Renting an apartment in Siem Reap can be challenging. While the rise of holiday rental websites such as HomeAway and VBRO and rent-a-room sites like Airbnb and Roomorama made it easier to rent short term properties and rooms in private homes, there are still things you need to be aware of when renting an apartment in Siem Reap.
While it may be easy to get on any number of holiday rental and apartment rental websites and make a booking to stay almost anywhere in the world, from three nights to three months, it’s more challenging in Cambodia, which is why we’re providing this guide to renting an apartment in Siem Reap, arguably the country’s most liveable city.
As our regular readers know, when we’re not testing out hotels for magazine stories, our preference will always be to try to live like locals and we’ll rent local digs when we can, whether it’s an apartment in a town or city or a house by the beach or in the countryside.
In Southeast Asia, we’ve rented apartments in Bangkok countless times and in Vietnam we had no problem finding an apartment to rent in Hanoi for two months. However, after we returned to Cambodia in June 2013 we found the task of renting an apartment in Siem Reap more difficult than other cities. Here’s why and here are our tips to renting an apartment in Siem Reap, as well as information on obtaining long-term Cambodia visas, which became harder to get in 2017.
Renting an Apartment in Siem Reap
When we first settled in Siem Reap in 2013 we had to do our usual hotel hopping for stories we were working on, but after we’d tried out some 40-odd boutique hotels in Cambodia — and having spent six months in hotels here and in Vietnam — we were well and truly ready for renting an apartment in Siem Reap that we could make our home.
We were initially keen on renting an apartment in Siem Reap just for a month at first, as we weren’t sure whether we really wanted to make Siem Reap or Phnom Penh our base for bouncing around Asia, so we were eager to test out both cities before committing to a long-term lease. We had rented a serviced apartment in Phnom Penh in 2012, but we didn’t love the apartment or the city, so we decided to try ‘Temple Town’, as Siem Reap is called, due its proximity to Angkor Archaeological Park, which is just down the road.
In the end, after six months searching in both cities — both online and in person, looking at serviced apartments, long-term apartment rentals and houses — we decided we preferred Siem Reap to Phnom Penh as a base, and serendipitously found a light-filled apartment with a decent kitchen and wrap-around balcony near the riverside that we’re already calling ‘home’.
After trying two Siem Reap real estate agents, we ended up finding our little dream home on our own and jumping into a long-term lease. Ironically, it was another larger unit in the first apartment building we had looked at, where we’d rejected a unit because it didn’t have a balcony. In hindsight, we should have contacted the owner directly to find out when other leases were due to expire and something might become available.
The problem with renting an apartment in Siem Reap for the short-term is that of the two options typically available in most cities, serviced apartments and holiday rentals, the range is limited and they’re expensive compared to other Asian cities.
In most destinations around the world, it’s cheaper to rent an apartment for an extended holiday than stay in a hotel, but that’s not the case in Siem Reap. Hotel rooms are actually cheaper than serviced apartments and short-term apartment rentals. Long-term apartment rentals are an entirely different situation and we’ve provided some information on those below.
You might also find this post on Our Tips to Renting Holiday Apartments – A Checklist useful. For grocery shopping, see our Siem Reap Price Check, which includes information on markets and supermarkets, and also see this post on Asana’s weekend organic farmers market.
Short-Term Apartment Rentals in Siem Reap
Serviced Apartments in Siem Reap
If renting an apartment in Siem Reap means a fully-furnished serviced apartment then you’re in luck. Some of the best serviced apartment complexes in Siem Reap are Karavansara Residences, Steung Siem Reap, and Thavy Angkor Apartments.
As central, comfortable, spacious, and secure they may be, serviced apartments in Siem Reap are expensive compared to serviced apartments of a similar standard in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hanoi, Saigon, Kuala Lumpur, and Penang.
Some of the buildings feel more like hotels than serviced apartments, which is not what people who prefer to stay in apartments want, otherwise they’d just stay in hotels.
