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must-do-siem-reap

Siem Reap, the gateway city to the majestic Angkor Wat temple, is a top destination in Cambodia. This charming city offers a truly immersive experience for travelers, with its ancient temples, vibrant markets, and rich cultural heritage. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or a food lover, Siem Reap has something to offer for everyone. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you on a journey through the best things to do in Siem Reap, ensuring you don’t miss out on any of its hidden gems.

Witness the Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Experiencing the breathtaking sunrise at Angkor Wat is an essential part of any trip to Siem Reap. As the first light of day illuminates Angkor Wat’s iconic silhouette, you’ll be transported to a realm of tranquility and awe. To make the most of this magical moment, it’s recommended to arrive before the break of the day (5am is a generally) and secure a prime spot. By reaching Angkor Wat before sunrise, you’ll have the opportunity to capture stunning photographs and enjoy an unobstructed view of the sunrise. Witnessing the sunrise at Angkor Wat is a truly spiritual experience that shouldn’t be missed!

Explore the Temples of Angkor Archaeological Park

The Angkor Archaeological Park is a treasure trove of ancient temples and architectural wonders. Embark on a day tour through time as you navigate the sprawling complex, marveling at the intricate carvings and grandeur of the structures. The park offers two main routes for exploration: the Small Circuit and the Grand Circuit. The Small Circuit is a tour that encompasses the most popular temples, including Ta Prohm (famously known as the “Tomb Raider Temple”), Bayon, and of course, Angkor Wat itself. The Grand Circuit takes you on a wider exploration, featuring temples such as Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som, East Mebon, and Pre Rup. Each temple has its unique charm and offers a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the Cambodian civilization. Both Angkor tour is feasible in one day. Make sure to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat before embarking on one of those tours.

Immerse Yourself in Cambodian Culture at the Angkor National Museum

To deepen your understanding of the Angkor civilization, a stop by the Angkor National Museum is highly recommended. This well-curated museum showcases a vast collection of artifacts, statues, and historical exhibits that shed light on the rich cultural heritage of Cambodia. Through interactive displays and informative narratives, you’ll gain insights into the history, art, and architecture of the Angkor period. The museum offers a comprehensive overview that complements your exploration of the temples, providing a deeper appreciation of the marvels of Angkor.

Visit Siem Reap’s most stunning pagodas

Siem Reap is home to some of the most beautiful pagodas in the region. Wat Thmei, located just outside Angkor Archaeological Park, is a must-visit for its stunning stupa and tranquil atmosphere. Built in the late 1990s, this Buddhist temple complex features a memorial dedicated to those who perished during the Khmer Rouge regime. Other noteworthy pagodas include Wat Bo, which is known for its vibrant murals depicting scenes from daily life and mythology; Wat Preah Prom Rath, home to an impressive reclining Buddha statue; and Wat Damnak, where you can find intricate wood carvings and ancient Khmer inscriptions. Taking a tour of some of these stunning temples will give you a deeper understanding of Cambodia’s religious heritage and culture.

Discover the Charming Floating Villages on Tonle Sap Lake

A visit to the floating villages on Tonle Sap Lake offers a glimpse into the unique way of life of the local communities. These villages, such as Kampong Phluk, are built on stilts or floating platforms, adapting to the ebb and flow of the lake’s water levels. Explore the narrow waterways, and observe the daily activities of the villagers. It is highly interesting to discover the specific traditions and customs of people living in those floating villages. During the wet season, the houses appear to be floating on the water, creating a surreal and captivating sight. This immersive escapade provides a deeper appreciation for the resilience and adaptability of the Khmer people.

Indulge in the Vibrant Night Markets of Siem Reap

Siem Reap’s night markets are a shopper’s paradise, offering a wide array of handicrafts, souvenirs, and local products. Bargain with the friendly shop owners as you browse through the colorful stalls, searching for unique treasures to take home. The Angkor Night Market, Siem Reap Art Center Market, and the Made in Cambodia Market are among the popular options. From handmade textiles and intricate wood carvings to stylish clothing and jewelry, you’ll find a myriad of options to suit your taste. Exploring the night markets is not only a shopping tour but also a cultural immersion as you interact with local artisans and discover their crafts.

Sample Khmer Cuisine and Street Food Delights

No trip to Siem Reap is complete without savoring the flavors of Cambodian cuisine. Indulge in a culinary adventure as you feast on delicious curries, savory street food, and delectable desserts. The vibrant Pub Street is a top hub of gastronomic delights, offering a wide range of dining options. From traditional Khmer restaurants to trendy fusion eateries, there’s something to satisfy every palate. Don’t miss the opportunity to try iconic dishes like Fish Amok, Lok Lak, and Red Curry. For a truly immersive discovery, consider joining a cooking class to acquire the secrets of Khmer culinary traditions.

