Best hotels and restaurants in Siem Reap
Best hotels in Siem Reap
Siem Reap is a city made of hotels and guesthouses. Some have the charm of the old Kleang, others the garrulous kitsch of nouveau riche owners. There isn't a day that goes by without some new hotels blossoming or wilting away. From $2 to $2000 dollars (a night with private pool), there is plenty of accommodation to choose from. We pick a handful of the best hotels and guesthouses for your convenience.
#311 National Road 6, Siem Reap - Tel: (012) 893 001 / (017) 777 110
US $5 to US $10
Crowd: Japanese backpackers and anybody who enjoys Japanese politeness and cleanliness at discount prices
Go for: Great value without sacrificing hygiene and safety
The Japanese constitute one of the larger expatriate communities in Cambodia. Many marry Cambodian spouses and stay beyond their postings as aid workers, others came to Angkor never to leave. It is relatively easy to feast on sushi, tempura and other Japanese bean cakes in Siem Reap. Krorma Yamato is conveniently located, a strong arm's stone's throw from the Royal Residence on the way to the airport, a hundred metres from the city centre. One should not expect a Japanese ryokan, but the inn has a sizeable collection of Japanese DVDs, which can be enjoyed in cozy rooms, equipped with fans or air conditioners. The patrons are mainly quiet Japanese independent travelers, students and backpackers. Simple, clean and quiet with a cute anime logo, the Yamato Scarf is an easy value top pick by Gnarfgnarf Travels.
#263 Vithei Charles de Gaulle Street, Siem Reap - Tel (063) 963 304
Crowd: Families with children
Go for: Family run guesthouse with big rooms and big garden
This renovated historic villa is located opposite the Kantha Bopha Hospital, on the main road to Angkor Wat. A true family guesthouse run with by Master Thony and Mistress Vantha. Master Thony or his sidekick Master Map ("Fat") will pick you up from the airport in an old Toyota Camry and provide you useful tips on the town, and after a few days the latest gossips. The rooms are large with air-conditioning, two queen size beds, and en-suite bathrooms. Children will enjoy the truly tropical moist semi-evergreen garden and its fountains, fishes, rabbits and chickens (real and fake ones). A hearty breakfast is included. Guests have a choice of the usual eggs, meats, fruits, but Mistress Vantha's Khmer cuisine is exceptional. Word of mouth brings weary travelers to these calm surroundings. A little French is spoken, and if you are lucky (you are a congenial guest acting in good faith), you will be able to order Khmer meals for a modest bill. You can email them directly for inquiries and reservations (firstname.lastname@example.org). Conveniently, you can look them up on Airbnb. Long before they became superhost, Gnarfgnarf had been a regular at Nida Villa.
#021, Sivatha Blvd, Siem Reap - Tel (0)89 99 81 68
$30 to US $50
Crowd: Independent travelers, folks sniffing a good deal, families
Go for: Big simple rooms with pool view
The name of this ever expanding hotel is a mouthful and a bit cheesy. In Khmer, the palace is truly the home of the King, we hardly use the term vergn (palace) for any other abode or in any other setting. Nevertheless, the Mekong Angkor Palace is more down to earth and straightforward than it sounds. Located along a couple of narrow alleys off Sivatha, you get convenient access to markets and restaurants. Cars can barely drive through to the hotel so traffic noise is muffled by the front row of shophouses. We were able to bargain off peak season a standard double room for twenty dollars (as foreign tourists you are likely to pay a bit more). Still, for that price you get a pool, small but totally swimmable unless you are a baby whale. In Siem Reap, it is almost impossible to get a room in a hotel with a swimming pool for less than forty dollars a night. The hotel has even a modern working lift, something quite rare for small establishments. The rooms are big and bright with modern equipment (mini fridge, safe, flat screen, wifi) and simple but pleasing wooden furniture. The bathrooms are equally nice and clean in the newer standard and superior rooms. The solar water heaters on the annex are a nice environmental touch. There could be a bit of construction noise here and there, but it's hard to avoid in Siem Reap unless you are going for the larger out of town resorts.
