10 Best Things To Do In & Around Siem Reap

Situated in the northwestern region of Cambodia, Siem Reap stands as a vibrant urban center celebrated for its extraordinary temples and profound cultural legacy. While travelers predominantly flock here to marvel at Angkor Wat, the country's premier tourist magnet, the burgeoning fame of the town has sparked the emergence of diverse activities and attractions, presenting visitors with an array of experiences beyond mere temple exploration. In this article, we highlight 10 of our favorite things to do in and around Siem Reap, including Angkor Wat and other top attractions. Now let's dive in! 





10 Best Things To Do In & Around Siem Reap


10. Discover The Pub Street


Siem Reap comes alive at night and there's no better place to experience the city's vibrant nightlife than Pub Street. Located in the heart of the town, this street is known for its bustling atmosphere, a diverse range of bars and restaurants, street performances, and food carts. Come here to sample local food or enjoy a happy hour deal at one of the many bars. 


9. Stroll Around Angkor Botanical Garden 


Escape the hustle and bustle of Siem Reap and unwind at the Angkor Botanical Garden. This garden boasts an impressive collection of flora and fauna, including rare orchids and vibrant roses. Take a leisurely walk through the lush greenery and serene ponds while admiring the colorful flowers and plants. At the time of our visit, it was free to enter the gardens. 


8. Visit One Of The Floating Villages


Experience the authentic rural life of Cambodia by visiting one of the floating villages on Tonlé Sap. Kompong Khleang and Kompong Phluk are two popular options where you can witness the daily lives of locals. Take a boat ride through stilted houses and immerse yourself in the natural surroundings. Kompong Phluk is closest to Siem Reap and it's also the one that we visited. It is more tourist and costs $25 per person to ride on the boat. 

But it's a great option if you're short on time. You also have the option to do a little mangrove tour on a local boat with these women. But that also costs a little bit extra, it's $5 per person. Alternatively, if you have a bit more time, you can visit Kompong Khleang, which is a 1.5-hour drive from the city. This is the largest floating village with over 10,000 inhabitants, and it's a lot less visited by tourists. 


7. Eat The Famous Palm Cake


The nearby village of Preah Dak is a famous food destination, with steamed palm cakes gaining popularity as a local specialty. To make this sweet dessert, palm fruits are first squeezed and mixed with flour dough, and then blended with coconut milk and palm sugar. Next, they're cut into individual cakes and steamed for about an hour. You can find many shops selling these cakes along the main road of the village. To get here, you can take a short detour from the Big Circuit in Angkor Park, which we'll talk about later in this article


6. Shop At One Of The Markets

Siem Reap offers a wide range of markets, where you can find unique souvenirs, handicrafts, and food. In the heart of the historic town, you can find the Old Market, Angkor Night Market, and the Art Center Night Market. All of these places sell anything from art to clothing and textiles. Along the river, you can also find many food stalls that serve affordable local dishes. Right outside the town center, you can shop at the Made in Cambodia Market, which sells and promotes quality crafts and goods made by a range of designers and organizations in Cambodia. 


5. Watch An Apsara Dance Show


For a cultural experience in Siem Reap, attend an Apsara dance performance in the evening. Apsara is a traditional Khmer dance that dates back centuries. With intricate hand movements, elaborate costumes, and enchanting music, the dancers bring legends and stories to life. There are a range of restaurants in town that host nightly performances. We went to Tonlé Sap restaurant, which combined a buffet dinner with a show. The buffet included a selection of Cambodian and international dishes. 


4. Learn About HeroRats At APOPO


Cambodia is one of the most landmine-affected countries in the world, but for the last 25 years, APOPO has worked to clear the landmines throughout the country. This nonprofit organization trains African giant pouched rats to detect the landmines. Also called HeroRATs, these animals are super intelligent and can accurately sniff out these explosives. 

At the Visitor Center in Siem Reap, you can take a guided tour to learn about the life-saving work they're doing in Cambodia and other countries worldwide. And after a short demonstration, you also get to meet these intelligent rats. At the end of the tour,  we had the chance to talk to our APOPO guide about what the organization has meant to his community. 


3. Day Trip To The Kulen Mountains


Another beautiful escape from the city is the majestic Kulen Mountains, located about 1.5 to 2 hours away from Siem Reap. This mountain range is a dense green canvas of jungle that covers a giant plateau. It's considered to be a sacred site by most Cambodians and many Buddhists and Hindus come to make a pilgrimage here. But besides ancient temples and the reclining Buddha statue, there are also some picturesque waterfalls. The best way to explore this area is by embarking on a day tour from Siem Reap. 


2. Explore Angkor Archeological Park


No visit to Siem Reap is complete without exploring the magnificent temples of Angkor Archaeological Park. Covering an area of over 400 square km, this historical park is home to the temples and other remains of different capitals of the Khmer Empire, which thrived from the 99th to the 15th centuries. The most popular way to explore the important temples in the park is by following the Small or Big Circuit. While The small Circuit includes the grandest temples like Angkor Wat, 


1. Watch Sunrise At Angkor Wat


The star attraction of Angkor Archaeological Park is Angkor Wat. One of the best ways to experience this temple is by getting up early to witness the sun rise over the temple's five towers. As the first rays of the sun illuminate the temple's intricate carvings and reflect on the surrounding moat, you'll be captivated by the magical atmosphere and sheer beauty of this ancient wonder. And even though this is the most popular activity in Siem Reap, it's one you'll never forget.


Conclusion


Siem Reap, Cambodia, offers a vibrant mix of historical wonders and cultural experiences. From iconic Angkor Wat to bustling Pub Street, there's something for every traveler. In this article, we've highlighted our top 10 picks, including exploring floating villages, sampling local cuisine, and witnessing the sunrise at Angkor Wat.

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