When you think of Siem Reap, you most likely think temples. Yes, this town is the gateway to the Angkor Temple complex, but there are other things to do in Siem Reap, too.
Located in the north-west of Cambodia, Siem Reap also sits near the largest lake in Southeast Asia.
The town itself has a mixture of colonial, Chinese and local architecture and is very popular with tourists due to its incredible location.
Here’s a list of things to do in Siem Reap including, but not limited to, the temples.
1: Angkor Wat
Okay, so I thought I’d start with this one to get it out the way.
The main draw of Siem Reap is its proximity to the absolutely incredible Angkor Temple complex.
You can’t really visit Siem Reap and not visit Angkor Wat!
Depending on how much time you have, you can buy either a 1-day, 3-day or 7-day ticket into the complex. Whichever option you choose, I highly recommend watching the sun rising behind Angkor Wat on at least one of those days.
It’s worth noting that there are so many more temples to see in the complex besides the most famous one, and they are quite far apart, so bear this in mind when organising your transport.
Plus, the ticket office is also quite far away from Angkor Wat itself.
Check out my full in-depth article on exploring all of Angkor by bicycle in Angkor Wat: why you should ditch the tuk-tuk tour.
2: Angkor National Museum
I noticed the Angkor National Museum on the main road out of Siem Reap while we were cycling towards the temples.
It was a very hot day when we visited, as usual, and it was absolute bliss to spend some time inside the large air-conditioned building!
The museum is extremely interesting with a number of exhibitions, incredible archaeological artefacts and multimedia presentations covering much of the Angkor period and diving deep into Khmer culture.
We spent a long time learning and looking at everything; as we had recently explored the temples, we felt that the museum visit gave us a greater understanding of everything we had seen there.
Entrance is a little pricey at US$12 each, but if you’re interested in learning more about the Angkor era, it’s worth it.
3: Tonle Sap Lake
I mentioned earlier that Tonle Sap is the largest lake in Southeast Asia, and if you look at any map of Cambodia you’ll see just how huge it is.
Along the edges and on the lake itself are some villages, either high up on stilts at the water’s edge or floating on the water.
You can take a tour out on the lake or just hail a tuk-tuk to drive you to one of the lakeside villages.
You’ll really get a sense of how the villagers live their lives on the water’s edge.
4: Siem Reap Markets
There are many different markets you can attend in Siem Reap.
The Old Market is a large enclosed market where you can buy anything and everything.
The Day Market and Night Market are more targeted at tourists, with souvenirs, clothes and paintings for sale.
We bought a couple of beautiful handmade paintings at the Night Market.
5: Fish massage
Or any massage, really.
If you fancy a traditional body massage, there are plenty of parlours around Siem Reap.
Or, you could go with the fish massage, where lots of little fish nibble the dead skin from your feet.
It’s a very tickly, strange experience, but your feet come out very smooth afterwards.
And I don’t know about you, but after living constantly in flip flops my feet definitely needed a bit of TLC!
6: Cooking class
There are a few options for cooking classes in Siem Reap where you can make your own tasty Khmer dish.
They usually take you out to the Old Market first to buy the ingredients you’ll need, before taking you back and teaching you exactly how to make your chosen meal.
It is a great way to spend a couple of hours out of the sun, while simultaneously bettering yourself and learning new skills, as well as making some new friends.
They even give you a certificate at the end!
7: Pub Street
Pub street is famous (or should I say infamous?) in Siem Reap!
Exactly as it sounds, it’s a long street filled with pubs, bars and clubs with incredibly cheap drinks on sale!
I’m talking 50 cent beers! Plus cocktails, shots and everything else you would expect in a party street.
A lot of the bars are quite obviously named for the area, such as Angkor What? Bar and Temple Club.
What I will say is: be sensible. With strong drinks at low prices and a lot of tourists and backpackers partying the night away, it can be easy to overdo it.
Make sure you know how to get back to your accommodation and keep control of your senses.
8: Try the food
There are so many great places to eat in Siem Reap, especially near Pub Street.
A lot of places do cater mainly for tourists with Western eating styles, but do make sure you try some traditional Khmer cuisine.
It doesn’t have the striking style of Thai or Vietnamese food, but it is still delicious! Khmer curries are my jam.
For cheap eats, try a street food stand or a restaurant down one of the smaller roads, where they don’t have menus in English but you can choose from the photos. I always find this a great experience.
And that’s it! I’ve visited Siem Reap a couple of times now and I’ve always loved it.
I don’t think I’ll ever tire of travelling in Cambodia, although it is changing a lot with the times.
Another great thing about Siem Reap is that it is the perfect place to start your journey on from Cambodia to Laos or Thailand.
It’s great that tourism is boosting this wonderful country’s economy, but I truly hope that it never loses its charm.
Are you planning to visit Siem Reap? What’s your favourite part of Cambodia? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
Want more like this? Check out these articles:
- Angkor Wat: why you should ditch the tuk-tuk tour
- 7+ reasons to stop in Kampot, Cambodia
- Luggage List: packing for Southeast Asia
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