The kitchens vary in quality and aren’t very well equipped when compared to apartments in other Asian cities. All have big fridges, but some only have microwaves, others only have a two-burner gas stovetop, while the best also have proper Western stoves with ovens. You’d be hard pressed to cook decent meals with the utensils available in some.
Serviced apartments generally have a washer-dryer, often to be found in the kitchen, while the best will have a separate laundry.
Some have swimming pools, although they tend to be on the small side, and lush gardens, while a few have small gyms.
Serviced Apartments in Siem Reap — What They Cost and What’s Included
The inclusion of utilities such as electricity, water, Wi-Fi, and cable TV varies property by property. Some properties include some services in the rent but not others, so they may include water but charge for electricity for instance. Ask questions about what’s included and what the average costs are when you enquire so there are no nasty surprises at the end of your stay.
In terms of ‘service’, weekly or twice-weekly cleaning is included in some apartments, while others charge extra, although this can be as little as US$5 a month. Free Wifi is generally included. Unlike serviced apartments in Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, for instance, Siem Reap serviced apartments don’t usually provide services such as a reception with concierge or a travel desk for tour bookings, nor a restaurant or cafe.
Rent for one-bedroom serviced apartments averages at around US$130-180 per night or US$1,200-1,600 per month during high season. Rates are at their lowest during the monsoonal low season (May-October) but highest during the dry high season (November-April).
Most properties only discount on their nightly rate if you stay a month or more, whereas Steung Siem Reap discounts for a weekly stay, so their one-bedroom apartment, which is $145 a night ($130 in low season), is $650 for a week and $1,300 for a month. If you take out a 6-month lease, Steung Siem Reap reduces the rent to US$1,100 a month.
Still, while those prices might be fine for business travellers on expense accounts, they’re high for the average traveller renting an apartment in Siem Reap, especially when compared to other cities in the region. The prices are particularly on the high side for families and couples. In some cases, families and groups of foodie friends travelling together would be best booking a 2- or 3-bedroom apartment and splitting the cost.
Best Serviced Apartments in Siem Reap
Our picks of the best serviced apartments in Siem Reap.
Steung Siem Reap Residences and Apartments
Steung Siem Reap Residences and Apartments has clean, comfortable, spacious apartments, with polished wooden floors, plush furnishings and balconies. There are good sized bedrooms with big comfy beds and plenty of cupboards and storage space if you’re settling in for a while, along with great kitchens with separate dining areas and tables that seat six if you’re travelling with family or like entertaining with new friends, as we do when we travel. The property also has a good-sized swimming pool, small gym and garden with manicured lawns. The complex is in a terrific location on Wat Bo Road, a block from the river, a short stroll from some of Siem Reap’s best restaurants, such as Sugar Palm and Cuisine Wat Damnak, and is handy to Old Market and the compact historic centre. In low season, rates start at US$130 a night.
Chateau d’Angkor La Residence
Chateau d’Angkor was a lovely option for renting an apartment in Siem Reap, located in the leafy French Quarter in a colonial-style building with pretty balconies, chequerboard tiles, lush gardens, and a decent sized swimming pool. But now it operates more like a hotel, with greater interest in higher-paying guests staying a few nights than people wanting to settle in for a while, and now calls its apartments ‘suites’. Still, the suites are generously sized, as you’d expect from a building that used to offer long-term apartments, with the one-bedroom suites at a spacious 82 m² and the two-bedroom suites a large 128 m², with spacious bedrooms, and separate dining and living areas decorated with artwork, artefacts, and potted plants. And it has all the amenities of serviced apartments, with fully-equipped kitchens with fridges and kitchenware, washing machines and irons.
