I love Siem Reap. I planned a trip to Cambodia to spend a week at Hariharalaya Yoga and Meditation Retreat, but I had three days to spend in Siem Reap before the retreat started. I wished there was a short travel guide so I knew what to do and where to go. So here it is!
Stay at The Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel
The Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel was voted the #9 best bargain hotel in the world by Tripadvisor. The hotel has a focus on being eco-conscious and sustainable. I loved it here! It was close to everything in town but tucked away from the business of the core. I could walk to the market and restaurants in 10 minutes.
- Eco-conscious and environmentally friendly
- 15 min tuk-tuk from Angkor Wat
- Yoga classes, swimming pool, healthy food, spa
- SUPER affordable
The rooms are affordable, yet extremely comfortable. The hotel decor is trendy and vibrant and the staff are lovely. You also enjoy free breakfast every day — the food was incredible every time. I indulged in the vegan options, like the Khmer Noodles for breakfast.
Map of the Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel
Address: Street 53 #418, Vihear Chin, Svay Dangkum, Siem Reap
Website: Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel
Eat at Vegan-Friendly Siem Reap Restaurants
As a plant-based traveller, I found it helpful to do a little research before wandering into any restaurants. I wrote a blog post totally dedicated to my favorite vegan-friendly food spots in Siem Reap. I was able to fit all these into three days and even went to one of them twice!
The Top 3 Things to Do in Siem Reap
You have three days to see all the temples (of course) and get a feel for the stunning community and culture of Siem Reap. People suggested I visit every art museum, street cafe, shop, and temple that there was but I chose three main activities.
1. The Temple Tour
The temple tour is a must when travelling to Siem Reap. I woke up at 4:00am and took a tuk-tuk to the various temples, starting at Angkor Wat at sunrise. I had a tour guide walk me through Angkor Wat and this helped me fully appreciate the absolute wonder on earth that this landmark is.
- Cover your shoulders and knees out of respect
- It’s extremely hot (don’t wear black)
- Book a tour guide at Angkor Wat if you’re a history-buff (available on-site)
- Take pictures but don’t forget to take it all in (in real life)
Angkor Wat Temple
The Bayon Temple
I continued on to the Bayon Temple which some people fondly referred to as “The Buddha Head Temple”. This temple is made up of a collection of impressively carved Buddha heads. Everywhere you turn you will see the face of the Buddha watching over you. Be sure to take a “nose photo”, this is a picture of you facing a Buddha with the illusion of your noses touching.
The Ta Prohm Temple
I continued on to the Ta Prohm, Cambodia’s “Tomb-Raider Temple”. This temple was mind-blowing. It wasn’t the temple that had me in awe — it was the trees. These trees show you how powerful nature really is as it spirals its way unapologetically through old stone.
My tuk-tuk driver took me to several other temples on the way as we explored. It took an entire day but I got back in time for dinner. This was one of my favorite days but also one of the most tiring days. Make time for a post-temple-tour nap.
Map of the Temple Tour
2. Kampong Phluk Floating Village
A very eye-opening experience of how semi-nomadic people live their lives in the floating village. This tour had mixed reviews because it is somewhat costly compared to other tours. I spent $20 USD and a tuk-tuk driver took me on a 45-min drive outside of Siem Reap. We boarded a larger boat and transferred to a smaller boat pictured below.
Yes, there are people on surrounding boats that may approach you and try to sell you things. Politely decline if you’re not interested. You paddle through the floating village and through the flooded forest. Apparently, there are often monkeys in the trees!
It’s quite a peaceful journey along the river. You make a stop at a restaurant where you can choose to eat or continue on. I didn’t eat but used the washroom and we continued to boat along the river. Overall the floating village is an immersion into the lives and culture of the people. It’s not a high-activity adventure tour but a great way to see the village.
3. Eat, Shop, and Show
Spend one day in town. A lot of people went on tours out of town every day but I think you need to experience the downtown core. Use the daytime to hit up the Siem Reap vegan-friendly restaurants and shops. There’s an Afternoon Market alongside the river with an assortment of jewelry, clothing, keepsakes, and food. A lot of the great spots are down alleyways, don’t be afraid to go off the main road and slip into these.
When the sun sets, don’t miss the hectic but necessary stroll down Pub Street. Take Pub Street to the Night Market. End the night at Miss Wong Cocktail Bar and settle down with an artisan cocktail.
The Phare Cambodian Circus
The final must-do in Siem Reap is The Cambodian Circus. I missed this because it was completely sold out. BOOK A FEW DAYS IN ADVANCE! Don’t be put off by the taboo term “circus”. It’s more like Cirque De Soleil than a traditional circus. Phare performers use theatre, music, dance and modern circus arts to tell uniquely Cambodian stories; historical, folk and modern.
Have a Lovely Trip to Siem Reap
Have the best time in Siem Reap! I loved this place and you will too. The people are beautiful, the food is delicious, and the temples are a treasure that you will never forget. Take pictures but don’t forget to take it all in.
Comment if you have any questions below and I’d be happy to answer them!