I genuinely believe that accommodation should be an experience. A culturally immersive and authentic affair, that transcends the idea of being just a place to rest your head.
In Mongolia, that means staying in yurts (portable, round tents covered in skins and felt, still used by Mongolian nomads); in Tunisia, an ancient cave house. From reed houses in South America, to igloos in Scandinavia, and turf houses in Iceland, traditional living has never been cookie cutter.
So why should our hotels?
Hotels in Siem Reap are ridiculously cheap. But I wasn’t looking for something forgettable this time around. I had traveled more than 5,000 miles to immerse myself in ancient temples of the Khmer Empire, and I didn’t want to shatter the experience by returning each night to a bland, generic hotel.
But where do you search for authentic accommodation? Through Glamping Hub we found an eco lodge with Unique Bungalows near Angkor Wat Temple, Cambodia, luxuriously refurbished inside, with perfectly preserved architectural heritage on the out.
There’s a certain magic about Siem Reap; as the gateway to Angkor Wat, this small, compact tourist town is where modern and ancient worlds collide.
Cosmopolitan cafes and modern markets form the epicenter of chic Cambodia, though a short tuk-tuk ride and you’ve stepped back in time.
Siem Reap was built around an empire of ancient temples, and from those reclaimed by the roots of enormous banyan trees, to complexes that were once the royal capital city of the Khmer empire, the city of Siem Reap is an incredible base for authentic adventure.
There’s plenty to do in Siem Reap beyond the temples of course; from the Cambodian circus, to Buddhist monasteries, and back country adventures to explore rural villages fringed by endless rice paddies, swaying sugar palms, and water buffaloes.
But before you focus on things to do (and you won’t be short of things to do!), the first thing to figure out is how to get there; by plane, bus, or boat.
Siem Reap is a city that started slowly, but has flourished in recent years as the gateway to the Temples of Angkor. And while many travel to South East Asia and rely on tour guides on the ground to provide historical context, there is something to be said about traveling with a knowledge of your destination before you arrive.
You understand your destination on a much more intimate level than other tourists who plan on only half listening to their guide. You have a greater appreciation of the culture, people and place, and can let your hands explore the stone relics of ancient civilizations knowing exactly what it took to carve and chisel these wonders of the world.
The following is a brief history of Siem Reap (the gateway to Ankor) to provide historical context before your trip.