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Top 15 attractions and things to do in Siem Reap, Cambodia

With its monumental temples, great street food and fun night-life, it’s easy to see why travellers are flocking to Siem Reap. Here are the best things to see and do in Siem Reap, Cambodia, other than visiting the great Angkor Wat.

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Best things to see and do in Siem Reap

1. Go temple-hopping around Angkor Wat

There’s no right or wrong way to explore Angkor Archaeological Park, but you can be strategic about it. Start with official ‘Wonder of the World’ and the largest religious site on Earth, Angkor Wat, but get up early to see it at sunrise if you want to avoid the crowd.

Places at the hilltop complex like Phnom Bakheng are also better to go to at dawn as most people visit here at sunset). In general, it’s best to do most of your exploring before midday, although the ‘Tombraider Temple’, Ta Prohm, is a good one to go to in the afternoon, as it’s shaded by banyan trees.

Tip: Get the three-day temple pass (~RM254) if you’re travelling to Siem Reap for anything longer than a weekend break. It’s worth taking time to explore the smaller, off-road temples like Preah Pithu, in and around the main city of Angkor Thom.

Opening times: Daily, 5am – 6pm with some temples closing earlier than others, for example, Kbal Spean closes at 3pm

Location: Angkor Archaeological Park

Price: One day pass US$37(RM151), three days pass US$62 (RM254), five days pass US$72 (RM295).

2. Get some context at Angkor National Museum

Put it all into context at this comprehensive museum, which explores the Buddhist and Hindu treasures found at the nearby temple sites and tells the full story of the powerful Angkor civilisation. As the museum gives an overview, rather than detailed explanations of the early Khmer royals and their grand schemes, it might be better to go to the Angkor National Museum before you visit the Angkor complex.

Opening times: Daily, 8.30am – 6pm, (until 6.30pm from 1 Oct to 30 Apr)

Location: 968 Vithei, Charles De Gaulle, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia

Price: Adults US$12 (RM49), Children under 1.2m US$6 (RM24.50). Reserve your tickets in advance through the Angkor National Museum website and get US$1 off for adults.

3. Make time for Banteay Srei

Those looking to explore temples a little further out of the core complex (there are over 50 in this area) should go to the tenth century Hindu temple, Banteay Srei. The temple is located around 40-minutes away from Siem Reap by tuk-tuk and is made of beautifully carved pink-tinged stone. The artwork is so delicate that it is said to have been made by women, hence the name ‘Banteay Srei’, meaning ‘Citadel of the Women’. Remember to bring your camera if you decide to visit!

Opening times: Daily, 7.30am – 5.30pm

Location: Angkor Archaeological Park

Price: Banteay Srei is included in the Angkor Park pass (see above)

4. Go off track at Beng Mealea

For the more adventurous, you can make a one-hour trip outside of Siem Reap to the mysterious, twelfth-century temple Beng Mealea. Found deep in the jungle, it has the same ‘unearthed’ feel as Ta Prohm, but without the tourists queuing up to do an Angelina Jolie pose in front of it. Scrambling around piles of crumbling bricks and roots wrapped around sandstone, you’ll feel like the true explorer of a lost empire.

Opening times: Daily, 7am – 5.30pm

Location: Angkor Archaeological Park, near Siem Reap

Price: US$5 (RM20.50)

5. Visit a floating village

Kompong Khleang floating village places to visit in Siem Reap

This is Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake, but the real treat is seeing how the fisherman and their families live. Wooden houses are built on long, sturdy stilts to avoid getting soaked by the flooding that makes this area so perfect for fishing.

You can book a boat trip to villages like Chong Khneas which is the best-known village in the area but beware: it can feel very much like a tourist trap as the locals see hardly any of the money from your entrance fee. When you visit, you may have your photo taken so it can be sold back to you on a decorative plate!

Instead, try Kompong Khleang, a little further out, but retaining its intended purpose, as a working Khmer community. The stilt houses are most scenic during the wet season when the water levels are high from May to October.

6. Party on Pub Street

Siem Reap’s Pub Street is full of life at all times of the day. Café Central comes highly recommended for daytime coffee gossiping. By night, neon lights guide the way to a frenetic mix of Khmer and Western restaurants, like Red Piano, which serves one of the best Khmer curries in town. We also can’t forget about playfully named Angkor What?, a bar and club that keeps on partying late into the night.

7. Cycle around Siem Reap

Most hotels and guesthouses offer daily bike rental, and there’s no better way to explore Siem Reap than to bike around town without a plan or map. Follow the river that cuts through the centre of the city and explore the many side streets off it. From as little as $2 a day, you can even get to the Angkor templex complex by bike, giving you the freedom to explore at your leisure (and saving you a pretty penny in tuk tuk fares).

