Cambodia’s lovely second city of Siem Reap is primarily visited for the temples of Angkor Wat, and it can feel that beyond this when you first arrive in Siem Reap, the only things to do here are going to Angkor Wat and checking out the pubs on Pub Street. However, “Temple Town”, as Siem Reap is known, in Cambodia has a lot more to see. With a long history that dates back to 802 AD, Siem Reap grew quickly as one of Southeast Asia’s backpacker capitals thanks to its abundance of activities, easily accessible temples, accommodation that offers a huge amount for your money, along with incredibly affordable food and drink options. So come on in and explore what else there is to do here and linger a while longer. Welcome to the best things to do in Siem Reap!
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Where to stay in Siem Reap
The Siem Reap River cuts through the middle of the city, making it quite small. The majority of holiday accommodations are located in the Old French Quarter, a large area that includes neighborhoods like Temple Town, City Centre, and Pub Street. The Wat Bo neighborhood, which is just over the river from the Old French Quarter, is as convenient but a little quieter. There are a host of places to stay in Siem Reap – here’s our pick of the luxury places to stay in Siem Reap, mid-range places to stay in Siem Reap, and budget accommodation in Siem Reap.
Central Corner d’Angkor is a lovely hotel with a restaurant, an outdoor pool, a bar, and a common area. This Siem Reap four-star hotel’s rooms all have a view of the pool, and guests can access a garden and a terrace. The luxury hotel in Siem Reap provides you with a 24-hour front desk, room service, and currency exchange. Rooms at the top-class Central Corner d’Angkor offer air conditioning, a sitting area, a flat-screen cable TV, a safe, and a private bathroom with a shower, bathrobes, and slippers. Central Corner d’Angkor is also close to several of the main attractions, making it an excellent choice if you wish to stay near Siem Reap’s primary attractions. Check availability here.
The 4-star Siem Reap Memoire d’Angkor Boutique Hotel offers personalized service and comfort with its lovely Zen-style rooms and art gallery. The outdoor pool and fitness center are open to visitors and there is free WiFi access throughout. You’ll be welcomed with stylish furniture and a free fruit platter in your room, where you’ll also find a workstation, a flat-screen TV, and a personal safe the size of a laptop. Private bathrooms come with free toiletries, a shower, and toothbrushes. This is a great mid-range hotel option in Siem Reap and you can book a room here.
The Blossoming Romduol Boutique hotel is a fabulous budget hotel in Siem Reap and offers private rooms, dorm accommodations, an outdoor pool, and free WiFi throughout the property. Additionally, there is a café on the premises, pool tables, free private parking, and free bicycle rental for visitors. Private rooms at this Siem Reap budget hotel have a fan or air conditioning, and some accommodations have a flat-screen cable TV, a refrigerator, and rooms with garden views. The front door of the building opens into a garden area, and there is also a front desk with 24-hour service, a shared lounge, currency exchange, and ticketing services. A great option here is that hotel bicycles may be used for free. You can check rates here.
The Best Things to do in Siem Reap
Siem Reap, well known for Angkor Wat, is a great city in Cambodia to visit. Apart from Angkor Wat, one of Siem Reap’s main attractions, there are many more things to see here in the second largest city in Cambodia, after the capital, Phnom Penh. There are museums here, some great street food options, a great arts and crafts community, and some important places to visit that tell of recent history.
Go to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap
Honestly, you can’t come to Siem Reap without going to Angkor Wat. So while I’ll include some brief details here, but our full guide to Siem Reap’s legendary temples is here.
Exploring Angkor Wat is undoubtedly the must-do activity in Siem Reap. You’ll need at least two full days to thoroughly tour the Angkor Wat Complex. Your visit should include Bayon, Ta Phrom, and Angkor Thom. Most independent visitors exploring Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Ta Prohm temples use a taxi, rickshaw, or cyclo driver. There are also group tours of Angkor Wat available. As there is a lot to see and the area is so crowded, we suggest taking a guided tour, especially if you are short on time, you don’t want to spend the majority of your time waiting in a line. Only the experienced tour guides would know how and where to go to avoid large crowds of people.
