06 Nov Coco Life in Siem Reap City
Having grown up in Manila, I’m used to the heat but Cambodia’s is just too different (although to be fair, I expected worse). SIEM REAP IS HOT, HUMID, AND DUSTY … and so I may have had far too many coconuts in Siem Reap. No regrets, though – they’re your best bet if you’re watching what you drink (and eat); your best option, too, at US$1! Of course there’s water, but fresh coconut is life. 😉
Siem Reap City
Siem Reap City is your gateway to the temples of Angkor (and many others) – the Angkor Wat being the most famous. Old French, Colonial, and Chinese-style architecture are pretty much apparent soon as you arrive in the city, depicting the influences that have thrived in the province. Roads are decent, but with brown-orange matter (clay, I suppose?), so expect to leave town with brown-orange soles. Internet is usable (albeit not the best) for normal browsing and streaming, if that’s at all a concern.
Local street food options are interesting – quite good (and clean!), too. I had a lot of the grilled ones, especially them chicken bottoms, lol all good for $1 a stick!
Ask your driver / tour guide to take you to a local mart to get your daily supplies for much less. It’s nice to have a look at the products they sell, too!
I don’t really know history, so the war museum was something hard for me to appreciate. They have free Wi-Fi though, lol. And war weapons are out there displayed for you to “play” with! It says, “Do not touch,” but obviously … Lol
Anything “farm” and “factory” feels very touristic; like they’re all just after sales and profit. This silk farm felt different though – you’re taken through the process of making silk; from eggs to worm to thread to final product. There’s a reason why pure silk items are crazy expensive, and the trip to the silk farm made me understand why.
Your best bet for souvenirs, “pure silk” scarves, and brand new antiques. There are a lot of night markets in the Pub Street area, but they pretty much sell the same things. For perspective, I bought “Cambodia pants” from vendors in the temples for $8. I thought I got a good deal cos they initially offered it at $12, but at night markets they can go for as low as 3 for $10 depending on how good your haggling skills are.
Some people say buy from the temples to help the locals, some say don’t support them cos they have a really high mark up. Pick your poison, I guess.
Never leave Siem Reap until you’ve passed by (and have had a drink and/or a meal at) Pub Street. Don’t worry about spending a lot though, prices are only a wee bit higher if not at all the same. Draft beers are $0.50, cocktails in bar lounges are $4.50 (max $8). If you’re on a really tight budget, there are food carts that serve alcoholic beverages. Some even have their own music playing, so you can always get drunk for less. Pub Street is also a great place to socialise!
Be prepared to get a lot of the following –
“Ladies, sir – you like?”
But there are decent ones on offer, like foot massages for cheap and .. tuktuks.
Speaking of tuktuks, heading home past midnight appears to be more expensive at $4 (double the usual). If you have the energy to insist on a $2 ride, go ahead. I badly wanted to head home and shower after a few too many drinks (lol) so I had to say yes to the $4; anyway that was already past 5AM lol
TL;DR – War museum felt skippable, silk farm was nice, get your souvenirs at the night market, have a great night at Pub Street.
Also, “pan cake” is good when you’re high on alcohol. Go ahead and have one (or three? Seven, maybe?).
This is a secondary Cambodia entry. Main Siem Reap entry is here.
Find the good in getting lost,