The Overall Siem Reap Experience

We took a short break during the latter half of December in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It was our first ever trip to Cambodia. The main purpose of the visit was to see the world famous Angkor Wat temples in Siem Reap, and the monuments around the same.

Our flight from Singapore to Siem Reap took a little over two hours, and the plane was mostly comprised of Western tourists. There were few Singaporeans on the flight, and I was wondering why it is so. I got the answer from our Cambodian tour guide.

He said that Singaporeans are not comfortable with the cleanliness level and food quality in Cambodia. I was rather surprised as the roads in Siem Reap (the second biggest city of Cambodia) were generally clean, and the food was generally good. Western food abound in Siem Reap, but we could also easily get Indian and other Asian food. There were even Vegetarian Menus in the local Cambodian (Asian) restaurants !

My view is that Cambodia is a tourist friendly country, generally clean and welcoming to foreigners. The hotels and food are of good quality, and our hotel staff were very courteous and always attentive to our even most basic needs. The local people were nice and friendly, and tried to speak decent English in most situations.

The most important thing was, however, the lack of crime of the petty variety. One can feel safe while walking on the streets. Even the most crowded street in Siem Reap, the Pub Street, which was always full of lots of foreigners, was orderly though noisy. Unlike Vietnam, there were no pushy characters and touts coming after you all the time, which makes you feel a bit insecure. Of course, there were folks requesting you to buy their wares or use their motorized transportation vehicle (similar to the jeepneys we see in Manila, though a little longer).

The historical monuments of Siem Reap are indescribable – they were outstanding architectural and religious innovations dating back to over 1,000 years ago. The impact of Hinduism from India is unmistakeable. The influence of Buddhism was also there everywhere for all to see. Cambodia is a historical place, marred by many years of violence and civil war. Surprisingly, the monuments are in good condition.

It is definitely worth visiting Cambodia. We don’t mind going again !


Vijay Srinivasan
24th December 2014


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