Best Angkor War Tours
- Essential Angkor Wat Tour
- See Angkor Wat at Sunrise
- Angkor Wat by Bike
- Angkor Wat by Vespa Scooter
- Angkor Wat Full Day Tour and Sunset Tour
There is a strict dress code for visiting Angkor Wat, and you should be careful to follow it since Buddhist monks still use the temples. Avoid tank tops and go for long dresses, skirts, or trousers. A sarong can be used to cover shoulders.
- Address of Angkor Wat: Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Opening Hours of Angkor Wat: Angkor Wat temple is open daily from 5:00 am to 5:30 pm.
See Sunset at Angkor Wat
There are many ways to end another day, but what could be more special than taking in the sunset with a stunning view of a historic Cambodian complex? The historic capital of the vast Khmer Empire, Angkor Wat, is located deep inside the nation’s tropical forest, where the old city was abandoned and gradually became overgrown by nature. Seeing the sunset here at Angkor Wat really is quite spectacular, and regardless of whether you got up to see the sunrise, you’ll probably only come here once in your life – so make sure you see the sunset over Angkor Wat too. Reserve a place on an Angkor Wat Sunset Tour here.
Go to the Angkor National Museum
Spend some time in the Angkor National Museum to properly understand the history and culture of the Cambodian people. Going to the museum first – before you go to Angkor Wat and also before you see the other attractions of Siem Reap will set you up better for a visit to Siem Reap. At Siem Reap’s Angkor National Museum you’ll learn about the Angkor era, which lasted more than five centuries, and the Khmer Rouge. The exhibits here are really simple to follow you can observe how the culture here developed from Hinduism and Buddhism since the museum is set up in a historical era. If you’re planning to visit the temples of Angkor without a guide, then your understanding of the sites will be greatly helped by visiting this modern museum before you head out.
- Address of Angkor National Museum: 968 Charles de Gaulle Boulevard, Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Opening Hours of Angkor National Museum: Angkor National Museum opens daily from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm
- Entry Fees for Angkor National Museum: The entry fee to Angkor National Museum costs $12, plus an extra $3 if you wish to bring your camera and another $3 for an instructional headset.
Visit Siem Reap’s Landmine Museum
Although the Vietnam War and the Khmer Rouge regime ended decades ago, it is believed that there are still 4-6 million unexploded landmines in Cambodia, and new victims are reported every day. More than 63,000 people have been maimed or killed by Landmines in Cambodia.
The Landmine Museum, which is located within the Angkor National Park (approximately a 30-minute drive from Siem Reap) was founded by a former child soldier from the Khmer Rouge era. After the regime was overthrown he returned to villages that he had previously fought in and began defusing landmines and bombs.
The museum has a collection of artifacts from the Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese occupation and strives to educate visitors about the effects of explosives and the significance of removing landmines in Cambodia. The museum uses the funds it raises to benefit mine-affected children who have suffered injuries and to build a new school. The entrance fee to the museum is around $1 per person.
- Address of Landmine Museum: 67, Phumi Khna, Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Opening Hours of Landmine Museum: Landmine Museum opens daily from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm
- Entry Fees for Landmine Museum: The entry fee to Landmine Museum costs $5 for foreign adults. Children under 12 and Khmers enter for free.
We’ve also visited and written about landmine assistance in Laos, at the Plain of Jars, and there’s also a museum in Luang Prabang, Laos. Our guide to visiting the major sites of the Vietnam War is here, as well as a specific guide to the Vietnam War DMZ here.
Visit the War Museum in Siem Reap
The only war museum in Cambodia is located in Siem Reap. You can get a fascinating and informative understanding of the challenges that Cambodia experienced throughout the final three decades of the 20th century. Additionally, it provides good opportunities to learn more about what truly happened during Cambodia’s “war years.” Its unique collection includes the tank T-54, jet fighter MiG-19, helicopter Mil Mi-8, and 85-mm divisional gun D-44. Some of these military vehicles were used during World War II. The collection also includes landmines and images from the specified era in Cambodia. There’s a free tour guide included as part of your entry fee and each tour guide comes from a different background, including eyewitnesses to the war, landmine victims, and veterans of the conflict. This museum aims to preserve the exceptional collection for future generations and remember an important event in Cambodian history.
