Skip to Content

This article contains affiliate links. We may receive compensation if you make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Cambodia Adventure In Siem Reap

We were ready for a Cambodia adventure after two months in Vietnam, so we hopped on a plane and headed to the land of ghosts and magic. Discover what we did and what we ate.

Ancient Stone Statues at Angkor Thom in Siem Reap Cambodia
Ancient stone statues greeted us at the South Gate entrance to the city of Angkor Thom.

Located in northwestern Cambodia, Siem Reap is a busy yet laid-back town just four miles from Angkor Wat. Hoards of tourists, many in rumbling tour buses, come to Siem Reap and stay at multi-national hotels as a gateway to the nearby UNESCO site and one of the world’s true wonders.

Not many come for the city itself, except perhaps for the party scene on Pub Street. And that’s a shame. Traveling to Siem Reap has much to offer tourists with its unique blend of Cambodian culture and quirky tourism.

Our Cambodia Adventure In Siem Reap

Angkor Wat Selfie in Siem Reap Cambodia
We were hot, sweaty and happy as we toured the Angkor temples just four miles from Siem Reap.

Though we are not typical adventure travelers, we are adventurous in our way.

From leaving our safe lives behind in Philadelphia to eating crazy food around the world, we choose adventures that challenge us and make us happy. For our Cambodia adventure in Siem Reap, we did exactly what we wanted.

We spent time exploring the temples in Angkor, eating great food and shopping. Plus, we passed on the big chain hotels and stayed at a Fancy Boutique Villa, a boutique hotel in the heart of Siem Reap.

Angkor Temples

Angkor Wat Sunrise Selfie in Siem Reap Cambodia
We’re all smiles after experiencing the amazing sunrise at Angkor Wat – the beginning of a memorable travel day.

When most people think of Angkor, they likely think of Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple or Ta Prohm, each iconic in its own way. In reality, though, Angkor has relics from over 100 temples, all in different states of repair and disrepair.

Dating back to the 9th century, Angor was a thriving city with a million inhabitants in its heyday until it all but disappeared after the fall of the Khmer empire in the 15th century.

French explorers and then tourists discovered the ruins in the early 1900s before the violent Khmer Rouge came to power. Fast forward to the 21st century and many of the temples have been rescued from abandonment and are open to the millions of tourists who visit each year.

Sunrise At Angkor Wat

Sunrise at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap Cambodia
Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Few things in life are worth leaving a comfy bed at four in the morning. Sunrise at Angkor Wat is one of those things.

Arriving at the temple complex in total darkness, we carefully made our way to the man-made moat surrounding the iconic temple and claimed our spot. Before long, the sky lit up in all shades of red and orange as the sun made its ascent for the day.

We didn’t know whether to look up at the sky or down toward the reflective moat. Somehow, though, we drank it all in with our eyes, took plenty of photos like the one above and stored the special memory for later enjoyment.

Angkor Wat Relief in Siem Reap Cambodia
Though grand and majestic, Angkor Wat has stunning details like this relief.

Though the sunset at Angkor Wat lives up to its hype, it pales in comparison to the site itself. Built in the 12th century, Angkor Wat sits on 494 acres and is an epic piece of spiritual construction.

You could rush through in an hour or you could spend an entire day without getting bored. The choice is yours. As for us, we explored Angkor Wat for a few hours before moving on to our next Angkor destination.

Bayon Temple At Angkor Thom

Bayon Temple Face in Siem Reap Cambodia
One of the 200 faces at Bayon Temple looked down on us as we explored the epic site.

If you watch the American TV show Survivor, then you’ve seen some of the 200 impressive stone faces carved into Bayon Temple. Also constructed in the 12th century, this three-story temple is a revelation for its size and huge smiling faces.

Pictures provide a glimpse of what this temple looks like, but there’s nothing like the experience of being surrounded by these faces at every twist and turn.

Jungle Temple At Ta Prohn

Ta Prohn in Siem Reap Cambodia
Ta Prohn is called the jungle temple for good reason. Trees have claimed this temple as its own.

For us, the debate continues. Does Ta Prohm make us think more about Lara Croft: Tomb Raider or Raiders of the Lost Ark?