On National Road 6 about 500 metres from corner of Sivatha Blvd, Siem Reap - Tel (063) 760 690
$40 (deluxe double) to US $120 (deluxe triple)
Crowd: Business travelers, busloads of tourists from around the world
Go for: Good facilities at a reasonable price
The front of the hotel is really not much too look at, just another bland facade on the road from the Airport. And the name... typically audacious and appropriately Siem Reap bombast... Yet again, the Angkor Paradise cannot be easily discounted in the local ocean of nameful hotels... First it is part of Allson Sunway, a Malaysian group focusing on efficient hotels for business travelers. With close to 200 rooms, you won't feel alone. It's a big busy hotel, with a sizeable pool, a big buffet restaurant, long corridors and large conference rooms. Book in advance (occupancy is high), and you can get a standard room for US $40. Considering the facilities (we like lounging by the pools to watch pale tourists frolic in the water) and the large buffet breakfast included, this is hard to beat. The rooms are typically international standards with flat screen, wifi, fridge, safe, sleepers, bathrobes etc. For a little extra, you can check out late, which is convenient for intercontinental flights. The Angkor Paradise is not located in a busy part of town, it sits about 500 metres from the intersection of Sivatha and National Road 6, on the way from the airport. Of course on a moto-taxi or tuk tuk you're just a few minutes away from the town centre, but some travelers might prefer accommodation in the thick of the action at higher prices or with fewer amenities.
Corner of Wat Bo Road and Street 24, Siem Reap - Tel (063) 964 769
$40 (standard single) to US $60 (standard triple)
Crowd: Families, honey mooning couples, independent travelers
Go for: Near spotless cleanliness with some social goodliness
If you like things clean, a la Scandinavian (meaning rigidly clean), but in a more relaxed Khmer slovenly setting and without the long lonely fjord winters, the Soria Moria might just be a good pick. There is a tiny pool for dipping, though not really for swimming (6 by 3 metres). It's nice to have some fresh water around. The rooftop bar with its happy hour is near ideal (we would like a smoke free zone!) for sunsets and beyond. Soria Moria is a Norwegian founded, Cambodian operated, partly staff owned hotel cum social enterprise. It has won many accolades for its do good training programme. The location in the Wat Bo area means that you will need to tuk-tuk to the old district (although it's a relatively short ride across the river). However, there are plenty of eateries and a few mini-marts within walking distance. Check out the Soria Moria website where they have posted staff personal stories and responsible management practices. Early bookings and special deals from the main hotel reservation websites will get you a single room with breakfast for around US $25 and a double room for around US $30. The walk-in rates are almost twice as high. Soria Moria's increasing popularity and relatively small size (about forty rooms) makes the hotel in high demand during peak season. Come Wednesdays when tapas dishes and all drinks go for a mere dollar, the hotel gets swamped by cheapskates (like us) sniffing a bargain. Let's hope they are able to keep their services to level, their staff smiling and their prices reasonable.
#1 Vithei Charles de Gaulle, Siem Reap - Tel (063) 963 888
$275 to US $2000 (two thousand US dollars for Uma Villa Suite)
Crowd: Jet setters, foreign emissaries, politicians, but also people with discount coupons and on package tours
Go for: Luxury and history
Le Grand Hotel d'Angkor is the younger sibling of Phnom Penh's Hotel Le Royal. Le Royal follows French colonial architecture, whereas le Grand Hotel is of international Art Deco design. A historic building inaugurated in 1932, le Grand Hotel is an infant by the measure of Khmer civilisation, but belongs without doubt to bygone eras. The room rates are among the dearest in town, and are accompanied with service in semi traditional attire bowing to the floor. This establishment is likely suited to accommodate the capricious tastes of celebrities. The bars and restaurants hark back to times when elephants shuffled tourists around the "ruins of Angkor". The lift is one of oldest in the world, though presumably restored to meet modern safety standards... With a view on the Royal Residence, where His Majesty the King of Cambodia occasionally sojourns, and in the direct axis of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, it is difficult to find a more auspicious location. The evening performance of Cambodian classical dance with buffet (for US $40, which is quite a bit more expensive than last time we went) is popular with tourists. The show begins at around 8.00 pm three times a week, but you can start ploughing through the buffet an hour early. The food is standard international fare and the Apsaras, though not to Royal University of Fine Arts standards, are doing a far better job than the waitressess cum dancers on Pub Street or at the Siem Reap Night Market...
