Siem Reap Food and Travel Guide: Angkor Wat Temples, Where To Eat In Siem Reap and best cafes in Siem Reap!
Angkor Wat, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, has always been in list of places to visit. Naturally when my friend Cyril was planning a Siem Reap trip to see the Angkor Wat, I decided to tag along. Naturally, the first few things I researched were where to eat in Siem Reap and what are the best cafes in Siem Reap to hop around. My Siem Reap trip is a 4 nights 5 days relaxing trip which includes the main temples while enjoying some of the best food and coffee in Siem Reap. Here are some tips for your Angkor Wat adventure in Siem Reap - through the foodie and cafe hopping perspective,
You don't need to change your money to Cambodian Riel at the airport. Everyplace we went, we used US dollars for all our transactions. The only time you will get Cambodian Riel is when you need to get small change in the form of cents. One US dollar is around 4200 riels so you might get 2100 riels as change for fifty cents worth of USD. A good advice I can offer is to bring stacks of US1 notes so it's easier to buy things at the markets. You can draw US dollars from ATM machines as well.
I have to say that the simcard in Cambodia is one of the biggest bargains I've seen. When you are at Siem Reap Airport, before getting a taxi, look out for the Cellcard mobile booth - and grab one of their simcards. The staff there will kindly set it up for you. For tourists, you have a choice of the $2 or the $5 one. The $2 gives you free 70 mins within network, 11 minutes overseas call and 1.4 gig of fast speed internet data while the $5 gives you 140 minutes within network, 33 minutes overseas call and 3 gig worth of fast speed internet data. As a social influencer, I naturally opted for the $5 just for the 3 gig worth of data but I soon realized that - with the high availability of wifi places and lack of signal at the temples - $2 would had been sufficient for my 5 days trip. If you are staying for less than a week - opt for the $2 option. Seriously though - $2 for a simcard for my Siem Reap trip?! WHAT A BARGAIN!
The easiest way to enjoy your Siem Reap trip is to hire a tuk tuk, or a car with driver. The cost to hire a tuk tuk driver for the day is usually $15 while hiring a car is $30. The tuk tuk drivers usually has a certain itinerary of temples to follow but we managed to meet a very humble and kind tuk tuk driver to take us wherever we wanted to go. I highly recommend him as he was very accomodating to our needs and last minute additions or changes to the itinerary. Contact Shafii at his whatsapp on +85581260270. If you aren't interested in hiring a driver, tuk tuk rides within town are US1-2 per trip, while trips to temples might cost $5 till $10.
Temples of Angkor: How to plan my temple run?
There are quite a lot of temples scattered around Siem Reap but the main ones are Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Phrom while there are other good temples like Ta Som, East Mebon and Banteay Srei which are a bit further away. Note that I am a foodie who spends more time in cafes and restaurants rather than temples - and would avoid the sun if possible. This plan of mine basically avoids the hot sun as much as possible while enjoying the food and coffee scene of Siem Reap!
Day 1 - Check in hotel - buy tickets - see the sunset at Pre Roup Temple (you can also view the sunset from South Gate Entrance of Angkor Thom)
You will need to buy a ticket to see the temples. The temple tickets will cost $40 for a 3 day pass. What we did was to buy the pass at 4:45pm at the ticket counter. That will give you access to the temples for free sunset - and your 3 day pass will start on the next day. For the first day - we basically checked in our hotel, went out for coffee and then went to buy our tickets at around 4:30pm - then went to enjoy the sunset at one of the temples. Our tuk tuk driver took us to Pre Roup temple to enjoy the sunset.
You will see lots of other tourists taking pictures of the sunset too ~ haha
I was extremely happy to snap this shot using my Fujifilm - breathtaking!
Day 2 - Wake up and leave hotel at 5am to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat.
we took our time to enjoy the Angkor Wat and shoot lots of pictures - finished at about 9am - then went for brunch. In the afternoon - you can head to the markets, laze around the hotel pool or sit at the cosy cafes in Siem Reap. When you arrive at Angkor Wat - you will see a lot of other tourists trying to take pictures of the sunset.
