Where to stay in Siem Reap and what you can do around there
Where to stay in Siem Reap and what you can do around there
The ultimate place to visit in Siem Reap is the Angkor Archaeological Park but would it be a good idea to stay near there?
I finally made it to Angkor Wat in Cambodia after years of pining. When Jetstar released its promo fares, I quickly snapped up the return tickets at only SGD120; it costs SGD300 to fly from Singapore to Siem Reap usually! I would have spent a couple more days to visit Phnom Penh or lesser-known islands such as Koh Rong, but alas, I was due to start a new job and couldn’t make more time for these places.
Our itinerary had us visiting Angkor Wat and other temples in the park for two days. Despite this, we opted not to stay near the Angkor Archaeological Park during our time in Siem Reap. The park is a huge complex that houses not only Angkor Wat but also over 1000 other temples over a large area. Even if you stay near Angkor Wat, you will still need some form of transport to visit other temples. Besides, once the temples close for the day, there’s little to do in the area.
Where to stay when visiting Siem Reap
Instead of choosing accommodation near Angkor Wat or the other famous temples, we opted for somewhere near the thriving nightlife and street food so we could unwind after a day of exploring.
Siem Reap Palace Residence
Our search led us to Siem Reap Palace Residence, a new boutique hotel just a stone’s throw from Pub Street. Not to be confused with the luxurious Palace Residence & Villa Siem Reap, our humble abode was only SGD40 (~USD30) per night with breakfast and a one-way airport transfer!
Address | House #173, Wat Damnak Village, Sala Kamreak Commune, Siem Reap City
WEBSITE | http://siemreappalace-residence.com/
We liked that it was in a quiet street and was near all the highly-rated restaurants such as SPOONS (which we missed because they were closed for the public holidays), Viroth and Khmer Grill.
The hotel went for a fusion style – modern with some traditional touches such as the Khmer-styled tiles and lights. The rooms were also adequately furnished. While the housekeeping was different every day, it was always thoroughly done. Service was also excellent, especially from the manager, Sina.
We were also able to arrange for private tours and tour guides to Angkor Wat, other temples and Kulen waterfall on short notice hassle-free through the hotel.
Definitely a gem for the budget-conscious!
Other hotels to consider without breaking the bank:
- Apsara Residence Hotel: just a street away from Siem Reap Palace Residence. Apsara Residence is right opposite the Made in Cambodia Art Market and a little closer to Pub Street.
- Night Hotel: in terms of location, I think it’s comparable to Siem Reap Palace Residence but Night Hotel is definitely a lot more well-established and therefore, more expensive. Guests liked the hotel for its large rooms, warm service and beautiful interiors.
- You can also consider Hotel Somadevi Resort and Spa and Central Suite Residences as recommended by Emma Adventures
What to do around the hotel
Neon lights on Pub Streets
Pub street is the centre of the night life in Siem Reap. A short street flanked with dozens of restaurants and pubs, it's where you'll head to for a drink to unwind at the end of your day. Each pub and restaurant has its own character and music style and it's pretty fun just walking down the streets looking at each of these shops.
Between our hotel and pub street, there’s also a short stretch of food stalls. The options were decent but repetitive. There were pancakes, fried ice cream, coconut shake and grilled meat. Each snack was USD 1 – 2.
We did try to figure out if there were more street food options nearby but couldn’t find any. Nearing the end of our trip, we met an American solo traveler on one of our Angkor tours, and he shared his experience on a food tour with Urban Adventures that included fried tarantulas and native fruits. If you’re interested, you can check out the tour here.
Phalla Angkor night market
Just a short distance away from Pub Street was another night market called Phalla Angkor Night Market. The shops here mostly sold souvenirs such as laptop bags and cases made of recycled materials, cute t-shirts and tank tops with prints unique to Siem Reap and silk products. Be prepared to bargain as the shopkeepers here routinely quote tourists higher prices.
Palm container night market
If you are done with the nearby night spots, take a short tuk tuk ride to the palm container night market. Decked in bright neon lights and fronted by three large transformers, the night market is a rad hangout place for locals. We hardly saw any tourists in the night market, which was pretty rare for Siem Reap!
While we didn’t particularly find anything of interest to buy in the shops, we enjoyed chilling out at one of the restaurants while listening to great live local music.
Cafe-hunting, handicraft shopping, massages and more!
On my last morning, I discovered a couple of streets at the edge of the night markets with cafes and stores selling handcrafted accessories and lifestyle items. Definitely wished I found these earlier!
A highly-rated cafe in Siem Reap, Le Malraux occupies a small Parisian-styled shopfront with tables spilling onto the sidewalk. The cafe combines french influences and local tastes in both its menu and decor. Nice, quaint place for brunch or an afternoon snack.
Gelato lab is a small shop selling richly-flavoured artisanal ice cream. Most of their flavours are concoctions of coffee beans, chocolates and nuts but they also have fruity flavours made from local produce. We tried their Caffe’ Caramellato and it was great! Highly recommend to hit this ice cream parlour after a long day at the temples.
De Kampuchea Spa
Highly-rated spa in Siem Reap City. I did a 30-min foot massage for about USD7, which was a pretty decent price.
Phare, the Cambodian Circus
A sincere theatrical circus performance brought to you by graduates of Phare Ponleu Selpak’s vocational training centre, a NGO which offers free education and arts programmes.
What to eat around the hotel in Siem Reap
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In general, my favourite meal was at Viroth’s restaurant, a short 5-minute tuk tuk ride from Siem Reap Palace Residence. The interior was very pretty and the food was great.
I highly recommend the pork skewers! The fish prahok, on the other hand, is an acquired taste. Prahok is a salted and fermented fish paste so it does have a sourish taste which may not sit well with everyone. We paid about SGD30 (about USD24) per person.
Other than Viroth’s, Spoons and Tevi’s kitchen are also highly recommended online but we visited Siem Reap during a major public holiday and they were closed. For a more economical option, there’s always Khmer Grill which is less than 5 minutes on foot from the hotel. It’s a really popular restaurant so avoid the peak hours if possible. We tried one of their Khmer curry and it was great!
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT SIEM REAP? Leave a comment! ☺️