Get Cooking Class

If you’re a foodie, then learning how to cook Khmer cuisine is a top activity to do in Siem Reap. Cambodian food is well known for its vibrant flavors and fragrant spices, and there are plenty of cooking classes where you can learn all about the local dishes. Take a culinary journey through Cambodia’s history as you grasp how to make traditional dishes such as amok, lok lak, and bai sach chrouk. You’ll also get the chance to visit the local markets and buy all the ingredients for your meal. After your class, sit down with your fellow cooks and enjoy the delicious meal you’ve created – it’ll be an unforgettable experience!

Explore Siem Reap by night

Siem Reap, Cambodia, boasts hidden bars that offer a more intimate experience than the bustling Pub Street and Sok San Road. For an elegant ambiance, visit Miss Wong, inspired by 1930s Shanghai, offering expertly crafted cocktails.
Asana Wooden House, nestled in lush greenery, provides a rustic retreat with a great selection of cocktails and craft beers.
Barcode is a lively cabaret gay club, welcoming to all, promising laughter and entertainment.
Picasso Bar is a friendly meeting place, fostering a sense of community and offering a relaxed atmosphere.
Yokohama, owned by a friendly Japanese man, is a bar that welcomes a diverse mix of nice local Japanese and international patrons. This is the place where to enjoy delightful Japanese spirits and delicious ramen soups.
Explore these hidden gems to savor the best of Siem Reap’s nightlife, away from the crowds.

Witness the Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Experiencing the breathtaking sunrise at Angkor Wat is an essential part of any trip to Siem Reap. As the first light of day illuminates Angkor Wat’s iconic silhouette, you’ll be transported to a realm of tranquility and awe. To make the most of this magical moment, it’s recommended to arrive before the break of the day (5am is a generally) and secure a prime spot. By reaching Angkor Wat before sunrise, you’ll have the opportunity to capture stunning photographs and enjoy an unobstructed view of the sunrise. Witnessing the sunrise at Angkor Wat is a truly spiritual experience that shouldn’t be missed!

Explore the Temples of Angkor Archaeological Park

The Angkor Archaeological Park is a treasure trove of ancient temples and architectural wonders. Embark on a day tour through time as you navigate the sprawling complex, marveling at the intricate carvings and grandeur of the structures. The park offers two main routes for exploration: the Small Circuit and the Grand Circuit. The Small Circuit is a tour that encompasses the most popular temples, including Ta Prohm (famously known as the “Tomb Raider Temple”), Bayon, and of course, Angkor Wat itself. The Grand Circuit takes you on a wider exploration, featuring temples such as Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som, East Mebon, and Pre Rup. Each temple has its unique charm and offers a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the Cambodian civilization. Both Angkor tour is feasible in one day. Make sure to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat before embarking on one of those tours.

Immerse Yourself in Cambodian Culture at the Angkor National Museum

To deepen your understanding of the Angkor civilization, a stop by the Angkor National Museum is highly recommended. This well-curated museum showcases a vast collection of artifacts, statues, and historical exhibits that shed light on the rich cultural heritage of Cambodia. Through interactive displays and informative narratives, you’ll gain insights into the history, art, and architecture of the Angkor period. The museum offers a comprehensive overview that complements your exploration of the temples, providing a deeper appreciation of the marvels of Angkor.

Visit Siem Reap’s most stunning pagodas

Siem Reap is home to some of the most beautiful pagodas in the region. Wat Thmei, located just outside Angkor Archaeological Park, is a must-visit for its stunning stupa and tranquil atmosphere. Built in the late 1990s, this Buddhist temple complex features a memorial dedicated to those who perished during the Khmer Rouge regime. Other noteworthy pagodas include Wat Bo, which is known for its vibrant murals depicting scenes from daily life and mythology; Wat Preah Prom Rath, home to an impressive reclining Buddha statue; and Wat Damnak, where you can find intricate wood carvings and ancient Khmer inscriptions. Taking a tour of some of these stunning temples will give you a deeper understanding of Cambodia’s religious heritage and culture.