Best restaurants in Siem Reap
Off Wat Bo Road, around street 22, Siem Reap - Tel (0)12 850 362
Crowd: Independent travelers, the locals, families
Go for: Khmer pizza to international standards in a casual setting
Despite its inventive name, Hawaii Pizza House actually serves a Khmer version of international pizzas. Don't expect any "special" herbs on it, it's safe and mainstream. The atmosphere is relaxed and the prices have stayed reasonable for many years. Small kids and big kids love it. A small pizza starts at less than four dollars, a real bargain. Add some anchovies and a few other toppings for a few extra dollars only. A steady stream of backpackers and local Cambodians (for take away mainly) keeps the kitchen busy. From six o'clock onwards, it takes a little time to get your pizza, but the drinks are fresh. As in other restaurants in Siem Reap, stay off seafood dishes (we're a long way from the ocean).
Corner of Sivatha Blvd and Street 7, Siem Reap - Tel (0)63 966 041
Price: Average to Expensive
Crowd: the French and those who like French food
Go for: Rich and creamy French meals with plenty of wine
The name of the restaurant is a bit unfortunate but typical of French claims to careless arrogance. Andre Malraux was the minister of culture of General Charles de Gaulle (the road leading to Angkor still bears his name, and he is one of the few French presidents to have visited Cambodia). Malraux is famed for his novels, essays and other writings. His claim to fame in Cambodia is less glorious as he was caught red handed stealing antiquities... His wife and he probably thought that a few Khmer statues would look good in their home... Le Malraux serves typical French brasserie fare: the food is rich, upscale and traditional. Meats, creams and butter can be washed down with plenty of wine by the glass as you wonder about the French memorabilia all around. And for those missing their raw beef tartare... there is also plenty of blood to suck on... Desserts are the strong point for sweet teeth. For small eaters like us who are not keen on big slabs, take a couple of starters and a dessert.
Accessible through Wat Preah Enkosa by moto or bicycle (enter on the river, exit through the back gate). If going by car, turn off the east river road just before the wat. Turn left at the end of the road. Make sure your headlights work. Tel (0)92 80 80 40
Crowd: the hungry, local expatriates (mainly French) and a few tourists
Go for: Humongous grilled slabs of meat
Getting to Touich Restaurant is a little Siem Reap appetizer in itself. Up the east river road and tucked behind Wat Preah Enkosai, the big luminous "Angkor Beer, Touich Restaurant" sign hangs like a red lantern in the otherwise unlit road. Toch (a common Khmer nickname) means small, but this restaurant specialises in overkill portions. In Khmer, we would say American portions. For anything big, just add Americain after a Khmer common name. Big papaya? Lahong Americain etc. The English translation of the Khmer menu is French Khmer English but you catch the drift. International sign language is required to get your meats cooked to your taste. Choose from a range of local munchies such as papaya salad and prawns in crispy batter. But don’t go crazy on them if you intend to work through a main course. Touich’s grilled fare (meat and fish) is full of flavours and comes in very generous portions. Don't hesitate to share. If fish or steaks the size of your plate are not your thing, there are other stir-fry options on the menu, although the grilled dishes are what most people come for. The atmosphere is relaxed, service friendly and the rice wine cocktails (classic cocktails with a Cambodian twist) deceivingly easy on the palate. Hang around long enough and get yourself a remote temple tour by jeep organized by the owner. Just make sure he promises to bring some of that yummy banana leaf-wrapped fish for the trip! Unfortunately not open for lunch.