- Address of War Museum: Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Opening Hours of War Museum: War Museum opens daily from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm
- Entry Fees for War Museum: The entry fee to War Museum costs $5, including a free tour guide who can share their experiences with the war.
Take a Half-Day Tour of the city of Siem Reap
Exploring Cambodia’s second largest city, Siem Reap will give you a sense of how culturally diverse this city is and to be honest, without a guide you’ll likely miss most of the attractions. A half-day Siem Reap Tour will take you to attractions like Wat Domnak Pagoda, the Royal Palace, and Artisan D’Angkor. See what else you’ll get to see here.
Take a Hot Air Balloon trip across Siem Reap
I don’t know about you, but I love seeing the world from above, and this is one of the cheapest places to take a hot air balloon ride (unlike Myanmar’s Bagan, or Capadoccia in Turkey, where it’s hugely expensive!) Now the balloon ride here is actually a tethered helium balloon ride, that will give you an aerial view of Angkor Wat, Phnom Pakheng, and the National Park, but still! What’s unique about this is that you’ll also get to visit the temples of Angkor Wat along with a Cambodia scholar guide too, so it’s actually REALLY good value for money. Prices do depend on the time of years, so check here for current pricing.
Visit The Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity
Conveniently located close to the Angkor Wat Temple complex is the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity. This is the first nature conservation and endangered wildlife rescue program in Cambodia and its dedicated to conserving, rehabilitating, and releasing endangered species into Cambodian forests. In an attempt to stop the extinction of endangered species, it also manages breeding programs for them. Daily excursions last almost a whole day and are available in English between the hours of 9 am and 1 pm (except on Sunday). You can find out more about them here. The center provides treatment for around 550 animals from over 45 different species. It is possible to see several kinds of turtles and tortoises, pileated gibbons, Indochinese silvered langurs, green peafowl, tiny carnivores, and various raptor species. Large wading birds are also present, including one of the world’s largest groups of endangered storks and the majestic sarus crane.
- Address of Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity: Kbal Spean, Phnom Kulen National Park, Banteay Srei 93054, Cambodia
- Opening Hours of Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity: Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity opens Monday to Saturday, from 9:00 am and 1:00 pm sharp
- Entry Fees for Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity: The entry fee to Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity costs $3 minimum in donations.
Take a Cambodian Pottery Class in Siem Reap
Want something different to do in Siem Reap? Here you go, in this quick 30-minute class you can learn how to make pottery using the basic methods used by the Angkorian-era Cambodians. You can learn to create pots, vases, and bowls at the Angkor Pottery Center while spending the day with English-speaking pottery instructors. Prepare to have messy hands as you spin wet clay to create beautiful and valuable pieces while sitting at a pottery wheel. The best souvenirs to bring home are created after you heat them in a ceramic oven, where they solidify. This is a beautiful cultural experience and a great way to spend time in Siem Reap. You can reserve your place here.
Go Zip Lining in Siem Reap
While it doesn’t compare to the magnificent Gibbon Project in Northern Laos, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper, and zip lining across the stunning forest within the UNESCO World Heritage Angkor Archaeological Park is another exciting way to enjoy your time in Siem Reap! In this incredible zipline trip, you’ll soar over the jungles of Angkor and you can choose between a complete course of zipline experiences or a personalized one at this location, which is located deep within the Angkor Enterprise complex. Flying up to over 15 trees, 21 platforms, several single and double ziplines, sky bridges, and more will be part of this breathtaking experience. If you want a taste of an epic journey in Siem Reap that will have you flying and swooping through the trees, this is the place to go. You can reserve your place and zipline Siem Reap here.
- Address of Angkor Zipline: Angkor Archaeological Park
- Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Opening Hours of Angkor Zipline: Angkor Zipline opens daily, from 6:30 am to 5:00 pm.