The shot you will want to aim for #angkorwat
We arrived early to take some good shots of the Angkor Wat at dawn, we weren't that interested in the sunrise to be fair. While a lot of the others stayed behind to wait for the sunrise, we ventured into the Angkor Wat.
I won't post too much photos of the temples - you should go in and see it for yourselves. Basically by 9am, we managed to enjoy the beautiful intricate structures of the Angkor Wat, and went on to have our breakfast. Some might want to spend more time to savour the essence of Angkor Wat - it should be enough for the majority of people. The best part is - we were not subjected to the hot sun - but just the warm glow of the early morning sun. A comfortable enjoyable tour of the Angkor Wat!
Day 3 - Wake up at 5am - Visit Angkor Thom, Bayon and Ta Phrom.
Our strategy was the same as day 2 - to wake up early to beat the crowds - and to finish our temple run before it gets too hot. To be honest - you can actually go to Ta Phrom on the same day as Angkor Wat and finish by 10:30 am if you wish. After that - you are free for the afternoon for other sight seeing, shopping or cafe hopping!
Bayon, The Temple of Faces is one of my favourite temples. Marvel at the stone faces on the structures!
Bayon is part of Angkor Thom, which has a few temples to check out.
The next temple Ta Phrom is another favourite of many for having mother nature invading the temples - you will see trees and plants growing into the temples. This temple is also famous for being the venue for the Tomb Raider movie where Lara Croft played by Angelina Jolie ran around the temples.
The famous tree in Ta Phrom
Day 4 - Banteay Srei, Ta Som and East Mebon Temples
The Banteay Srei opens at 7:30am if I am not mistaken - it's a one hour tuk tuk ride from town and I would advise you to leave hotel at 6-6:30 am. You will start from Banteay Srei, then visit Ta Som and East Mebon Temples. You should be back by 12pm in time for lunch!
The Banteay Srei accordng to Cyril is the most delicate and sophisticated out of the temples. Despite its small size, you will marvel at it's beauty of intricately carved buildings made from pink sandstone!
Ta Som is like smaller version of Ta Phrom where you will see tree roots interwined with the man made structures.
The last three pictures of Ta Som, Banteay Srei and East Mebon is taken by my friend from https://cyrilcanvas.wordpress.com/ so do check out his beautiful pictures if you want more sneak peak of the temples.
Best Restaurants in Siem Reap: Where to eat in Siem Reap!?
Now quite a number of friends have commented that Siem Reap doesn't really have good food in comparison to Vietnam and Thailand but I have to say there's plenty of good food in Siem Reap. After much research and tasting, these are the must try restaurants in Siem Reap.
The Square 24 Restaurant
The Square 24 showcases authentic Khmer and Western dishes. A bit like a buddha bar style open walled restaurant ambience. Fish Amok, grilled beef with lime and chilies, banana flower salad and an interesting duck and pickled vegetables soup. Personally I felt the food was not bad but the ambience is the key to this fancy restaurant. A bit pricey for Cambodian standards as well but if you will definitely enjoy the ambience and service here.
We especially enjoyed their Lok Lak (in the menu it's written as grilled beef) - which is the most tender and has the caramelization amongst the lok lak we've tasted throughout the restaurants we visited - so be sure to try theirs.
The Square 24 Restaurant.
Street 24 | Wat Bo Area, Siem Reap 93107, Cambodia
The Sugarpalm Restaurant
Set in a Khmer style housing, Sugar Palm aims to bring out the flavours of Khmer cuisine. We went there for lunch and sat outside but luckily there were a lot of fans to cool us down.
Siem Reap is famous for their fish amok - and our favourite fish amok hails from Sugarpalm restaurant. We especially loved how it felt like having an egg custard!
