Things To Do In Siem Reap Cambodia

Siem Reap is a city located in northwestern Cambodia, famous for its ancient temples, rich history, and colourful culture. The town is the gateway to the Angkor region, which contains the incredible Angkor Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring the remains of the Khmer Empire.

Siem Reap has expanded rapidly in recent years, becoming a bustling tourist hub with a vibrant nightlife scene, countless restaurants, markets, craft shops, and a friendly local community.

Despite the lively atmosphere, the city has retained much of its natural charm and traditional heritage, making it a perfect destination for travellers looking for authentic and adventurous experiences.

Whether you’re interested in exploring the jungle temples, learning about Cambodian history and culture, trying local food or relaxing in a laid-back atmosphere, Siem Reap has something for everyone.

Visit Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is a temple complex located in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and is recognized as the largest religious monument in the world. Built-in the early 12th century by King Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat reflects Hinduism and the Khmer Empire’s culture during its peak. The temple’s design is believed to represent the sacred Mount Meru, believed to be the centre of all physical, metaphysical, and spiritual universes in Hindu mythology.

Angkor Wat covers an enormous land area of about 400 acres and is surrounded by a wide moat and a vast outer wall. The temple’s intricate carvings, bas-reliefs, and artwork pieces found throughout the complex are among the most impressive and intricate ever created. The temple boasts five distinctive towers protruding out of the skyline, while the central peak stands at a height of 65 meters.

Angkor Wat comprises various structures and features, each rich in history and significance, including the main temple and central monument, extensive galleries, courtyards, and corridors of smaller shrines. Visitors can climb higher levels to explore Angkor Wat’s architectural features and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding forests, paddy fields, and villages.

As a testament to its cultural and historical significance, the temple complex was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. Angkor Wat is a marvel of Khmer architecture, art, and craftsmanship, making it among the most visited tourist attractions globally and a must-see for anyone visiting Siem Reap.

Things To Do In Siem Reap Cambodia

Here are some tips for visiting Angkor Wat:

  1. Plan ahead: Angkor Wat is a vast temple complex, so planning ahead can save you both time and energy. Before you arrive, research the main attractions or hire a guide to get around.
  2. Dress appropriately: As a religious symbol, visitors must dress respectfully to enter the temple complex. Covered shoulders and long pants or skirts are mandatory.
  3. Carry water and sunscreen: The temple complex can get scorching hot, particularly during the summer months. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, hats, and enough water to stay hydrated throughout the day.
  4. Visit Early or Late Than the Rush: To avoid crowds and ensure the perfect visit experience, try visiting early in the morning or late afternoon to catch the golden hour and sunset.
  5. Respect local customs: Nearly everyone here is Hindu, Buddhist, or both, so try familiarizing yourself with local customs and ways of life to avoid offending anyone, particularly monks.
  6. Hire a local guide: Tour guides and tuk-tuk drivers are usually available at the entrance of the temple complex, and they can provide invaluable insights into Angkor Wat’s history and symbolism.

By following these tips, you can ensure that you have an enjoyable and immersive experience while visiting Angkor Wat.

Explore Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom was a massive city that served as the last capital of the Khmer Empire. It’s located in present-day Siem Reap, Cambodia, and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region. Angkor Thom translates to “Great City” in Khmer, and it was likely the most extensive urban settlement pre-industrial revolution, housing over 150,000 people at its peak.

The city’s iconic feature is the 12th-century Bayon Temple, which is located at the center and features four giant stone faces. Angkor Thom boasts a range of other stunning temples, including Baphuon, Terrace of the Leper King, and Terrace of the Elephants, all of which contributed to the city’s legacy.

Angkor Thom was surrounded by a massive wall, which stretches almost four miles and resembles a square with giant gateways on each side. The gates are decorated with intricate carvings and Bas-reliefs that depict various aspects of Khmer life and legends.

Angkor Thom is famous for its excellent architectural designs, and its structures showcase the Khmer’s engineering skills and artistic creativity. Visitors to the area will marvel at the magnificent structures from the ancient past and enjoy an exciting mix of history, archaeology, and art.

Entry to Angkor Thom requires an admission ticket for the Angkor Archaeological Park, which typically covers several days. Guided tours are also available and highly recommended to learn about the area’s rich cultural heritage and history.

