Walking around Siem Reap is really a lovely experience. It’s much smaller than Phnom Penh, and the merchants are more relaxed and friendly. It’s also full of tourists – many French. The weather is hot and humid but not unbearable, although noon to mid-afternoon aren’t ideal hours for walking. December – February are relatively dry months and the best time to visit.
Have seen some absolutely amazing architecture – Chinese / Cambodian and French Colonial – and the tropical gardens are lush and fragrant. It was difficult finding a good vantage point to take photos as some of the old buildings are huge and the streets are flat. Building restoration is in process all around.
Was able to chat with a few of the locals – one of the hotel waiters was very keen to practice his English and told me about his life in the countryside near the Vietnam border. Stopped into a pharmacy for allergy medicine and the pharmacist was outgoing and we talked chit-chat for a long time. He gave me great pointers for places to visit.
Looking for a cool shirt I met a merchant and his wife and three young children in the market. When you buy clothing in the market and want to try something on you have to do it right there on the spot often with someone holding a cloth up around you while you change – at first I didn’t like that but now think it’s funny – no one looks anyway.
There are five major areas in Siem Reap:
- Taphul Village – west
- Old French Quarter – central
- Wat Bo – east
- Old Market – south
- Wat Damnak – southeast
If you follow the river you can’t get lost, although I managed to a few times.