Discover the Charming Floating Villages on Tonle Sap Lake

A visit to the floating villages on Tonle Sap Lake offers a glimpse into the unique way of life of the local communities. These villages, such as Kampong Phluk, are built on stilts or floating platforms, adapting to the ebb and flow of the lake’s water levels. Explore the narrow waterways, and observe the daily activities of the villagers. It is highly interesting to discover the specific traditions and customs of people living in those floating villages. During the wet season, the houses appear to be floating on the water, creating a surreal and captivating sight. This immersive escapade provides a deeper appreciation for the resilience and adaptability of the Khmer people.

Indulge in the Vibrant Night Markets of Siem Reap

Siem Reap’s night markets are a shopper’s paradise, offering a wide array of handicrafts, souvenirs, and local products. Bargain with the friendly shop owners as you browse through the colorful stalls, searching for unique treasures to take home. The Angkor Night Market, Siem Reap Art Center Market, and the Made in Cambodia Market are among the popular options. From handmade textiles and intricate wood carvings to stylish clothing and jewelry, you’ll find a myriad of options to suit your taste. Exploring the night markets is not only a shopping tour but also a cultural immersion as you interact with local artisans and discover their crafts.

Sample Khmer Cuisine and Street Food Delights

No trip to Siem Reap is complete without savoring the flavors of Cambodian cuisine. Indulge in a culinary adventure as you feast on delicious curries, savory street food, and delectable desserts. The vibrant Pub Street is a top hub of gastronomic delights, offering a wide range of dining options. From traditional Khmer restaurants to trendy fusion eateries, there’s something to satisfy every palate. Don’t miss the opportunity to try iconic dishes like Fish Amok, Lok Lak, and Red Curry. For a truly immersive discovery, consider joining a cooking class to acquire the secrets of Khmer culinary traditions.

Get Cooking Class

If you’re a foodie, then learning how to cook Khmer cuisine is a top activity to do in Siem Reap. Cambodian food is well known for its vibrant flavors and fragrant spices, and there are plenty of cooking classes where you can learn all about the local dishes. Take a culinary journey through Cambodia’s history as you grasp how to make traditional dishes such as amok, lok lak, and bai sach chrouk. You’ll also get the chance to visit the local markets and buy all the ingredients for your meal. After your class, sit down with your fellow cooks and enjoy the delicious meal you’ve created – it’ll be an unforgettable experience!

Enjoy the night out

Siem Reap, Cambodia, boasts hidden bars that offer a more intimate experience than the bustling Pub Street and Sok San Road. For an elegant ambiance, visit Miss Wong, inspired by 1930s Shanghai, offering expertly crafted cocktails.
Asana Wooden House, nestled in lush greenery, provides a rustic retreat with a great selection of cocktails and craft beers.
Barcode is a lively cabaret gay club, welcoming to all, promising laughter and entertainment.
Picasso Bar is a friendly meeting place, fostering a sense of community and offering a relaxed atmosphere.
Yokohama, owned by a friendly Japanese man, is a bar that welcomes a diverse mix of nice local Japanese and international patrons. This is the place where to enjoy delightful Japanese spirits and delicious ramen soups.
Explore these hidden gems to savor the best of Siem Reap’s nightlife, away from the crowds.

Unwind and Relax at Siem Reap’s Traditional Khmer Spa

After a day of exploration and adventure, take some time to unwind and relax at one of Siem Reap’s traditional Khmer spas. Pamper yourself with a rejuvenating massage or indulge in a luxurious spa treatment. The spas in Siem Reap offer a range of services inspired by traditional Khmer healing techniques, using natural ingredients and aromatic oils. Allow skilled therapists to melt away your stress and rejuvenate your body and mind. It’s the perfect way to recharge before continuing your Siem Reap adventure. Discover our Khmer Traditional Spa in Siem Reap. Additionally, while you’re in Siem Reap, if you wish to make the most of your stay by focusing on healing, be sure you read Siem Reap best healing places.

Embark on an Adventure with a Mountain Bike Tour

For adventurous souls, a mountain bike tour is an exhilarating way to explore the outskirts of Siem Reap. Ride through deep jungle to remote temples, picturesque countryside landscapes, pass by local villages, and witness the daily lives of rural communities. The tours are led by experienced guides who will take you off the beaten path, allowing you to discover hidden gems and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Cambodia. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced cyclist, there are tours suited for all levels of fitness and expertise.

For a one-of-a-kind Angkor tour by bike, Angkor Offtrack is a top choice. With an experienced French guide who has lived in Siem Reap for 15 years, you’ll gain unparalleled insights into the jungle and temples. What sets him apart is his commitment to comfort and enjoyment. Skip the 15-kilometer ride go and back between Siem Reap and the trail, as he provides tuktuk transportation. His bikes feature remarkably comfortable saddles for a smooth journey. Unlike crowded tours, he keeps his group small (4 people maximum). His flexible approach and his aim to adapt to your own pace makes it an unforgettable adventure.

