living in siem reap 2024
Updated on: February 29, 2024, 1:17 a.m.
Published on: February 27, 2024, 4:25 a.m.

Why Live in Siem Reap (Update 2024)

Siem Reap, a city in northwestern Cambodia, stands as a must-visit when it comes to travel to the kingdom. Best known as the gateway to the ancient ruins of Angkor, it is a focal point for tourists to explore the ancient Khmer capital city of Angkor. 

But beyond being home to Angkor, it is also home to many Cambodians, and expats and welcomes many visitors every year. What more does the city offer, and why are both locals and expats drawn to call Siem Reap their home in 2024? This article will bring you up to date on what the city has to offer.

Cultural Immersion 

When it comes to culture, Siem Reap does offer loads of activities to immerse into Cambodian culture. The Angkor Remembrance Festival is also held yearly by the APSARA Authority to promote national heritage. Various booths and performances of various arts at the event were held for 10 days in front of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom’s Terrace of the Elephants. The festival commemorates the King and the ancestors who built and maintained the temples in Angkor and celebrates the 31st anniversary of including Angkor on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.

Credit Photo: Khmer Times

Recently held was the Celebration of Join-Fish Catching, which traditionally takes place at the start of the year. This event has its roots in ancient practices, with residents coming together every February to fish, especially following the rice harvest season. Overall the atmosphere is quite friendly and participants and spectators are welcome to enjoy the gathering.

Credit Photo: The Phnom Penh Post

Other festivals also include the upcoming River Festival and the Giant Doll Parade. The River Festival is held for two consecutive days usually in March. Art performances, exhibitions and exciting sporting events including cycling, running, boat racing, boxing and golf are expected to happen during the festival.

Credit Photo: The Phnom Penh Post

The Giant Doll Parade is scheduled to occur at the end of February. Nine giant dinosaur dolls are 15 to 20 metres long and up to 10 metres high, which are being installed by a group of about 650 children from private public schools and 19 NGOs participating. The festival brings together families and showcases talents in a mystical location like Siem Reap. 

Credit Photo: Giant Puppet Project

Credit Photo: Giant Puppet Project Facebook page 

Free Angkor Pass for ‘Angkor Wat’

For foreigners residing in Cambodia for two consecutive years, a 'Free Angkor Pass' for Angkor Wat is available. The archaeological park spans over 1,626,000 m2, with plenty of places to discover. The ticket is valid for a year and offers a unique opportunity for expats to explore the ruins and the region at their own pace. Ticket passes are available for purchase and application on-site and online. 

Sports events

Although it might seem like Siem Reap has a laid-back atmosphere, several sports events are also held in the city. Last year the renowned Angkor Wat International Half Marathon held the 28th edition attracting over ten thousand competitors from around the world at Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap. There were four race categories: the 21 km half marathon, the 10 km, the 5 km, and the 3 km.

Credit Photo: Angkor Wat Marathon Facebook page

The World Kun Khmer Championship event was one of the most popular events during the Water Festival last year. It hosted its 4th edition attracting participants from all over the world, Kun Khmer and martial arts enthusiasts. The Angkor Ultra Trail 7th edition is also held in town. The event included several long-distance classes, with distances ranging from 8 to 18, 32, 42, 64 and 100 kilometres. For those curious about Kulen Mountain, a Trek-Run in the mountains organised by Green8 and the local authorities offers the opportunity to discover Kulen and enjoy the nature of Siem Reap. 

Abundant Nature 

Beyond the Angkor ruins, the region is overflowing with jungles, lakes and animals. The Tonle Sap Lake, the floating villages and a wide range of birds can be observed. If you're up for it, cycling or biking through the countryside lets you witness picturesque life in rural Cambodia. 


Credit Photo: Unesco 

Credit Photo: TripAdvisor

Preservation of the environment

Although Siem Reap might have the potential for large infrastructure and development to attract more tourists, preservation of the environment is a priority in the region. According to the Phnom Penh Post The Siem Reap Provincial Administration and Takamatsu City, Japan, have signed an MoU to launch "smart city" projects, supporting digital technology advancements in both regions. This initiative could potentially help improve the region.

Moreover, it's important to understand that the property landscape in Siem Reap is quite distinct from Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville. Siem Reap features a mix of shophouses and villas with Cambodian architectural features alongside low-rise modern buildings. In Siem Reap, you won't find skyscrapers, buildings are required to be lower than the height of the temples. This makes the city's property landscape unique in its own way. 

For some homeowners, properties are more than just homes; they're also popular for rentals due to the number of tourists visiting the city. This allows homeowners to benefit from rental income and allows visitors to experience staying in these unique houses, discovering the charm of Siem Reap and what makes the city special.

Infrastructure development 

The New Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport is set to enhance Siem Reap's connectivity with the rest of the world. Classified as a 4E International Airport, it comes with a runway capable of accommodating all kinds of aircraft, alongside the latest advancements in safety and security technology for travellers. The new airport can welcome more visitors, making it easier and more reliable for them to start exploring Siem Reap.

Credit Photo: Fresh News

In Summary: 

  • Cultural Immersion: Siem Reap offers activities to immerse in Cambodian culture, including the Angkor Remembrance Festival and the Celebration of Join-Fish Catching, alongside other festivals like the River Festival and the Giant Doll Parade.
  • Free Angkor Pass for Expats: Foreigners residing in Cambodia for two years can receive a 'Free Angkor Pass' for Angkor Wat, allowing them to explore the vast archaeological park at their leisure.
  • Sports Events: The city hosts various sports events such as the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon, the World Kun Khmer Championship, the Angkor Ultra Trail, and a Trek-Run in Kulen Mountain, attracting participants globally.
  • Abundant Nature: Beyond the ruins, Siem Reap is rich in natural beauty, from jungles and lakes to the unique floating villages on Tonle Sap Lake, offering various outdoor activities like cycling and bird watching.
  • Environmental Preservation: Despite the potential for large-scale development, Siem Reap prioritises environmental preservation, with initiatives like the smart city MoU with the Takamatsu City of Japan to promote digital technologies while maintaining its unique architectural charm.
  • Unique Property Landscape: The city’s properties, including shophouses and villas, reflect a blend of traditional Cambodian architecture and modern design, with regulations to keep buildings lower than the temples, offering unique rental opportunities for visitors.
  • Infrastructure Development: The New Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport aims to enhance global connectivity, equipped to handle all types of aircraft with the latest safety and security advancements, facilitating easier access for visitors.

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