Taphul Road, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Telephone: +855 63 63 62 060
Cuisine Wat Damnak
Cuisine Wat Damnak can be considered one of the most creative and well presented Khmer inspired dining in Siem Reap. Ranked amongst the top 50 restaurants in Asia, French chef Joannès Rivière, combines his culinary expertise with Khmer cooking techniques and ingredients to showcase the most interesting dishes! You would need to book in advance if you wish to get a seat at this highly popular restaurant! This is the MUST try restaurant when you are in Siem Reap - the best part? They have a different menu every week!
Cuisine Wat Damnak, Wat Damnak Market Street, POBox 93108, Cambodia
Reserve a table at www.cuisinewatdamnak.com/
Genevieve's Restaurant is located near the pub street and showcases both British roasts and Khmer cuisine. Reviews on tripadvisor highly recommended their lok lak and fish amok but we find their best dish is the warming Khmer style curry which goes very well with rice. We also enjoyed their fresh pepper fried squid - which has a slight spicy kick to it and squid cooked to the perfect springy texture. They are famous for their Wednesday roasts - so be sure to check that out.
Sok San Rd, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Kroya @ Shinta Mani
Kroya at Shinta Mani is one of the fanciest restaurants in Siem Reap. They have both Western and Khmer selections coupled with a posh fine dining setting. We tried their Khmer set meal as well as their other ala carte dishes on the menu.
We weren't really wowed by their Khmer set menu as we've tried pretty good ones at other restaurants but the good news is that the other items we ordered from their ala carte menu were very delicious - espeially this scallop and prawns with amok butter sauce - mouth watering good! If you want a fancy place to have a posh fine dining meal with swinging chairs ~ you have to give Kroya a try - but order from their ala carte menu.
I really liked my salmon appetizer with caviar and basil sorbet from Kroya ~~ mmmm ~~~
Kroya @ Shinta Mani
Oum Khun St/Shinta Mani St, Krong Siem Reap
I wouldn't have found this place if not for the high recommendation by a dear Brunei friend Pat, who raved about the Italian food here. I was very happy with the quality of Italian food here. Very authentic and best of all - very affordable prices.
Hand made stuffed pasta ~~ mmmm ~~
Look at the amount of parma ham they put on their pizzas ~ really doesn't skimp on ingredients at all ~~ rocket and parma ham pizza for only $8.50? OMG WHAT A STEAL!
Mamma Shop Hadgang Street #636, Phum Mondol I, Svay Dangkum, 17000
Believe me I was skeptical when a friend recommended Mie cafe and when I saw the place - I was quite surprised - a traditional Khmer wooden house with a garden. The head chef, Chef Pola, has worked at two-Michelin star restaurant Domain De Chateauvieux before! It's actually on the way to the temple from town - so you can actually come here for lunch after temple run!
I quite enjoyed the creative use of exotic Cambodian ingredients and fusing it with Western style of cooking. I had my first experience of fire ant eggs in raw beef tartare, and really enjoyed the eel with a lemongrass saffron sauce. If you like Cuisine Wat Damnak, you will like Mie Cafe's style of food!
Mie Cafe #0085, Phum Treng Khum Slorgram, Siem Reap
Little Kroma was recommended by the staff at one of my favourite cafes in Siem Reap. After trying out many restaurants, I asked the locals for their favourite place to eat - and they introduced me to Little Kroma which is located at the street just behind Angkor High School. The prices are cheap for the dishes here -- between $2.50 to $4. We tried out quite a few dishes here and find them to be pretty good. Their Khmer curry can actually rival Genevieve's and it's pretty cheap at $3.
I love their hand cut rice noodles ~~ which is a bit like Kuching's tomato kway teow -- but the texture is more chewy and more to my liking! Generally the food is very authentic and you can't go wrong in terms of value when you dine at Little Kroma. Cheap and nice Cambodian food right here!