Get a Quad tour

For a truly unique adventure, take a quad tour through the wild and rugged countryside of Siem Reap. Feel the rush of adrenaline as you explore hidden trails, pass by tranquil rivers, and witness stunning landscapes. The tours are led by skilled guides who will provide you with all the necessary safety equipment and show you the best spots to explore. Feel the wind in your hair as you ride through picturesque villages and local markets. Get up close and personal with nature as you spot exotic wildlife along your journey. A quad tour is an exciting way to explore Siem Reap’s rural beauty and create unforgettable memories.

Fly over the temples with a helicopter

For the ultimate sensation, nothing compares to flying over the temples with a helicopter. Get an aerial view of the ancient Angkor Wat and other majestic temples from above. With experienced pilots and state-of-the-art helicopters, this is an experience you won’t want to miss. Fly over the iconic monuments that have stood for centuries and take in the breathtaking views of Siem Reap from above. From the top, there is not better perspective of this amazing complex. Soar high above Siem Reap and take in all its beauty!

…Or stay over the site with the ANGKOR BALLOON

Another unique way to grasp the beauty of Siem Reap is to take a ride on the Angkor Balloon. This hot air balloon takes you high above the city and its famous temples, giving you an unparalleled view of the area. Enjoy a peaceful flight while taking in the stunning views of the ancient ruins and lush green jungles below. The Angkor Balloon is also perfect for capturing some amazing photographs from up high. Be sure to bring your camera along for this unforgettable trip! As you float above Siem Reap’s surroundings, you will be captivated by its beauty and charm.

Head on to some Art and Craft Workshops:

For those looking to bring a piece of Siem Reap back home, art and craft workshops are the perfect way to do so. Discover traditional handicrafts from Cambodia’s artisans and create your unique souvenirs. From woodcarving to silk weaving, these workshops will provide you with an in-depth look into the culture and history of Cambodia. There is no better way to bring a little bit of Siem Reap back home than with handmade keepsakes that you made yourself!

Enjoy the show at Phare, the Cambodian Circus

Phare, The Cambodian Circus. Delight in the captivating acrobatic and theatrical performance of Phare, The Cambodian Circus. Watch as performers astound with their incredible physical feats, accompanied by a live band playing traditional folk music. This show will take you on a journey through the culture and history of Cambodia. From traditional folktales to modern stories, Phare’s show is an unforgettable way to discover about the country’s rich history and culture. With its vibrant costumes and spectacular performances, Phare is a must-see for anyone visiting Siem Reap.

 

Swing Away at Angkor Golf Resort designed by Nick Faldo

For golf enthusiasts, a trip to Siem Reap is incomplete without a round at the Angkor Golf Resort. Designed by six-time Major champion Nick Faldo, this 18-hole championship golf course offers stunning landscapes. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced golfer, the resort has something to offer everyone. Enjoy a day of golfing in the beautiful surroundings of Siem Reap and take advantage of their practice facilities and driving range. After your round, be sure to visit their clubhouse for delicious food and drinks with friends. You won’t forget your day at Angkor Golf Resort!

 

Have fun Wake-Boarding

For those looking for an adrenaline-pumping adventure, wakeboarding is the perfect activity. Head to the nearby Siem Reap “Wake Park Cambodia” and get ready to have some fun in the sun. You will be provided with all the necessary guidance and equipment to make your wakeboarding adventure enjoyable and safe. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, Wake Park Cambodia offers great conditions for wakeboarding. Enjoy a day out in the park with friends and family. Wakeboarding is sure to be an unforgettable experience!

 

Explore the Wildlife sanctuary

For an up-close encounter with nature, head to the wildlife sanctuary near Siem Reap. Here you can observe rare species of birds and animals in their natural habitat. Take a guided tour with experienced rangers and learn about the flora and fauna of Cambodia. You may even get a chance to spot some of the endangered species. Among those, the giant ibis, white-shouldered ibis or Bengal florican. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars so you can admire these beautiful creatures from afar! Visiting the wildlife sanctuary is an unforgettable experience that will stay with you long after your trip ends.