This unique temple complex served as a setting for one movie and clearly inspired the other. Though a path has been cleared and some structures have been renovated, the jungle has taken control of the temples.

Stones are jumbled everywhere, and silk cotton and strangler fig trees are literally eating the buildings.

Advice For Visiting Angkor

Angkor Wat Driver in Siem Reap Cambodia
We knew we had the best tuk tuk driver when we saw the logo on his shirt!

Here are some quick tips to save you some time when you visit Angkor Wat.

  • Plan out your day or days since the Angkor complex is sprawling with over 100 sites.
  • Secure a driver in advance if you want to see the sunrise. Drivers are easy to find, but probably not at 4:30 in the morning.
  • Tickets cost $20 for one day, $40 for three days and $60 for seven days at the time of our visit. These prices have increased to $37, $62 and $72 respectively and are subject to change at any time.
  • The ticket office is not near the entrance. Build in some time to get your tickets, especially during high season if you want to catch the sunrise on your first day.
  • Food and drinks are readily available near the temples.

Angkor Photography

Angkor Wat Photography in Siem Reap Cambodia
Angkor is a photographer’s dream. Here is Daryl living out the dream at Angkor Wat.

Angkor is a photographer’s dream from sunrise to sunset and everything in-between. Each temple is unique with surprises at every turn and in every cranny.

We took our photos with a Canon 70D DSLR camera and a variety of lenses. We also used our iPhones for quick shots.

Pro Tip
Bring all your camera gear including extra batteries and plenty of disk space.


Drawing influences from the cuisines of France, China, Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodian food maintains its own character and flavor profiles. Fish and rice are common ingredients in many dishes including the popular Amok which is made with fish, coconut and curry paste and served with a side of rice.

Siem Reap has its fair share of tourist eateries including the pizza shop where we satisfied our pizza craving one evening; however, there are a slew of restaurants serving Cambodian food at every price point. We tried several during our visit and liked these the best.

Local Food

Cambodian Green Curry Dish in Siem Reap Cambodia
Cambodian Green Curry Dish Served with Morning Glory

The rain started soon after we arrived in Siem Reap. We kept waiting for it to stop, but the velocity continued to increase. Finally, we abandoned the comfort of our hotel room to venture out for food.

We followed our noses a block or so from the hotel. Once seated, we communicated by pointing at the menu and smiling. Our smiles widened as we sipped on lemon smoothies and slurped down green curry with local flavors and morning glory.

There are numerous spots serving local food, and many don’t display English names. Be sure to try Fish Amok and Green Curry with Rice, two of our local favorites.

Cambodian food is available at shacks and stands throughout Siem Reap. Follow your nose and enjoy the meal. When you want something more, here are our favorite places to eat in Siem Reap:

Mie Cafe

Carpaccio of Snakehead Fish at Mie Cafe in Siem Reap Cambodia
Carpaccio of Snakehead Fish at Mie Cafe

Important Update – Mie Cafe has permanently closed.

As great as the local joints are in Siem Reap, it would be a shame to miss out on the city’s finer dining. That’s why we chose to leave our neighborhood and venture to Mie Cafe for a more upscale dining experience. We sat outside for our multi-course dinner that fused local ingredients with western cooking techniques.

Mie Cafe was located at Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia. It has permanently closed.

Sister Srey Cafe

Coffee at Sister Srey Cafe in Siem Reap Cambodia
Coffee at Sister Srey Cafe

As a town that caters to tourists, Siem Reap has more than its fair share of coffee shops. We tried a few, and Sister Srey Café wins the award for being our favorite. In addition to serving tasty coffee, smoothies and food like potato hash, the cafe also serves a social enterprise that supports the local community and its students.

Pro Tip
Sister Srey Café is located right near the Old Market, making it a great spot to visit before or after you satisfy your shopping fix.

Sister Srey Café is located at 200 Pokambor Avenue, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The Sugar Palm

The Sugar Palm in Siem Reap Cambodia
Scenes from our Lunches at The Sugar Palm

The Sugar Palm is the place to go in Siem Reap for top notch Khmer food. The food may be traditional and homey, but the classy cocktails and stylish atmosphere elevate the dining experience to a higher level. We enjoyed our first meal so much that we returned again and filmed a video.

