Siem Reap has colonial and Chinese-style architecture in the Old French Quarter and around the Old Market. In the city, there are museums, traditional Apsara dance performances, a Cambodian cultural village, souvenir and handicraft shops, silk farms, rice paddies in the countryside, fishing villages and a bird sanctuary near the Tonle Sap Lake, and a vibrant, cosmopolitan drinking and dining scene.
Siem Reap today—being a popular tourist destination—has many hotels, resorts, restaurants, and businesses closely related to tourism. This is much owed to its proximity to the Angkor temples, the most popular tourist attraction.
Living in Siem Reap
Culture plays a crucial role in the harmonious functioning of any workplace. This is particularly true in expat‐heavy cities and towns, such as Siem Reap. Here are some tips and considerations to keep in mind:
- Modest clothing choices – The majority of Cambodians are Buddhists and, as such, are often very modest, particularly when it comes to clothing and it is a requirement to dress suitably when visiting the temples. See the dress code in the School’s Code of Conduct Policy for an idea of what to wear to work;
- Tipping – In a country where the average monthly income is often less than $1000 per year, even the smallest tip can be gratefully received. Tips can range from 500R
to 10,000R (10c ‐ $2.50) depending on your trip, distance, bill or level of service;
- Narrow toilet piping – the drainage infrastructure in Siem Reap (and the rest of Cambodia) was never developed with toilet paper in mind. Don’t flush it in the toilet if there is a bin provided;
- Confrontation or losing face – Justifiably, Cambodians do not respond well to confrontation. Avoiding confrontation and saving face can mean that employees can sometimes prefer to keep silent when there is a problem rather than openly communicating to resolve it. Remain calm and try not to put the blame on to others. It will only make the situation worse as, honestly, nobody likes to lose face;
- Cambodian history – with tragedy and loss still so fresh and political lines dividing the country more and more clearly, engaging in a political discussion would not be advised. For many, it is a sensitive or uncomfortable subject and for others it is simply something they would be fearful of talking about; and
- Family set‐up – Cambodian families are extremely close. Often three or four generations will share one house or even one room. This is something to keep in mind when you hear of a child at school sharing a room with an older or younger member of their family. The best thing to do is check in with someone who taught them last year or speak to the Designated Senior Person in charge of Child Protection.
While the official currency is the Cambodian riel, the US dollar is the de facto standard for most transactions. $1 is approximately 4200 riel, and you will usually receive riel as change when buying meals/shopping etc. as there is no coinage in circulation. ATMs generally dispense dollars, and you will be paid in dollars.
- Do not accept torn USD ($) banknotes; even a small tear may make it difficult for you to reuse them;
- US $2 bills are not accepted; be sure not to accept such notes in any change you are given;
- Only the newest forms of US $5 and $10 bills are accepted; again, do not accept older versions of these bank notes in any change.
Motodups (motorbike taxis) are the cheapest way to get around town. Be advised that it is technically illegal to not wear a helmet while on a motorbike, even as a passenger. Motodups will not usually have an extra helmet for you but they can be bought cheaply if you would like one. For your own safety, the school advises you to wear a helmet whenever you travel on a motorbike.
Tuktuks (motos with trailers) are also a very convenient way to travel when you have just arrived. These navigate through traffic well and are less dangerous than moto taxis. New teachers often become friendly with one or two drivers who they can call and use on a regular basis. There are always tuktuk/moto drivers around and it is never too hard to find one. It is always best to agree on the price before you start the journey and to find another driver if you are not happy with what is offered. You will need to bargain the price as they tend to inflate prices for westerners and tourists. For an average 2‐3km journey expect to pay about $1 for a moto or $3 for a tuk‐tuk. The vast majority of tuk tuk drivers are genuine and keen to help you but, as with all cities, you do need to be vigilant, sensible and aware.
Transport Apps such as Grab and PassApp are also available to download onto your smart phone. You can view the estimated cost of your journey before booking. Many of the teachers travel around on Bicycles or motos. Bicycles are available for sale for $30‐40 each for a second hand bike from Japan next to the Psar Leu market on Route6. Mountain bikes are also available but will cost you more and can be purchased new (from $350‐$400) or second hand ($150‐$200). Second hand motos often come up on Facebook pages and can cost around $600‐$800.
New teachers are expected to be in Siem Reap on 2nd August 2020. The school will arrange accommodation for 6 nights whilst you familiarise yourself with the city and decide on an area you would like to live.
Long term accommodation
Prices vary widely based on the style of the accommodation, and on whether it has extras such as a swimming pool or furnishings. Most landlords will usually accept cash or bank transfer. Things to consider when looking for your accommodation:
- Location and proximity to school and local temples
- Length of contract – Contracts are offered from as little as one month, up to 2+ years
- Mosquito screens in doors and windows
Expect something similar to the following:
- Rooms for rent usually cost $60‐$200 per month with only 1‐2 months deposit to the landlord;
- A room in a guesthouse may cost from $200‐$300 per month;
- A shared house can cost (each) from $100‐$200 per month;
- Khmer style wooden house $200‐400 per month; and
- Western Style apartments $150‐$900 per month
** parents of children at ISSR will receive a 50% discount on AOC apartments.
Some realtors recommended by our staff include:
Cambodia Angkor Real Estate:
Tel: (+855) 069 696 999
Email: [email protected]
Siem Reap Property Hunters
Tel: 017 591 289
Tel: +855 17 843 423
Email: [email protected]
(It is advisable to unlock your phone before arrival!)
SIM‐cards are readily available from the many phone shops in Siem Reap. There are many different packages offering differing amounts of data and are mainly prepaid. It is recommended that you bring your passport when registering your number so that if you lose your SIM card you can get a replacement with the same number. Phone credit is extremely cheap and there are many deals available for mobile data. Apartments and guesthouses generally offer wifi as part of their package although the quality may vary. The main mobile phone providers have booths at the airport so you will be able to obtain a SIM-card straight off the airplane. They are located outside of the airport building. Once you exit the doors, turn right and you will see their stands. Home internet packages are generally fast and good value, and can range from $17 – $60 per month.
There are many active Facebook groups in Siem Reap, and joining these can be a great way to get an idea of what is going on in town, or to find answers to any questions that you might have. Some of the most popular are:
- Expats and locals living in Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Siem Reap Expats & Locals
- Teachers in Siem Reap (TISR)
- Siem Reap Real Estate
- Dining & Drinking in Siem Reap
- Wat’s Up! ‐ Events in Siem Reap
- Siem Reap Real Estate (Buy, Sell and Rent)
Things to do and explore in Siem Reap. There are many things to see, explore and visit in Siem Reap. Here are some suggestions:
- Angkor Wat ‐ The incredible temples;
- Phnom Kulen ‐ Beautiful mountain and waterfalls;
- Phnom Krom ‐Mountain overlooking the floating villages, with some temples on top, free after 5.30 for sunset;
- West Baray ‐ A lake where you can rest and relax in hammocks;
- Phare Circus ‐ See some of the incredible shows here that will blow you away;
- Floating villages ‐ Kompong Phluk is a must see with colourful houses built on stilts and the mangrove river jungle;
- Markets ‐ explore the day and night markets for delicious food and bargain for some presents;
- Bambu Stage ‐ Fantastic shows covering Photography in Cambodia, the Temples and a shadow puppet show;
- Nature Discovery Centre – Discover Cambodia’s amazing wildlife;
- Cambodian Living Arts – A variety of artistic shows and workshops;
- Cambodian Cultural Villa ge, Siem Reap;
- Butterfly farm;
- Silk farm;
- The National Museum;
- Land mine Museum; and much more!
- Angkor Sante Polyclinic ⦁ Ly Srey Vyna Clinic
Telephone: 012 666 119 Telephone: 063 965 088
Ta Nouey, Phum Wat Bo, Email: [email protected]
Sangkat Salakamreuk, Siem Reap,
- Royal Angkor International Hospital. Run by Bangkok Hospital, this is the best (and most expensive) hospital in town. They also offer an ambulance service and organise medical evacuations if needed. Telephone: 012 235 888. Email: [email protected]
- Master Dental Clinic
Tel: 078 917 878
78 Southern Central Market and East of Cathay United Bank, Siem Reap,
- Kampuchea Dental Clinic
Dr Ung Kanha Tel:
012 246 241
- Samnang Dentist
U‐Care Pharmacies are good and very reliable and the pharmacists speak English. They are located throughout Siem Reap, including a branch at the end of Pub Street and one in Lucky Mall.It’s always best to ask if they ‘have anything cheaper’ as they will tend to give the most expensive medication first. There are other local pharmacies around Siem Reap.
- Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh: 023 213 470
- British Embassy in Phnom Penh: 023 427 124
- Canadian Consular Services in Phnom Penh: 023 430 811
- U.S.A. Embassy in Phnom Penh: 023 728 000
Siem Reap is rapidly developing, both as a tourist destination in its own right, and as a hub for travel in South East Asia. One of the great things about working here at ISSR is that there are many exciting destinations within easy reach when school holidays come around.
Buses run throughout the day from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, costing from $7‐15. A private taxi to/from Thai border (Poipet) to Siem Reap costs $25‐35. A taxi from the Thai border to Bangkok will cost around $60. Shared mini buses will usually be much cheaper. Direct buses run from Siem Reap to Bangkok for $28: A shuttle bus from Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok) to the Cambodian border (Aranyaprathet / Poipet) can cost around 300 Baht (between $10‐12) and takes 3‐4 hours. A break to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, or one of several other cities in the area with Air Asia can cost as little as $100 for a round trip from Siem Reap but this requires good planning and booking long beforehand.
Khmer Flight Center can be used to book flights in and around Cambodia. Ouch Sopheak at Sopheak Na Travel, located next to the Thai Huot supermarket, is a fantastic, reliable travel agent who can help you with anything from visas, to bus tickets, to cheap flights all over Asia, especially through Vietnam Airways.
Shopping, Food & Drink
There are a number of big supermarkets in town where you can buy everything you need. We will take you on a brief tour of these during the orientation days. The local markets are very good for fresh produce and cheap household items, and a good place to learn some Khmer. You will have to (and be expected to) bargain at the local markets, as initial price offered for most goods is usually inflated. Remember to keep a jovial, relaxed attitude as confrontation is very much avoided in this culture. Siem Reap has an amazingly diverse culinary scene, with expatriate restaurateurs from all corners of the globe opening up shop here. These restaurants often advertise special deals on the Facebook sites mentioned above.
A growing number of houses and apartments have a washing machine in Cambodia but many expats will take their laundry to one of the many shop owners who offer next day laundry services. An expected price would be $1.00/kg of washing. Some laundry services do offer collection and delivery.
Siem Reap is probably safer than most places during the day, although as in any city, you must be careful when by yourself at night. Although the centre of Siem Reap is fairly affluent, this is still the poorest province in Cambodia, so you should be vigilant. If you are on a bicycle or moto, it is best to put your bag into the front basket with the strap tucked away. We also recommend you buy a cover for baskets on your bicycle.