Things To Do In Siem Reap Cambodia

Here are some tips for visiting Angkor Thom:

  1. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes: The site covers a vast area, so it’s essential to wear comfortable walking shoes and light clothing, particularly if you’re visiting during the hot and humid season.
  2. Bring a hat and sunscreen: The complex has exposed areas where visitors will be exposed to the direct sun, so bring a hat and sunscreen to protect yourself from the heat.
  3. Hire a professional guide: A guide will provide fascinating insights into the temples and help interpret the various carvings and statues’ meanings, making for a more immersive and interesting experience.
  4. Visit in the early morning or late afternoon: The ruins can get crowded, so to avoid the crowds and enjoy stunning photo opportunities, it’s best to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon during the golden hour.
  5. Observe local customs: Buddhism and Hinduism are the primary religions practised in the area. Be respectful of the temples and sacred sites by dressing modestly and not touching the statues.
  6. Stay hydrated: With the tropical climate of Cambodia, it’s easy to get dehydrated while exploring Angkor Thom. Bring plenty of water, and carry it with you throughout the day.

By following these tips, you can have an enjoyable and memorable experience while exploring Angkor Thom’s unique temples and surroundings while respecting the local customs and traditions.

Discover the Floating Villages

The floating villages of Siem Reap are a fascinating insight into Cambodia’s unique culture and way of life. Located on the Tonle Sap Lake, which is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia, these clusters of houses, schools, and shops are elevated on stilts and are entirely self-sufficient.

The floating villages are home to local residents from different ethnic groups, and their livelihoods depend on fishing, aquaculture, and ecotourism. The entire community moves throughout the year, depending on the lake’s water levels, which change significantly due to the monsoons.

Visitors can take a boat tour through the villages and observe daily life, including children paddling to school and local fishermen casting nets. The floating villages also have small restaurants that serve fresh seafood, and visitors can sample local cuisines while enjoying stunning views of the lake.

One of the most interesting floating villages is Kampong Phluk, which is known for its stilted homes and mangrove forests. Visitors can take part in cultural and ecological tours, such as visiting a floating Buddhist temple, touring a shrimp farm, and exploring the forests on a paddleboat.

The floating villages provide a fascinating contrast to Siem Reap’s busier tourist attractions, and they offer a glimpse into the country’s authentic and traditional lifestyle. A tour of the floating villages is a unique and eye-opening experience, and it’s a must-do activity for anyone visiting Siem Reap.

Things To Do In Siem Reap Cambodia

Here are some tips for visiting the floating villages in Siem Reap:

  1. Dress appropriately and wear sun protection: As it can get hot and humid on the lake, it’s essential to wear comfortable clothes and sunscreen.
  2. Bring cash: There are no ATMs on the lake, so it’s crucial to bring enough cash for souvenirs, food, or donations, if any.
  3. Respect the local villagers: The floating villages are home to locals, and it’s crucial to maintain a respectful attitude towards them. Ask permission before taking photos, avoid littering and respect their privacy.
  4. Hydrate: The temperature on the lake is hot and humid throughout the year, so be sure to bring plenty of water to keep you hydrated.
  5. Hire a local guide: To make the most of your visit, consider hiring a local guide who can provide valuable insights into the culture and lives of the people living in the floating villages.
  6. Be careful when boarding the boats: The boats used to tour the villages can be quite narrow, and they may wobble in choppy waters. Be extra cautious when getting on and off the boats, and wear comfortable shoes that can get wet.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience while visiting the floating villages in Siem Reap, and gain insights into the local cultures and traditions.

Get Your Food Fix

Siem Reap cuisine is renowned for its huge diversity and unique blend of flavours that reflect the country’s history and culture. The area’s local cuisine is heavily influenced by its neighbours Laos and Vietnam, as well as some French colonialism. Siem Reap has retained its original traditional dishes that use local ingredients and culinary techniques passed down through generations.

One of the staples of Siem Reap cuisine is rice, which is used in many dishes such as fried rice, rice noodles, and rice cakes. Fish and seafood are also prevalent, and they are used in many dishes such as Amok, a dish made with coconut milk and fresh fish fillets, and Khmer red curry, which is a blend of local spices, vegetables, and meat or fish.

Popular street foods in Siem Reap include num pang, which is a Cambodian sandwich, and the more adventurous deep-fried insects, which are a local delicacy.

Thanks to tourism, it’s possible to find different international cuisines in Siem Reap, from Italian to French and Japanese, and a few fusion cuisine restaurants. Moreover, Siem Reap specialities such as sticky rice and palm sugar are available to taste and buy in several markets and shops around the city.

To complete the culinary experience, it’s worth trying the local beers and branded wines from the Sombai Liqueur d’Asie distillery. Rice wines are also available but might need a little bit of adaptation to the taste of visitors, they can have a potent amount of alcohol.

Overall, Siem Reap’s cuisine is a fantastic blend of traditional and modern flavours, rich in spices and cultural diversity, and they are sure sought-after by tourists from all parts of the world.

