Siem Reap is the most widely sought after city for tourists visiting Cambodia for several reasons; the area is known for it’s abundance of awe-inspiring ancient temples as well as the friendly culture Cambodia has become renowned for. It is a charming city that’s easy to get around with no shortage of spoils, from massage parlors on every block to quaint coffee shops and plenty of shopping, visitors can lost here for weeks and still find more to do.
Just a short tuk-tuk ride outside of the city, one can find lush waterfalls and scenic landscapes, perfect for nature lovers and photographers alike.
It was a challenge to compile a list of only 5 things, so here are just a few fun things to do to in Siem Reap:
- 1. Explore the Ancient Temples: This is what Siem Reap is famous for, a “must-do” if you visit the city. The most famous is Angkor Wat, built in 1125 AD, which features the longest continuous bas-relief in the world narrating stories from Hindu Mythology along the outer walls. It was designed as a place of worship and is still the largest religious monument in the world. Because it faces the west, it is said that the best time to visit is at sunrise. Ta Prohm is often depicted in images of Siem Reap with massive trees growing over and through the temple. It seems nature has taken the land back. What used to be filled with harmonious chanting and ceremonies of worship is now enveloped by nature, with monkeys roaming and birds singing, it has become a spiritual sanctuary. Bayon is equally as impressive with massive faces carved in stone throughout the temple.
- 2. Night Markets: We were a little confused when we first arrived as there were signs everywhere leading us to the “Night Market.” We soon realized that there are many of them and are all very similar to one another. From Cambodian clothing and snacks to art pieces and statues, it is a mecca for bargain shoppers and art collectors. Foreigners are typically given a price that is double what locals would pay but with some negotiating, you can usually get them down to about half and score some unique treasures for less than $10. If you’re backpacking, it might be worth shipping a package home, as there are pieces you can cherish in your home for a lifetime.
- 3. Made in Cambodia Market: Hosted by the beautiful Shinta Mani Club & Resort, this community market and street fair is free to attend and takes place twice a month on the 1st & 3rd Saturday. It is a lively and entertaining event with local Cambodian singers, dancers and acrobatic performers. For those with a flair for the exquisite, you will discover hard-to-find luxury goods and artisan products at the street market shops. In addition, the event is designed as a vehicle to give back to the people of Cambodia. By sourcing only local goods (boosting the local economy) and funneling all profits to the Shinta Mani Foundation (empowering people through education, entrepreneurship and so much more), you can feel good about where your dollars are going. Learn more about Made in Cambodia Market.
- 4. Kampong Phluk: Situated about 13 miles away from the hustle and bustle of Siem Reap, this fishing village rests on stilts above the Tonle Sap Lake, the largest in Cambodia. Not many tourists take the trek by bus or boat to visit the region, helping it maintain it’s authenticity and preservation of Khmer culture. This is a unique and worthwhile day trip for anyone interested in seeing a different way of life and connecting with the local Cambodian people.
- 5. Apsara Dance: “Apsara” is the name for the female Spirit of the Clouds and Water in Hindu and Buddhist mythology. This traditional ballet-like ceremony features only women and was created to honor the spirit of Apsara. The elegant performances are often free to attend and held at many different venues throughout the city. For a list of locations, check out Trip Advisor.
If you have any fun tips for Siem Reap, please leave a comment below!
If you are looking for the perfect hotel in Siem Reap then check out the Shinta Mani Club.
Blog and pictures by Angelina and David