It is pretty hard to come to Siem Reap and skip Pub Street. Siem Reap is very small and Pub Street is essentially one of the main streets. I recommend visiting during the day for great places to eat, get massages, and shop. Then I recommend coming again later at night for the party scene. Even if you aren’t a big partier, it is a fun atmosphere to just walk around in. There are so many bars, and pubs, and it ends in a giant dance party out on the streets. Don’t skip this!
Insider tip – Turn down a side street off Pub Street to open up multiple alleyways of more restaurants and shops. Don’t just ONLY stay on the main strip.
If you are coming to Siem Reap and don’t plan on going to Angkor Wat, then I don’t really know why youare coming! Angkor Wat is definitely the highlight for most people visiting Siem Reap, even if you aren’t big on history and temples. Rent a tuk tuk to take you for the day around to the main temples, then decide from there if you want to add on additional days. This allows you to see the temples at your own pace instead of being stuck on a structured tour.
Insider tip – Most people come for sunrise in the morning. There are LOTS of tourists so make sure to set up along the side of the pond instead of in the centre where everyone else is standing. Once the sun has risen, rush to get into the main temple as oppose to waiting around. This will insure that you get in when no one else is there, and beat the tour groups.
Take a trip to visit the floating villages. We went on a “Cultural” Booze Cruise with our hostel and only had the opportunity to really drive by the villages on the way to Tonle Sap Lake. I would have loved to be able to stop by and spend the day with locals as the floating villages are so interesting. I would highly suggest finding a day trip to go visit them in a more cultural way than what we did, but do not leave without seeing the floating villages in some way or another.
Insider tip – by the water where you board your boats there are a lot of children begging for you to buy things. They will be very aggressive and even hang off you if you show them any attention. Try your best to not make eye contact (as hard as it is), or you won’t be able to get rid of them.
There are a ridiculous amount of markets in Siem Reap, some of which are more hidden than others. My advice is to ask your hotel or hostel where the best markets are. Also, if you just walk around the town you’ll eventually just stumble upon different ones. There are a few major ones like Psar Chaa and the Night Market that you won’t want to miss.
Insider tip – let yourself get lost in Siem Reap and you’ll soon discover more local markets hidden down narrow alleyways. We stumbled across a giant maze of a market filled with vegetables, meat, fruit, and spices.
Amok is one of the most traditional things you can try while in Cambodia. Amok refers to the process of steam cooking a curry in banana leaves. Although this dish is popular in other parts of Southeast Asia as well, it is a national culinary tradition in Cambodia. Amok is a thick soup cooked with your choice of meat, vegetables, eggs, coconut and milk. It has a similar consistency of a curry and is served with rise. Most restaurants will serve this dish so it isn’t hard to come by!
Insider tip – visit a place ironically called Amok just off the main street of Pub Street. They serve an Amok sampler dish that allows you to try all different types of Amok (see photo).