You'll likely spend at least three days in Siem Reap, so make the most of it with these budget-friendly guesthouses and restaurants.
Siem Reap has everything from $3/night dorms to $1000s of dollar a night villas. But you certainly don't have to splurge on the latter to get some quality accommodation. When we considering accommodations, our number one must-have was a pool. We were going to Siem Reap at the hottest time of year and our pool experience in Bagan convinced us that nothing mixes better with temples than some chlorine.
The pool prerequisite narrowed down the budget options quite a bit, but it did leave some gems. Both Siem Reap Hostel and Downtown Siem Reap Hostel have swimming pools and prices around $6-8/person. If that's your top budget, these two seem to be the best you can get. Make sure you book ahead of time as both were full when we visited.
Because we wanted something a bit more special, we decided to stay at the new Magnolia d'Angkor Boutique. For $25/night (a negotiated rate based on the stay 3, pay for 2 night special they were running), we had a beautiful new room, a nearly empty infinity pool, huge breakfasts, fast wifi, and AC that always worked!
The resort does have a few kinks to work out—the free bicycles were either locked up or had flat tires when we first arrived; there's no towel bar in the bathroom and no full length mirror in the room; and breakfasts varied based on who cooked them—but for $25, who can really complain. Once the bike issue was sorted out, it took less than 5 minutes to get to town. We also used the bikes for all our sightseeing and the included breakfasts were so filling that we could get by with a light (and cheap) lunch until dinner. We figured with all that, we were really paying closer to $18/night, a legit steal!
When it comes to eating and drinking, you can't do much better than Siem Reap, which has a plethora of places offering 50 cent drafts as well as a TON of restaurants to choose from, ranging from tourist to authentic to gastronomic.
Some of our favorites were For Life (alley behind pub street), Home Cocktail (street after pub street), and Touiche. Our dinners usually ran about $10, but that included an appetizer and beer. Make sure you look out for the set dinners that cost between $4-$5 for three courses. A great way to save money is to order one of those and an entree. Between two people, you have a huge dinner with a lot of variety. Fifty cent beer places are abundant, so don't get tricked into dining at a restaurant with expensive beer unless they have a truly unique menu.
Touiche was the most expensive of the places we visited, but the food was amazing and included a free pickup and dropoff by the restaurant. The calamari with Kampot pepper was drool worthy and the eggplant caviar reminded me, in the best way, of my mom's. So yummy!
One place that's supposed to be amazing that didn't quite make it into our budget was Cuisine Wat Damnak. Fixed prix meals are $19-$24, which is a ton cheaper than a restaurant of that caliber in NYC or San Francisco.
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Leave your suggestions for Angkor Wat and Siem Reap on a budget in the comments!