Solo Travel Destination: Siem Reap, Cambodia
We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Chris, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Chris is from the United States, and submitted the following report about Siem Reap. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 1.5 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Khmer, English, others
Reasons to go: I have to admit that I was a little nervous when I arrived in Siem Reap. While the town is not large, it is very bustling, dusty, and packed full of people. But it wasn’t long before I became comfortable with the surroundings and ventured forth.
When I first arrived, it was already early evening and I was a little tired from a late night, waking too early, and lounging around airports up until I reached Siem Reap. I was hungry and thought I would walk around looking for a place to eat. Not having done as much preparation as I probably should have, I started wandering around without any true sense of direction. Fortunately, one of the many tuk-tuk drivers (they are constantly hollering out to tourists asking if they need a ride anywhere, and provide a very affordable way to get around) drove me around the city for only $3. He took me around the different markets, showed me the busy pub street which is mobbed by tourists, and pointed out some of the popular restaurants. I eventually chose one and while my driver hung out with the other tuk-tuk drivers, I was escorted upstairs into a big open-air room and seated at a table by myself. Even though I was the only person sitting alone, I didn’t feel out of place and nobody seemed to care. About 10 minutes after I arrived at the restaurant and ordered my food, a shadow puppet show with live music began. This was a nice introduction to my time in Siem Reap.
Over the next few days, I found many cool and interesting things in and around the city. There were many tourists around Siem Reap including solo travelers of all ages. Despite the hurried and fast-paced environment, I always felt safe during the day and evening. The same sentiment was expressed by other solo travelers, both male and female, that I spoke with during my visit.
There are so many temples in and around Siem Reap that you could fill several days exploring only temples if that is what you like. They are easily reached by tuk-tuk. Angkor Wat definitely warrants the UNESCO World Heritage site designation.
Siem Reap had a sort of “Wild West” feeling to it, and the people are some of the nicest I have met anywhere; they always seem happy to help with anything you need. The Old Market, full of women selling food and other goods, reminded me of movies and pictures from 50 years ago. The food and service you receive at restaurants is great and very affordable, especially when you get a little ways out from the more touristy areas like Pub Street.
As a tourist, be prepared for constant shouts from tuk-tuk drivers who want to drive you to your destination. Vendors at the markets and temples will also try to get you to buy their wares and come into their small shops.
In all, Siem Reap and the surrounding area is amazing. If you ever have the chance to visit, I would highly recommend you take the opportunity.
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety - 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language - 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 1.5 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult)