Some things have changed in Siem Reap since I visited four years ago. Namely, the density of hotels and tourists within the city. For a small city with a population of about 200,000, Siem Reap now has over 400 hotels and welcomes over 4 million visitors every year. Jam-packed Pub Street can be totally obnoxious and touristy, but do know that there are plenty of other options where you can stay and eat and spend your time on a very worthwhile trip to this ancient city.
Of course, the standard of luxury in Siem Reap is the Le Meridien, which is located a stone’s throw from the entrance to the Angkor Archaeological Park. But if you are a traveler who prefers a more boutique experience to a larger brand, you should be excited about the soon-to-open Lyn Naya Urban River Resort. This small resort is slated to open the first of the year, and offers 40 luxury rooms and suites beginning at $150/night USD. Rooms all have private patios with either a river or a resort view. With a swanky on-site spa and modern, open concept restaurant, Palate, Lyn Naya promises to deliver a boutique, luxury experience while still situated just near the heart of downtown Siem Reap, about a 10 minute walk to the action in town.
Or, a more established yet still small brand luxury hotel in Siem Reap is the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa. This is a bigger hotel with about 130 rooms and it is located just near the Royal Residence, looking out over the Royal Gardens. They have two beautiful restaurants (one dedicated strictly to French cuisine), a spa, a kids recreation area (with babysitting!), and a gorgeous pool. In addition, they offer hands on cooking courses with their chef, as well as silk weaving demonstrations with local artisans. And it is impossible to miss the small crocodiles living in the central atrium’s lagoon. If you’re the daring type, you can participate in feeding them on Fridays.
Finally, one of my most rewarding visits of the day came from my meeting with Chanthou Choun, the owner of Horizons Cambodia, a boutique lodge on the east side of the Siem Reap River. This is lodging on the opposite end of the spectrum from Le Meridien or Victoria Angkor. Chanthou caters to volunteers working for NGOs, or at the local children’s hospital, offering those giving their time special room rates. He is a young Cambodian man who worked at the lodge for many years with his wife before the Australian owners decided to move back home. They sold the hotel and all of its fixtures and furnishings to Chanthou, and while I don’t know the previous owners, I do know that they’d have to be proud of what he is doing there. Rooms are small but functional and clean, with modern flat screen TVs, and strong wifi throughout the whole property. Chanthou and his wife pride themselves on the service they offer to their guests and also work as tour organizers in the area. Check out their company, Experience Siem Reap. Rates at Horizons Cambodia begin at $18/night USD (and they do have more spacious rooms with balconies at a slightly higher price point, too), so if you are on a budget and want clean accommodations in a good location, this is the right place for you.
In short, even though Siem Reap may be getting overrun with tourists, the right lodging can afford you just the break from the crowds that you will be seeking.