Where to stay in Siem Reap and what you can do around there
Where to stay in Siem Reap and what you can do around there
The ultimate place to visit in Siem Reap is the Angkor Archaeological Park but would it be a good idea to stay near there?
I finally made it to Angkor Wat in Cambodia after years of pining. When Jetstar released its promo fares, I quickly snapped up the return tickets at only SGD120; it costs SGD300 to fly from Singapore to Siem Reap usually! I would have spent a couple more days to visit Phnom Penh or lesser-known islands such as Koh Rong, but alas, I was due to start a new job and couldn’t make more time for these places.
Our itinerary had us visiting Angkor Wat and other temples in the park for two days. Despite this, we opted not to stay near the Angkor Archaeological Park during our time in Siem Reap. The park is a huge complex that houses not only Angkor Wat but also over 1000 other temples over a large area. Even if you stay near Angkor Wat, you will still need some form of transport to visit other temples. Besides, once the temples close for the day, there’s little to do in the area.
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Where to stay when visiting Siem Reap
Instead of choosing accommodation near Angkor Wat or the other famous temples, we opted for somewhere near the thriving nightlife and street food so we could unwind after a day of exploring.
Siem Reap Palace Residence
Our search led us to Siem Reap Palace Residence, a new boutique hotel just a stone’s throw from Pub Street. Not to be confused with the luxurious Palace Residence & Villa Siem Reap, our humble abode was only SGD40 (~USD30) per night with breakfast and a one-way airport transfer!
Address | House #173, Wat Damnak Village, Sala Kamreak Commune, Siem Reap City
WEBSITE | http://siemreappalace-residence.com/
We liked that it was in a quiet street and was near all the highly-rated restaurants such as SPOONS (which we missed because they were closed for the public holidays), Viroth and Khmer Grill.
The hotel went for a fusion style – modern with some traditional touches such as the Khmer-styled tiles and lights. The rooms were also adequately furnished. While the housekeeping was different every day, it was always thoroughly done. Service was also excellent, especially from the manager, Sina.
We were also able to arrange for private tours and tour guides to Angkor Wat, other temples and Kulen waterfall on short notice hassle-free through the hotel.
Definitely a gem for the budget-conscious!
Other hotels to consider without breaking the bank:
- Apsara Residence Hotel: just a street away from Siem Reap Palace Residence. Apsara Residence is right opposite the Made in Cambodia Art Market and a little closer to Pub Street.
- You can also consider Hotel Somadevi Resort and Spa and Central Suite Residences as recommended by Emma Adventures
What to do around the hotel
Neon lights on Pub Streets
Pub street is the centre of the night life in Siem Reap. A short street flanked with dozens of restaurants and pubs, it's where you'll head to for a drink to unwind at the end of your day. Each pub and restaurant has its own character and music style and it's pretty fun just walking down the streets looking at each of these shops.
Between our hotel and pub street, there’s also a short stretch of food stalls. The options were decent but repetitive. There were pancakes, fried ice cream, coconut shake and grilled meat. Each snack was USD 1 – 2.
We did try to figure out if there were more street food options nearby but couldn’t find any. Nearing the end of our trip, we met an American solo traveler on one of our Angkor tours, and he shared his experience on a food tour with Urban Adventures that included fried tarantulas and native fruits. If you’re interested, you can check out the tour here.
Phalla Angkor night market
Just a short distance away from Pub Street was another night market called Phalla Angkor Night Market. The shops here mostly sold souvenirs such as laptop bags and cases made of recycled materials, cute t-shirts and tank tops with prints unique to Siem Reap and silk products. Be prepared to bargain as the shopkeepers here routinely quote tourists higher prices.
Palm container night market
If you are done with the nearby night spots, take a short tuk tuk ride to the palm container night market. Decked in bright neon lights and fronted by three large transformers, the night market is a rad hangout place for locals. We hardly saw any tourists in the night market, which was pretty rare for Siem Reap!
While we didn’t particularly find anything of interest to buy in the shops, we enjoyed chilling out at one of the restaurants while listening to great live local music.
Cafe-hunting, handicraft shopping, massages and more!
On my last morning, I discovered a couple of streets at the edge of the night markets with cafes and stores selling handcrafted accessories and lifestyle items. Definitely wished I found these earlier!
A highly-rated cafe in Siem Reap, Le Malraux occupies a small Parisian-styled shopfront with tables spilling onto the sidewalk. The cafe combines french influences and local tastes in both its menu and decor. Nice, quaint place for brunch or an afternoon snack.
Gelato lab is a small shop selling richly-flavoured artisanal ice cream. Most of their flavours are concoctions of coffee beans, chocolates and nuts but they also have fruity flavours made from local produce. We tried their Caffe’ Caramellato and it was great! Highly recommend to hit this ice cream parlour after a long day at the temples.
Address | House # 11, Mondol 1 Village Siem Reap, 17252, Cambodia
De Kampuchea Spa
Highly-rated spa in Siem Reap City. I did a 30-min foot massage for about USD7, which was a pretty decent price.
