Aleesha Bishop Shares Her Secrets Of Siem Reap

16 July 2014

Chances are you've heard about the temples, the tuk-tuks and the ticklish 'fish foot massages', but those who have experienced Siem Reap's charms firsthand know a different side of this Cambodian gem. Siem Reap is experiencing something of a travel renaissance, echoing a time in the Swinging Sixties when the well-heeled would flock to Cambodia to cash in on the cultural cache.

Guest blogger Aleesha Bishop says her list of reasons to visit Siem Reap is so long she may never complete it! That said, she has narrowed it down to her top five Siem Reap experiences that are among her most treasured travel memories.

 Aleesha discovering the lush countryside by quad bike

1. Feel the Local Love

You will often hear that the locals in many Asian countries are incredibly welcoming and friendly, and this certainly rings true in Siem Reap. The locals are, without a doubt, the friendliest and kindest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. If there is only one reason you visit Siem Reap, it should be to experience hospitality and gentle human nature in their finest forms.

You’ll witness it everywhere from exceptional restaurant service to sharing jokes with your tuk-tuk driver, or exchanging so many smiles as you walk down the street your cheeks begin to ache. Smiling is particularly contagious in Siem Reap, so be sure to give your pearly whites a whirl!

 The local way of life in Cambodia

2. Delight in Delicious Food

Oh. My. Stars! The Khmer (traditional Cambodian) cuisine in Siem Reap is exquisite and easily rivals the most celebrated traditional fare from anywhere else in the world. The Khmer food concepts are simple yet creative, combining basic staples like rice or noodles with an array of spices, vegetables and proteins to create distinctive and exciting flavoured dishes you won’t soon forget.

If you’re unsure of what’s what or where to begin, I recommend ordering the Amok – a traditional Cambodian curry usually made with fish and coconut cream, steamed in banana leaves to create a creamy, fragrant and absolutely delicious Cambodian specialty dish. Superb!

 The lively city centre where finding a tuk-tuk is no problem!

3. Make Your Accountant Happy

One of the best things about Cambodia is there’s no need to break the bank for you to still enjoy the trip of a lifetime. Travelling to Siem Reap can be extremely cheap and you get maximum bang for your buck. My fiance and I spent five hours at our favourite bar on Pub Street, drinking ice cold beers and snacking on fresh, crunchy spring rolls. Our final bill? About $10 Australian!

 The local Cambodian people still find peace and tranquillity at the temples of Angkor

4. 'Wat' About Angkor?

You can't ignore around 400-square-kilometres of World Heritage splendour! You absolutely must see the temples of Angkor at least once in your life. This includes the world’s largest religious structure, Angkor Wat – it's simply extraordinary and surreal in its otherworldly brilliance.

You could spend one day or five days exploring the temples of Angkor, depending on your preference. For movie buffs or Angelina Jolie fans, you might like to visit a beautiful temple called Ta Prohm where they filmed the movie Tomb Raider. Interestingly, it was once a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university. The history in Siem Reap is mind-boggling!

 The bridge to Angkor Thom - the ancient capital city of the Khmer Empire

5. It’s Good for The Soul

This one comes with a disclaimer, as it’s difficult for me to quantify or physically prove, but a trip to Siem Reap is truly life-changing – and I don’t use that expression lightly! I have never felt so at peace, so calm and so sublimely happy.

Everyone I know who has made the journey to Siem Reap and wider Cambodia will wholeheartedly agree with me, even if they are not particularly spiritual. A holiday in Siem Reap is a therapeutic, meditative trip to an incredible land with countless adventures and experiences awaiting.

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About Aleesha Bishop

As a blogger with an unwavering and all-consuming passion for travel, Aleesha finds her solace by travelling all over the globe to destinations including Cambodia, Japan, China, USA, Mexico and England (just to name a few!). Aleesha is a self-confessed wanderlust junkie whose craft is painting a vivid picture of the world using only her words.
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Flight Centre's Guest Bloggers

Flight Centre is proud to present blog posts written by our customers, affiliates or general travel enthusiasts who are as passionate about travel as we are. We're confident you'll find their insider advice and holiday highlights useful when it comes to arranging your own great getaway!