19.3589° N, 98.4367° E
As we near the end of our SE Asian tour, Tom and I can proudly say we moved with the backpackers. We may not have taken the backpacker bus, but we managed to hit almost every location Lonely Planet would tell you to go. Some didn’t quite live up the expectations, and others surpassed our expectations and left us wanting more!
Siem Reap was definitely one of the towns that left us wanting more.
It is not secret that Angkor Wat is an amazing site to see. What is a secret, however, is the town is pretty hip itself! We learned very quickly that there is a huge ex-pat community. People often mention that backpackers get stuck in Vang Vieng, but I didn’t know about the large # of people who end up staying in Siem Reap.
Most of the bartenders are ex-travel tour guides who got tired of being nomadic but weren’t quite ready to go home. Some even stayed so long that they opened up their own bar or restaurant. This combination leaves Siem Reap with a plethora of restaurants that are all very high quality with quite a low price tag.
There are a couple categories when it comes to food in Siem Reap.
- Local food: The local food is so/so. Relatively it is spendy compared to street food in Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam; and the quality was not quite so good.
- Happy Pizzas Shop: Where you should only go if you want to get “happy.” But seriously there are a ton of them!
- Ethnic food not local to Siem Reap: Out of the 3 categories I would highly suggest using Siem Reap to take a break from SE Asian food! The international cuisine there is amazing and very very inexpensive.
We ate most nights at The Yellow Submarine Bar.
Their Happy Hour runs from 6-7, during which artisan cocktails are $2.50. They also serve free apps, which go fast but are very tasty. If the apps don’t fill you up the burgers are pretty bomb too!
Our splurge while in Siem Reap was a 3 course french dinner at L’Annexe.
Our Cheese Plate (with the best cheese I’ve had since we left the states), Salad Course, 2 main courses and bottle of wine was all under $50! Seriously, it was insanely good and cheaper than most burger joints in the states!!
The Ababa Curry house was another great change of pace. The curry was super tasty and while we couldn’t finish it, the rice wine tasting was kind of fun.
We also tried out the two Mexican joints near Pub Street and between the 2 found Viva to be much better.
If you do want a local experience I recommend checking out Temple Bar for their BBQ or Aspara Dance show every night at 7pm.
What to do during the day?
After we had our fill of temples we spent the rest of our days lounging at The Navatu Dreams Resort Pools. For $8 you can take a yoga class and then have free use of the gym and pool at Navatu Dreams. This is seriously the best kept secret of Siem Reap, because trust me the town is hot!
The town basically dies during the day with tourists either at the temples, taking naps in their aircon rooms, or off enjoying cheap massages. We often would duck into one of the artisan coffee shops to find a little aircon and get out of the heat if we weren’t at Navatu Dreams. Otherwise I would take advantage of the heat and do some yoga on the balcony of our guest house.
Load up on souvenirs in Siem Reap! They had the cheapest prices for backpacker tanks and gypsy bohemian pants!!
Have you been to Siem Reap?
Did you like it as much as we did??
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