***This is not a sponsored post, just my recommendation on where to stay based on personal experience.
Siem Reap is a town in northern Cambodia that is the gateway to Angkor Archaeological Park. Millions of travelers arrive here yearly and that continues to increase the demand for budget to high-end accommodations.Whether it is high season (November to February) or low season (June to October), finding a place to stay in Siem Reap is easy though because there are now many places to stay.
When I traveled there in June 2010, I opted to fly there from Bangkok on Bangkok Airways. As expensive as the round trip ticket was (over $200), it was more convenient than taking a bus from Bangkok. If you’re on a tight budget though, the bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap cost less than $10 USD and takes nine hours I believe. Just be wary of where you buy your ticket from and make sure you have your Cambodian VISA sorted before getting on the bus. If you’re flying to Siem Reap, you can get your VISA sorted on arrival ($25 from what I remember).
If you’ve already sorted your accommodations prior to arriving in Siem Reap, no doubt your lodging should have a driver waiting for you. I suppose that where you stay determines whether it’s a motorbike, tuk tuk or taxi. The airport is 7 km from the center of town, so don’t think you’re just going to hop off a plane and start walking.
If you get there any time after noon, you should wait until after 1700 before thinking of seeing Angkor Archeological Park (henceforth, I will refer to it as Angkor). The reason why is because after 1700, you don’t have to pay to enter Angkor and you can go to Bakheng Hill (see picture below) to view sunset. A pass is required to enter Angkor, so if you arrive after 1700, you can purchase your pass (1-day $20, 3-day $40) to use the following days.
Keep in mind that Angkor is 20 km from Siem Reap town center, so plan your day ahead of time. Most visitors will want to see sun rise at Angkor Wat. If you’re brave enough to rent a bicycle and bike the circuit, you’ll have to leave your room no later than 430 am. If you are taking a tuk tuk, arrange with the hotel or driver the night before and prepare to leave by 500 am. Also keep in mind that your day is starting that early and you’ll have a lot to see. Pace yourself and hire a driver ($15 a day plus tip) that is interested in what you want to see.
Now on to what this post is about.
There aren’t too many things that $9 USD buys you nowadays. You most certainly don’t expect $9 to get you a room unless that room’s artwork consists of chalk outlines of where the bodies once laid and various bodily fluids decorating the walls and mattress. So when you go on a website like Hostel World in search of where to stay in Siem Reap, you’re going to rub your eyes when you see that most private en suite rooms there cost less than a large-sized Big Mac value meal. Too good to be true in a place that gets hordes of visitors you’ll say to yourself. And you’ll be wrong.
Is it not too good to be true. The rooms are that inexpensive and that good. Now obviously I haven’t seen or stayed at most of the hostels in Siem Reap, but based on recommendations I’ve seen and my own experience, I can tell you that you are definitely getting a lot more than what you pay for there. Here is my recommendation:
I stayed at the Golden Mango Inn in Siem Reap for $9 a night. I had an en suite private room with a double bed, cable tv (with many English language channels), a driver my entire stay, free wifi and internet, and an in-room safe. On top of the cleanliness and comfort of the room, the staff there were incredible from the beginning. Anything you needed, they were quick to provide. There is also an on sight restaurant that serves the best banana shake I’ve ever had. And the Khmer traditional food there is incredible.
I chose the Golden Mango because it was the best reviewed guest house on Hostel World. I made a great choice. On top of having a friendly staff, they also had lots of friendly fellow travelers there who all were happy to talk about their experience. Shout out to the friends I made there and continue to keep in contact with today- Andrea, Taylor, William and Fanny.
If you’re going to Angkor- and you should- do yourself a favor and save time and money by staying at the great Golden Mango Inn. If you can’t get a room there, just do like I did and read the reviews of other hostels/guest houses and make a wise, money saving choice.
I will write more posts about Siem Reap and Angkor, but in the meantime, if you have any questions about traveling there, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous posts I’ve written about Angkor:
After the Rain In Angkor Wat -this is about seeing sunset from Bakheng Hill and a rainbow over the temple.