I won’t say too much about Siem Reap because it disappointed me. It was a total tourist trap and felt like the kind of purpose-built resorts that we can find around the Canary Islands in Spain or on the Costa del Sol. That said, if you’re 20 years old and you want to party, drink shots, do drugs, go clubbing, you might love it. But not for me.
Angkor Wat is, of course, incredible and it’s the reason most people go to Cambodia in the first place. As I’m no authority on temples or the Angkor era, I won’t try to add any insights to the wealth of information already available on A.W. So, I’ll stick to just giving you a few handy tips:
I was happy with a one-day pass. I saw absolutely loads and wouldn’t have been able to absorb another round of temple-hopping.
I did the sunrise trip and was collected at 4.30. Massive advantage: it’s SO cool for the first few hours. Organise a packed breakfast the night before; your hostel/hotel will be glad do it for you. It’s kind of exhausting on an empty stomach.
Some people do the sunrise on one day and the sunset on another which sounds quite nice.
Dress code: If you want to go right into the centre and up the top, you must wear something with sleeves i.e. cover your shoulders and back. They will lend you t-shirts when you get there so don’t buy them from touts. Throughout my trip in SE Asia (and in Turkey on a previous trip) I thought it was a good idea to carry a t-shirt with sleeves in my bag so that I could always visit a temple/mosque/place of worship and be appropriately dressed.
Some peace and quiet in Siem Reap
If you need to get away from the crowding and mayhem of Siem Reap, look for the Peace Cafe. Over-looking the river, it’s a pleasant stroll out of town or you can get a tuk-tuk as I did. They run yoga and meditation classes on a regular basis and have an ethical craft shop. You can have delicious, healthy breakfasts in their lush cafe garden. I was gutted that I found it just before I left as I could easily have whiled away a whole afternoon there, just absorbing the calm and feeling all Zen about myself :-).