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The Solo Traveler Blog

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

photo, image, tuk-tuk, siem reap

Tuk-tuks are a common mode of transportation in and around Siem Reap.

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.

photo, image, angkor wat, cambodia

Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

photo, image, banteay srei

Banteay Srei, a 10th century temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.

photo, image, old market, siem reap

The Old Market in Siem Reap.

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)

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  • leprachaunz

    I am thinking about going next month (October). It sounds like a fascinating place to visit. Can you make any suggestions for an older solo traveller?
    Paul Orr

  • Molly

    Hello Emma,

    I read your message and wanted to help you, because I have
    been in Siem Reap a lot of times. The Tara Angkor hotel is a beautiful hotel
    and is ideally and conveniently located, Tara Angkor Hotel is situated only 6
    km from the Angkor Wat Temples, 15 min drive from the Siem Reap International
    Airport, a few minutes stroll to the Angkor National Museum and a short ride to
    the city town center with an array of Cambodian souvenirs, shopping and
    culture. They have a few promotions that you can make use of if you haven’t
    booked already: Last minute bookings, summer sales, early bird promotion or
    Angkor temptations. Of course there are a lot more, but have a look at their
    website. It is not that far to the Angkor temples that I would advise you to
    see for sure. I would say, grab yourself a 3 day
    pass and find yourself a decent tuk tuk driver to take you to the farther ruins
    and for a drive in some of the outlying villages. If you’re up for it consider
    renting a bike and checking out Angkor Wat on your own. There’s a lot to see
    and do so a lot depends on your time and budget. A few temples I would strongly
    suggest you check out besides Angkor Wat itself are Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom
    and of course Ta Prohm just to see the amazing tree. The Banteay Srei temple is
    farther out of Siem Reap but has a very different feel than a lot of the
    others. If you want to do something else as well, you can visit the day and
    night market. I can really recommend these attractions. If you need to know
    more, let me know.

  • http://www.facebook.com/flo.teo.1 Flo Teo

    Hi Paige,

    You mentioned that you went to PP solo. I am planning a solo trip there this Aug, but I am disturbed by all the comments about the killing fields and s21 museum. I am having doubts on whether alone, I can cope with it emotionally. Hope you can share your experience on that.

    Thanks. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/flo.teo.1 Flo Teo

    Thanks for sharing the details on Siem Reap, Chris.

  • Emma

    Hello Page,

    Thank you for your extensive response. It is good that you had a great time during your visit. Thank you for the tip about the sandals, otherwise you do not think about that. I think a backpack is the best thing to take. You won’t bring to much. But do you know a few good restaurants? A few recommended me several restaurants because i want to celebrate my birthday. These restaurants are; Tonle Sap, Mekong and Chaktomuk. Do you know them by any chance? Thank you?

  • Paige

    I traveled solo to Cambodia almost five years ago. Planned on staying in SR about 4-5 days and ended up staying closer to 8. I loved it. Felt safe and met many nice people including some local expats. As a woman, I was cautious of my surroundings and did not walk at night alone. I did use the same tuk tuk driver the entire time I was there and he really did look out for me. In turn, he took me to his home (with some friends I met and to a wedding which was so great to see). Just use common sense and be cautious. I also took US$2 bills. Initially I’d brought them to use in Vietnam but pulled some out earlier in PP. It’s a sign of good luck and at my lovely hotel in PP, I after I paid a bar bill with them, the staff was delighted and all wanted to exchange dollars for the bills even willing to give me $3 for the bill. That’s a big deal too since Cambodians make very little money. People are endearing and you will enjoy. Do not wear anything flashy and no leather soled sandals, a mistake I made early on in a three month trip. Anything you need to buy, you can, so pack light.

  • Emma

    I am going to Cambodia on September this year. Besides Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam are also listed to be visited. But still I have a question about a hotel you might have seen during your visit in Siem Reap. I booked the following hotel: Tara Angkor Hotel. You know if it is a good hotel? I heard good stories about it. What are the best attractions to visit in Siem Reap and in the surrounding?

  • http://www.facebook.com/Johnnytraveler John Keller

    I am planning a trip for December 2013 and came across these pages by a stroke of great luck. I am a bit nervous about it, and the total cost might cause me to have to delay it, but after reading this I am encouraged!!

  • Pingback: The Radar: Travel Lately – Intelligent Travel

  • http://twitter.com/siemreapnet Siem Reap

    Hi Chris, very nice to read such a positive review about Siem Reap. And I’m happy that you had a great time! :) I’m living in Siem Reap myself since 2 and a half years and feel very fortunate to call it my home. Enjoy your next travels. I’ll be looking forward to your next reviews!

About Janice Waugh and Tracey Nesbitt

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 8.52.44 PMI'm an author, blogger, speaker and traveler. I became a widow and empty-nester at about the same time. And then, I became Solo Traveler... Here's the full story. >>
Tracey NesbittI’m a writer, editor, food and wine fanatic, and traveler. On my very first trip abroad I learned that solo travel was for me. Here's the full story. >>

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