Sangat Svay Dangkum, Siem Reap
Siem Reap evolved with the increasing influx of tourists flocking to explore Angkor Wat and the surrounding Angkor Heritage Park. Perched at the tip of Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia’s north, it is about 320 kilometres from Phnom Penh.
Sitting just seven kilometres from the temple complex, the city’s heart in Svay Dangkum has moulded into an eclectic mix of tourism, business and residential dwellings, changing as the city’s needs and demands have grown and matured.
Located on the west side of the Siem Reap River, charming lane ways, fine dining, bustling markets, modern supermarkets and a pumping nightlife all come together in this part of town.
The convenience of having everything within a 10 minute walk makes it a popular place to stay and a great starting point for anyone relocating to Siem Reap.
Siem Reap’s international airport is about nine kilometres from the centre of town and takes 20 to 30 minutes in a tuk tuk, depending on time of day and traffic, making it readily accessible for travellers and business commuters.
Housing and Accommodation
This district features accommodation for all budgets and all tastes. Five star establishments include the Park Hyatt and the Raffles Hotel while budget hotels start at $30 a night.
More permanent houses and apartments for those looking to relocate or extend their stay, vary from $200 per month for apartments for rent and go up according to location and features. Houses and villas for rent start at $400 per month and start from basic accommodation through to luxury and modern western-style layouts.
Siem Reap Tourist Attractions
- Psar Chas (Old Market) a bustling market popular with locals, expats and tourists, sells everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to tourist souvenirs, home wares and hardware. Sweet bananas, fresh mango and many vegetable staples can be bought for $1 per kilogram and $1.80 will buy about 10 eggs. Situated opposite the river and just one block from Pub Street, it is surrounded by hotels, restaurants and bars. In the evening street vendors set up with food and drink carts along the river and around the market for some cheap eats.
- Night Market
Located a few blocks from Pub Street, Svay Dankum boasts Siem Reap’s original night market. Recently renovated, hundreds of bamboo huts house a range of souvenirs and handicrafts from jewellery to clothing and silk textiles. Live music, food and drinks make this a popular location.
- The Royal Residence
The King’s official residence when in Siem Reap – sits on the corner of the river road and National Road 6. The royal gardens opposite the residence feature some of the only designated green space in Siem Reap making them popular with tourists and locals. West of the gardens is the Preah Ang Check – Prah Ang Chorm Shrine, a popular place of worship for many locals and a point of interest for visitors.
- Cambo Beach Club
Missing the beach? Then Cambo Beach Club in the heart of town has the next best thing. Featuring a 30-metre saltwater swimming pool and a deep diving pool surrounded by sand and palm trees, it’s perfect for chilling out on hot days and lazy weekends. Restaurants, bars and live entertainment ensure visitors have everything they need.
Heritage Walk, on Road 6, near the Royal Gardens features a range of small department and specialty stores and an array of restaurants and international chains including Starbucks and Dominoes Pizza. It also houses Legend Cinema.
Nightlife and Entertainment
- Pub Street
Siem Reap’s infamous Pub Street is a prime destination for tourists of all ages, who enjoy the mix of bars, restaurants and dance clubs after a long day at the temples. Famous for its 50-cent draft beers and cheap cocktails, it also boasts a broad mix of Khmer and western food, including Papier de Tigre (Paper Tiger), open since 1999 and features crocodile and ostrich on its extensive menu.
For more action, dance the night away at Temple Bar. While it is one street, the streets and lanes surrounding the area are packed with boutique shops, massage salons, bars and restaurants. Some lanes feature the old French architecture and are worth exploring for their quaint feel.
- Food and drink
Put on your party shoes and kick up your heels, there is plenty happening every night of the week. If Pub Street’s steady beat is not for you, take a wander down one of the lanes in the old French quarter or a stroll along the river for some fine dining and more sedate entertainment.
Tantalize your tastebuds and take a culinary spin around the globe, with the international mix of flavours on offer. From $1.50 street-side noodle stalls to high end Khmer cuisine, you can’t miss Cambodia’s complex and sensational flavours. In this part of town you will also find Italian, French, Greek, Indian, Mexican, burgers, vegetarian and vegan restaurants. You can down a stout at the Irish pub or enjoy a classy cocktail at Miss Wong’s.
- Art and culture
Siem Reap’s rapidly developing art scene showcases an exciting range of talent. Galleries like Mirage and Tribe work hard to promote and develop local artists and photographers as well as featuring international work through exhibitions, workshops and artist talks. The area is also home to fashion designers, traditional artisans and Apsara dance shows.
- Coffee, cakes and catch-ups
Cambodia’s burgeoning coffee scene is evident in Siem Reap. Coffee carts abound on almost every street while more complex blends can be drunk in specialist coffee shops throughout the city centre. Catch up with friends, chill out from sightseeing or hold a business meeting at any of these quality locations. And don’t forget to try the sweet treats on offer from local bakers.
- Rooftop views
Get a birds-eye view of Siem Reap from one of the many rooftop bars, restaurants and swimming pools dotted across the city centre. From quaint rooftops on some of the city’s charming older buildings to the ultra-modern venues attracting youthful crowds, going up seems to be a popular option. There’s a rooftop to suit all tastes. XBar’s live music and late hours suit party-goers, enjoy a beach-feel swimming pool on top of Twizt Lifestyle Hostel, have a relaxed dinner at Purple Mangosteen, while at Sokkhak River Lounge visitors can savour fine dining with river views on the roof top.
Two cinemas – Legend and Major Cineplex – showcase many international latest release movies as well as popular Khmer, Chinese and Korean films. Legend Cinema, located at the Heritage Walk mall, also boasts a gold class cinema.
Not surprisingly, the city’s heart offers all the major amenities. Banks, ATMs, the Provincial Hospital and Angkor Hospital for Children, dentists and pharmacists are all found in this central area.
- Markets and supermarkets
Most of the major supermarkets can be found within the city centre and between them they cater to most western needs. For fresh fruit and vegetables and other local delights Psar Chas and Psar Gne are the most popular markets. You are likely to find smaller local markets on back streets.
Svay Dankum hosts several local schools. For expats looking for international standards or who hold teaching positions, a number of private international schools and most of the city’s universities are within a few kilometres of the city centre and easily accessible by bike, motorbike or tuk tuk.
Centrally located on Angkor Night Market Street, AngkorHUB is popular with digital nomads. Other co-working spaces are just a short walk, cycle or tuk tuk ride across town for anyone who needs a temporary office to work or conduct meetings.
Svay Dangkum makes up Siem Reap’s central business and tourist area. The roads are generally good, although BBU Road is notoriously bad and has ongoing road works. National Road 6, around the bridge crossing can get very congested. Most roads around town are sealed but some back roads are still dirt tracks. Potholes can play havoc in some areas, particularly in wet season.
Siem Reap is flat so it’s easy to walk or cycle around, although many expats buy motorbikes. The city is reasonably small and it is not difficult to access most things from Svay Dangkum.