Go to Phare at Night in Siem Reap
Phare Circus is not your typical acrobatic circus. The stories that the performers write and play are based on their personal experiences. Siem Reap’s Phare Circus performers combine theatre, dance, live music, and circus arts by sharing a piece of their life with audiences while drawing inspiration from contemporary history, folklore, and modern society. The performers come from social and economic backgrounds that are quite challenging. They learn their circus acrobatics at Phare Ponleu Selpak, a nonprofit school, and at Phare Circus, they’re able to escape the cycle of poverty and improve their lives while making a decent wage. By going to a Phare Circus performance, you may take advantage of the most outstanding live entertainment in Siem Reap, contribute to the school’s budget, and support Cambodian artists. So you’ll be supporting a great cause, and having great fun too. Book your place here.
Plus! Arrive early and make the most of the Cambodian Street Food Festival, which will have your mouth watering!
- Address of Phare Circus: A Phare Circus Ring Road, south of the intersection with Sok San Road, Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Opening Hours of Phare Circus: Phare Circus opens daily, from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.
Go to an Apsara Show in Siem Reap
If traditional Cambodian dance is more your thing, then why not take in an Apsara Dance performance? The Apsara Dance performance is a combination between a Native American Pow Wow and a Cirque du Soleil show. Apsara, which means “beautiful girls” in Khmer, was originally a performance by young females who were supposed to have magical abilities. The dance dates back to Suryavarman II’s reign during the Angkorian era. Back then, these goddess-like dancers only performed for the royal family. Aspara dance shows here combine dinner and the show lasts more than an hour and features fascinating dancers, magnificent costumes, great lighting, and dramatic backgrounds. During an Aspara event, traditional Khmer music and dance are performed and a variety of Cambodian foods are offered. There are plenty of Apsara shows in Siem Reap; ask the front desk of your hotel which one they recommend, or you can book this Apsara show here.
- Address of Apsara Show: 52 Wat Bo Village Street, 17254, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
- Opening Hours of Apsara Show: Apsara Show opens daily, from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm.
Have a Spa Day in Siem Reap
It’s really not a secret that spa treatments and massages are cheaper in Southeast Asia. And some of the best spas are in Siem Reap, Cambodia! Spa Khmer, one of the country’s most famous spas, will make you feel refreshed both inside and out! They provide an exclusive Chupon treatment, which is a traditional herbal steam sauna used in Cambodia. The Chupon treatment only contains organic materials produced from specially selected plants for you. Want to see what spa treatments are on offer? Choose between 90 and 120 minutes of total relaxation in the relaxing setting of lovely gardens and rice fields. Then, just rest while your skilled masseuse soothes your muscles. Come on in and chill out for a whole lot less!
Take a Siem Reap Food Tour
Going on a food tour is undoubtedly one of the most entertaining things to do when in a new country. It’s a truly cultural experience to learn about a new place’s history, as well as its cuisine and culture while seeing the city’s main attractions. Plus, food tour guides often have access to great deals on local delicacies. Food tours are an excellent way to try a lot of amazing foods, even if you’re not the most daring eater you could possibly be. Check our food tour options in Siem Reap here.
- Address of Siem Reap Food Tour: Siem Reap, Cambodia.
- Opening Hours of Siem Reap Food Tour: The Siem Reap morning food tour begins at 8:00 am and ends at 12:30 pm. The 5:00 pm evening tour lasts until 8:45 pm.
Visit the Old Market in Siem Reap
Visit The Old Market or “Psar Chaa” as the locals call it, to experience life like a local. Siem Reap residents come to this market, which dates back to the 1920s, to purchase fruit, cereals, and meat for their home-cooked meals. Go to the fruit area where you can buy organic produce at local prices like mangosteens and dragon fruit. Or go through the rows of dried fish sellers seated on straw floor mats in the meat section, where you can discover freshly prepared sausages hanging on strings. Of course, there are areas with clothing, handmade goods, and spices for sale—all of which make lovely presents to bring home.
- Address of Old Market: Old Market Bridge, Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Opening Hours of Old Market: Old Market opens daily, from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.
Wat Preah Prom Rath City Temple
Of course, the majority of visitors come for the nearby Ta Prohm or Angkor Wat temples, but if you plan to stay in Siem Reap for a few days, you should also check out this peaceful city-based Buddhist temple, which was constructed in the 12th century and has several wonderful pagodas and worship halls. There are also monks offering blessings here too. Although it may be a little underwhelming compared to the temples of the main Angkor Wat complex, this is a wonderful place to escape city traffic. Check out the courtyard outside the temple, which has a strange ship structure.