Little Kroma Restaurant, #84, Wat Dam Nak, Sala Kamraeuk, Siem Reap
Best Cafes of Siem Reap: Best Coffee in Siem Reap
While traveling, one of my fav things to do is to enjoy the cafe culture of places I go. After hopping around different cafes I've researched from the internet - with a few hit and misses - here are some of the best cafes in Siem Reap for you to enjoy cafe hopping! The good news is that the cafes are pretty close by and with google map, you can easily walk or take a tuk tuk if you hired a tuk tuk driver for the day.
The Little Red Fox Espresso
The Little Red Fox Espresso is one of my favourite cafes in Siem Reap. They got quite a nice cosy ambience, very friendly staff and a killer espresso martini! My friend Cyril especially like their cinnamon latte!
Have this EspressoMartini and you will be super charged for the whole night!
The Little Red Fox Espresso, Hap Guan St, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
The Hive is opened by two Australians and showcases quite a good range of juices, coffee and big breakfast. This is a good place for brunch after your early morning temple adventure - or to cure that hangover after a late night at pub street. The tobasco fried potatoes with bacon strips and sunny side up eggs is a big treat to share with friends or for one hungry foodie!
Hive's Mangoes bruschetta? Yum!
The Hive, 631 Psar Kandal Street, Behind Riviera Hotel
Sister Srey, is a lively little traveller cafe in a two floor shophouse on the Siem Reap riverfront. Sister Srey serves good coffee, juices and breakfast while also supporting young Khmer students through education. Great ambience with a good cause.
I love how their menu looks like a storybook for young children. Very creative!
Sister Srey Cafe, 200, Pokambor Ave, Krong Siem Reap
Common Grounds Coffee
Common Grounds Coffee is another popular place for coffee and tea, as well as a range of Western/Khmer food. The ambience is pretty spacious and the service is quite good, while they also contribute to a good cause helping the locals. *photo by Cyril Canvas*
I ordered their Americano, which was pleasant while Jess ordered the London Fog - which is an interesting tea drink, turned out to be refreshingly delicious! I also ordered their beef lok lak, which wasn't the best but pretty decent.
Common Grounds Coffee, #719-721 Street 14, Siem Reap
New Leaf Cafe
New Leaf cafe is kinda like a book cafe where you can sit down and read a nice book. Sip on some iced strong Khmer coffee and pick a book to relax after sightseeing at the temples. They also have quite an extensive food menu. Lovely ambience and service as well.
Ahhhh chillaxing here is awesome ~~ especially in the late afternoons
New Leaf Cafe, Group 10, Phum Mondul 1, Svay Dungkum, 306 Street 9, Krong Siem Reap
Blossoms Cafe and Training Centre
Blossoms is a really beautiful cafe to match with their array of beautiful mini cupcakes. The service is really good and you would be spoiled for choice at the number of cupcakes they have.
Order some cupcakes and a pot of TWG tea to share -- or have them on your own like myself! LOL
Blossoms cafe and training centre, 6 Mondul 1 Svay Dangkum, Central Market, Krong Siem Reap
The Blue Pumpkin
The Blue Pumpkin is a lovely cosy cafe where you can lounge around and enjoy their desserts, pastries and coffee. They have quite a few branches scattered around downtown but we checked out the one near pub street. *Pic from Cyril Canvas*
Blue Pumpkin, http://bluepumpkin.asia/ Checkout their website for branches
Gelato Co was introduced to me by a dear friend who lived in Cambodia for quite some time. When he told me they have great coffee, I rushed over to check it out. Their gelato ice creams are really good and be sure to check out their coffee as well. For coffee and ice cream - you will not be disappointed at Gelato Co! *pic by Cyril Canvas*
Gelato Co, Hospital Road, Siem Reap (near pub street and opposite Blue Pumpkin)
Here's the walking map I plotted for the cafes - technically less than 15 minutes walk to all the cafes in this post!
https://goo.gl/maps/waL4hPbgyM92 --> click on this to get it on your google map app!
So that concludes my Siem Reap Guide to Angkor Wat Temples from the foodie perspective. You get a good dose of the main temples while enjoying some of the best restaurants and cafes Siem Reap has to offer! Enjoy your trip to Siem Reap!