Between Wat Polanka & the Siem Reap Catholic Church, #8A-B Phum Slokram, just north of National Road 6 - Tel (0)17 363 284
Price: Cheap to Average
Crowd: Families and friends, local expats, Western tourists
Go for: Khmer artsy nouvelle cuisine
Marum is part of the growing network of restaurants inspired by Friends, a non government organisation working to get street kids off the streets, train them to make great food and provide them with jobs. Marum opened in October 2012, so we're still able to enjoy it most nights as the busloads of tourists have not discovered it yet. We gave up going to Friends in Phnom Penh ages ago as it was getting assaulted by the travel guide reading types... and we still love Romdeng, also in Phnom Penh, as one of the best classical Khmer cuisine restaurants in Cambodia (check our review Romdeng). Marum is a budding promising newcomer. You're getting a modernized international version of Khmer dishes, including the Samlor Kor Ko (literally "soup that one stirs", nothing quite like it anywhere else in Asia), but with the added twist of fish dumplings. Of course, the Fish Amok is a safe order and a good introduction to Cambodian dishes. But the strong point of Marum is really the itsy bits, sorts of Cambodian appetizers that will keep your taste buds pleased and your stomach wanting more: lotus humus for those allergic to chick peas, chive dumplings with citrus ginger soy, palm sugar braised pork belly and really a whole lot more. By all means, skip the red tree ant fritters (no Cambodian in his right mind eats red ants if he can afford fish, this is really a western myth that we spend our days eating ankroign (the nasty Cambodian fire ants). The garden setting is very nice and so is the traditional wooden Khmer house. There's even a small playground for the little ones. Our only gripe is that the toilets are on the first floor of some steep flights of stairs... so not wheel chair friendly at all! We literally had to carry our 82 year old friend up the stairs and down (he didn't mind but we did)...
Along River Road, between Wat Po Langko and Wat Preah Enkosai - Tel (0)63 965 210
Crowd: Wanderers, Gen X ex-hippies, vegetarians
Go for: Vegetarian food, yoga, meditation
The Peace Café has one of Siem Reap's lengthiest and oldest vegetarian menus. Set in a quiet side street off the river in the Wat Bo area, its garden welcomes you under the trees and onto the sand. From salads to brown rice Japanese maki (the kinds with vegetables only and without fish), the Peace Café takes you on a global meatless voyage of paninis, burgers, noodles, zingers and cakes... Don't search for eggs and bacon on the breakfast menu... Instead try the crepes and pancakes with local honey and some ginger tea. The staff are quiet and friendly, and the wifi is in working condition should your karmic connection be lacking. There's always somebody around to practice yoga on the first floor or to meditate in the hut at the back of the cafe. Overall a communal and tranquil place to slow down, although lunches can get busy. Needless to say the Peace Cafe is a socially and environmentally responsible enterprise. Don't forget to visit Wat Preah Enkosai, right next doors.
Ta Phul Road, in the block behind Kroma Yamato, Siem Reap - Tel (0)63 964 838
Price: Cheap to Average
Crowd: Families, friends, many, many tourists
Go for: Khmer traditional cuisine in a traditional house on stilts (traditional woods?)
Sugar Palm is a laid-back Khmer restaurant that serves traditional food on the welcoming balcony of a traditional house on stilts. The interior is tastefully populated with wood carvings and furniture. Sugar Palm's dishes would satisfy discerning Khmer taste buds as well. Classic foods such as pomelo salad, stir-fried chicken with ginger, sweet and sour soups, or sticky rice with mango can be enjoyed with little hesitation. Bare-foot service is unhurried and polite, and prices are more than reasonable. Sugar Palm is our down to earth good Khmer food choice for Siem Reap. Many, many tourists though...
#246 Wat Bo Street, Phnom Penh - Tel (012) 826 346
Price: Average to expensive
Crowd: Families, tourists, couples on a date
Go for: Approachable Khmer food verging on pan-Asian fusion cuisine
Viroth's cuisine is an excellent introduction to Khmer food for visitors not entirely familiar with Asian dishes. Prahoc, fermented fish paste served with vegetables and rice can be sampled with little risk by adventurous travelers as Viroth's rendition is far less pungent than customary. Because of its popular success, the main dining hall on the first floor of the restaurant may at times be swamped by tourists. The romantic section on the ground floor is more conducive to wooing while ordering approachable Asian fare.