Siem Reap, Cambodia is a beautiful city to visit full of rich history. I have already written a Beginner's Guide to this city with things to do and see, but this postcard is my personal account of my time here. These are typical questions that people ask me about a place after I visit it, so I figured why not write a post about it. If you're thinking of visiting Siem Reap (or even Cambodia in general), I hope you find my personal account helpful:
Why travel to Siem Reap?
The main reason I wanted to go here (just like most others) was to visit the ancient archeological site of Angkor. I had seen the pictures of Angkor Wat (the main temple) so many times on social media and couldn't believe how beautiful it was. I honestly didn't really have an idea of anything else I wanted to do there besides see the temples. But I quickly found out this city had so much more to offer than just the temples themselves!
How many days?
I only went for 4 days, which actually ended up being the perfect amount of time in my opinion. Of course there are so many other parts of Cambodia I'd love to go and visit, but just staying in Siem Reap- 4 days is definitely enough. The main thing to do is obviously visit the temples which you can do in 1-2 days, and then you can go visit a lotus farm or floating village to fill the rest of your time.
My first impression was the poor living conditions- some of the poorest I've ever seen. BUT also how happy they were. I would see kids running through the dirt roads kicking a "soccer ball" made of trash, or using sticks to hit tin cans- with the biggest smiles on their faces. It really opened up my eyes and showed me that even though you might not have much (materialistically speaking), you can still be extremely happy and live a great life.
How are the people?
They are so kind and helpful. I never felt uncomfortable or like people wanted to scam me for my money- they were very genuine. When we went on tours, & the tour guides were so funny and relatable. My overall view of the Cambodian people is that they are just extremely happy.
How's the food?
Pretty much the same as every other country in South East Asia- noodles and rice. I found their food very similar to Thai and Vietnamese cuisine- but they definitely use less chili (not as spicy) and sugar (not as sweet). One thing I found funny was on one of our tours it said "snacks would be provided" and they brought out a bag of critters- crickets, worms, and frogs. The locals started eating them like they were chips!
Their English was great, I never had a problem communicating. You know their English is good when they're able to be super sarcastic with you and make fun of things!
We did the full day temple tour from about 5am to 5pm, to see all the temples in the area. I was expecting to love Angkor Wat the most, since it's the most famous and the only one I had heard about prior to coming to Siem Reap. But I actually ended up loving Bayan Temple the most. There were monkeys everywhere and it was a bit more secluded. It seemed more like a hidden gem, rather than a main tourist attraction!
The preferred currency is actually USD, not the Cambodian Real. So there is no need to exchange your money into the local currency when you arrive. (I wish I would've known before exchanging all my USD) Also, everything here is very underdeveloped so you probably won't be able to use your credit/debit card at all. Make sure you have enough cash!
Advice for future travelers?
Honestly my main advice is to stay at Lub D Siem Reap hostel, because that pretty much changed our trip. Not only is the hostel itself amazing (you can even take a day or two to just relax and enjoy the ambiance here), but the staff is awesome and they have so many tours and activities to be a part of. We had no intentions of doing a bicycle lotus tour, but saw a poster for it and decided to try it! We ended up having so much fun.
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