Siem Reap, a city in northwestern Cambodia, is a gateway to the ancient world of Angkor Wat, the heart of the Khmer kingdom from the 9th-15th centuries. Visitors to this region often find themselves immersed in a compelling blend of historical grandeur, vibrant culture, modern hospitality, and rich tradition.
If you are planning a holiday to Siem Reap for the first time, there are numerous places to visit in Siem Reap. However, there are certain things you need to know before indulging in Siem Reap’s rich cultural heritage.
List of Things You Need to Know Before a Holiday in Siem Reap
Here is a comprehensive list of things visitors need to know when planning a trip to Siem Reap vacations:
Most visitors to Cambodia require a visa. Tourist visas are valid for 30 days and can be obtained upon arrival at the airport in Siem Reap, through certain border crossings, or online as an e-Visa through the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation’s official website. Ensure you have a passport photo and the applicable fee, usually payable in USD.
The official currency is the Cambodian Riel, however, USD is widely accepted. Small transactions (under $1) are usually done in riel. It’s advisable to carry small denominations of both currencies. Credit cards are accepted at many hotels and upscale restaurants, but cash is preferred in the local markets and smaller establishments.
3.Weather & Clothing
Siem Reap’s general weather is hot and humid, with temperatures often reaching 35℃. Light, breathable clothing is advisable. The rainy season extends from June to October, with chances of heavy rainfall and thunderstorms, necessitating rain gear. From November to January, the city enjoys a cooler climate, and this period is considered the high season, which is recommended as the best time to visit Siem Reap. Regardless of the weather, when visiting religious sites, modest clothing that covers shoulders and knees is required out of respect.
If you wish to learn of some of the country’s etiquette, you ought to know the traditional greeting called the ‘sampeah’ gesture before your vacation in Siem Reap, which is putting your palms together in a prayer-like manner. On top of that, it is important to show respect for the local culture and customs. Religious and historical sites such as temples require visitors to remove their shoes before entering. Also, keep in mind that pointing at someone with a finger is not polite; instead, gesture using your right hand with a downward wave.
5.Angkor Wat Pass
Angkor Archaeological Park is perhaps the most recognised destination in Siem Reap, and more importantly, you will need an ‘Angkor Pass’ in order to enter the premises. The admission pass is available for 1-day, 3-day, or 7-day visits, with prices ranging accordingly. It is advisable to carry your pass with you at all times, as you have to show it each time you enter the park and when entering major temples, including Angkor Wat.
As you may know, the official language of Cambodia is Khmer, and it is spoken by around 90% of the population. It is a fascinating and intriguing language, rich in culture and history, with its unique alphabet, which is unlike any other language. Cambodian people are very proud of their language and culture, but they understand that not everybody who visits their country can speak Khmer, and that is why most Cambodians, especially those in tourist areas, have learned English as a second language.
Upon arrival in Siem Reap, you’ll discover a range of transportation methods at your disposal. Given the city’s compact size, major sites are easily accessible. Though exploring on foot is often the most direct approach, you also have access to other local conveyances. These include the remork (a Cambodian version of the tuk-tuk), motorcycle taxis, and rental bicycles, all of which are readily available throughout the city at reasonable prices. Choosing each transportation option can give a different experience while approaching a holiday to Siem Reap.
Local markets like the Old Market (Psar Chas) and the Angkor Night Market are perfect places to look for souvenirs and handicrafts, as well as taste the local food. Siem Reap is famous for dishes like Amok (curry steamed in banana leaves) and Lok Lak (stir-fried beef in a lime-pepper sauce), which are must-tries.
9.Food & Beverages Explorations
Siem Reap boasts a vibrant food scene, from upscale restaurants to street food stalls. The city is a great place to explore Khmer cuisine’s unique flavours, characterised by its use of fresh herbs, rice, and various fish preparations. Don’t miss out on trying national dishes like Fish Amok, Beef Lok Lak, and Khmer curry. For an immersive experience, visitors can also participate in cooking classes typically offered by local restaurants, cooking schools, and hotels in Siem Reap. These classes often include a guided trip to a local market, providing a deeper understanding of the ingredients essential to Khmer cuisine.
On the other hand, there are a variety of local and international drinks, with everything from traditional Cambodian rice wine and beer to craft cocktails available. The local breweries and distilleries are also worth exploring for a taste of the region’s beverages. Pub Street Siem Reap is the epicentre of Siem Reap’s nightlife, where visitors can enjoy bars, pubs, and nightclubs alongside casual dining options.
Siem Reap is known for its luxurious spa treatments, especially in top hotels, making it a perfect place to unwind after a day of temple exploration. Traditional Khmer massage, a technique that doesn’t use oils and involves stretching and deep massage, is a must-try for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation. Several spas offer a range of services, from body treatments to massages and facials, often utilising traditional Cambodian herbs and spices. It’s advisable to check reviews and possibly make a reservation in advance, as the best Spa in Siem Reap tend to get booked early, especially during peak tourist seasons.
Siem Reap and the Angkor Archaeological Park are UNESCO heritage sites. Visitors should be mindful not to litter, disturb the ruins, or take any historical artefacts. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure these sites endure for future generations. Therefore, when you immerse yourself in these locales, it’s imperative to do so with mindfulness and responsibility.
12.Local SIM Card
While planning your Siem Reap vacations, it is a good idea to find a SIM Card that connects you to the country’s network to be able to access the internet. That said, there are four major network providers in Cambodia, namely; Smart, Metfone, Cellcard, and Airalo. You can buy a Cambodia prepaid SIM card in person in certain international airports, mobile provider stores, convenience stores, or even online. Please also note that you may need your passport to buy one.
By keeping these considerations in mind, you can ensure a respectful, enjoyable, and enriching experience in Siem Reap. The combination of historical exploration, interaction with vibrant culture, and the natural beauty of the surroundings makes a trip to Siem Reap a uniquely memorable experience.
Additionally, you may want to find the right hotel in Siem Reap before departure. If you are looking to stay in the centre of the city, right next to major Siem Reap attractions and things to do, consider Park Hyatt Siem Reap as your top choice.
About Park Hyatt Siem Reap
Park Hyatt Siem Reap is a 5-star hotel in Siem Reap located in central Siem Reap, next to Angkor Archaeological Park. The 104 rooms come complete with polished decorations and are set in a Khmer-influenced Art style decoration. The rooms are filled with modern amenities, surrounded by rich facilities, including a spa, a swimming pool, and a fitness centre with top-tier gym equipment. Indulge in the best offers, accommodations, and things to do only at our 5-star hotel in Siem Reap.