Walking around Siem Reap is a lovely experience. It’s smaller and more relaxed than Phnom Penh, and the merchants are entertaining and friendly. It’s also full of tourists – many French. The weather is hot and humid but not unbearable, although noon to mid-afternoon isn’t an ideal time for walking. December – February are the driest months and the best time to visit.
I’ve seen some amazing architecture – Chinese, Cambodian, and French Colonial – and the tropical gardens are lush and fragrant. It was difficult finding a good vantage point for photos as some of the old buildings are huge and the streets are flat. Building restoration is in process all around the small town.
I chatted with a few of the locals, and one was 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 fun and 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 that seemed awkward but now I 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 Siem Reap River you can’t get lost, although I managed to a few times.