Karavansara Residence (pictured above) is the pick of Siem Reap’s serviced apartments if that means a contemporary style with an open plan layout, spacious rooms, modern furniture, and art work and vases and such that make the apartments more inviting. There are balconies overlooking the river, and smart kitchens that are reasonably well equipped, although to do real cooking you’d still need to borrow, bring or buy additional utensils. Karavansara feels more like a residential apartment building, which we like, but it’s also attached to a small boutique hotel across the street so you have access to two small pools and a restaurant. We could have easily extended our two-night stay to two months.
Update January 2019: Karavansara does not appear to be renting apartments at this point in time.
There are more affordable serviced apartments, such as Prestige Palace and Yanathyna, but they’re not the same level of quality as the apartments above and aren’t in as convenient a location. Prestige Palace, while not far from the centre, is situated on Siem Reap’s busiest road, while Yanathyna much further from the centre, is off another of the busiest routes, Airport Road.
Holiday Rentals, Vacation Rentals, Airbnb, and Rooms to Rent in Siem Reap
If you’re considering renting an apartment in Siem Reap for a holiday or short term stay and prefer holiday rentals or vacation rentals to serviced apartments, or are a fan of Airbnb, then you need to take your time, do your research, and scrutinise the property listing closely. You only have to do a quick Cambodia search on sites such as HomeAway, FlipKey and Airbnb and scan the results to see that many of the properties on holiday rental, vacation rental, and rent-a-room sites aren’t apartment rentals, houses or even rooms in private homes at all.
While the vacation rental sites have some apartments in Siem Reap listed, you’ll have to look hard and read the fine print to identify them. I did a search on a handful of sites, including our partner accommodation booking site, booking.com and found that many of the apartments listed were hotel rooms and don’t have the amenities of serviced apartments, such as kitchens and washing machines, nor even have separate bedrooms and living areas.
Most of the properties listed were rooms in hotels, like these ‘holiday rentals’ in Phnom Penh on HomeAway, and these on Airbnb. On Flipkey, this Siem Reap search result revealed hotel rooms, homestays, one apartment, and a handful of expensive luxury villas.
When I first started looking for holiday rentals in Cambodia in 2013 I would get so excited thinking I’d found a fabulous place with a stunning swimming pool for $60 a night — a great deal compared to what the Siem Reap serviced apartments charged — only to look more closely and find they were hotel rooms. Most that advertise ‘kitchens’ turn out to have little more than a mini bar and microwave, while ‘kitchenettes’ are often just mini bars with sinks.
Before booking a holiday rental or renting an apartment in Siem Reap, see our post on How to Avoid Holiday Rental Scams.
Best Holiday Rentals in Siem Reap
These are our picks of the best holiday rentals in Siem Reap, both apartment rentals and houses. We’ll be adding more with a thorough update to this guide in late September 2018.
The Kandal Siem Reap
Located on Hap Guan Street in the heart of the petite shopping, sipping and spa quarter of Kandal Village in Siem Reap, this chic two-bedroom apartment is in a private shophouse building owned by one of the street’s most stylish retailers. There’s a fully equipped kitchen, two cosy bedrooms, a dining/living area, balcony, and all mod cons, such as flat-screen television with cable TV. Board games, puzzles, books, music, and DVDs for children make this feel much more like a home than a holiday rental. Siem Reap’s best cafe, The Little Red Fox, is just across the road, some of the city’s most interesting shops pepper the street (Louise Loubatiere, Trunkh and Sirivan, for starters), and Frangipani Spa is on the corner. Eating options within a three-minute walk include Cambodian (including lots of street food), Mexican, Italian, and vegan, and one of Siem Reap’s most best bars and art gallery, the Village Cafe, is accessible down an alley enlivened by street art.
