Top Five things to do in Siem Reap

I really enjoyed exploring Siem Reap, even a whole week there wasn't enough for me and I can't wait to go back again one day in the future.

As it is for most people, seeing Angkor Wat and the incredible surrounding temples was the main reason I wanted to go there but there is so much more to see and do as well.

Here are my top five favourite things to do:

1. Marvel at the temples on a day tour

Beginning with the obvious and one of the top things on most people's bucket lists.
Siem Reap is most well known for being the gateway to Angkor Wat and the rest of the Angkor Ruins - a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Site covers almost 400 square kilometres, making it arguably one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia.

I did a sunrise Angkor Wat and full day temple tour with Happy Angkor and it was such an incredible day and a major highlight of my time there.

2. Floating village and local school visit

Another awesome thing to do is head out of the city centre to visit the nearby floating villages. I went with Kompong Khleang and it was an amazing day witnessing such a different way of life. 
We spent heaps of time on the Tonle Sap River in the midst of village life and got to visit a local school where our guide was originally from. We met some very happy and friendly children and I highly recommend the tour. All of the proceeds made go straight back to the school.

3. Check out Pub Street

Pub Street is the town centre where most tourists tend to gravitate towards. The area is nicely decorated, the restaurants and bars are cheap and plentiful and there are many market-style shopping areas nearby.
Come at night time for a totally different experience. You can try a scorpion or tarantula or sit at one of the many fun pop-up cocktail carts. I can recommend getting a banana and nutella pancake from a street food cart made fresh in front of you for only $1 - so good!

4. Phare the Cambodian Circus

My favourite evening spent in Siem Reap was at the popular show Phare the Cambodian Circus. It's modern circus-style entertainment featuring very talented high-flying acrobats.
I was completely astonished by their amazing skills and drawn in by the compelling story they told. It was fun, high-energy and even emotional.
It is again a wonderful cause and all of the proceeds go straight back into the community and help to transform the lives of Cambodian youth.

5. Indulge in the great food

I enjoyed the food in Siem Reap so much that I already have a whole blog post on it! Five Places to Eat in Siem Reap.
As well as eating your way around some of the best-rated restaurants, you could do a food tour or even take a local cooking class. There is an abundance of great cafes and restaurants to choose from specialing in local Khmer dishes, healthy vegan and vegetarian and various nationalities. Best of all - the price is unbeatable!

Those are five of my top recommended things to do in Siem Reap. Leave me a comment if you have any other suggestions to add!

If you would like to read about what I got up to in Cambodia in more detail check out my travel diary post.

Pin it! :)

Happy Travels,

Five Places to Eat in Siem Reap

I had the pleasure of visiting Cambodia for the first time recently, beginning with a fantastic week in Siem Reap. Being a huge foodie, I was so excited to try local Khmer dishes and eat my way around a city known for amazing food.

As much as I love trying as many eateries as I can in a new place, I ended up loving five in particular that I regularly frequented over the course of seven days.

Being 10 weeks into my Southeast Asian trip at that time, in Siem Reap I started craving really fresh and healthy wholesome food. I was temporarily chockablock full of rice, curries and noodle dishes.

Enter visiting my first ever vegan cafe.

Vibe Cafe

I first heard of Vibe Cafe through travel bloggers Aggie Lal and Lisa Homsy (who happened to be in Siem Reap just before me).

Their dishes they were showing off on their Instagram stories were exactly what I felt like, so off I went to Vibe on my first day for lunch, in search of some nourishing soul food.

The cafe was modern, spotless and beautifully decorated, with two levels to choose from.
The menu had so many delicious plant-based options, all nutritious, fresh and well balanced.

I ordered my first ever acai bowl with a fresh coconut and a side of sweet potato fries.

Together, this was one of my favourite meals of all time! All of this came to only $10 US, which is a stunning price for such good food.

I loved their message of 'Good Vibes All Day Every Day' and they donate 10% of their profits to the Good Vibe Foundation which supports the local community.

On my second visit a few days later, I ordered the Raw Zucchini Pasta which was so nutritious and an explosion of flavour.

I was incredibly full afterwards and basically super impressed with vegan food, I know I'm going to have it a lot more often now.

Khmer Kitchen

My dinners, however, were reserved for trying local food only! Khmer Kitchen is on a pedestrian alley that runs parallel to Pub Street. The tables spilled out onto the sidewalk and it was the full restaurant that drew me in.

I ordered Fish Amok, a popular Khmer dish that I was very keen to try and it did not disappoint. The fish was fresh and the flavours were delicious.

Despite being so busy, the service was very fast and friendly. Together with rice and a draught Tiger beer, it came to $6.50 US.

On my second visit, I ordered the Khmer Curry, which was equally as good and very tasty.

Sister Srey 

Sister Srey is another excellent and popular cafe I visited for lunches. They were also recommended by word of mouth and have a fantastic menu full of healthy and nutritious options.