Enjoy an Apsara Dance Performance

No visit to Siem Reap is complete without experiencing the traditional Apsara dance performance. This mesmerizing performance has been around for centuries and is a great way to get an insight into Cambodia’s cultural heritage. The graceful and enchanting movements of the Apsara dancers will transport you to a different world, and their intricate costumes will leave you in awe. After the performance, you can even try out some of the steps with the dancers, making it an unforgettable experience! So don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Cambodian culture and enjoy a captivating evening of dance and music.

Experience the Flight of the Gibbon in the Jungle

For a truly unique experience, take a trip to the jungle and soar through the treetops with Flight of the Gibbon. This thrilling zipline adventure takes you on an exhilarating journey through the Cambodian rainforest. Admire breathtaking views of lush greenery and take in the fresh scent of the jungle air as you fly from tree to tree. Along the way, learn about local wildlife and conservation efforts with your knowledgeable guides. After your flight, you can even enjoy a delicious lunch in the jungle before heading back home. Flight of the Gibbon is an unforgettable way to explore Siem Reap’s natural beauty!

 

Climb Phnom Bok

For an incredible view of the Siem Reap surroundings, you can visit Phnom Bok. This mountain is the highest point in the area. It offers stunning views of the city, the surrounding countryside, and the nearby Tonle Sap lake. A hike up to the top is among the popular things to do – you’ll get to explore traditional Khmer pagoda and take in breathtaking views of the landscape below. It’s a great way to get away from it all and appreciate nature’s beauty. Just be sure to bring plenty of water and be well protected from the sun!

Visit the Waterfall at Phnom Kulen

Another great way to experience the natural wonders of Siem Reap is to visit the stunning waterfall at Phnom Kulen. Located in the jungle, this picturesque waterfall cascades down a rocky cliff into a deep pool below. Take a dip in the cool waters and enjoy an invigorating swim. While you’re there, explore the nearby temple complex and learn about its history. Don’t forget to bring your camera so you can capture some amazing photos of this beautiful waterfall! After your visit, you can even take home some of the natural stones that are found around the area as souvenirs. These perfect keepsakes will remind you of your adventures in Cambodia!

Visit the Landmine Museum

For those looking to learn more about the history of Cambodia, a visit to the Landmine Museum is a must. Located just outside Siem Reap, this museum is dedicated to raising awareness about the devastating effects of landmines in Cambodia. Here you can learn all about the history of landmines in Cambodia and how they are still affecting people today. You’ll also get an up-close look at de-mining equipment and see how brave deminers go about their job. It’s a sobering experience that will stay with you long after your trip ends.

Visit the Siem Reap War Museum

The Siem Reap War Museum is another great place to visit if you’re looking to learn more about the history of Cambodia. This museum houses a large collection of artifacts from the Cambodian Civil War, including weapons, photographs, and other memorabilia. It’s a great way to gain an understanding of the conflict that has shaped Cambodia’s history. Visitors can also learn about the Khmer Rouge and how they impacted Cambodia during this period. After your visit, you’ll have a greater appreciation for the resilience and strength of the Cambodian people in the face of such adversity.

 

Discover the Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre

The Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre is another great place to visit in Siem Reap. Located in the beautiful Angkor Wat complex, this center is home to a huge variety of butterflies from all around the world. Here you can observe these amazing creatures as they flutter around the grounds and explore their fascinating lifecycles. You can even get up close and personal with some of the butterflies. Indeed, you can take part in their interactive activities such as butterfly feeding and tagging. It’s a great way to learn about these incredible insects and appreciate them in all their beauty.

Conclusion

Siem Reap, the gateway to majestic Angkor Wat, is a top destination in Cambodia. With ancient temples, vibrant markets, and rich culture, it offers something for everyone. Don’t miss the sunrise at Angkor Wat, explore the temples and stop by the Angkor National Museum. Discover stunning pagodas, floating villages, and vibrant night markets. Sample Cambodian cuisine and take a cooking class. Enjoy Pub Street’s nightlife and Apsara dance performances. Embark on adventures with mountain bike tours, quad rides, and helicopter tours. Discover wildlife sanctuaries and the Flight of the Gibbon zipline. Explore Phnom Bok and the waterfall at Phnom Kulen. Make a stop at the Landmine Museum and Siem Reap War Museum for modern history. Attend art workshops and the Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre. Siem Reap promises an unforgettable journey blending spirituality, adventure, culture, and natural beauty…

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About the Author: Sra Thnam

Kim

Enriched by her experiences in holistic traditional healing and caring, Kim is inspired by spreading the Secular Khmer Wisdom. She is gratefully convinced that Khmer Healing Culture Tradition is tremendously efficient either as a healing treatment than as prevention in a cure.

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