You will want to spend at least a few days in Siem Reap, aside from the Angkor temples there are many other places to visit and things to do, so here are our 10 things to do in Siem Reap.
1. The circus is in town!
Kids and adults will be in awe of the incredible talents of the performers from Phare Cambodian Circus. These talented Cambodian performers will inspire you with acrobatic tricks, humor and stories. All of the performers have come from disadvantaged backgrounds – living as orphans or on the streets – and have impressively managed to develop their skills to a professional level, despite the odds stacked against them. This is an absolute must when visiting Siem Reap.
2. Kompong Phluk
Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and the richest fishing lake in the world. Don’t miss the opportunity to see its floating village, Kompong Phluk, and immerse yourself among the people who live their lives around the water. In the dry season, locals can often by seen repairing their boats, and when the wet season comes, children paddle to and from school, while many adults fish for their supper. Go with a driver or arrange a local responsible tourist guide to assist with ticket price negotiations. When you get there you will need to pay for a boat ride, followed by an optional paddle through the mangroves and a couple of restaurants if you’re hungry.
3. Cambodia Landmine Museum
Learn about the inspiring story of ex-child solider Aki Ra at the Cambodia Landmine Museum. Aki Ra was named among CNN’s Top 10 Heroes in 2010 for his commitment to removing some of the millions of landmines left in Cambodia. The revenues from the museum are invested in continuing the de-mining work, and supporting the education of select disadvantaged children under the organization’s care.
Make your own ceramic pot with the help of staff at Khmer Ceramics, even if you’re not the most artsy person, you’ll have a lot of fun. Once you’ve finished your crafty pot, they will fire it up for you and even have it delivered to your hotel. There is also a showroom and shop near Pub Street in town, if you’re interested in the end result more than the creating.
5. Spot of golf?
At number 5 of our 10 things to do in Siem Reap list, Angkor Wat Putt is a fun mini-golf course and a great place to spend an hour or two if you want to relax. The holes are challenging and fun and are Angkorian themed! There is a large garden, bar and seating area where you can order food. There’s also a huge inflated water slide, so bring your swimsuit or a dry change of clothes!
6. Smooth as silk
The Angkor Silk Farm (museum and shop) are a short drive out of the town centre. Learn about the life cycle of the silk worm, watch intricate designs being woven and see some traditional Khmer outfits. Silk is an important part of Cambodian history. Finish in the shop which is an impressive demonstration of how Cambodians have adapted to modern times; fashionable dresses, beautiful scarves, handbags and even a cover for your iPad!
7. Cook up a storm
If you love the food there are a number of places around Siem Reap where you can learn to cook it yourself. Impress your friends when you get home by cooking Amok, Lok Lak and other local favourites. Check your hotel or guest house for recommendations and times, there are several more but you might try Beyond Unique Escapes, Champey, Paper Tiger and Annadya.
8. Lively night market
Psar Chas and the Angkor Night Market are probably the two most popular markets in town for visitors. The Night Market spans both sides of the river and has an abundance of shiny things you might desire. From gifts for friends and family at home, clothing, silk purses and scarves, Kramas (the name of the popular local chequered scarves), incense, carved candles, jewellery and paintings as a memoir of your visit. Even if you don’t wish to purchase anything it’s an interesting way to spend some time. If you go early in the morning to Psar Chas (Old Market) you can get breakfast with the locals. Expect to be called out to and if you are the stallholder’s first customer be sure to start their sales off by paying a fair price.
9. Reflect and rejoice!
Asana makes high-quality cocktails, many designed by the creative staff! You can learn to make four of these delicious drinks at one of the cocktail classes on offer. It’s a lot of fun and you’ll be very happy after you’ve consumed your creations! Even if you don’t take the cocktail making class, this venue has a great atmosphere. Most of the furniture is ‘up-cycled’ with creative use of used rice bags, it also has swinging chairs and a relaxed outdoor ambiance.
10. Eat like a king
Choosing where to eat in Siem Reap can be overwhelming, there is an abundance of choice but you can’t really go wrong. The food is generally of a good quality and if you’re looking for local food then trust your instinct and choose a restaurant that gives you the kind of ambiance you’re seeking. The further away you go from the market and Pub Street area, the better the prices you’ll find. If your preference is western style food then you won’t miss out; Italian is a favourite, as well as Mexican, French and many other fares. Many restaurants have Khmer and western food available. Needless to say; you won’t go hungry!