- Address of Wat Preah Prom Rath City Temple: Pokambor Ave, Siem Reap 17254, Cambodia
- Opening Hours of Wat Preah Prom Rath City Temple: Wat Preah Prom Rath City Temple is open 24 hours daily.
- Entry Fees for Wat Preah Prom Rath City Temple: Free! (Donations are welcome)
Visit the Cambodian Craft Market in Siem Reap
The most interesting displays of contemporary Cambodian craft are gathered at the Cambodian Craft Market. This Siem Reap Craft Market gives you the chance to buy high-quality handmade goods that redefine what it means to be produced in Cambodia today. Also known as The Fair Trade Village, there’s more information on the types of goods you can buy here. These are all authentic artisan items, that provide much-needed sustainable work for locals. They’ll even come and collect you from your accommodation and give you a tour around the facilities and while they hope that you will buy items, there is no pressure to. The primary goal of the Cambodian Craft Market is to support the creation of Khmer jobs, it’s a worthwhile cause, so if you are considering purchasing reminders of your visit, you can do a lot worse than come here!
- Address of Cambodian Craft Market: King’s Road Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Opening Hours of Cambodian Craft Market: Cambodian Craft Market is open daily, from 12:00 pm to 12:00 am.
Food & Drink in Siem Reap
A visit to Siem Reap without experiencing the culture through food and drinks is incomplete. Traditional Khmer foods are easily accessible in Siem Reap, whether it be from fancy restaurants or street vendors, particularly in the night market area. So whether you choose to take a cooking class, or just understand more about the food of the area, there are some great opportunities to explore Cambodian food here in Siem Reap
Take a Cambodian Cooking Class in Siem Reap
A visit to Siem Reap wouldn’t be complete without having the opportunity to sample some of Cambodia’s delectable cuisine, which is known for its unique cuisine and vibrant dishes. A Cambodian cooking class can help you learn how to prepare authentic Khmer cuisine, and also taste it. Classes are taught in the home of a Siem Reap local, but before you go there, you’ll visit the neighborhood market to gather fresh ingredients for the recipes. You’ll make up t four classic Khmer dishes, including the delicious Fish Amok and the well-known Tom Yum. This is a great way to learn helpful cooking techniques from a local expert and take the recipes back home with you too! This is a half-day cooking class and you can opt for a morning or afternoon class, there are more details here.
Noon Night Market, Siem Reap
Despite being a little bit smaller than the Angkor night market, the Noon night market is an excellent option if you’re seeking convenience. What do I mean by that? Well, an ATM, merchants that take credit cards, and a Khmer restaurant with free internet can all be found at this market. Noon Night Market’s unique approach to doing good is another intriguing reason to go there; for every purchase you make, 10% of the revenues go to a nonprofit organization called “Happy Family Orphanage.” If these unique advantages of comfort and neighborhood support appeal to you, plan a trip to the Noon night market to buy high-quality food, drinks, local souvenirs, and crafts.
- Address of Noon Night Market: Street 07, Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Opening Hours of Noon Night Market: Noon Night Market is open daily, from 12:00 pm to 12:00 am.
Siem Reap’s Original Angkor Night Market
One of Siem Reap’s most famous night markets is the Angkor night market. The market draws a lot of visitors for a reason, although it may become overcrowded on the weekends. You’ll find authentic Cambodian handicrafts like beautiful stone carvings, silverware, silk paintings, and recycled handbags – you’ll also find them alongside cheap knockoffs too, so remember its buyer beware! There are the usual street food stalls, and places to sit and eat as well as live music that plays late into the evening.
- Address of Angkor Night Market: Angkor Night Market St, Steung Thmei Village, Sangkat Svay Dangkum, Siem Reap Town, Cambodia
- Opening Hours of Angkor Night Market: Angkor Night Market is open daily, from 5:00 pm to 12:00 am.
Siem Reap Art Centre Night Market
On the east bank of the river is the night market known as the Siem Reap Art Center Market. Despite what its name may represent, this market is filled with sellers of local crafts and souvenirs, much like any other Cambodian night market. Siem Reap’s art center market is a fantastic option specifically because of the free nightly Apsara traditional dance performance, so you can knock two items off your Cambodia list by coming here!
