When it comes to Siem Reap, Cambodia, Angkor Wat is the first things come to mind, but there are a lot of things to do in Siem Reap for you to explore. Let’s find out 20+ things to do in Siem Reap including popular and unique things to do that won’t let you down.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN SIEM REAP
1. Go temple-hopping around Angkor Wat
Once in Cambodia, watching sunrise Angkor Wat would be must-do thing in everyone’s Siem Reap bucket list. This also means there are a lot of people would be waiting for sunrise at Angkor Wat. In order to get the best of this once -in-life-time experience, you can be strategic about it. You can go for a hilltop complex like Phnom Bakheng at dawn to avoid crowds of Angkor Wat instead as most people visit here at sunset. And vice versus, in the afternoon, go to Angkor Wat for the sunset. It is also best to do most of your discovering before the midday sun hits by visiting the “Time Braider Temple” – Ta Prohm as it’s shaded by tightly-knotted banyan trees.
If you are here for anything longer than a weekend break, then it is worth taking time to discover the smaller, off-beaten track temples like Preah Pith, in and around the main city of Angkor Thom. It will cost you $62 for three-day temple pass or $72 for five-day.
Opening times: Daily, 5am – 6pm. Some temples close earlier (Kbal Spean closes at 3pm).
Location: Angkor Archaeological Park.
Price: $37/ one day pass, $62/ three days, five days $72/ five days
2. Get some context at Angkor National Museum
Put it all into context at this comprehensive museum. It is recommended to visit Angkor National Museum before you head to Angkor complex as you will explore the Buddhist and Hindu treasures found at the nearby temple sites and tells the full story of the Powerful Angkor civilization. The museum gives you an overview rather than detailed explanations of the early Khmer royals and their grand schemes. You will more excited to explore the Angkor complex.
Opening times: Daily, 8.30am – 6pm, (until 6.30pm 1 Oct to 30 Apr).
Location: 968 Charles de Gaulle Blvd.
Price: Adults $12, Children under 1.2m $6.
3. Make time at Banteay Srei
Those looking to explore temples a little further out of the core complex (there are over 50 in this area!) should go to the tenth century Hindu temple Banteay Srei, around a 40-minute tuktuk ride north east of the main group temples, and beautifully carved out of pink-tinged stone. The artwork is so delicate that it is said to have been made by women, hence the name ‘Banteay Srei’, meaning ‘Citadel of the Women’. Don’t forget your camera!
Opening times: Daily, 7.30am – 5.30pm.
Location: Angkor Archaeological Park.
Price: Banteay Srei is included in Angkor Park ticket (see above).
4. Go off track at Beng Mealea
For the more adventurous, you can make the one-hour trip outside of town to the mysterious twelfth century temple, Beng Mealea. Found deep in the jungle, it has the same ‘unearthed’ feel as Ta Prohm, but without the tourists queuing up to do an Angelina Jolie pose in front of it. Scrambling around piles of crumbling bricks and roots wrapped around sandstone, you’ll feel like the true explorer of a lost empire.
Opening times: Daily, 7am – 5.30pm.
Location: Angkor Archaeological Park, near Siem Reap.
Price: Not covered by the Angkor Park ticket; entrance is $5.
5. Quad bike in the country
Siem Reap is surrounded by an incredible mass of countryside that provides some insight into the make-up of this bustling city. The latest adventure trend here is to go quad biking where you can bump along the orange dirt tracks, whizz past the endless canvas of flat green land and then have that quintessential Cambodian experience of watching the sun go down over the rice paddies.
6. Shop at the Night Market
Who said Siem Reap’s night time action happens at the bars? The Angkor Night Marketwill dazzle you with Khmer artwork, local handicrafts and sumptuous street food. The best part is it’s just a two-minute walk from Pub Street, so you can make it part of the evening festivities. Dine round the back for the cheapest deals, where vendors provide canteen-style outdoor tables at which to eat your lok lak (stir-fried beef) or barbecued pork skewers. There are places to sit down with a drink inside here too, but watch out for the questionable karaoke-style entertainment!
Opening times: Daily, 5pm – 12am.
Location: Angkor Night Market, Stung Thmey Village, Siem Reap.
Price: Free to get in.
7. Visit a floating village on Tonle Sap Lake
Siem Reap is the location of Tonlé Sap Lake, a huge expanse of water that rises and falls, depending on whether it is wet or dry season. A floating village on the water is inhabited by many ethnic Vietnamese and Cham communities, while the water and its surrounding areas provide a habitat for a swathe of endangered birds and marine life. Various boat trips will sail through these villages, where everything from the butchers to churches and schools float gently on the lake’s surface.