Urban Residences Siem Reap
Offering far more personality and style than serviced apartments and not technically a holiday rental, as they’re attached to the charming Rambutan Resort, I’m nevertheless including these stunning contemporary apartments here as they feel more like a holiday rental. Urban Residences offer the best of both worlds: modern urban living (or holidaying) and access to hotel facilities, including a lovely swimming pool, restaurant and bar, and friendly staff to offer local tips and book tuk tuks, tours and restaurants etc. These sleek apartments have spacious rooms with polished concrete floors and pendant lighting, decorated with modernist furniture and local art and handicrafts. There are terraces and balconies, outdoor baths and greenery dripping from the building. But best of all there are superb kitchens with proper stoves with ovens, a big fridge, and coffee machine. Each unit is different but the best boasts a few sofas and a big table for six for dinner, making it ideal for entertaining new friends. There’s a washer-dryer, free WiFi, and it’s just a five-minute amble on one of Siem Reap’s most atmospheric little lanes, through a souvenir market and across the river into the centre of Siem Reap.
This beautiful three-bedroom villa and urban suite is owned by one of Siem Reap’s finest chefs, Sothea Seng of Mahob Khmer, and his restaurateur wife who live on the site. The property design eclectically melds Cambodia’s traditional and modernist styles, which means you can expect to find stonework and breeze blocks of the 1960s downstairs and lovely timber verandas and window shutters upstairs, along with colonial-inspired tiles and polished concrete floors, replicas of Khmer Empire statues and modern art on the walls. Other touches we love include the use of recycled wood in handcrafted furniture, light shades made from fishing traps and baskets, and pretty cushions and bed throws made from the colourful fabrics you’ll spot local ladies wearing as sarongs and lounge pyjamas. There’s an alfresco kitchen downstairs (although breakfast is included), free WiFi, a laundry/ironing service, and bicycle and car rental. It’s a 20-minute stroll to the centre of town or 10 minutes by tuk tuk, and free airport transfers are also offered. You can book the whole villa (ideal for families, a group of friends or couple travelling together) or book individual rooms.
Also owned by chef Sothea Seng and his wife, Isann Lodge is a larger property of traditional timber villas in a similar design, located in a village on the edge of Siem Reap. There’s a gorgeous swimming pool, lush tropical gardens, and plenty of shady spots to relax with a good book. The accommodation is not self-catering, however, there’s a restaurant, cooking school and small organic farm adjoining the property. While the property is absolutely lovely, it’s location means it’s not suitable for people who want to be able to stroll into town or spend a lot of time shopping, sipping at cafes and bars, and going out at night. It’s a better choice for culinary travellers, with the on-site cooking school and Road 60, one of Siem Reap’s best local street food destinations, a short tuk tuk ride away, as well as travellers who want to focus on the temples: the Angkor Park ticket office is close by, as is the main route to Angkor Archaeological Park.
Ran by a hospitable Dutch mother and daughter who live on site – and the daughter is a former chef and passionate cook, so expect delicious breakfasts with house-baked breads and home-made jams – these two traditional-style timber houses with breezy verandas and charming shutters can be rented whole for privacy or as individual rooms B&B style. The interiors are lovingly decorated with mosquito nets over the comfy beds and locally made ceramics, furnishings and basketry. There’s a gorgeous deep-green swimming pool set in tropical gardens with plenty of sun-beds, outdoor lounges, and an alfresco dining area. There’s also a sala in the garden where guests can enjoy massages and spa treatments. The property is located in once-sleepy Salakamreuk, a village set amongst the rice fields not that long ago that is now a laid-back leafy suburb dotted with small boutique hotels, restaurants, cafés, and bars. The centre of Siem Reap is a short walk or tuk tuk ride away.
Long-Term Apartments and Houses to Rent in Siem Reap
If you’re thinking of renting an apartment in Siem Reap for six months or longer, there are plenty of long-term rentals around, depending on the season. There are fewer rentals available during the cooler, winter high season and more available during the low monsoonal season. This is because many expats on short-term contracts, from NGO workers to archaeologists, skip town during the quieter, wet season.
Most landlords require that you commit to either a 6-month or 12-month lease when renting an apartment in Siem Reap during high season, although the same landlords will consider a 3-month or 1-month stay during low season. The longer you commit for, the cheaper it will be. You will generally be required to pay a deposit/bond of 1- to 2-months rent plus one month’s rent in advance.
