Siem Reap itself isn't a particularly remarkable city, but there are some things about it that are really great and there are some things you should know to help you enjoy everything properly.
My Siem Reap Top Five . . . .
1. Angkor Temples
No doubt if you are considering a trip to Siem Reap, this is the thing that will be drawing you there and the Temples of Angkor really do live up to the hype. Made famous by the Tombraider films featuring Angelina Jolie, they are every bit the adventurer's dream. We absolutely loved wandering around the many varied temples. Be sure to include at the very least, Angkor, Ta Phrom and Angkor Thom in your visit.
2. Floating Village
This is a fascinating place about 11 kilometres from the centre of Siem Reap. It is great fun going out there because it is a traditional floating village where all the buildings are on stilts. The people there are really lovely and everyone says hi as you go past.
3. Have a Khmer Barbecue
This is like a meal that you cook yourself at your table after you have chosen what food you want to put in it. You get a barbecue that looks like one of those old silver lemon juices and you cook the meat on the top part and then cook the noodle soup in the moat bit around the side. It is a lot of fun and you can make it as spicy or as mild as you like because you put your own ingredients in.
4. Wander Around the Markets
There are lots of markets around the city of Siem Reap and they sell all kinds of things and it is worth having a wander around them. You can pick up all your souvenirs at super bargain prices. They do have quite a few replica stalls in them if that's your bag and there are lots of clothes shops. The stuff isn't fantastic quality, but it's not bad.
5. Visit Pub Street
It's loud, brash and in your face, but there is plenty of nightlife going on and loads of restaurants. It's quite a happening place actually and it is a great place to pass a few hours people watching if nothing else. Be sure to grab a cake or ice cream from one of the fantastic parlous there too!
Tips to help enjoy your stay . . .
Getting a taxi or tuk tuk from the airport is easy and it only takes about twenty minutes to the centre of Siem Reap. Make sure you negotiate a price before you get in.
Hire a tuk tuk for the day to visit the temples of Angkor because it's far too much to do on foot or even by cycle. When you go to Angkor, plan where you want to go first so you don't waste any time whilst you are there. Try and be there at sunrise or sunset for fabulous photos.
Hire a bike and cycle out of the city to one of the local villages. Bikes are only a dollar a day and they are a great way to explore a little bit. Siem Reap itself is a bit touristy, but you don't have to go far to find authentic Cambodia. Make sure you take sun cream though!
Enjoy the hotels. They have fantastic facilities, but make sure you get one with a pool because it's a great place to relax after a day visiting temples. It gets really hot in Cambodia obviously and you really need a place to chill out afterwards.
The local currency is Cambodian Reap, but it is a closed currency and US dollars are more widely used. If you are buying something that is particularly cheap though it is worth having some Cambodian currency because they tend to round up with US dollars and you end up paying more for things. Cash machines dispense dollars and Reap.
Siem Reap is a city that has been built on tourism and it shows, but there are some great things to do and great places to see, but most of all, enjoy it for what it is!