Siem Reap for the Cultured Traveller: Recommended 1st-Day Schedule

Siem Reap for the Cultured Traveller
Buddhist monks in front of Angkor Wat (Wikipedia creative commons)

No other city around Thailand (or hardly anywhere similar in the world) has such a tactful name – “Defeat of Siam”; given that actually Thailand defeated Cambodia and reigned over Siem Reap from 1794 to 1907.

Siem Reap started blooming for the first time during the Golden 1920’s when the legendary Grand Hotel d’Angkor was built and high-profile guests like Charlie Chaplin started visiting the city and Angkor Wat.

But the recovery should not last long – the Khmer Rouge led Siem Reap and its people again into decades of darkness until the mid-1990’s.

Fast forward 2014, Siem Reap has turned into a bustling city with plenty of hotels and restaurants and transformed the city into the heartbeat of Cambodia’s tourism, mainly due to its proximity to the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat.

08:30 – Angkor National Museum

Visiting the Angkor National Museum prior to visiting the legendary Angkor Wat will give you a better understanding about the Khmer Empire and enhances your knowledge when visiting it.

The museum is located en route to Angkor Wat.

Open: Daily from 08:30-18:00

Entrance fee: US$ 12

Address: No. 968, Vithei Charles de Gaulle, Khrum 6, Phoum Salakanseng, Khom Svaydangum, Siem Reap District, Cambodia,

Angkor National Museum
Angkor National Museum. Photo via Flickr by e_chaya

11:00 – Angkor Wat

Even the Cambodian national flag features it: Angkor Wat! Cambodia’s most visited monument awaits you – and surely will take your breath away!

The temple has been partially restored and is partially still overgrown with lots of greenery, making it stunning yet mythical to look at.

Open: Daily from 05:00-18:00

Entrance fee: US$ 20 / one-day-pass

Address: Krong Siem Reap.

13:00 – Indulge in Khmer food

Khmer food is as colourful and diverse as from its neighbouring countries, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Rich in flavours and exotic in taste, but not as spicy like Thai food: that’s perhaps the best way to describe Cambodian food.

Popular dishes include:

  • Fish Amok (fish mousse with fresh coconut milk and curry paste)
  • Num Banh Chok (Khmer noodles)
  • Lap Khmer (beef salad)
  • Bai Sach Chrouk (pork and rice)
  • And for the more experimental ones: How about red tree ants with beef and holy basil?
Fish Amok
Fish Amok. Photo via Flickr by Dion Hinchcliffe

15:00 – Kampong Khleang Floating Village

Probably one of the most special experiences to see how Cambodians live outside cities like Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, is taking a trip to the Kampong Khleang Floating Village, just outside of Siem Reap.

Surrounded by mangrove forests, the area is a cluster of three villages with about 3000 citizens and house situated on stilts.

20:00 – Watch a traditional Apsara Dance show

Apsara is the magical traditional Khmer ballet of Cambodia. Originally, the dance was taught only at the royal court, however today, The Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh mainly takes over the responsibility of teaching.

Generally, the performances are held in hotels and restaurants, but on special occasions and important days such as the Khmer New Year, Apsara dancers performing even in front of Angkor Wat.

Address: Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor Aspara Terrace, 1 Vithei Charles De Gaulle, Khum Svay Dang Kum, Siem Reap, [email protected]

Royal Ballet
Apsara Ballet. Photo via Flickr by che.hong