The plans for my visit to Cambodia were anchored, as you may well imagine, in seeing world-famous Angkor Wat. For that, we planned to spend 1.5 days and 2 nights in the town of Siem Reap which is just less than a few handful of miles from the historical sites. There are many many more temples to go explore and one can certainly spend 2-3 days just focused on that. I felt I was more on a sampler visit due to the overall travel plans (anchored on a wedding in Bali) and the limited time off work.
Paradise in Siem Reap
We arrived right in Siem Reap (very nice and modern small airport) from Bangkok after noon and headed to our hotel, the Borei Angkor Resort right in the town.
The hotel was a phenomenal spot as may be others. The spaces were very open. The pool was big enough and had a section with jets which were great after a lot of walking around the next day. And it helped that I stayed at the Privilege Floor (Disclosure: No freebies, discounts, etc. were given to me for me to write about the place – I paid for it all myself and I write about it because I really enjoyed it.)
The staff was super eager to help and no one more so than our hostess, Judy, who ensured all the logistics of our sightseeing and the hotel stay were in order (everything was perfect!). We also enjoyed a server at the lounge who had a peculiar way of laughing and who called everyone “fabulous” though I could swear he called me “father” instead… He definitely made the place very lively!
In any case, we had decided not to hit the temples that first afternoon for a couple of reasons: one, it would be peak heat and ‘suffering’ wasn’t high on the list of priorities…; two, people had said it was best to hit the sites at sunrise and then stay on-site through the morning, when some or many tourists would return to their hotels for breakfasts and/or extra sleep. (More on the visit to the temples in a future post.) We quickly dropped our bags, changed and headed to lounge by the pool for some nice R&R with some Angkor Wat beer I think I ordered a sandwich or a pizza poolside for lunch – scary that I can’t fully recall! (Phil, ayúdame!)
The local market in Siem Reap
We had planned to do a drive in the countryside later that first day – more about that in another post – but after that drive, as we were passing the local market, we decided to jump out and do a quick walk-around of the market and that area of the town. I have to say it was definitely a chill place. While there were certainly tourist-oriented market stands and eateries (goodness, there was even a Hard Rock Café – yikes…), the market also served locals and it was neat to just meander through it.
The town felt lively and the colorful lighting on the bridges certainly contributed. Overall, I felt very safe and maybe I should have explored more and sat down somewhere to watch life go by. But I don’t always enjoy full clarity every moment of every trip – in hindsight! No worries, I still can say it was a neat place.
What to Know
- The town is very walkable and felt safe.
- There are good eateries around the market – get a good recommendation from a trusted source, be it your hotel or an online review!
- If you are looking for souvenirs, what you find in the market will be the same touristy stuff you will find elsewhere in the country – and at a slightly higher price since it is, after all, a very tourist-centric town.