- Address of Siem Reap Art Centre Night Market: 17000 Hospital St, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Opening Hours of Siem Reap Art Centre Night Market: Siem Reap Art Centre Night Market is open daily, from 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm.
Head to Pub Street in Siem Reap
The difference between the experience of seeing peaceful temples and the late-night antics of Siem Reap’s famous “Pub Street” is stark. And if you come here just for a cheap beer or some westernized food, then try and look at it as a ” bonus.” This neon avenue of loud pubs and restaurants is highly popular with backpackers and is identified by large “Pub Street” signs and brilliantly lit bars. You’ll find exotic delicacies like ostrich or crocodile skewers, and there are many happy hours, all with very low cheap drinks (beers for 50 cents)! Always check your change, pay attention to your surroundings, and have fun!
- Address of Pub Street: Street 08, Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Opening Hours of Pub Street: Pub Street is open 24 hours daily.
Marum the restaurant, Siem Reap
Enjoy inventive local food, tasty drinks, and fruit shakes crafted with just the freshest ingredients while supporting a good cause. Marum is a training restaurant that assists in preparing at-risk kids for employment in the hospitality sector. It is run by Kaliyan Mith, a regional NGO that is a member of Friends International. The employees and trainees are paid fairly and all profits support Kaliyan Mith’s projects to aid street children and other underprivileged youth in Siem Reap. There’s a creative, tapas-sized menu and some amazing desserts too. The deep-fried banana fritters are lovely. They come with palm-sugar caramel and lemongrass-galangal ice cream and are sprinkled with ambok, young, pounded rice.
- Address of Marum the Restaurant: #8A, B Phum Slokram Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Opening Hours of Marum the Restaurant: Marum the Restaurant is open daily, from 11:00 am to 10:30 pm.
Street Food in Siem Reap
Trying traditional Khmer cuisine, one of the oldest in the world, is essential to the Cambodian experience. China, Vietnam, Thailand, and even far-off France have all influenced the street food of Siem Reap, giving it a distinctively Cambodian taste. You can walk around and explore Siem Reap street food independently of course, but this evening food tour will give you the ideal introduction to a variety of local specialties and dishes that are a part of daily Khmer cuisine. It’s a great way to safely and easily explore off-the-beaten-path streets and marketplaces, and experience a variety of unique foods. You’ll be too full to try anything else after the tour. We highly recommend this one!
Day Trips from Siem Reap
While most people who come to Siem Reap simply head to the temple complexes of Angkor Wat and then head straight out, there are some great places to see outside of the city. So, hang around for a while and explore these awesome Siem Reap day trips.
Visit Siem Reap’s Kulen Mountain
Kulen Mountain, popularly known as the “Temple of the Thousand Lingas,” is home to the well-known River of a Thousand Lingas, the revered Wat Preah Ang Thom temple, and numerous magnificent waterfalls featured in the Tomb Raider film. If you’re aching for some greenery and natural beauty, then come here to Kulen Mountain and her waterfalls. The sculptures on the riverbed are thought to date from approximately 800 AD. Exploring Kulen Mountain with a professional Khmer tour guide while relaxing in a minivan equipped with air conditioning and free cold water is a fantastic way to make the most of your time there. As you tour the temple, your experienced Khmer guide will explain the significance of the various attractions, including the well-known “reclining Buddha.” Finally, take a refreshing dip in one of the loveliest settings available at the majestic Kulen Waterfall. This is an 8-hour day trip from Siem Reap and it’s great value for money, and something a little different.
- Address of Kulen Mountain: Kulen Mountain, Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Opening Hours of Kulen Mountain: Kulen Mountain is open 24 hours daily.
- Entry Fees for Kulen Mountain: The entry fee to Kulen Mountain costs $20 per person.