Things To Do In Siem Reap Cambodia

Top Local Dishes To Try

Siem Reap has some of the most delicious traditional dishes in Cambodia – and the world. Here are some top local dishes that you should try when visiting:

  1. Amok – This dish is made with fish (or sometimes chicken) cooked in a creamy coconut sauce and served with steamed rice. It’s one of the most popular dishes in Siem Reap and is often flavoured with curry paste, lemongrass, galanga root, and cinnamon.
  2. Lok Lak – This stir-fry dish combines cubed beef with garlic, black pepper, onions, tomatoes, bean sprouts and fresh lime juice. It is commonly served over lettuce leaves or steamed jasmine rice.
  3. Fish Amok – Although not as common as a chicken version, this seafood speciality of Siem Reap is made with any local white fish simmered in a rich coconut sauce until tender and blended with vegetables such as eggplant and pumpkin.
  4. Khmer Red Curry – Made using an array of spices plus shrimp paste, red pepper flakes and palm sugar, this vibrant red curry can be made with various types of meat (most commonly chicken or beef) or even just vegetables like eggplants and potatoes for a vegetarian option.
  5. Num Pang – Num pang translates to “bread sandwich” in the Cambodian language – it’s very similar to Vietnamese Banh Mi but much more savoury and flavorful due to the added spices used in its marinades for meat toppings such as pork belly or grilled chicken thigh fillet.

Best Places To Eat

Siem Reap is a city in Cambodia that is home to some of the best restaurants and bars in the country. From creative Cambodian-French cuisine to reimagined Khmer gastronomy, there are plenty of options for those looking for a delicious meal.

One of the most popular places to eat is the Ox Club Restaurant, which serves up steakhouse and European dishes. Another great option is WILD – Creative Bar & Eatery, which offers international and diner fare. Haven is another must-visit spot, with over 2,400 reviews from satisfied customers.

For vegetarians, Banlle Vegetarian Restaurant on Street 26 offers an array of tasty dishes without any meat or dairy products.

If you’re looking for something unique, try Bugs Café or Lum Orng Restaurant for a truly unforgettable experience. For fine dining, head to Malis Restaurant Siem Reap or Cuisine Wat Damnak for exquisite Khmer cuisine.

And if you’re looking for something special, visit Amansara’s The Restaurant or Khmer Village House for lunch on the lake or dinner in the temple.

Shop the Markets

Siem Reap is a vibrant city, and its markets are no exception. The bustling markets of Siem Reap offer an exciting array of items to purchase and explore, including trinkets and souvenirs that are sure to provide lasting memories.

Central Market (Psar Chas) is one of the most popular markets in Siem Reap. Built back in 1937, this unique market offers a wide range of goods from local food stalls to jewellery and clothing vendors.

Many visitors come here for the dried fish and spices, as well as the traditional Cambodian snacks that are served at many of the small eateries throughout the complex.

The Night Market (Old Market) is another great place to visit for souvenirs. Established in 2001, this night-time market is located along a five-block stretch along Pub Street.

Here you can find unique items like handmade jewellery, traditional clothes and accessories as well as colourful paintings, carvings and textiles. The night market also features live music performances offering an entertaining atmosphere while shopping!

For a more relaxed shopping experience try Les Artisans d’Angkor on Airport Road – it offers some stunning sculptures made by local artisans which make excellent gifts or keepsakes for any travellers passing through Siem Reap.

In contrast, there’s also Psah Leu, a local mall with plenty of stores selling everything from clothes to electronics; however, we recommend steering away from purchasing anything expensive there due to knock-offs or subpar quality often found within these outlets.

Finally, if you’re looking for something totally unique, try Chong Khneas Floating Village – where you can pick up locally-made crafts such as baskets or wooden boats!

Experience Nightlife in Siem Reap

Things To Do In Siem Reap Cambodia

Siem Reap is known for its vibrant nightlife scene and there are plenty of options to explore after dark! The Pub Street district is the epicentre of nightlife in Siem Reap and the heart of the city’s tourist industry.

With a variety of bars, pubs, and nightclubs all within walking distance, Pub Street offers something for everyone.

If DJ-driven music and dancing are your things, then head to Temple Club or Angkor What? both offering up a healthy dose of electronic music until the late hours of the morning.

For those who prefer more traditional live performances, try Red Piano Bar & Grill or Nostalgia – both offer nightly entertainment by local musicians playing a variety of Cambodian songs. Angkor Night Market is another great spot to experience some fun with plenty of beer stands and food vendors that open up after sunset.

No matter what type of nightlife experience you’re looking for, Siem Reap has something to offer every visitor!

From local bars with traditional Cambodian music to glamourous discos with top-notch DJs, there’s sure to be a spot that caters to your needs. So take your time exploring everything Siem Reap has to offer – it’s sure not to disappoint!