Most long-term rental properties in Siem Reap come furnished just like a serviced apartment, and might even include a large fridge, television, washing machine, and fans if there is no air-conditioning. Others come empty but owners might be prepared to provide furniture if you take out a long lease. Some include services like cleaning and garbage collection, while others don’t, and some include utilities, such as satellite TV and WiFi, but not, say, electricity and water. It varies from property to property.
Landlords generally require utility bills to be paid monthly when you pay the rent. As with serviced apartments, ask lots of questions before you sign a lease about what utilities are included and what aren’t and how much they cost other tenants. If anything is not up to scratch, chat to the owner about what you’d like fixed, changed or added, and begin negotiating. We found owners to be willing to add amenities or fixtures — even to put doorways in walls — to lock a tenant into a long-term lease.
When renting an apartment in Siem Reap expect to pay as little as US$150 a month for a single-room studio with mini-fridge, microwave and kettle, which are often little more than a well-equipped hotel room to anything from US$350-$300 per month for a very basic, compact, one-bedroom apartment. You can sometimes find two-bedroom apartments for US$500 a month, but they probably won’t be centrally located.
Cheaper apartments in Siem Reap will probably be painted in candy colours, have a very ‘rustic’ kitchen (i.e. a concrete bench without cupboards with just a sink and a single-burner portable gas stove), and be decorated with elaborately carved, heavy wooden furniture and older fixtures.
For US$300-600 a month for a one-bedroom apartment or US$600-1,000 per month for a two-bedroom apartment you will get a nicer, larger, better-located, modern apartment that’s furnished more tastefully, with a balcony or terrace, and perhaps a pool and maybe even a small gym. The more expensive apartments are generally more Western in style, with cleaner lines, and a higher quality finish.
If you can afford to pay more than US$1,000 per month you can find a big, modern, centrally-located apartment with sleek Western kitchen and stylish decor or a large, new, several-bedroom house, while up to $1,500 will get you a massive multi-bedroom modern villa or beautifully renovated, traditional-style Khmer house with lovely gardens and a swimming pool.
You may also be lucky to find an un-renovated traditional Khmer timber house on stilts for as little as US$300-500 a month, however, these may not have air-conditioning (although there will be fans) and will have very rustic kitchens or kitchenettes, generally located downstairs and sometimes outside the house. For US$500-700 a month, they will have air-conditioning, better kitchens and a nicer finish. If you’re after a real bargain, you can sometimes find Cambodian owners renting out their first floor for around $150 and they will live downstairs.
Houses come with their own set of challenges. They aren’t as secure, so you’ll probably need to hire a security guard depending on the neighbourhood and the maintenance and cleaning will require a handyman or cleaner if the family doesn’t live on site or nearby.
The houses may come with or without furniture, but one thing is for certain, the more you pay the better the kitchens will be. Owners are happy to furnish properties for long-term renters, however, you may be better off buying furniture yourself from one of the secondhand dealers, the cane, bamboo and rattan furniture shops, or furniture makers.
Your best bet for finding long-term apartment rentals are one of the many Siem Reap real estate agents, expat websites and forums, Facebook pages such as this Siem Reap Real Estate Facebook page, which is handy if you want a room in a shared house rather than an apartment to yourself, and Google (try searching for ‘condominiums’ in addition to the usual searches).
Best Long-Term Apartments to Rent in Siem Reap
We’ll be adding to this list from time to time so check back soon.
