There is more to Siem Reap than Angkor Wat
There's lots more to the city than Angkor Wat
Siem Reap might seem like a sleepy little resort town with not much to do other than visit Angkor Wat, but those who have been there can tell you otherwise.
Whether it is nightlife, culture or pure relaxation you're looking for, this city in northwestern Cambodia is perfect for a short getaway, without burning a hole in your pocket.
I stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott Siem Reap, which aside from being really comfortable, was conveniently located. This made accessing the many attractions in Siem Reap easy.
It also offers guests a gateway to the must-go Unesco heritage site of Angkor Wat, or City Temple in Khmer, which is only 15 minutes away.
Angkor Wat is truly breathtaking - both for the impressive architecture and the sheer number of tourists who were there from as early as 6am.
Despite the swarm of fellow humans, the sunrise is worth seeing at least once in your lifetime.
The ancient temple, silhouetted by the soft colours of a new dawn, is truly something else. It nearly made me forget the heat and the throng.
Afterwards, we sought refuge at Sala Kdei, a little restaurant near the temple where we enjoyed a delicious local breakfast.
While Angkor Wat is undoubtedly impressive, there are many other temples in Siem Reap which are less crowded and can be stunning too.
If you have time, go on a temple tour and visit as many as you can, as each has something special and beautiful to offer.
If you are on a tight schedule, I highly recommend Ta Prohm, or the Tomb Raider temple, one of my favourite monuments in the world.
The one-of-a-kind complex is unique as the ruins are held up by the same strangler figs and silk-cotton trees that ravaged it, and it's almost impossible to see where concrete ends and root begins.
Courtyard by Marriott Siem Reap was also a five-minute walk to Pub Street, famous for its amazing nightlife, where bars and pubs come alive after dark.
I was particularly dazzled by the cocktail scene, not just for the delicious, uniquely Southeast Asian drinks, but also the concepts and spaces.
My favourite nightspot was the Menaka Lounge, where we had probably too many beers and a cocktail or two before we hit the dance floor.
The Siem Reap classic is The Angkor What?, a simple, laidback bar and club-type spot that's very popular with tourists.
An empty space in the middle of the bar served as the dance floor, and the energetic crowd and nostalgic music made it a blast.
For those less into partying, the nearby night markets are a real treat too, as we ate and shopped to our hearts' content.
It was fun to bargain and I loved the feeling of getting a good deal on my gold Cambodian silk trousers (for about $10).
If you're too hung over to do anything too strenuous the next day, Courtyard by Marriott Siem Reap's restaurant Lok Lak offers a three-course Cambodian cooking class, which I really enjoyed despite my somewhat limited kitchen abilities.
It helped that executive chef Chanrith Van was patient and friendly, and the food was delicious.
One of the dishes taught was glutinous rice balls filled with palm sugar - similar to ondeh ondeh, only more delicate.
The experience started with a visit to a nearby market, popular with locals looking for fresh produce, which was interesting in itself.
After a tiring day out in the heat, I was more than ready for a good pampering at the hotel's QUAN spa. The treatments were varied and affordable, like the full body aromatherapy massage and pumpkin scrub.
Three days in Siem Reap were not nearly enough for me, and I'm already thinking about returning to the Kingdom of Wonder to take in the sites I did not manage to squeeze into this trip.
Courtyard by Marriott Siem Reap is offering its Stay More, Save More Package - A Long Stay Package, valid from now till December. Stay at least three nights and include a half-day temple tour with a monk blessing ceremony, starting at US$88+++ (S$118) per night in a deluxe room.