Destination Highlight: Siem Reap, Cambodia
One word association: C.R.E.A.M. Ok technically that’s about five words, but for this post, CREAM is most adequate. For those who are not familiar with the Wu Tang Clan reference, CREAM stands for “Cash Rules Everything Around Me.” To put it plainly, ain’t nobody checking for you unless you have US dollars. You will likely get a fair amount of the “side eye” for requesting to pay in local currency. But in Siem Reap, Cambodia…the hustle for the US dollar is real. Hotels hustle you to pay for hotel coordinated tours in cash. Restaurants and bars list all prices in USD and don’t have the nerve to try and pay with a damaged bill. Many restaurants do not have the chip technology found on most credit and debit cards today, so even if the restaurant says they take cards, you may still end up having to pay with cash. Even the world famous UNESCO Heritage Sight, Angkor Wat, is a cash only establishment, preferring payments in US dollars.
Most hotels will offer free rides to and from the airport–likely by tuk tuk. This generosity is (usually) granted in the hopes that you will utilize your tuk tuk driver for the remainder of your stay. Tuk tuks are in abundance and drivers will not hesitate to ask you if you need a ride. A ride to a local destination runs about $2 each way. Using a tuk tuk to make your way around Angkor Wat and surrounding temples starts at $15 per day.
Angkor Wat and Surrounding Temples
No visit to Siem Reap is complete without visiting this UNESCO site, often called the eighth wonder of the world. Admission is $20. Breathtaking and majestic, plan to spend at least one full day.
No. 968, Vithei Charles de Gaulle
Khrum 6, Phoum Salakanseng, Khom Svaydangum
Siem Reap, Cambodia
If possible, go to the National Museum before visiting Angkor Wat. The museum provides an excellent and very detailed history of Angkor Wat. Going here could allow you to forego a tour guide during your visit to Angkor Wat, which could run $45-$55 per day.
Street 11 and the Corner of Street 8 (aka Pub Street)
This is a prime location for chatting with friends, eating some familiar American foods, and people watching. If none of those tickle your fancy, bring a good book because the Wi-Fi connection is atrocious. They have great happy hour specials from 5pm to 7pm with the best Lemongrass Mojito around. The Mac and Cheese is shockingly good. Cash only.
Street 11 and the Corner of Alley West
This bar has a very westernized feel. The karaoke performances are nothing short of terrible, but they are extremely entertaining.
Khmer Kitchen Restaurant
Multiple Locations in Siem Reap near Pub Street and Alley West
Great prices and a great place to try traditional Khmer food.