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Cruises to Siem Reap

19 Reviews
Siem Reap (Photo:Dmitry Rukhlenko/Shutterstock)

About Cruising to Siem Reap

Siem Reap, in northwest Cambodia, is home to the country's number-one tourist attraction, Angkor, making it a popular starting and finishing point for cruises to Cambodia.

Cambodia was a French colony from 1863 to the mid-1950s, and this heritage is reflected in Siem Reap's colonial architecture, elegant tree-lined boulevards and bakeries selling French baguettes and pastries. The majority of cruise passengers arrive and depart at the city's airport and are transported by bus to and from the Mekong or Tonle Sap Lake, which feeds into the river and is the embarkation point for some itineraries.

Known as the gateway to Asia's ancient world, for decades Siem Reap has beckoned travelers eager to get a glimpse of 12th-century temples and incredible Buddhist complexes that have withstood the tests of time, weather and human interference. The most famous, Angkor Wat, beckons more than 2 million travelers a year to its sprawling temples and breathtaking landscapes.

Frequently referred to as the "eighth wonder of the world," Angkor was the center of the ancient and mighty Khmer Empire, which once stretched from the Bay of Bengal to the South China Sea. Excursions are typically spread over one or two days and will include Angkor Wat, the world's largest religious monument (at its most atmospheric at sunrise and sunset), and other temples, such as mysterious Ta Prohm, discovered by 19th-century explorers in the midst of the jungle surrounding Siem Reap.

Beyond temples and sunrises, Siem Reap is growing rapidly to match the number of tourists flocking in, with new luxury hotels popping up around the outskirts of the temples, new and varied restaurants and guest houses for more budget-conscious travelers. Plus, the town has a burgeoning art scene where artists, street performers and bands add to the quirky vibe of the new Siem Reap.

  • More about Siem Reap

  • Why Cruise to Siem Reap?

  • Siem Reap Cruise Port Facilities?

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AmaDara
AmaDara

7 Night
Riches Of The Mekong

29 Reviews
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Emerald Harmony
Emerald Harmony on the Mekong (Photo: Ashley Kosciolek/Cruise Critic)

12 Night
Wonders Of Vietnam, Cambodia & The Mekong - 7 Or 9...

27 Reviews
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Scenic Spirit
Scenic Spirit

10 Night
Temple Discovery And Luxury Mekong Cruise - 7 Or 9...

76 Reviews
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Viking Saigon
Viking Saigon (Image: Viking River Cruises)

14 Night
Magnificent Mekong

22 Reviews
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Virgin Voyages

14 Night
Wonders Of Vietnam, Cambodia & The Mekong - 7 Or 9...

27 Reviews
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12 Night
Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia & The Mekong River

2 Reviews
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14 Night
Timeless Wonders Of Vietnam, Cambodia & The Mekong

1 Review
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15 Night
Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia & The Mekong River W...

2 Reviews
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Cruise Critic Favorite

10 Night
Luxury Mekong And Temple Discovery Cruise - 7 Or 9...

76 Reviews
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10 Night
Luxury Mekong And Temple Discovery Cruise - 7 Or 9...

76 Reviews
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7 Night
Charms Of The Mekong

29 Reviews
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12 Night
Temple Discovery And Meandering Along The Mekong C...

76 Reviews
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15 Night
Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia & The Mekong River W...

2 Reviews
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12 Night
Treasures Of The Mekong - 7 Or 9 Night Cruise

76 Reviews
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12 Night
Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia & The Mekong River

2 Reviews
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More about Siem Reap

Why Cruise to Siem Reap?

Pros:

Food and souvenirs are cheap; many attractions are walkable or accessible via tuk tuk.

Cons:

Traffic is crazy, humidity is off the charts, and docking locations can vary widely.

Bottom Line:

This vibrant, friendly city is welcoming to outsiders and serves as a home base for Cambodian temple visitors.

Siem Reap Cruise Port Facilities?

Since ships don't actually dock in Siem Reap, passengers are transported to and from the ship via ferry or motorcoach. The ferry arrives at Chong Khneas near Phnom Krom, about 7.5 miles south of Siem Reap. There is always transportation waiting at the dock. Mototaxis (motorcycles) charge about $2 to $3 and cars $6 to $7 for the 20- to 30-minute ride into town. In addition, daily ferries navigate from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and often take a few hours.

