Siem Reap is a unique blend of splendor and culture. A city that receives millions of visitors every year and the gateway to one of the wonders of the world – Angkor Wat. The temples of Angkor, being on the most popular attractions in Asia, makes Siem Reap a popular destination. However, you’ll be surprised to see how many other things you can do in Siem Reap!
1 – Visit Angkor Wat – the Symbol of Cambodia
A visit to Siem Reap undoubtedly requires one to venture out to see the wonderful temples of Angkor. As the largest religious monument in the world, it draws many visitors. The most popular times of the day are sunrise and sunset, where hues of orange and red create stunning silhouettes of the temples.
If you are serious about seeing the Angkor temple without all the tourists, then see it from above with a helicopter ride. This incredible ride will give you VIP views of the temples. Extend your journey and see the temples as well as all other secret sites hidden in the lush jungle.
If flying is not your thing, a full-day guided tour will take you around Angkor National Park. Start early for a sunrise view of the temples or go a bit later to avoid peak visiting times. Start with the Angkor temples then head further into the park to visit Angkor Thom, Bayon temple, Ta Prom (famous for the filming of the Tomb Raider). You could tour on your own, but the history of these temples is just as incredible of the views.
2 – Take a Hot Air Balloon Flight
Possibly one of the most magical experiences you can find in Southeast Asia. Enjoy magnificent views as you take flight over the Angkor complex at sunrise or sunset. As compared to the helicopter, the hot air balloon is slower, more peaceful, and quieter. Up above is also the perfect place to take photos, so don’t forget to bring your camera!
3 – Hop on a Jeep or a dirt bike for an offroad experience
If you want to discover some of the ‘forgotten’ temples and explore the Cambodian countryside, then hiring a jeep to discover Beng Melea temple. Visit Kampong Kleang, the largest floating village of Cambodia, or head to visit the ruins of the Bantey Srey temple complex. Exploring by jeep is definitely a is a must-try.
For the most adventurous ones, opt for a ride on a 125cc Honda Dreams and explore Siem Reap surroundings via backroads, you’ll be thrilled by the beauty of the rice fields, villages and local farms you will be passing by.
4 – Angkor National Park
As mentioned before, Angkor Wat is a must-visit place in Siem Reap, but the Angkor National Park is so much more than just Angkor Wat. There you will find famous temples, from Tomb Raider Ta Prohm (the temple slowly being overcome by majestic trees) and over 400 other temple ruins.
To visit this UNESCO heritage site, you can buy tickets for 1,3 or 7 days. It’s a good idea to join a guided tour for at least one of the days to see the main sites or to hire a vespa, seat back and relax while your driver is taking care of the road. All you need to do is enjoy the ride to explore the World famous Angkor.
5 – Visit Les Artisans d’Angkor
Les Artisans d’ Angkor is a social enterprise company helping bring jobs to rural villages, keeping ancient Khmer arts alive and promote the fair development of Khmer arts and crafts. They have a showroom in the city, and you can also shop online. Les Artisans d’ Angkor also offers workshops and have an interesting silk museum open to visitors.
6 – Take a pottery class
As well as Les Artisans d’ Angkor, another great place to visit is the Khmer ceramic fine arts center. Find some beautiful ceramic pieces inspired by Cambodian culture, visit their training center or even try your hand at making your own!
7 – Visit the Old Market
Also known as Psah Chas (pronounced “psa cha”), the old market is right in the heart of town and was the original market before the countless others cropped up. This market has everything and is a must-visit as it will give you a glimpse of the real Cambodia, the country that lies outside of the well-visited Siem Reap.
8a – Shop in the Siem Reap Art Night Market
Siem Reap Art Market is located on the east bank of the Siem Reap River, opposite the Old Market (Phsar Chas), and is connected to it via a traditional wooden bridge. One of the newer night markets in town, Siem Reap Art Market, has a wide range of handicrafts and souvenirs to choose from.
8b – Shop in the Angkor night market
Opening every evening at sunset, the night market is a popular place to pick up a bargain. An area filled to the brim with stalls, handicrafts, fake watches, and Cambodian souvenirs, this is the place to get some tacky keyrings. More info about the Angkor night market here.
9 – Try a Fish Spa
Veteran travellers to Southeast Asia will have experienced these spas before, but they are mostly new to many. For around $5-10, you can soak your feet in a tank of dead skin eating fish resulting in beautiful (or rather clean) feet. As part of the deal, most places also throw in a can of beer while the fish are working.