It was so hard for me to choose from all of the amazing choices (oh, how I missed avocado!) but I was very happy with what I had in the end.

I ordered a fresh mango and pineapple ice blend juice and a Bodia Bowl.

It was absolute perfection in a bowl and I felt so good for the rest of the day after eating such a healthy meal. Both came to only $9 US.

The cafe was a great place to hang out and chill, it was bright and cosy, well-decorated and had a great atmosphere.

The second time I ordered the same juice as it was so delish, and I had the stacked corn fritters with a poached egg which was a-maz-ing.

Sister Srey helps and supports Khmer students and to make a sustainable impact on the community. They also boast the best coffee in town and have freshly baked goods (which I had to restrain from!).

Khmer Family Restaurant

Located directly on Pub Street, I browsed around a few menus in the area first before deciding on Khmer Family Restaurant. Their prices were a lot more reasonable and it was a very large place and full of people.

It was artfully decorated, with unique lanterns and bicycles hanging against the brick walls.

My Angkor Wat tour guide that day had told me to try one of their traditional mixed spicy sour soups, so I ordered the Somloo Mjour Kreung.

It was such an interesting mixture of flavours that truly tantilised the tastebuds. Together with steamed jasmine rice and an Angkor draft beer, it came to $5.75 US.

They offer both traditional Khmer food as well as Western options and have daily drink specials including draft beer for only 50 cents.

La Boulangerie Cafe

Walking around one day, I stumbled across this little gem, La Boulangerie, a French cafe. They serve French, European and local dishes.

On my first visit, I was wanting to try another Khmer speciality - Beef Lolak and was glad to see it on their menu. It amusingly came out with french fries (not exactly traditional), but I wasn't really complaining!

The complete dish was absolutely delicious, the tomato-rich beef was so tender and all together it tasted like I was eating a hamburger! That with a drink came to $5 US.

On my second visit, I couldn't resist stopping by to pick up a fresh croissant I had spied in their cabinets the time before. There was no chance of me taking a photo, as down the pie-hole it went as soon as I left the shop.

If I can add in a sneaky sixth suggestion, that would be to try the banana and chocolate pancakes from street food carts down Pub Street (at night only).

They are made fresh, right in front of you and are the most delicious and indulgent dessert you can get for only $1 US.

Continuing on with one final suggestion is a particular place that was great for a drink.
The Sun was a perfect spot in the middle of Pub Street to people-watch and sip on one of their $1.50 US daily cocktail specials.

I hope you enjoyed my suggestions for great places to eat in Siem Reap and got some inspiration if you are heading there yourself! If you have any of your own to add, please comment below, I'd love to read them.

As a side note, I always do food research online and browse through the best-recommended restaurants on Trip Advisor, and most of them in Siem Reap tended to be in the Old Market area and on the outskirts of the city centre.
In this instance, I preferred to find places that were within walking distance to where I was staying, which happened to be close to Pub Street. The majority of places I walked into were chosen by their appeal at the time, by their menu, look and feel.

Pin it! :)

Happy Travels,

Incredible Cambodia | Photo Diary

Last month, I had the pleasure of exploring my first new country in a while: Cambodia!
I had heard such mixed views of Cambodia, from horrid to fantastic, so I just had to see for myself. There is no doubt this country has a deep and dreadful history and the impacts are still very evident today.
However, I can see that it has picked itself up in many ways and I found it a very safe and likeable place to visit. It has a lot of similarities to Thailand and it is a very tourist friendly place. 

Siem Reap 20-27 July

Starting in Siem Reap, being the rainy season it actually rained 5/7 days I was there!
So most of the photos you see with a blue sky were just from two or so days.
Fun fact: when it rains (which is often) the streets turn into a mud bath! I quite often walked back from town in the rain and I had mud flicked half way up my back. Then when it dried, it was incredibly dusty.

The street I was staying down

The Tuk Tuk drivers were the most, uh, persistent I had ever come across (getting asked "Tuk Tuk" literally 1000 times in half an hour) but the people in general were very friendly and helpful. Though like many other Southeast Asian countries, they try and get as much money out of you as they can.

I quite often ate at two cafes: Sister Srey and Vibe, both had glowing reviews and healthy and vegan options. After 10 weeks of eating whatever I wanted, I was really craving something fresh and healthy! Siem Reap has a lot of fantastic cafes and I highly recommend these two.
Don't worry of course I still ate local food! I especially loved Fish Amok and Lo Lak (they just aren't so pretty to photograph).

A Bodia bowl at Sister Srey
On my first evening, I was invited to see Phare the Cambodian Circus. The talent of the artists are astonishing, it was a truly incredible show of theatre, dance, live music and modern circus arts.
I was totally drawn in by the compelling story they told and their energy, enthusiasm and emotions were highly infectious.

Every ticket purchased helps to support and transform the lives of Cambodian youth, so it's a wonderful cause as well. Highly recommended!