UNIQUE THINGS TO DO IN SIEM REAP
#1 – The Fish Pedicure
Fish pedicures in Cambodia can leave your feet smoother than any pedicure will. A fish pedicure in Siem Reap, Cambodia: The critters in the tank eat the dead skin off your heels, leaving them smoother than when a pedicurist pumices your feet raw. At this tank, the cost of admission includes a glass of wine or beer—you need it to summon the courage to dip your feet in the water.
The “doctorfish” [lat Garra rufa] – nibble at your skin with a ravenous appetite and excrete a salty secretion, which makes your feet velvety. Do not make this experience with wounds on your feets or legs. An unusual experience that will leave you laughing, crying and uncomfortable, all at the same time. But the silky-soft feet are worth the squirming.
The massage is about 20 minutes and available for about 2 US$.
#2. Get a $3 massage
If you don’t have courage to try fish pedicure then why not get a massage at $3.
Yes, you read that right. Masseurs dot the busy streets after the sun goes down, offering sit-down 30-minute massages for as little as $3, or about £1.20. If you want more home comforts, you will pay around $20 for an hour at top-notch places like Khmer Relief Spa – still a bargain compared to back home. These quick massages are perfect end to your day if you’re all ‘templed out’ or to reinvigorate yourself before going out to dinner.
#3 – Visit honeybees
Bees Unlimited highlights the dying tradition of rafter beekeeping of the Giant Honeybee, Apis dorsata, still practiced by few near Siem Reap, and the efforts of some of these beekeepers to turn their harvesting into a sustainable business. They offer rafter beekeeping tours an hour away from Siem Reap, as well as bee tours within the city itself. While completely different than a day of temple-hopping, the tours are an interesting option to see the surrounding area and learn something new.
Bees Unlimited offers a range of tours that visit rafter beekeepers of giant honey bees, highlighting how this unique method is a dying tradition and shining a spotlight on an innovative team of beekeepers who strive to turn this seasonal activity into a sustainable livelihood for many. The tour also takes in other food produced in Siem Reap, including tofu, rice noodles and palm sugar.
#4 – Go to the circus
Roll up, roll up, the circus is in town – every night at 8pm, in fact. And this isn’t your typical circus, Phare the Cambodian Circus is the product of NGO school and professional arts training centre, Phare Ponleu Selpak. Plucking youngsters from poverty, the centre provides training in a range of performing arts, including circus, with students putting on Cirque du Soleil-style shows with Cambodian themes.
#5 – Get artsy
Cambodia has a rich history linked to ceramics, with intricate pottery and carvings dating back to pre-Angkorian times. Why not learn more about the art with a trip to the Khmer Ceramics & Fine Arts Centre? Here, you can discover some of the beautiful pieces inspired by Khmer culture, visit the training centre and make something to take home.
#6- Eat a tarantula
Yes, you read that right. Tarantulas are eaten across Cambodia, and can be found in metal bowls at Siem Reap’s night markets. Fear not, they’re not alive. In fact, the hairy arachnids are deep-fried in chilli so the brave-hearted can safely tuck in, knowing all they will taste is a fiery kick and a crunchy texture.
#7- Learn more about landmines
DIY de-miner Aki Ra opened the Cambodia Landmine Museum to help fund the mass programmes that aim to rid Cambodia of the landmines left during the war, which still litter the country today. The museum contains a collection of landmines, weapons and tanks from the Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese occupation. An eye-opening insight into the millions of landmines and unexploded objects left behind by decades of conflict.
#8- Fly with gibbons
Do something a bit different at Angkor Wat Archaeological Park and go wild with jungle wildlife at Flight of the Gibbons. Whizz through the tropical treetops via a maze of zip-lines suspended high above the sprawling park, which is dotted with hundreds of temples, spotting the families of gibbons along the way.
#9 – Kick some dirt
Whether a pro or a beginner, Kickstart has dirt bikes for all. Pick from half-day tours of Siem Reap’s pristine countryside to week-long trips across the country; regardless, viewing Cambodia from the back of a bike is an adrenaline-fuelled adventure.
#10 – Cool off at Kulen
Regarded as the most sacred mountain in Cambodia, Phnom Kulen is a popular place of pilgrimage at weekends and during festivals. Offering a welcome reprieve from Siem Reap’s simmering heat, the rainforest-cloaked national park is home to several gushing waterfalls and a number of religious sites.