10 – Shop at the ‘Made in Cambodia’ Markets
You have to time your visit to the ‘Made in Cambodia’ markets carefully, but it is more than worth it. Held on the first and third Saturday of the month, this market showcases some of the best handmade items Cambodia has to offer. From jewelry to food, live music, and performances, this is the creative future of Cambodia.
11 – Sip a drink in “Soul Kitchen.”
After all that shopping and temple hopping, it is time for a drink to wind down in a great venue without the chaos. For anyone looking for more Cambodian flavors, great cocktail and live music, where better than Soul Kitchen’s creative bar – A great escape from the loud and overpriced Pub Street.
12 – Drink a cocktail Miss Wong’s
If live music isn’t your thing and you want a more upscale place head to Miss Wong’s located down a small lane. A taste of China in the past, this place attracts wonderful people and offers great cocktails – A quiet and refined place to drink.
13 – Foodie Tour by night riding a Vespa
Food lovers will enjoy Khmer cuisine on a vespa tour! What could make this experience better – experiencing it at night, of course. One of the best attractions on offer in Siem Reap, this tour also comes with a free flow of alcohol and a driver (thankfully). Not to be missed!
14a – Enjoy a romantic sunset cocktail aboard a Gondola with your partner
If you want to spice up your couple’s journey, share a Romantic evening with your loved one at the beautiful Tonle oum under a glorious sunset and refresh yourselves with mixed cocktails.
14b – Discover Khmer celebratory cuisine with this extraordinary dinner at Villa Chandara
Experience a journey through beautiful and authentic rural Cambodia, far from the tourist crowds. Start with sunset cocktails as the sun sets over the rice paddies at the charming villa Chandara and then discover Khmer celebratory cuisine, 9 dishes served over 4 courses, prepared onsite by a chef using local ingredients and methods. Book this exclusive romantic dinner here.
15 – Eat a Scorpion Salad at Bugs Cafe
Yuck! But actually, they can be delicious. Try out Bugs Cafe, which offers insect tapas, scorpion salad, and a host of other crunchy critter delights.
16 – Must-See: Phare, The Cambodian Circus Show
A great show for both kids and adults, the Phare circus show is a blend of arts, music, juggling, gymnastics, traditional, and modern theatre. Not only will it make you laugh and smile, but the project grew out of a Cambodian non-profit organization founded by ex-refugee artists.
17 – Visit a floating village
If you want to get out of the touristy Siem Reap, then head to one of the nearby floating villages and glimpse into traditional fishermen’s lives. The two closest ones are Kompong Phlouk and Kompong Khleang, the second being the less touristy of the two.
18 – Visit the Landmine Museum
A sobering, but important initiative, the Landmine museum was opened by an extraordinary Cambodian trying to help those affected by landmines.
19 – Visit Senteurs d’Angkor
On a lighter topic, Senteurs d’Angkor is a great hidden gem in Siem Reap. It has some great handmade products with ingredients sourced from Cambodia.
Insider tip: visit their workshop and get a 10% discount on products
20 – Join a cooking class
After all the adventuring and sights in Siem Reap (not to mention exploring the Angkor ruins), you must be getting hungry. So why not delve into Khmer cuisine with a cooking class!
21 – Take a Photography tour
The scenery of Siem Reap is unique, and your trip to Angkor Wat is once in a lifetime, so it makes sense to get good photos for your memories. Taking a photography tour is an excellent idea as the professionals know the best temples, the best angles, and the best spots to avoid the crowds.
22 – Fun thing to do for everyone: Zipline!
If you are visiting Asia, you need to zip line at least once! Flight of the gibbon is the most renowned company for Ziplining with the highest possible safety and the most creative ziplines, suitable for the whole family. While there are many zip line locations, who could pass up ziplining past Angkor Wat?
23 – Horse riding in Siem Reap Countryside
Another unusual thing to do in Siem Reap but lots of fun – Horse riding! And where better than the Happy Ranch! If you can ride a horse, there are also carts available.
24 – Have a conversation with a Cambodian
Take the time to talk to your waiter, driver, or the Cambodians you encounter and hear about the country from their perspective. They have genuine insights and truths that you will never read about online. But most important, they are so friendly!
25 – Take a dip in a pool
Saving the best for last, Siem Reap’s swimming pools. Most of the year, Siem Reap is hot, dry, and dusty, and when you are not exploring the temples or markets, you will want to cool down. Almost all 4 and 5-star hotels have swimming pools, and most are open for the public if you buy something off the menu or pay a small fee. The prettiest pool has to be at the River Garden – you can take a tuk-tuk there, and the pool is free if you order from their wonderful menu 🙂
Do let a comment if you are looking for anything specific in Siem Reap, we might be able to help 🙂