Watch our YouTube video and see more of our meal at The Sugar Palm.

The Sugar Palm is located at Taphul Rd, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia.


The shopping scene is pretty insane in Siem Reap. The city caters to both the many tourists as well as the local residents. As full-time travelers, we didn’t buy much. However, we sure had fun checking out the goods.

Old Market

Stall at the Old Market in Siem Reap Cambodia
Stall at the Old Market in Siem Reap

Siem Reap’s Old Market, or Psah Chas in Cambodian, is unique in that it caters equally to tourists and locals. Stall after stall sells souvenirs like t-shirts and decorative chopsticks, with many more hawking “genuine” silk scarves.

Haggling is the norm with these items, and we partook in negotiating for our t-shirt and scarf. Were we successful in our haggling efforts? It’s hard to say for sure, but it’s all part of the Siem Reap experience.

Locals meanwhile come to this same central market to shop for housewares and food. We’re not exactly sure who’s buying the bugs though…

Local Shops

Pickled Vegetables in Siem Reap Cambodia
Pickled Vegetables for Sale in Siem Reap

The streets of Siem Reap are filled with local shops selling a myriad of items from flip-flops to pickled vegetables. Whether you’re looking to buy or just window shop like us, the variety of Siem Reap stores offers a true feast for the eyes.

Hotel – Fancy Boutique Villa

Fancy Boutique Villa in Siem Reap Cambodia
Highlights of the Fancy Boutique Villa include the pool, the room and the breakfast.

We felt at home at Fancy Boutique Villa from the moment the hotel driver picked us up at the Siem Reap airport until the time the friendly staff waved goodbye to us four days later. Tucked away in a quiet alley within walking distance of all the action, the hotel’s location is ideal for travelers looking for a personal experience with comfort and style.

We especially loved our big, cozy bed and the tranquil pool. Catering to our needs, the staff even offered us a boxed breakfast to take with us to the Angkor Wat sunrise since we’d be missing the hotel’s hearty meal. You can’t ask for much more than service like that.

Fancy Boutique Villa is located at Preah Sangreach Tep Vong St, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Siem Reap Planning Checklist

Hungry For More In Asia?

Busan Food Social Image
Hanoi Restaurants - Social IMG
Osaka Food Guide - Social IMG
About The Authors

About The Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.


Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

We thank Fancy Boutique Villa for hosting us to facilitate this article. Their hospitality enhanced our Cambodia adventure in Siem Reap. Next time, we need to plan a longer Cambodia itinerary and see more of this fascinating country.

Original Publication Date: October 24, 2016

David Stirling

Sunday 22nd of August 2021

It's sad to say but due to the pandemic almost all of the restaurants you suggested to visit I now closed permanently. The city's still a great place to visit though once the pandemics over.


Sunday 20th of November 2016

Siem Reap, is one of the world’s true wonders. The scenery, Temple, Local foods and specially beautiful photos with your post is exciting!!! I have a plan to trip Cambodia. Thanks to share your exciting tours.

Marc d'Entremont

Saturday 29th of October 2016

Beautiful photos brought back many memories of my time in Siem Reap


Wednesday 26th of October 2016

The majesty of the temples of Siem Reap and especially Angkor Wat if really awe inspiring. This has been a dream destination for some time now, hope the dream transforms into reality some day. Lovely post, thoroughly enjoyed it.

melody pittman

Tuesday 25th of October 2016

I'm so excited to see a post about the location. It seems it has been awhile and I love the way you both describe a place I only dream about going. This is definitely big on my international bucket list! I cannot wait to see it for myself. The food looks good. All of the meals from the Sugar Palm look extremely tasty. Yum! Keep up the great work. Love your trip!

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Tuesday 25th of October 2016

You should plan a trip to Southeast Asia. When you do, be sure to ask us any questions.

Subscribe to our newsletter and get a free guide to eating like a local when you travel.

2foodtrippers Headshot

Don't Miss A Bite!

Subscribe to our newsletter and get our free guide to eating like a local when you travel. 

Get our free guide to eating like a local when you travel.