Because of Siem Reap's interior, no cruise ships are able to dock anywhere near the city. In order to get there, visits to Siem Reap are often included as a land tour before embarking on a Mekong River cruise or as part of a mid-cruise overnight land excursion on Southeast Asia cruises. Many river cruise lines, include a couple nights' hotel accommodation in their fares, and shore excursions depart from the lobby of the hotel. In addition, some ships offer day trips to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh. However, because the trip can take up to six hours, they depart very early (around 4 a.m. to 5 a.m.) and don't arrive back to the ship dock in Phnom Penh until well after midnight.

Good to Know?

Like most Southeast Asian countries, the poverty of Siem Reap is hard to ignore, and children begging for money or food might approach you. As a rule, never give money to children. (It only perpetuates their poverty and keeps them further out of schooling.) If you want to give them something, purchase fruit, bread or snacks from a local market, and give them that instead of any money.

Motorbike drivers can be rather aggressive on the roads, so always look both ways (often more than once) before crossing. As a rule of thumb, walking slowly across the road is the best bet, as the motorbikes will weave around you. If you run, they're more likely to hit you or slam on their brakes to avoid you, causing a larger accident.

Watch for pickpockets in the temple complexes (especially Angkor Wat). Many of them are sly and can easily take wallets, phones and even cameras from your pockets or your hand. Avoid losing anything important by keeping your valuables out of your pocket and your camera wrapped around your neck.

Getting Around?

On Foot: Although you're able to walk to and from most of Siem Reap's restaurants and main attractions (like the circus and temple complexes) from most of the city's main hotels, it's not advisable, unless you're with a guide or know exactly where you're heading. At night, it can be harder for the drivers to see people on the side of the road, so strolling can be a little dangerous.

By Tuk Tuk: One of the easiest and most affordable ways to get around Siem Reap is by tuk tuk -- a motorized or cycle-driven covered cart that seats up to four people. The rides vary in price but often only cost $3 to $10, depending on where you're going and whether you'd like your driver to wait for you. In addition to affordability, these are the most reliable and safest modes of transport in the city. If you're staying at a hotel, have the concierge call a tuk tuk for you and negotiate a rate so you can ensure you're paying the best price.

By Bike: Siem Reap's pancake-flat countryside lends itself to exploration by bicycle, especially if you're aiming to see the assortment of temples speckled throughout. The Angkor Wat temple complex is about 4 miles from the center of town, so renting a bike (which can be done at a few different outfitters throughout the city or borrowed from many of the high-end hotels) is one of the best ways to get there. Keep in mind, though, that the weather in Cambodia is oppressively hot and humid, so the ride can be a challenger, even for fit travelers. And always use extra caution when biking through busy, foreign traffic.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Cambodia's currency is the riel, but most vendors, restaurants, hotels and even the temple complexes take (and prefer) U.S. dollars. Also, bring ample small bills, which come in handy for tipping, buying water and paying for tuk tuk or taxi rides. It's advised to bring enough money to get you through your stay ahead of time, as ATMs are often out of order or not government mandated. However, there are still banks available if you need to safely withdraw money.

Language?

The traditional dialect of Siem Reap (and most of Cambodia) is Khmer, an interesting language that blends the influence of Sanskrit and Pali, as well as dialects from the neighboring countries of Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. Although most tour guides, hotel employees and temple workers do speak conversational English, it's best to learn a few key words in Khmer, as the level of English varies by person.


Siem Reap Cruise Reviews
Loved Siem Reap. Of course it was from this city that we saw all the Temples and that might be one of the reasons but the city had a certain energy that I appreciated. Read More
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Sharon Bonita
Good hotel, centrally located near market. Excellent bus transportation to the various Angkor temples.Read More
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wjs2000
Embarked very seamlessly. Greeted by the crew and keys to our cabins were given very promptlyRead More
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Trudy48
Amazing. Boat tour took up for two days to major temples, on third day we were on our own and took a vespa tour to back roads, exploring lesser known temples-- it was an amazing combination, from the very crowded buRead More
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artlovingfoodie

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