Ultimate guide to Siem Reap

March 8, 2017, 5:03 a.m.

Known affectionately as Temple Town, Siem Reap is one of the most intriguing places in Southeast Asia. Because of this, it’s no surprise that many foreign nationals choose to relocate here every year. The contrast of ancient beauty and modern metropolis is striking in Siem Reap. Here’s Realestate.com.kh’s rundown of what it is like living in Siem Reap:

Still on the fence about where to live? We have a whole host of location profiles and guides for areas across the Kingdom.

Siem Reap is one of the most popular areas in the country to start businesses. There’s no doubt it is prime for any tourism operation. To find out more about how the hospitality industry in the Kingdom is growing, click over to our investment guide.

Taking care of business

Siem Reap benefits from a wide array of resources. The Angkor Temple Complex is, of course, one of the biggest draws. It brings over two million visitors each year. In fact, the majority of visitors who come to Cambodia end up coming to see the temples at some point during their trip.

The Unesco World Heritage site seems to have inspired a host of industries to spring up in the area, too. Art and handicrafts are especially popular. Many artists, as well as freelance writers, photographers and filmmakers, are living in Siem Reap for extended periods of time.

Many of the country’s hundreds of NGOs have a home base in Siem Reap. If you are interested in working for a non-profit this can be a great place to look for jobs or even internships. Usually contracts last for a year, but many serious expats end up living in Siem Reap for many years.

In addition to NGO work, there are opportunities at Westernised bars and guesthouses. Many hire expats for managerial positions. Get to know the business owners around town and maybe an opportunity like this will spring up.

The education sector is another place expats can find work. There are a bevy of international schools in the city and many of them want native speakers to teach daily classes. If you have TEFL certification you will fit the bill and can make a good living.

Feeling good in the hood

So you’ve made the decision. You want to start living in Siem Reap. Where should you live? What kind of place should you get? Rest assured. We’re here to help you navigate all the choices in Temple Town.

The area around Wat Bo is popular for expats because of its proximity to amenities such as shops and restaurants. Also, housing in Sala Kamreuk is becoming a popular place to find accommodation.

The different kinds of housing in Siem Reap differ quite a lot, we’ve outlined them to make sure you know what you want before arriving:

Long-term guesthouses

Sometimes you want to get a feel for a place before to sign on the dotted line. Tons of guesthouses in Siem Reap offer discounted rates for stays of a month or longer. This option can still be affordable and can give you plenty of time to look for more permanent boarding.

Solo apartment or condo

Are you someone who likes their own space? No problem. It’s easy to find a studio or one-bedroom apartments in Siem Reap. Most are situated in either new or renovated buildings and most come fully furnished. Just search our site's listings for apartments for rent in Siem Reap.

Shared apartment

If you’re a social person, or just want down your rent, finding a place with roommates is a prime option. There are groups on Facebook set up for connecting expats and showing rooms that are open. You can also use our website to search for expat rentals in Siem Reap.

Shophouses

Traditional houses in Cambodian cities are called shophouses. They are usually three or four storeys tall and are fairly long and skinny. These houses are named for the fact that many are opened as businesses on the ground floor. Often landlords rent out the floors above. 

Villas

These freestanding houses are often used for businesses, but occasionally one will pop up on the renter’s market. They can be expensive, but if you have a large group and want more seclusion, this can be a viable option.

Villas can be found both furnished and unfurnished and most have spacious balconies and small gardens. Prices vary based on size and location. Use our search to research about villas in Siem Reap.

The price of living in Siem Reap

There are no hard and fast rules for how much you can expect to pay for rent. Location, size, roommates and facilities are just a few of the variables. If you’re on a tight budget it’s possible to pay as little as $200 per month for living in Siem Reap. If you spring for more luxury options you can end up closer to $600, however.

Make sure to scout at least a few options before you sign a lease. It is totally acceptable here to negotiate rent before agreeing to a deal. It can often be helpful to enlist the help of a trusted agent. Check out our full list of the best agents in Cambodia.

Take a peep at Siem Reap

There’s plenty of culture to experience in town after your visit to Angkor Wat. The city has so many other things to do. You can go off-roading on a dirt bike or take a hot air balloon ride.

As mentioned, Siem Reap has a huge art and handicrafts scene. Les Artisans d’Angkor is a social enterprise that is reviving ancient arts of Cambodia and bringing skills to many people in the country. Their showroom is spectacular and they also have a silk museum.

Senteurs d’Angkor is another great place to stop by for checking out some amazing handcrafted products.

Fancy some pottery? Siem Reap also has a ceramic arts centre where you can check out the work. They also offer training so you can learn to make your own masterpieces.

If performing arts is more your style, head to a circus show put on by Phare. The group blends music, juggling and gymnastics with traditional and modern theatre.

Besides these options, there are tons of independent galleries in the city that host exhibitions by both local and international artists. If you’re shopping for something special there are several “Made in Cambodia” markets around town where creators will set up small stands.

Dinner is served

Siem Reap may not be the biggest city in Cambodia. It might have the biggest variety of food in the nation, however. Since the tourist industry is so huge there are plenty of restaurants that run the gamut of super cheap to luxurious.

Of course, if you’re an expat you may want to cook at home instead of eating out. There are definitely a few supermarkets like Lucky or Thai Huot where you can fill up your pantry with cooking supplies. Furthermore, at the local markets, you can find produce and dry goods at low prices.

If you want to go out to eat, however, you won’t be starved for options. Siem Reap has cuisine from nearly every culture on earth. There are Indian restaurants, Western, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and, of course, Khmer.

There’s a place called Wild that is considered a hidden gem in town. Expats often go here for cheap eats. The Christa has great vegetarian options and Try Me is an awesome lunch spot.

If you’re in the mood to splurge grab a table at Damnak Steakhouse. It’s a great place to visit on a date or if you’re celebrating for a special occasion.

Chul muoy! (cheers)

The expat community is very social in Cambodia. That often means meeting up in the evenings for drinks. Miss Wong is great for an evening cocktail or perhaps go to Siem Reap BrewPub if you want something on tap.

Finally, we can’t forget about Pub Street. Though this area is mainly filled with tourists, it can be a fun place to visit every once in a while if you are living in Siem Reap. If you want to dance they definitely have the music pumping.

An apple a day…

Tons of expats living in Siem Reap live an active lifestyle. Luckily, there are a few gyms that have plenty of exercise equipment. Angkor Muscle Gym is popular, as is Mr Ly Gym and Angkor Inter Fitness.

For medical assistance, most expats go to Royal Angkor outside town for any medical issues. If it’s just something a few pills can cure, U-Care pharmacy is a good place to pick up medication.

If any major issues pop up, it may be wise to head to either Phnom Penh or Bangkok for more medical expertise. Care is still very cheap there, and every case is different.

Make it your travel hub

Temple Town has a bustling international airport. This means that travelling around the region is simple while you’re living in Siem Reap. Routes to Bangkok, Hanoi, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur

and many other places run almost every day of the week.

The geographic location of Siem Reap is a boon for travel. Buses to major cities in the region are cheap and great if you want to experience all the views of the countryside.

A rarefied air

Siem Reap is a spectacular place. It’s no wonder that people come to the Kingdom and fall in love with it. It’s like no other place on earth. To truly experience the magic, however, you need to come feel it for yourself. Then you will know what it’s like living in Siem Reap.

Keep up on all the news in the Kingdom over at our news blog. Be sure to use our website if you need to find rentals in Siem Reap. Let us help you will the whole process.

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