It had always been a big dream of mine to see Angkor Wat, the largest religious monumental site in the world. I eagerly booked a full day with sunrise tour for my third day there. During the rainy season (as I found out on the day) it is unfortunately extremely unlikely to see a sunrise or sunset at Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat at sunrise
I wondered why they still offer it as a sunrise tour then, but oh well. I was a tad disappointed because I guess it was something I had built up in my head - taking a nice time-lapse of the sun rising in the majestic setting. The reality was that I was standing in mud, pushed around by crowds and I had to tippy toe and raise my camera as high as I could just to not get other people in my photos.

I had to wait for 10 minutes for people to move out of this shot!

Despite that, I still had an INCREDIBLE day, one of my favourite days from my whole trip. You don't only see Angkor Wat (which is very impressive) but loads of other equally as awesome ancient temples including Bayon, Baphuon and Ta Prohm. The latter was my favourite, also known as the Tomb Raider Temple!
I just loved how nestled in nature it was with giant trees growing out of the tops, vines coiling around, the intricate carvings and moss on the crumbled rocks. It was so so cool to see in real life and such a highlight.

The Bayon temple

Baphuon Temple

Ta Prohm 'Tomb Raider' Temple

I hope everyone can visit once in their lifetime, they are truly marvellous sites - I took 470 photos just on that tour! It was a hot day walking 11 km in 38 degrees, so I wasn't looking the best in the ones with me in them!

Central Siem Reap

Pub Street by day
My first Acai bowl at Vibe cafe
A temple downtown
Pub street by night! It was the only night that it didn't rain so I could finally venture out!
Delectable treats to try! ;)
Fun fact: you have to pay to take photos
Cool umbrella sky in an alleyway off Pub Street
On my final day, I went on a half day Floating Village tour where we got to visit a local school and witness such a different way of life. It wasn't touristic at all, they weren't selling anything and it is genuinely how the people live. The guide is from there and all proceeds go straight back to the school. It was really interesting and the children were oh so friendly and happy! It was a wonderful day.

We started by trying bamboo smoked sticky rice on the way there 
Wearing my new handmade in Cambodia dress I had bought that day

A happy fisherman
A local community
The school where 60 children sit
View from the school

I really enjoyed my time in Siem Reap. I had a whole week there and I felt that was plenty of time. During the rain, I stayed in and did a lot of catching up on blog posts. It was a tad more expensive coming from Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam but still very affordable.
I took a VIP Ibis bus to Phnom Penh for $15 USD. It was only a six-hour ride and there were three stops along the way so it was pretty good.

Phnom Penh 27-30 July

In Phnom Penh, I booked an Airbnb straight across the road from the National Museum which had a great view of it from the balcony. I got really lucky in Phnom Penh - it didn't rain once!

Sweet view!
Front of the National Museum
Typical street: Monk, Tuk Tuk, motorbike and rubbish
Walking to the Royal Palace

Only a ten-minute walk from where I was staying was the Royal Palace. It reminded me quite a lot of the Royal Palace in Bangkok, although definitely not as grand! Still really worth a visit though.

I loved that fern tree/plant
The Silver Pagoda
Sometimes, you just gotta take your own photos
The park in front of the palace
The pretty riverfront

I am still SO so sad about this, but I lost all of my photos from an entire day in Phnom Penh and three days worth of videos from Siem Reap (including the Floating Village tour and Pub Street at night nooo). Basically my SD card was wiped due to a formatting error. I spent so long trying to recover them to no avail.

What I lost was a really big day for me. I did the S21 Prison and Killing Fields Tour.
It was really important for me to learn fully about the (scarily recent) history of Cambodia to understand what the people have been through. It was a heartbreaking day seeing and learning about their horrific past first hand and I'm mostly sad about losing the photos because I was planning on writing a whole blog post on it. I only have two photos I took on my phone:

A pamphlet guide
Memorial at the Killing Fields

Nevermind, what's done is done. I can highly recommend doing the Hop On Hop Off tour which includes pick up and drop off for only $15 USD. They take you to both places in a bus and you can hire audio guides there and go through yourself. I was glad to have done that because I couldn't imagine having to have a conversation with a guide about what I was being told... I needed to take it in in silence.

A street around the corner from me
My local convenience store
On the way to the airport
The Independence Monument
My ride :)

I liked Phnom Penh. I definitely think it's worth going to learn about the history at least. Three nights was the perfect amount for me. I did really want to head south to Sihanoukville but alas I had run out of time. I still had Laos and Myanmar to explore in only a few weeks so I had to prioritise.

I'm really glad I went and I had an awesome time. Next time I would love to head out of the bigger cities and see more of the authentic rural Cambodia. There is so much more to see and do in this incredible country, I barely scratched the surface.
I know I'll be back to see more one day for sure. For now I think I hit the highlights!

Pin it :)

Coming up soon will be photo diaries from Laos and Myanmar and of course plenty of tips and travel guides when I have the time!

Happy Travels,

Site Footer