In today’s post, a fellow budget travel blogger – Agness of eTramping – is going to share with us her tips on exploring one of the most fascinating cities in Southeast Asia, Siem Reap, on a tight budget. Although she is originally from Poland, she considers herself a citizen of the world.
She loves sharing her adventurous life with the rest of the world, particularly her passions which are traveling on a budget, fitness, and new adventures. Together with her best friend Cez, she writes about her trips around the world and shares them on our blog eTramping. Their readers appreciate their transparent and unfiltered view of tourist spots and destinations. They both show people that you don’t need to have a lot of money to enjoy a place such as Siem Reap.
Exploring Enchanting Siem Reap
Siem Reap is one of the most interesting and culturally-enriching places that we’ve been to. Even though the main tourist draw is that it is the city closest to the most visited tourist spot in Cambodia, the Angkor Wat, there are many other places worth visiting in Siem Reap. The area offers a lot of great places and one-of-a-kind experiences, especially for the budget traveller. Here are the top five reasons why you should visit this fascinating Cambodian city:
The City’s Architecture
Siem Reap has a unique mixture of colonial Chinese-style and Old French Quarter architecture, along with a cluster of small villages around Siem Reap River. The small villages were built surrounding the Buddhist pagodas called Wats. Being a world-famous tourist area, the city offers affordable western hotels, bars, and restaurants, which we enjoyed when we lived there for few months. All these make for an interesting mix of culture and tradition.
Gateway to the Angkor Wat
Angkor is a term used for both the ancient Southeast Asian Khmer Empire that ruled this area, and the name of the empire’s capital city. Siem Reap serves as the gateway to Angkor Wat temple, Angkor Thom, which is the inner royal city, and numerous other temples located within the park. Plan your day well because a day’s pass to the Angkor Archaeological Park is $20. From February 2017, this price is supposed to increase to $37. Check out our ultimate guide to visiting Angkor Wat to see how to best explore this destination.
Affordable Attractions in Siem Reap
It is one of our advocacies to travel across the world without breaking the bank. Budget travellers will enjoy Siem Reap because of the affordable or even free places that you can visit. Here are the top three affordable places that we loved:
Psah Chas (Old Market) – free
Visiting the colourful Old Market gives you a glimpse of the local produce and local crafts in the area. Our absolute favourite finds in the market are local tropical fruits like mango, jackfruit, dragonfruit, and rambutan. There are also some souvenirs here (requires a bit of haggling, of course).
Cambodia Landmine Museum and Relief Centre- $5
This unique museum is also a school and relief centre for children. The first residents and students were child victims of landmines. Now, the school houses and educates orphans and destitute children and gives them an opportunity to lead better lives. Visitors are educated on the dangers of landmines and are given a tour of the facility. All proceeds go to the school and help in caring for the children and in clearing landmines in Cambodia.
War Museum Cambodia – $5
This museum houses war relics such as artillery, weapons, vehicles and other equipment encompassing three decades of the Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia. This is a fascinating, but saddening, look into the history of Cambodia. One of the most interesting part of the War Museum are the English-speaking guides who are usually war veterans, landmine victims, or have personally witnessed the war in one way or another. You don’t have to pay these guides, and they willingly give a lot of information about their Khmer Rouge experience. However, a tip would help them a lot. You may have an opportunity to hold an M16 and an AK-47, which were used during the war.
Getting around Siem Reap
We actually did a lot of walking while we were in Siem Reap, because most of the attractions are at the heart of the city, and can easily be explored by foot. This works well for fitness freaks like me. If you’re a health buff, you might find these tips for leading a healthy life useful.
If you’re not keen on walking, you can take tuk tuks for short journeys around the city, which costs $2 – $3 per trip. If you’re going to Angkor Wat, you can rent a tuk tuk with a driver for $15-$20 for the whole day. Some drivers might take advantage of you, so make sure you know the current prices. The cheapest way to get around Siem Reap is to rent a bike. You can cycle around the city or explore the temples of Angkor by bike. Bike rentals cost $1-$2 a day. High-end mountain bike models cost $5 per day.
Budget Accommodations in Siem Reap
Budget travellers have a lot of options in Siem Reap. Here are three great budget accommodations:
Central Hostel – from $5/night
7 Makara Street, Wat Damnak Village, Salar Komroeuk, Siem Reap, Cambodia
We have very fond memories of this place. Cez lived there for over a month paying just $1 a night few years ago. It is much better hostel now, but still not too expensive. What’s super cool about this hostel, is its great location (as the name suggests), but also the atmosphere. That’s thanks to a very large number of travellers staying there, and their own rooftop bar.
Tanei Boutique Villa – from $22/night
Steng Thmey Road, Siem Reap, Cambodia
This centrally-located property is within a natural setting, and has full amenities including a swimming pool, 24-hour front desk, currency exchange, complimentary breakfast and Wi-Fi, among others.
Kia Kaha Villa – from $33/night
Wat Damnak, Salakomreuk, Siem Reap, Cambodia
This property is walking distance to Pub Street, and almost everyone who stayed here commends the extremely friendly and helpful staff. The rooms are clean and modern, with a spacious shower.
Cheap Food and Drinks in Siem Reap
Angkor Palm Restaurant
113 Charles de Gaulle, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Palm Restaurant is the best place to try authentic Cambodian cuisine. You can have an authentic and satisfying meal for only $8 per person. Mojito and Margarita only costs $1.50.
Banlle Vegetarian Restaurant
Phum Wat Bo, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Located near Pub Street, Banlle is for vegetarians seeking an excellent meal in a relaxed and refreshing atmosphere. Even non-vegetarians rave about the food here. Each dish costs around $4.
Taphul Road, Siem Reap, Cambodia
This fusion restaurant offers cheap and delicious Khmer and Asian food with a twist. Just a few minutes’ walk to Pub Street and Old Market, their fresh spring rolls start at $1.50, their green mango salad is around $2, and their rice meals average around $3. Their sodas and other drinks range from $0.75 to $1.
What are you waiting for?
If all this didn’t convince you to explore Siem Reap and its surrounding areas, then we don’t know what would. Siem Reap is intriguing, affordable, and full of like-minded people. Join in the fun and plan your trip, or share your experience with us in the comments.