Visit the Artisans Angkor Workshop

Artisans Angkor is a social business, established to provide training and employment to rural Cambodians in traditional arts and crafts.

Located in Siem Reap, the workshop offers visitors a unique opportunity to get an up-close look at Cambodia’s culture through the diverse array of works created by the local artisans.

Artisans Angkor specializes in creating handmade silk paintings, furniture, stone sculptures, lacquerware and ceramic pottery – all of which are crafted using authentic techniques and materials used by skilled artisans from around Cambodia.

In addition to providing valuable employment opportunities for locals, Artisans Angkor also helps preserve ancient Khmer traditions that may have otherwise been lost due to modernization.

Visitors can explore the bustling workshop and observe the artisans at work while they create exquisite pieces on display. The onsite gift shop sells items produced at the workshop – you can take home a piece of authentic Cambodian history!

Artisan Angkor also has its own restaurant offering delicious Khmer cuisine that you can enjoy after watching these talented artisans create beautiful works of art.

If you’re planning to visit Artisans Angkor, here are a few tips to help make the most out of your experience:

  1. Dress comfortably – it’s important to wear something comfortable during your visit as you may be walking around and standing for some time.
  2. Go early – the workshop gets busy so it’s best to get there when they open in order to get the full experience without having to rush through it.
  3. Take photos – the workshop is full of interesting artwork that can make great backgrounds for photographs! Just remember to be respectful and ask permission before taking pictures of the artisans at work.
  4. Ask questions – don’t hesitate to ask questions about any of the works displayed at the workshop or about the techniques used by the artisans – they will be more than happy to answer!
  5. Buy souvenirs – when you’re ready, don’t forget to pick up a souvenir from one of Artisan Angkor’s many shops!

Relax at Pub Street

Things To Do In Siem Reap Cambodia

Located in the heart of Siem Reap, Pub Street is a vibrant and bustling area that offers visitors a chance to relax, shop and sample the delicious local cuisine. The area consists of a number of bars and restaurants, as well as stores selling unique souvenirs and handicrafts.

At Pub Street, you can find plenty of rooftop terraces offering breathtaking views of the city. Here, you can sip on an ice-cold beer or some freshly brewed coffee while watching the sunset behind the majestic temples nearby. During the daytime, there are plenty of local street vendors selling snacks and drinks at affordable prices. At night, the area transforms into an exciting nightlife destination with live music performances taking place nearly every night.

Pub Street also provides tourists with ample opportunities to indulge in some retail therapy – there are dozens of shops selling everything from traditional handmade jewellery to modern clothing items so there’s something for everyone! With its laidback atmosphere and great food options, Pub Street is definitely worth visiting if you’re looking for a relaxed evening out in Siem Reap!

Take a Day Trip to Tonle Sap Lake

Tonle Sap Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and an incredible sight to behold. Located just outside of Siem Reap, this lake is a natural wonder with stunning scenery and abundant wildlife. Taking a day trip to explore Tonle Sap Lake is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have while visiting Cambodia!

The lake has long been home to local fishermen and their families who live in stilt houses and rely on the resources found in the lake. On a visit to Tonle Sap, you can take part in an exciting boat tour and explore these unique floating villages built right atop the water. Here you’ll have the chance to get up close with locals and witness firsthand how they live their lives in this picturesque setting.

In addition to its cultural significance, Tonle Sap also offers great opportunities for bird watching as hundreds of species can be found here. You might even be lucky enough to spot some rare animals like otters or water buffaloes! With its unique beauty and fascinating cultural history, a day trip to Tonle Sap Lake is sure to be a highlight of your visit.

Visiting Tonle Sap Lake is an incredible experience and here are a few tips to ensure you get the most out of your trip:

  1. Make sure to pack plenty of insect repellent as mosquitoes can be abundant in the area.
  2. Wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting wet as the boats usually have open decks.
  3. Dress conservatively out of respect for the local culture, particularly when visiting a floating village.
  4. Bring some binoculars and a camera so you don’t miss out on any of the wildlife viewing opportunities!
  5. Always follow your boat guide’s instructions and listen to their advice while on the lake, they know best!

Conclusion

Things To Do In Siem Reap Cambodia

Siem Reap is a great destination for anyone looking to explore Southeast Asia’s natural beauty and fascinating culture. The Tonle Sap Lake offers an unforgettable experience with its unique floating villages, abundant wildlife, and incredible scenery.

Taking a boat tour to explore the lake is one of the must-do activities in Siem Reap! You can also visit some of the nearby ruins like Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm, or head to downtown Siem Reap for some shopping, eating and drinking.

Whatever you choose to do in Siem Reap, it’s sure to be an amazing experience that you’ll never forget!

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