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8. Quad bike in the country

Siem Reap is surrounded by an incredible mass of countryside that provides some insight into the make-up of this bustling city. The latest adventure trend here is to go quad bikingwhere you can bump along the orange dirt tracks, whizz past the endless canvas of flat green land and then have that quintessential Cambodian experience of watching the sun go down over the rice paddies.

9. Shop at the Night Market

Night Market, Siem Reap

Who said Siem Reap’s night time action happens at the bars? The Angkor Night Market will dazzle you with Khmer artwork, local handicrafts and sumptuous street food. The best part is it’s just a two-minute walk from Pub Street, so you can make it part of the evening festivities.

Dine around the back for the cheapest deals, where vendors provide canteen-style outdoor tables at which to eat your lok lak (stir-fried beef) or barbecued pork skewers. There are places to sit down with a drink inside here too, but watch out for the questionable karaoke-style entertainment.

Opening times: Daily, 5pm – 12am

Location: Angkor Night Market, Stung Thmey Village, Siem Reap

10. Get a $3 massage

Yes, you read that right. Masseurs dot the busy streets after the sun goes down, offering sit-down 30-minute massages for as little as US$3, or about RM12.30. If you want more comfort, you can expect to pay around US$20 (RM82) for an hour at top-notch places like Khmer Relief Spa. These quick massages are the perfect end to your trip or day if you’re all ‘templed out’.

11. Feed the birds

Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary places to visit in Siem Reap

Other than the temples and nightlife, you can also head to Tonle Sap Lake and spend the afternoon at Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary. Home to some of Southeast Asia’s most endangered feathery friends, take a boat tour around the sanctuary’s marshes and explore the lake for about US$20-25 (RM82-102), depending on how many there are in your group. Arrange a tour ahead of time with the non-profit organisation SVC and you can even spend the night at the research station on the lake if you want to be up with the birds at dawn.

Opening times: Daily, tours by arrangement only

12. Visit the Landmine Museum and School

Only opened up to tourists in the 1990s, Cambodia is a country still living through the legacy of its difficult and recent past. A visit to the Landmine Museum is a great chance to learn about its history with its neighbour, Vietnam, as well as the legacy left by the totalitarian Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. Founded by a former child soldier, Aki Ra, the museum is a place of historical importance and quiet reflection. Visiting the museum also supports local children at the Relief Center, originally set up by Aki Ra to care for child victims of landmines.

Opening times: Daily, 7:30am – 17:30pm

Location: Angkor National Park, 7km south of Banteay Srey Temple

Price: Adults US$5 (RM20.50) and children under the age of 10 get in free.

13. Watch the sunset at Srah Srang

You might pass this man-made lake on your way to or from the many temples of Angkor, but it’s worth a stop in itself. There once was a ‘floating’ temple out on the reservoir, but all that remains are the sculptural serpents which guard over the shore. During the day, there’s little to see, but in the evenings, local youngsters gather at the water’s edge to watch the sunset blaze and glitter on the water.

14. Pamper yourself with a pedicure

All that time walking about in flipflops means your feet may need a little pampering of their own, and one of the nicest things to do in Siem Reap, and indeed, Cambodia, is to get your (toe)nails done. You can get a friendly US$5 (RM20.50) pedicure with a splash of bright coloured nail polish at a choice of beauty parlours on and around Sok San Road near the old market, and elsewhere in Siem Reap. So sit back in your oversized sofa, enjoy the air-con and relax.

15. See artisans at work at Angkor Handicraft Association (AHA)

Fancy buying some authentic souvenirs to take home? Skip the hassle of going to the markets and head to AHA’s Fair Trade Village, where the money goes directly to the makers and the entire organisation is not-for-profit, supporting the local community and ensuring their trades are sustainable. Beautiful hand-woven bags, intricate jewellery, silk scarves and paintings abound, and you won’t find the pushy service (or the mass-produced goods) that you can get elsewhere. Join in the fun by booking a pottery, jewellery or bag-making workshop at the Backstreet Academy at the back of the market for some proper cultural exchange.

Opening times: Mon to Fri, 10am – 7pm

Location: Road 60, Trang Village, Sangkat Slorkram Commune Siem Reap (on the way to the Temples ticket office)

Price: Free to get in

How to get to Siem Reap

Siem Reap is a fairly small airport with limited connections. There are two airlines flying directly from KL to Siem Reap, AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines.

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Where to stay in Siem Reap

Bargains abound in Siem Reap, with good-quality hostels like Siem Reap Pub Hostel and Oops Hostel offering beds from just RM24. For smart, simple accommodation that’s a level up, check out Babel Guesthouse, set in a quiet location south of the river (doubles and triples from RM112 a room).

Those after a luxury stay can hole up at Angkor Miracle Reflection Club, a 5-star resort near the airport that’s like its own little village, complete with shops, cafes and restaurants and a bar by the pool. What more could you ask for, for RM386 a night?

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All prices shown are accurate as of time of publish and is subject to changes & availability. This article was adapted from it’s original version on Skyscanner UK.