Siem Reap is one of the most popular tourist destination in Cambodia. Every one visits the city to see the famous Angkor Wat complex. But there is a lot more to see and do while in the city. Read on for master list of all the places to visit in Siem Reap along with a downloadable checklist.
The Angkor Wat Complex is the main highlight of any visit to Siem Reap. The temple complex is the largest religious monument in the world. Built in the 12th century, the temples in this complex are a prime example of Khmer Architecture.
Any visit to Siem Reap is incomplete without a visit to this magnificent complex making it one of the top places to visit in Siem Reap. A one day pass to the complex costs 37 $. You could also choose a 3 or 7 day pass which cost 62 $ and 72 $ respectively. The other thing to note is that the complex does have a dress code. Tourists are required to be appropriately dressed while visiting as you will be entering temples during your visit. Your shoulders and legs are expected to be covered properly in order to visit every part of the complex.
Personal Tip: If you buy your pass after 4:30 pm the previous evening, you get access to a free sunset at the complex. That is how I was able to visit the complex both for sunrise and sunset. If you have to choose, I highly recommend doing sunrise at the Angkor Wat as it is an epic experience. Sunset does not match up to the sunrise experience at the complex.
The floating villages on the Tonle Sap lake make for a perfect half day experience from the city. You can choose to do a half day tour with a local tour agent or drive there yourself. If you do, make sure you choose a reputable agent and tour. You can usually book those at the hotel or hostel you are staying at.
There are four such floating villages that can be visited from Siem Reap. They are Chong Kneas, Mechrey, Kampong Phluk and Kampong Khleang villages. The closest one being Chong Kneas that you can reach easily by road.
If you get on a tour, you can visit the Kampong Phluk village which is a permanent stilted village. But if you’re short on time, the best way to visit is by renting a bike and driving to Chong Kneas. It is the closest floating village from Siem Reap and is a 40 minute drive from the city. A visit to the village will give you an idea of life in Cambodia. It is an incredible experience.
The Kulen Mountain National Park and waterfall is located about 1 hour 40 minutes away from Siem Reap. The entrance ticket to the National Park costs 20 $. Tickets can be bought at the entrance of the National Park from the ticket window there.
The best and easiest way to visit is by booking a full day tour of the National Park and the 1000 lingas river. The highlight of this has to be the gorgeous Kulen waterfall. It makes the perfect day trip for all those nature lovers.
If you would like to visit the national park by yourself, that is also possible. You can rent out a bike in the city center of Siem Reap and drive there. Before entering the national park, you will have to stop to buy the entrance ticket to the park. This is the most affordable way to visit the national park. It also gives you the freedom to leave and get back at your own convenience.
The Lotus Farm by Samatoa is a hidden gem in Siem Reap. The farm is situated about 20 minutes away from the city center and is easy to reach. You could rent out a tuk-tuk or rent a bike and drive there.
This little farm is run by a local family. The friendly staff is extremely hospitable and demonstrates the incredible process of spinning thread from the local plants. You can also try your hand at spinning during your visit!
You can also visit the lovely tea shop that has a stunning view of the lotus ponds. It is a peaceful and relaxing experience and is a wonderful way of interacting with the locals.
The pub street is one of the coolest and most happening part of Siem Reap. The lively street in the heart of the city is filled with restaurants, pubs and clubs definitely making it one of the best places to visit in Siem Reap. Every night it is packed with tourists looking for a fun night out in the city. Various local hostels and tour agencies organize fun pub crawls which make for the perfect night out on the city. If not, you can also book a fun boutique cocktail tour by tuk-tuk.
If you would like to explore the street by themselves take your time exploring the various bars on the street. Just make sure to end the night at X Bar as that is the most happening of them all.
The Cambodian Landmine Museum was founded to educate people on the dangers of landmines. This museum speaks of the role landmines played in the dark history of this beautiful country. The proceeds from the museum go to the relief center and school for at-risk village children giving them access to food, shelter and education.
The museum is open daily from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm. The entrance ticket to the museum costs $5 for adults and free for children below the age of 12. The museum is located about 30 minutes from the Siem Reap city center. Best way to reach is by hiring a tuk-tuk for the round-trip. You can expect to pay about $20 for the round-trip. Tickets can be at the ticket window at the entrance.
The war museum in Siem Reap is the biggest war museum in the entire country. This makes it one of the best places to visit in Siem Reap for those interested in similar museums. The museum has a unique and vast collection of tanks, fighter jets, helicopters and various guns that were used in the country. You will also find a collection of landmines and other war memorabilia.
The museum is open to the public daily from 8 am to 5:30 pm. The entrance ticket costs $5 for all foreign nationals that can only be paid for in cash. For more details check out the official website of the museum.
Another fun thing to experience while in Siem Reap is the Cambodian Circus. The performers at this unique circus use theater, music, dance and modern circus to talk about the history of the country, folklore and modern society.
This unique circus experience is run by Phare Ponleu Selpak, an organisation founded by 9 young Cambodian men on returning from a refugee camp. At the camp, they were introduced to art and drawing lessons. They found that these were extremely powerful healing tools. On their return back home, they started offering free drawing lessons to street children. Soon they opened a school to teach arts. Today the school has over 1200 students enrolled who can take part in 500 vocational programs for free.
The Phare Cambodian Circus has shows every day of the year starting at 8 pm. Tickets cost $18 per person and the show lasts for about 1 hour.
The Old Market of Siem Reap is located right in the heart of the city center. It is the oldest market in all of Siem Reap. You will find it bustling with locals and tourists through out the day. It is the perfect place to shop for souvenirs and other memorabilia to carry back home. From silk scarves to fridge magnets to local spices and fresh and dried meat and fish, you can find it all in the stalls of the Old Market.
The food section of the old market is perfect for sampling various local Cambodian dishes. From soups to rice to noodles and a typical Cambodian breakfast items you can sample them all here for a reasonable price. Make sure to try the bai sach chrouk, a typical Cambodian breakfast dish that comprises of juicy pork slices, scrambled eggs, and broken rice.
The Old Market is open daily from 7 am to 8 pm. It is covered by a roof so even the afternoon heat is quite bearable there.
Apsara Dance Performance
Apsara Dance is the traditional dance form of the Khmer. The century old dance form is elegant and beautiful to watch. During your visit to Siem Reap, you could also treat yourself to a Apsara dance performance. These performances can be found at various venues across the city. Usually they can be booked as a package deal with a buffet dinner and the dance performances. These Apsara dance performances include three forms of the traditional dance – classical dance, folk dance and shadow puppet theatre.
You can find such performances daily at the Apsara Theater, Koulen Restaurant, Temple Balcony and Smile of Angkor. They usually start from 7:30 pm. You could call either of the venues for more details or check here for more information.
The night markets in Siem Reap are among the cool places to visit in Siem Reap. Packed with people, the atmosphere is lively and fun. The city has various night markets for you to choose from mostly concentrated within the downtown area of the city.
The night markets offer a range of fair-trade handicrafts and fresh produce. It is also a perfect place to shop for all your souvenirs. Stone carvings, silks, ceramics, figurines, silverware and other local crafts can be purchased here at the best prices. Be prepared to bargain though as they could try to overcharge you with all the tourists around.
These markets are open to the public daily post noon.
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