Siem Reap is Cambodia’s historic city filled with interesting cultural details. The charm of the classical Cambodian architecture or Bayon style and the lifestyle of the locals will enchant visitors to visit again and again. Siem Reap is accessible from Thailand with just a 40-minute flight and Thai Smile Airways offers two flights per day to Siem Reap for you to choose from.
This trip is my first trip to Siem Reap and I chose Thai Smile Airways flight WE 588. Thai Smile Airways has two flights per day from Bangkok to Siem Reap – flight WE 588 leaving at 7.25 AM and WE 590 leaving at 6.50 PM. Naturally, we picked the morning flight for our trip so we don’t waste any time. Smiles lit up my face since the start of the flight with the helpfulness of the flight attendants in orange uniform. With the morning flight, I didn’t have time to find breakfast and thought I’d have to wait until I land to be able to eat. However, a little into the flight, the flight attendants started distributing snacks and beverages. I was so amazed by the deliciousness of the piping hot bread with mushroom and cheese filling. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the plane and didn’t even notice that we were close to landing until the captain announced it.
Everything in Siem Reap wasn’t as I imagined it would be. The airport itself has just been recently renovated. Siem Reap has a variety of shopping malls, downtown duty free shop, as well as five-star restaurants and hotels that are ready to cater to the myriad of visiting tourists.
Despite the advent of civilization, locals try hard to preserve their culture and lifestyle as is evident from the style of buildings within the city. They are built not to exceed three stories so they are not higher than the well-respected Angkor Wat, which is one of the seven wonders of the world. Travel within Siem Reap is still mostly done via the Remok or local tuk tuk, which can also be hired for the whole day for convenience of tourists at around one US dollar or 35 Baht. No matter where you go in Siem Reap, you’ll get a feel of both the old and the new.
Apart from the beauty of Siem Reap, locals are welcoming and enjoy interacting with tourists. If you’re worried about communicating with the locals like visiting other countries, there’s nothing to worry as most people can speak English and some can even speak Thai. That makes going around Siem Reap super easy.
Upon hearing this, many may feel inspired to visit Siem Reap once in their lives. I’ve accumulated a list of five recommended hotels for you to choose from if you get to visit Siem Reap.
1. Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort
Stay in Siem Reap in style at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort, which is just seven kilometers from the Siem Reap International Airport, and take your pick whether to arrive via a sedan or the airport’s limousine service. Angkor Wat is just five minutes from the hotel via the local tuk tuk.
The hotel is decorated in the luxurious French colonial style and you can get close to nature in the serene gardens. There are a variety of room types to choose from with a total of 238 rooms.
The Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort has plenty of restaurants whether it is French-Cambodian fusion or western and Asian buffet. What I love most and recommend you to try is the French pastries. The aroma and smooth texture of the croissant here may get you to reach for a second and third piece. If western style food like bread is not for you, do try their noodles which resembles the Thai noodles. The ingredients and soup may make you forget Thai noodles temporarily. The hotel’s The Citadel restaurant offers both sumptuous breakfast and dinner buffets.
Another highlight of the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort is the So SPA, which is a premium-grade spa with a lot of treatments to suit every need. Pick from face massages, body relaxation massages, to foot massages. The highlight of all their spa treatments is the L’occitane products, which is the selling point of this spa. Anyone holding a Thai Smile Airways boarding pass can receive a 10% discount at the So SPA.
2. Le Méridien Angkor Hotel
If you’re looking for a place to relax, a place of serenity in Zen-style but still stylish, let me recommend the Le Méridien Angkor Hotel. The stylishness of the hotel is evident in your first step through its doors. Rooms are decorated in a similar style but come equipped with snacks, beverages, a mini bar, and other amenities.
Don’t miss the noodles which are part of the hotel’s breakfast. I guarantee you that this is one of the few places in Siem Reap where the noodles are so tasty that it is one of the few items which disappear very quickly in the breakfast buffet line. A good meal won’t be complete without a good dessert and the signature dessert here is the éclair with a variety of fillings, such as lemon, peanut butter, or chocolate.
Le Méridien Angkor Hotel has a complete fitness and spa center. The updated spa equipment and well-trained masseuses make for a memorable spa experience. And if you show your Thai Smile Airways boarding pass at Le Méridien Angkor Hotel, you’ll get a discount for room rates from 150 US Dollars to 120 US Dollars.
The area around Le Méridien Angkor Hotel is also worth exploring with a handicraft community close by for you to view and purchase home as souvenirs.
