Getting a Room – Siem Reap, Cambodia

Getting a Room – Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap, Cambodia

Coming into Siem Reap along Route 6 from the Thai border, the first introduction to the city is a slew of majestic hotels lining the road. These gilded monstrosities charge anywhere from $300 to $2,500 per night, and considering the poverty of the locals, it’s startling to think the area would need so many of them. Still, the guide on our minibus said rooms across town can be so overbooked for Cambodian festivals and New Year that people will be forced to sleep in the aisles of supermarkets. If you’re going during slow season and working with a budget, don’t worry – there are plenty of cheap, clean and friendly accommodations. For a few dollars more, think of investing in A/C. There’s nothing nicer than coming home at noon from the scorching heat of Angkor Wat and settling in for a cool lunchtime siesta.

Jasmine Guest House (#307, Route 6): This guesthouse was the nicest one we stayed in on our trip. It has a central location near the entrance to town and easy access to Internet cafes, restaurants and numerous other guesthouses. It’s only a 15-minute ride to Angkor Wat, too. The restaurant – run by the innkeeper’s family – is amazing and keeps long hours; it was great to pig out for $1-$3 U.S. a plate. Rooms come with fan or A/C; ours had a double bed, A/C, the cleanest bathroom we’d seen in weeks (with a flush toilet) and lots of space, all for just $8 U.S. per night. (A double with fan goes for $5 U.S.; a double with A/C and cable TV costs $10 U.S.) The guesthouse has connections to transportation services: You can rent a motorbike with driver or a push bike and can arrange tuk-tuk, taxi and bus services. There are also bus and boat tickets and tour guide services in English, French, German and Japanese.

Make sure to get to know the owner, Mr. Kunn. He welcomed us the first night and would sit around during dinner, asking questions and playing music on his stereo. He said we could play any music we brought with us. (His own collection is a mix of John Denver, ’80s hair metal and the Allman Brothers.) He enjoyed talking about improvements he was making to the guesthouse, such as the new pool table that was coming. If you book ahead, Mr. Kunn can arrange to pick you up from the border or airport.

My Let’s Go: Thailand travel guide has a special section on Angkor Wat as a side trip, and it lists other good bets for housing. Popular streets for guesthouses are Vithei Sivatha and Vithei Wat Bo, which you can reach from Route 6. Unlike many Thailand accommodations (especially those in Bangkok along Khao San Road), flush toilets are standard. One the guidebook recommended is Mom’s Guest House (on Wat Bo, 30 m from the intersection with Route 6), which has plenty of clean rooms and a friendly, English-speaking staff. Singles with shared bath are $3-4 U.S. and doubles with private bath are $6-10 U.S., $12 U.S. if you want A/C.