Rose Residence Angkor
While this is one of Siem Reap’s most distinctive residential buildings, thanks to the curtain of flowering vines that provides shade to the front apartments, which have balconies that are very pleasant places to sit in the evening, the building is not without its problems. The good stuff: the modern building may look plain from the outside but there are nice mid-century colonial touches in the wrought ironwork on the balconies, windows and doors, and terrazzo flooring. The furnished one- and two-bedroom apartments have spacious rooms with high ceilings, wood furnishings, and plenty of cupboards and a large wardrobe. Kitchens are typical for Cambodia and not suitable for anyone who loves to cook. While there’s a big fridge there’s only a two-burner gas stove top, and a ceiling fan; only the bedrooms and living areas have air conditioning. The owners live downstairs and there’s 24 hour security, along with an optional cleaning service. Located on Street 20 off bustling Wat Bo Road, it’s just a block from the riverside. Downsides: the generator doesn’t always get turned on during Siem Reap’s fairly frequent power outages, the internet frequently cuts out and can be slow for days, rents are steep compared to other similar apartments, and electricity prices are comparatively higher also. Still, as the owner offers short-term stays as well as long term leases, it could be a good short-term solution while you look for something better.
Alternative Apartment Rental Search Options
When it comes to renting an apartment in Siem Reap, many expats have had success putting the word out amongst tuk tuk (remork) drivers that they are looking for apartments or hiring a tuk tuk driver to go look for properties for them and then drive them around to inspect the properties once they’ve identified a few.
People also find rental properties by checking good old-fashioned noticeboards such as the one outside Angkor Market, Siem Reap’s best supermarket.
Obtaining Cambodian Visas
If you’re planning on renting an apartment in Siem Reap for a month, a one-month Tourist Visa (US$30) will suffice. But if you think you might end up renting an apartment in Siem Reap for two months, then it’s best to get an Ordinary Visa (US$35). This is the kind of visa people exploring the idea of setting up a business, doing a project or investigating work opportunities get. This visa can be obtained at the airport and then extended for one month by a travel agent (typically for US$50), although when it expires you’ll need to leave the country and return again.
If you’re renting an apartment in Siem Reap for 6-12 months, where you will need to sign lease, you will either need to obtain an Ordinary Visa and extend a month through a travel agent, then after that month be prepared to leave the country and return again, repeat. You could easily head to Bangkok or Saigon for the weekend or you could do what many long-term expats do and do visa runs, ie. leave the country, pass through immigration, get your Cambodia exit stamp, get an entry stamp to another country, exit that country, and re-enter Cambodia on a new visa. This can be done at airports and land borders, but can only be done at the Thailand land border twice in any one year. The Thais will not let you cross three times and to attempt to do so will result in you having to have your photo taken and sign a letter confirming that you entered as an “illegal alien”.
In the past, expats looking to settle in Cambodia could obtain 1-year visas easily, but now the process is much harder. If you start out on an extendable 1-month Ordinary Visa, you can then apply for a 3-month Visa via a travel agent, used by people setting up a business, working on a project or investigating work opportunities. There is also a 6-month E Visa, however, to obtain this you will need to submit to the travel agent a letter from your employer.
These visas cannot be extended. Once you obtain a job, set up a business, or perhaps secure a volunteer opportunity, enrol in a programme of study, or prove you are eligible to retire in Cambodia, then you will need to apply for another type of visa relevant to what you’re doing and as of late 2017 there are now a whole array of visa categories with different prices. If you are working in any capacity or running a business, even as a digital nomad, you will also need a work permit, as well as complete a long list of steps to establish your business.
There are many travel agents in Siem Reap who can arrange visas for you, however, by far the best and the agent most-used by expats is Sopheak from Sopheak Na Travel & Tours. She can also arrange a car and driver to Poipet on the border (US$35 one way, US$70 return) and can often find flights cheaper than you’ll find on the web.
Sopheak Na Travel & Tours
Tep Vong Road (ANZ Bank Road)
+855 63 968 895
If you have had a different experience to us renting an apartment in Siem Reap or have additional tips to share or questions to ask, we’d love to hear from you in the Comments below.
*UPDATED: September 2018 We have given this guide to renting an apartment in Siem Reap a basic update (namely to prices and visa details), but we’ll soon be providing a more thorough update as well as new guides to renting an apartment in Siem Reap and the best holiday rentals in Siem Reap so watch this space.