3. Tara Angkor Hotel
If you are looking for airy accommodations that gives you a feeling of home, let me recommend the Tara Angkor Hotel. The hotel is located on Charles De Gaulle Road, which leads to Angkor Wat, and is two kilometers from the city center.
With the welcoming reception and the decorations that can be seen in Thai hotels, I find it similar to home. There are a variety of rooms to choose from, such as the Superior, Deluxe, Executive, and Family. The unbeatable Tara Suite is 115 meters in size which makes it suitable for meetings or even parties. The room has a Jacuzzi and in-room spa service. If you’re traveling in a party of three, the Tara Angkor Hotel has a perfect triple bedroom. What’s distinct for this hotel is the walk-in closet and luggage rack area, separate from the bedroom.
Each room has its own style of decoration as is distinct by the “Kabach” or the artwork that differs from room to room.
The hotel’s restaurants boast a variety of signature dishes but the three that was recommended to me include a Cambodian-style steak, beef burger, and river prawn in red curry served with cashew nut fried rice. This last menu really had my taste buds dancing with the red curry that is so fragrant and the giant river prawns.
Those tired from visiting tourist attractions all day can stop by the spa at the Tara Angkor Hotel for a relaxing Thai massage by masseuses who have been trained by Thai massage experts. They are guaranteed to get rid of any kinks and aches. Show your Thai Smile Airways’ boarding pass at the Tara Angkor Hotel and get a 10% discount off room rates.
4. Park Hyatt Siem Reap Hotel
If you’re looking for a luxurious hotel in the city center, the Park Hyatt Siem Reap is the place for you with its contemporary décor and efficient use of space. There are a total of 104 rooms and 13 suites but I was privileged enough to be able to stay in the newest additional highlight of the hotel and that is the Rooftop Garden Suite (with Balcony) which is the penthouse with an area of 152 square meters. There is a living room and garden separate from the bedroom, an outdoor bathing area, his and her toilets, and a balcony with an unobstructed view of the Angkor Wat.
I also got to view the Pool Suite, located on the first floor of the hotel. What’s special about this suite is the private pool and the spacious interior of 182 square meters, which is ideal for those who value privacy.
The restaurant offerings at the Park Hyatt Siem Reap Hotel is second to none with the TASTE OF CAMBODIA menu offered at The Dining Room restaurant. Executive Sous Chef Mr. Pisith Theam said the menu was inspired by local delicacies of each city such as Siem Reap, Pouk, and Battambang. What makes it special is that the ingredients are sourced directly from those areas. The menus are changed periodically to add variety.
Apart from The Dining Room Restaurant, there is a lounge, decorated with wooden bookshelves in a living room style, ideal for afternoon tea or cocktails in the late evenings. Those with a sweet tooth must not miss homemade desserts and ice cream at The Glasshouse Deli Patisserie. If you show your Thai Smile Airways’ boarding pass, you’ll get 30% off your spa treatment and 20% off food and beverages.
5. Victoria Angkor Hotel
If you are into the French colonial architecture, Victoria Angkor Hotel is the place for you. The wooden décor and warm color palette give a comfortable vibe. The open floor plan lets you soak in the whole atmosphere, including the ancient elevator that is still in use.
The Victoria Angkor Hotel has 120 rooms and 10 suites. Each suite has a different design and décor so take your pick between the suite with a view of the Royal Garden Park or a view of the hotel’s stunning swimming pool. Staying at the Victoria Angkor Hotel gives you a classic feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
The hotel has three restaurants. L’Escale serves the breakfast buffet that is complete with western and eastern dishes to start off your day before embarking on your excursions. L’Explorateur serves exceptional beverages throughout the day such as coffee in the morning, afternoon tea, or wine and snacks before dinnertime. Le Connaisseur is opened for dinner and serves a wide variety of French and Asian dishes.
To round off a long day, a massage sounds heavenly. The Victoria Angkor Hotel has an in-room spa service and spa treatments in the garden for you to choose from. The herbal products used will ease your tiredness and soothe your skin. Showing your Thai Smile Airways’ boarding pass here will get you a 20% discount from spa treatments, 15% discount for food and beverages, and 10% discount for room rates.
These are the five-star hotels that will make your trip to Siem Reap memorable. I will be back next time with recommendations about tourist destinations that you might have never heard of and information about locals’ lifestyles. If you wish to travel to Siem Reap, do check out Thai Smile Airways’ flight details at www.thaismileair.com or call their Call Center at 1181.