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10 Fun Things to Do Around Siem Reap

Article by GVI


Posted: March 8, 2023

The ancient city of Siem Reap is located near Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. Thanks to its proximity to the iconic temple complex, Siem Reap has become one of Cambodia’s most popular tourist destinations. Beyond exploring Angkor Wat, there’s plenty to see and do in this vibrant city. From taking a river cruise to shopping in the old market to dining at local restaurants, there are many fun activities to enjoy in Siem Reap.

Exploring Angkor Wat

Exploring Angkor Wat is arguably the top thing to do in Siem Reap. The 800-year-old temple complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Cambodia’s most important cultural landmark. Home to more than 500 religious structures and unique historical sites, it’s an experience you’ll never forget. History buffs and architecture enthusiasts in particular will love wandering around its courtyards, passageways and towers. A private tour guide can be arranged if you want to explore the area in more detail.

Angkor Wat is a great place to take photos and capture the beauty of the ancient ruins. The complex is open from 5am to 5:30pm, and it’s best to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat and crowds. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water, as the complex is quite large and you’ll be doing a lot of walking.

Taking a River Cruise

For a different perspective of Siem Reap, take a river cruise along the Tonlé Sap. Boat tours range from sunset cruises to guided day trips that last several hours. Most cruises stop at traditional fishing villages and allow you to take a dip in the lake. There’s even an option to dine onboard and watch traditional Apsara dance performances. This is an idyllic way to experience rural Cambodia in comfort.

The Tonlé Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and is home to a variety of wildlife. During the dry season, the lake shrinks to a fraction of its size, making it a unique and fascinating experience to explore. The lake is also home to a number of floating villages, where you can observe the traditional way of life of the local people. A river cruise is a great way to get a glimpse of the culture and beauty of Cambodia.

Visiting the Landmine Museum

Don’t miss the Landmine Museum, located around 25km from Siem Reap. This educational centre provides invaluable insight into Cambodian wartime history and showcases the work of the country’s first deminer. From photos to actual weapons and landmines, the displays here make for an eye-opening experience. All proceeds go to ongoing mine-clearing operations.

Shopping in the Old Market

On your next day out shopping, head to Old Market (Psar Chaa). This traditional Cambodian street market is located in the heart of Siem Reap’s tourist district and is home to some of the best souvenir shops and jewellery stores in the city. Here you can find everything from fresh produce and handmade crafts to antiques and artwork. Bargain hunters will be in their element at the selection of stalls, although prices can be expensive depending on what you’re buying.

Young man (tourist) with backpack walking to the night market buying tasty sweet food. Busy street full of restaurants, bars and shops. Siem Reap city at the sunset, Cambodia

Dining at Local Restaurants

Eating out is a popular activity in Siem Reap, especially around Pub Street, which has a bustling nightlife scene. Here you’ll find a range of restaurants serving Cambodian dishes such as prahok ktis (a dip made of fermented fish paste), lok lak (stir-fried beef) and bai sach chrouk (crunchy pork with rice). Of course, the city is also home to an array of international eateries, so you can pick up some great pizzas, pastas and other dishes from around the world.

Relaxing at a Spa

Take time out from sightseeing and treat yourself to a spa day in Siem Reap. There are plenty of beauty salons and massage parlours around town offering oil body rubs, aromatherapy treatments, sea mud wraps and more. Many spas offer gift certificates so you can provide a friend with a unique experience. Opt for a traditional massage as traditional Khmer massages can help with aches and pains and provide stress relief.

Viewing a Traditional Dance Performance

The Royal Palace in Siem Reap has been hosting traditional dance performances for centuries. These spectacular displays feature colourful costumes, live music and incredible grace. Styled after Cambodia’s classical court dances, performances are accompanied by toy instrument ensembles or contemporary orchestras. Be sure to check latest show times so you don’t miss out on this unique cultural experience.

Taking a Cooking Class

Sample delicious flavours by learning how to make authentic Khmer dishes at one of Siem Reap’s cooking classes. Professional chefs host these hands-on sessions and teach guests how to prepare classic dishes such as prahok ktis or amok curry. Most classes end with a meal prepared by the chef – so come hungry! You’ll also receive a certificate of achievement at the end of the day.

Enjoying Live Music

Siem Reap’s nightlife scene is alive with music venues offering live performances from local artists. From jazz bars to blues clubs, there’s something for every music lover. If you don’t fancy paying for tickets, Pub Street has plenty of bars that provide free entertainment throughout the week. Spend an evening sipping cocktails and tapping your feet to some soulful tunes.

Taking a Bicycle Tour

Opt for some serious exercise with a cycle tour of Siem Reap. You can hire a bicycle or arrange a guided tour with an experienced rider. Tours range from two-hour city sightseeing trips to full-day excursions that explore rural villages as well as Angkor Wat. Riding along countryside roads also offers plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife and breathe in some fresh air.

No matter what your interests are, Siem Reap offers something for everyone. From exploring temples to relaxing spas, make sure to take advantage of its many activities for a truly unique holiday experience.

If you are planning a visit to Siem Reap, why not consider volunteering with GVI. Whether you choose to work on community development projects, teach English to local children, or contribute to gender equality efforts, volunteering with GVI offers a rewarding and life-changing experience. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals from around the world and explore one of the most fascinating and beautiful countries in Southeast Asia.

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