Phare, the Cambodian Circus
A sincere theatrical circus performance brought to you by graduates of Phare Ponleu Selpak’s vocational training centre, a NGO which offers free education and arts programmes.
What to eat around the hotel in Siem Reap
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In general, my favourite meal was at Viroth’s restaurant, a short 5-minute tuk tuk ride from Siem Reap Palace Residence. The interior was very pretty and the food was great.
I highly recommend the pork skewers! The fish prahok, on the other hand, is an acquired taste. Prahok is a salted and fermented fish paste so it does have a sourish taste which may not sit well with everyone. We paid about SGD30 (about USD24) per person.
Other than Viroth’s, Spoons and Tevi’s kitchen are also highly recommended online but we visited Siem Reap during a major public holiday and they were closed. For a more economical option, there’s always Khmer Grill which is less than 5 minutes on foot from the hotel. It’s a really popular restaurant so avoid the peak hours if possible. We tried one of their Khmer curry and it was great!
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT SIEM REAP? Leave a comment! ☺️
This is very timely as we’re planning to do a cross Asia trip and Siem Reap is part of the places we’re visiting.
Totally agree with you that it’s better to get an accommodation near food establishments or other attractions instead of the one near Angkor Wat.
Thank you for sharing these tips. Keeping this as future reference.
Hope you enjoy your time here!
Siem Reap Palace Residence is 30USD a night! I am there! and the location for it is very ideal. Now that I am a family man, not sure if I be into the nightlife but would defo hit up the night markets (wife loves shopping). However I do like to relax etc and the spa is also worth hitting for me. 🙂
I’m not that much a pub and club person too but walking around the night markets is still pretty fun 🙂
Angkor What is definitely a spot that is on our travel wish list. The site looks huge so I can understand why you would want to stay close by. The Palace Residence looks stunning. Great that you could get private tours from the hotel. Night markets are always so much fun to visit. But I would definitely be visiting the Gelato Lab and would want the Caffe Caramellato too.
I’m missing the gelato already!
Angkor is of course on my bucket list, and one day we will make it there. We are soon heading to Vietnam and thought about combining but decided Vietnam deserved the full time we had, and we’ll go back for Cambodia another time. I do like the look of Siem Reap Palace Residence, the location looks really good as well as the hotel itself.
Glad you made the decision! Both countries deserve more days on its own. 🙂
You hotel looks great and perfectly affordable too. I think its a great idea to stay in the area where its more lively and colorful. I would like to do the temple tours in the day but use the evenings for market visits and shopping. The pub street has got me curious. Thank you for suggesting other stay options too.
Deciding where to stay when visiting a foreign country is always challenging. I’m glad I helped!
Your hotel looks great and affordable. I would love to stay here. Thank you for suggesting other options too. I like the idea of staying in more vibrant areas. I would keep the day for temple visits but the late evenings would be for exploring streets and markets. Pub street has got me curious.
Definitely affordable! 🙂
Okay I would like to stay at the Siem Reap Palace Residence and eat all of the vegan ice cream during my trip! That pool looks insane, such a good find! Also love a good night market!
I know right! Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the time to use the pool!
Wow, that is quite a list of places in Siem Reap. The hotel Siem Reap Palace Residence where you stayed looks quite chic. I agree that sometimes staying in a happening area is better. It definitely gives us options for doing something in the evening.
The night markets might be a hangout area for the locals, but I would love to visit there. Night markets are one of the best places to understand the local vibe.
Especially for Siem reap when your main activities usually end at 6pm and you end up having nothing to do at night!
I love your photos! I’ve not been to Cambodia yet but its certainly on the list. Your post is pushing it higher up on the list.
Awesome, I’m glad I helped! The people in Siem Reap rely heavily on tourism so it means a lot to them to have people visiting the city and Angkor Wat.
I spent in Siem Reap a week and admired Angkor Wat for a week by bicycle, and walking. For me, Angkor Wat is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I like your street photos and your hints on what to do in Siem Reap. From your photos and recommendations, I see how the city change and I learn about new places, because I was there in 2009.
That was a really long time ago! I’m sure the city has evolved since then. Time to plan for another trip there? 😛
Wow! Only in Asia can you find a luxury and affordable hotel like this one. Only USD30 a night and with breakfast! Plus the hotel is well located with all you need like nice restaurants and cafes close by. Count me in!
Cambodia is on my bucket list so I will park this for later. Thanks for sharing.
I know right! I sometimes have to do a mental adjustment when looking for hotels in more expensive countries such as US!
I’ve never been to this part of the world, and nearly everything I’ve read about Siem Reap has been tied to Angkor Wat and other temples in the area. I’ve never heard of nor seen a photo of the neon lights on Pub Street. How cool is that?
There’s much more to Siem Reap than just Angkor Wat! I’m glad something in my list caught your eye.
Wow, this post takes me back! Siem Reap was a pleasant, unexpected surprise and is truly a lot of fun! I’m glad I got the chance to go back in 2017! Your hotel looked beautiful and I’m sure it made for a pleasant stay! Thanks for the post and beautiful pictures of this very underrated city!
It’s beautiful right? I think it’s an amazing place too!