My first stop in Cambodia was the city of temples, Siem Reap. I had my e-visa ready because I didn’t want to waste any time at the airport upon arrival. We had been provided with all the documents needed for the immigration, on the plane itself. I flew
with a local airline called ‘Smile’ and to my immense surprise; it was way more comfortable than the local airlines from other countries I had been to. I landed at Siem Reap early in the morning with the airport almost vacant. Within 15 minutes, I was out of the airport and ready to greet Siem Reap with open arms. Hundreds of Tuk Tuk drivers swarmed around me as I stepped outside the airport. Thankfully, my hostel ‘Siem Reap Hostel’ had arranged a pickup for me which made it easy for me to locate my driver waiting with a placard in his hand. In this post, I will be listing down the things to do in Siem Reap.
On my very first afternoon in the city, I decided not to do something hectic and just visit the famous war museum instead. The Tuk Tuk charged me 8$ return trip to the museum with an additional 5$ for the entry ticket to the museum. I had very little knowledge of Cambodian and Vietnamese history but spending an hour in the open museum amongst the guns, tanks, and war mines, etc. made me feel really sad about the Khmer people. The conflict with the United States and Vietnam had left the country to paralyse. A guide accompanies you once you buy the entry ticket to the museum and I would really recommend everybody to visit the museum and get to know about the history of Cambodia. It will help you connect to and empathise with the emotions of the locals while travelling in Cambodia.
Like I had mentioned in my post about Chiang Mai earlier, Siem reap also has an exuberant night market every night. Cheap clothes, exotic local food, souvenirs, etc. are the major things to be found in the market. The market is worth visiting because nothing gets more ‘local’ than that.
Probably the second most famous thing in town (after the Angkor Wat temple) is the Pub Street. As the name suggests, it’s a long street located just opposite to the night market and full of pubs and clubs. If you have been to Bangkok, you will find similarities in the ‘Khao San Road’ of Siem Reap. Hundreds of pubs and ‘Car Bars,’ light up the street as the sun goes down. The drinks are super cheap and the street is full of life. It’s definitely not something to miss. Your trip stays incomplete if you haven’t partied on Pub Street. I have some crazy stories from my visit to the Pub Street which I shall share with you in later posts.
Thanks to Pub Street, I got insanely drunk on my last night in Siem reap and missed my early morning bus. This extended my stay in the city for another day. I had heard a lot about the famous Cambodian circus and decided that this would be the perfect day to go see it. The ticket to the circus cost 18$ and seemed a little overpriced at first, but considering the background of the artists, it felt more like charity apart from the actual ticket price. The Cambodian circus is organised under the name of ‘Phare: The Cambodian Circus’ and is the perfect visual treat for visitors. It takes you through the rich history of the country. Out of the things to do in the city, the circus definitely ranks among the top five.
Last but not the least, the most important reason why Cambodia is famous is because of its ancient temples. Siem Reap is home to multiple famous temples such as the Angkor Wat, the Ta Prohm Temple, etc. I will be writing about my temple visit (especially the Angkor Wat) in detail in my next post. Temples in Cambodia hold strong historical importance and the Angkor Wat is the oldest Hindu temple and one of the major things-to-do on every backpacker’s bucket list. There are a lot of organised Tuk Tuk tours for temple runs, such as one day, half a day and even three-day long tour packages covering the tours of different temples. I took the one day tour which cost me 15$. It was not a guided tour and I’d recommend that you read up on the temples beforehand or have a guide book with you to keep you informed. To reduce the cost, you can share the tuk-tuk tour with other people as the 15$ price of the tuk-tuk is independent of the number of people travelling in the tuk-tuk.