- One must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves. Machiavelli Niccolo
Visit Siem Reap, Cambodia
The gateway to the stunning, bucket list-worthy UNESCO World Heritage site of Angkor is Siem Reap, an intimate and welcoming resort town bustling with tuk tuks and filled with the scents of traditional Khmer cuisine. And while Siem Reap often serves as merely a home base for many who come to explore the vast temple complex of Angkor, the town itself should not be overlooked. With fantastic restaurants, sophisticated stays, and a thriving nightlife (not to mention $1 foot massages at every turn), it is one of Southeast Asia's most underrated destinations. Go for Angkor, but stay for Siem Reap.
When the morning light washes over the overgrown temples and ruins of Angkor Wat, a simple Siem Reap sunrise becomes a profound event. The ancient structures are contained within one of the largest religious complexes in the world. The complex and the 12th century Angkor Thom royal city are considered the main reasons to visit Siem Reap. Get a lesson in national history at the Cambodian Cultural Village, and a lesson in bargaining at the Angkor Night Market, a bonanza of shopping stalls, food vendors, and bars.
Ancient Temples You Can Actually Touch And Explore
From the great Angkor Wat to the Bayon Temple, Siem Reap offers a truly hands-on experience of its ancient culture. You won’t be forced to stand behind a glass wall or look from a distance. You’re part of the atmosphere and can interact with the temples, the monks, and the other visitors. Just remember to be respectful and you’ll be more than welcome to enter the temples, walk up the stairs, and look out from within.
Khmer Cuisine Is Really Amazing
Unless you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll be hard-pressed to find truly authentic and delicious Khmer food. When in Siem Reap try the fish amok (a kind of fish mousse), their fried crab and grilled seafood, Khmer red curry, and their iced coffee (similar to Vietnamese coffee but with Cambodian beans). We really recommend taking a cooking class. The restaurant Tigre du Papier in downtown Siem Reap offers a great hands-on class that involves visiting the local market as well.
Old Market Area
Siem Reap is small and can be explored on foot very easily. Check out Pub Street, Street 11, and The Lane for cute cafes, restaurants, boutiques, spas, and bars. Here you’ll see some amazing Cambodian art and textiles that are both modern and traditional. If you’re a shopaholic, you’ll have fun here.