestic beauty, this temple has been the symbol of the Khmer kingdom in Cambodia. Angkor Wat is the last Hindu temple in Siem Reap and is consisted of 9 towers.
This iconic Cambodian beauty boasts an unbeatable architectural design on its form and structure.
It would take a 10-15 minute from the parking lot to reach the main temple. Always bring an umbrella or a hat as it could always be very hot in the area.
There are also food stalls and souvenir stalls around, they accept US dollars as payment but don’t always give in to the first amount. Haggle for less. 🙂
The Angkor Temples are not far from main Siem Reap. Even the airport is accessible, and the city offers various accommodation options from cheap hostels, to boutiques and high-end hotels.
Just a reminder, revealing clothes like tank tops and shorts/skirts above the knee are not allowed in the temples. Make sure to wear proper attires.
Locals also discourage foreigners from being too loud in the Temples as they are considered places of worship and reverence.
At night, always drop by the Night markets and lounges to see more of the Siem Reap culture. Ride a tuktuk.,talk to locals, eat their food, appreciate the architecture. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and listen to your tour guide. You’ll definitely learn a lot. 🙂
Visiting Siem Reap is like visiting the past and getting a whole new perspective of two other religions. Hinduism and Buddhism have their similarities but they are still by far very different from one another and visiting the three main temples in Siem reap helped me understand more of their beliefs and their art.
I would love to go back to this place and explore the other temples I did not see. It ws such an experience!