Visit the floating village Kampong Phluk on Tonle Sap
One of the unique things to see near Siem Reap is the floating village of Kampong Phluk. Most than 3,000 people live here, in yes, that is a floating village that’s built on the Tonle Sap lake. It’s a great way to see rice fields, fish farms, and marketplaces, all floating. It reminded me of the tomatoes growing on Inle Lake, and of the floating villages on Lake Titicaca as we crossed from Peru into Bolivia. This is a great way to see a really different way of life and while you’ll get the opportunity to also pick up souvenirs at Artisans D’Angkor, for me the chance to see this interesting way of living and also the rural landscapes around Siem Reap city was particularly interesting! There are a couple of options for visiting Kampong Phluk, you can come in the morning, or take an afternoon tour and get to see the sunset over Tonle Sap.
Experience Rural Life in Cambodia
Another way to help while visiting Siem Reap is to stay with a local host family in a rural agricultural village and help with daily activities. While traveling, it’s easy to ignore the poverty, it’s important (I think) to understand what drives this, and if there is a way in which you can help. That’s where the “day in the life” program comes in. The Day in a Life program aims to break down barriers between visitors and “Type 1” village families struggling to satisfy basic necessities, like providing enough food for their families to survive. You will be welcomed into a local host family’s home and daily activities. The family that you stay with is paid a little amount for this work, and the rest goes to a community fund for water filters and wells. In this day in a life program, you get to put yourself in the position of a villager and assist with everyday duties, including planting or harvesting rice, weaving thatch for roofing, making wall panels, planting trees or vegetables, and making ‘prahoc,’ or rice wine. Every trip is unique, and the tasks vary depending on the season, the needs of the family, and community events and while it’s just a day for you on your trip it makes a massive difference to the family and the community that you’ll be helping. Try it.
Take the Bamboo Train to Battambang
The Norry or bamboo train is located in Battambang in Cambodia. Although the railroad is destined to disappear in a few years, it is still a helpful mode of transportation in the country. It is basically a four-wheel axle driven along railroad tracks by a small motor. It’s known as the Bamboo Train since it is made of bamboo. This simple and practical tool was used throughout the Khmer Rouge era to transport people and goods. Today it’s used as a method of transport for tourists and visitors. You can arrange yourself to visit the Bamboo train and buy tickets, but for convenience, this trip to Battambang, using the Bamboo train, visiting the Killing Caves or Battambang and visiting a couple of other sites along the way, with your transport back to Siem Reap is a great option for exploring more of the area around the city. Head out on the Battambang Bamboo Train here.
How to Get Around Siem Reap
Siem Reap is easily accessible due to its small size and closeness to the most prominent attractions. Although walking is the most convenient way to explore the old town, remorks (Cambodian tuk-tuks), motorcycle taxis, and bicycles are also cheap local transportation options.
Where is Siem Reap
Siem Reap is located in northwest Cambodia. It’s the second largest city in Cambodia. A national highway connects it to Phnom Penh, the country’s capital, and the nearby districts. It is situated along the Simréab River and on the shores of the Tonle Sap lake. Siem Reap, because of the Angkor Wat temple complexes is a major tourist destination in Cambodia. It’s 320 kilometers from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, 525 kilometers to Siem Reap from Sihanoukville, and 395 kilometers to Bangkok from Siem Reap.
When is the best time to travel to Siem Reap?
It’s ideal for visiting Siem Reap around December and January. If you want to avoid the crowds, you should schedule your visit between June and October, allowing you to see the magnificence of the Angkor Wat temples with a blanket of greenery around the ruins. Traveling around Summer (April and May) is a big no – it’s hot and humid.
How to get to Siem Reap
Most people travel to Siem Reap from either Bangkok or Phnom Penh.
If you’re coming from Bangkok to Siem Reap, then you can check bus and flight times here.
Heading from Phnom Penh gives you several options. There is an airport in Siem Reap, and flying from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is the fastest way to get there, you can even get a flight for as little as US$35. For ground transport options between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, there are several options, which include buses, shuttles (vans), and boats. There’s more detail on how to travel between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in our guide here.
Final Words on The Best Things to do in Siem Reap
While most people travel to Siem Reap to see the temples of Angkor there’s so much more to see here and it’s worth lingering a while. There’s a long history here, dating back to 802 AD and you can explore much of this ancient and more recent history here. Siem Reap is an easy place to visit, there are some great food options, whether you prefer local or westernized food and it’s a particularly affordable place to travel.
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