Reaping The Fun in Siem Reap
Had to write this for a job applications so here it goesssss…
Throughout my 8-month journey, Siem Reap was always a top destination on my list. Siem Reap is a destination renowned for the Angkor Archaeological park, extending over approximately 400 square kilometers and consisting of scores of temples, hydraulic structures, as well as communication routes. For several centuries Angkor, was the center of the Khmer Kingdom. After departing from Phnom Penh and touring the Killing Fields it was a breath of fresh air to see a celebrated part of the Khmer culture. Many hostels and tour groups offer two separate tours of the Archaeological Park. If you there over a weekend it is a must to do both the big and small circuit to experience the range and diversity of the architecture spanning back to the 9th century.
Many of the outlying temples away from the popular Angkor Wat, offer a chance to get away from the large crowds of tourists as well. Be sure to take the time to explore all of each temple to really see the intricacies in the breath taking architecture. One of the most interesting transformations in the architecture is the changing faces of religion that happened throughout the 12th and 13th century. Temples of often have both Hindu and Buddhist carvings adjacent from each other.
While going through the park make sure to stop at the side shops for lunch, as Cambodia is one of the best escapes from Western culture and food. The landmine museum also offers a very sobering detour from the circuits, but is a great educational experience seeing the lasting effects of previous wars and the current efforts to improve the lives of the present day Khmer.
A must while in touring the Angkor is to attempt to experience the 4am sunrise at the famous Angkor Wat temple. While you will experience a mass of other tourists, the wonder is simply breathtaking on a clear day, and one that no one should pass on is Siem Reap. The temple is a massive three-tiered pyramid crowned by five lotus-like towers rising 65 meters from ground level.
Other than touring the Angkor Temples, Siem Reap offers many other attractions on any given weekend. Still isolated from Western influence, the open-air markets offer traditional Khmer food for the price of a dollar. The surrounding restaurants also offer meals such as Crocodile Burgers, which were extremely tasty! While some food carts have snakes, many Khmer say this is not what they would eat, and is more a trap for daring tourists. The city also offers a wealth of night markets with a variety of shops and services.
While touring the temples takes up most of the evening and early afternoon, Pub Street offers an expat paradise for those looking to unwind after a day in the sun. Made for tourists, Pub Street has food from North American, Italian, and thankfully the traditional Khmer. The street is home to many bars and nightclubs, but be sure not to be restricted to just one. The party pours onto the streets where if you’re lucky you may just get to join into one of the largest and craziest ‘Macarena’ dances you will ever be a part of. Even throw out the traditional glass and have your drink from a plastic bucket to share with your friends.
While quickly becoming a traveling hot spot, Cambodia is one of the hidden gems that one should not miss as they tour through South East Asia. Siem Reap offers the opportunity to celebrate the history in Khmer culture, enjoy great food, and have blast with fellow travelers.
Ps. Sharing the bucket of alcohol just makes it easier to not end it all when you wake up at 4am for the sunrise☺