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 attraction 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
This goes without saying and we don’t think a single person would visit Siem Reap without venturing out to see the wonderful temples of Angkor.
The largest religious monument in the world offers stunning sights during the sunrise, however, it is also the busiest moment to visit.
If you are serious about seeing the Angkor temple without all the tourists then see it from above with a Helicopter ride, or join a full-day Angkor Wat guided Tour during the off-peak time that your guide will advise you.
2 – Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
Possibly one of the most magical experiences you can find in Southeast Asia, taking flight over the Angkor complex at sunrise or sunset is magnificent. 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 take your camera!
3 – Hop on a Tuk-Tuk
Wherever you go in the small city of Siem Reap, tuk tuks will be waiting for you. Open air, noisy, exciting and a little scary, if you need to take a trip anywhere you must take a tuk tuk! Don’t worry about where they are, the tuk tuk drivers will find you and offer you trips to all the local attractions.
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. A 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.
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 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 offer 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.
8 – 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’ Market
You have to time your visit to the ‘Made in Cambodia’ market 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 jewellery to food, live music and performances, this is the creative future of Cambodia.
10 bis – Catch a drink on Pub street
The Pub street is where every visitor heads in the evening. A street lined with various bars and nightclubs, Pub street is an experience in itself and one of the fun things to do in Siem Reap.
11 – Sip a drink in “Angkor What”
After all that shopping and temple hopping it is time for a drink to wind down, and where better than one of the oldest and well known bars in Siem Reap – “Angkor What?” – our favourite and located in the heart of Pub Street. Cheap beer, fellow travellers and music loud enough to forget where you are…
12 – Drink a cocktail Miss Wong’s
If loud music isn’t your thing and you want a more upscale place head to Miss Wong’s. A taste of China in the past, this place attracts wonderful people and offers great cocktails.
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!
14 – Try sticky Rice on the side of the road
If you spot bamboo sellers on the road, come close and you’ll notice these bamboos are actually local snacks. Try those local delicacies – sticky rice cooked inside a stick of bamboo. Simple, glutinous and delicious, once you try this it will become your go-to snack!
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 organisation 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 a great 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 the 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 🙂