8 Unmissable Things to Do in Siem Reap (Cambodia)

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Searching for the best things to do in Siem Reap? This guide has all the information you need for activities, hotels, and restaurants, so you won’t miss a thing!

There are tons of amazing places to visit in Siem Reap, even though it’s a much smaller city than the capital of Phnom Penh. The incredible Buddhist temple complex of Angkor Wat may have put it on the map, but there are other attractions not to miss, especially if you have the time. 

I first visited Siem Reap in 2015. I had been doing volunteer work in the rural parts of the country, so I loved being able to visit Siem Reap and enjoy the city life. If you want the perfect amount of time doing all the recommended Siem Reap activities, make sure to spend about a week here as I did.

Sam also went for a few days in 2010 and packed a lot into her visit. Whether you have a few days, a week, or more, there are a lot of amazing things to do in Siem Reap.

If you’re headed to this amazing city, make sure to add these attractions to your itinerary so you don’t miss anything important!

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Take a Tour of the Famous Angkor Wat Archeological Park

Angkor Wat is what most people visit Siem Reap to see. Angkor Wat is a bucket list item for all travelers to Cambodia, so this should be the first place you go to once you arrive!

It’s the world’s largest Buddhist temple and a magical place for people of any religion. You can almost feel the history as you walk around the temples. 

You’re not required to take a tour. However, it can be challenging to tell each of the temple’s purposes, so I recommend taking one if you can. Make sure to get someone that speaks your language! You’ll likely be able to find guides that speak many languages. 

You can book a tour with a guide ahead of time or find a freelance guide around the temple’s entrances. 

If you don’t mind waking up earlier, head to Angkor Wat for sunrise. It’s amazing to see the sun coming up over the tops of the temples, and it makes for some great photos. It gets surprisingly crowded at sunrise, but it’s worth visiting then.

Angkor Wat is best explored over multiple days. I would suggest booking a 2-day tour minimum, but there are also ticker options for 3 days, 4 days, and even more.

Here is a recommended itinerary if you’re not sure where to go:

Day 1

After heading to the complex for sunrise, take a tour of these temples:

  • Angkor Thom City with Bayon Temple
  • Bapaun Temple
  • Old Royal Palace
  • Phimean Akas Temple
  • Terrace of the Elephant
  • Lapper King Terrace
  • Sou Prat Temple

Day 2

In the morning, head to Banteay Srey Temple and Brey Rup Temple

Then in the afternoon, you can go to these places:

  • Ta Phrom Temple
  • Ta Keo Temple
  • Shousay Teveda Temple
  • Thommanon Temple
  • Make sure to end the day at sunset on Phnon Bakeng Mountain.

Day 3

There are many different options for day three. Most people explore the Tonle Sap Lake or visit one of the floating villages.

If you have time, head to Artisans Angkor. It’s a collection of workshops where you can buy handmade items from local artists. They have amazing things perfect for souvenirs.

Angkor Wat is open everyday from 5 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Some of the temples are only open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tickets vary in price depending on how many days you’re visiting and what type of pass you buy, but prices start at $37 USD. 

Here is a map of Angkor Wat. You can also visit the official website to buy tickets online. 

Go Shopping in the Old Market 

The Old Market can be overwhelming, especially if you have never been to an outdoor market in Southeast Asia. It’s very crowded and loud, with people walking in all directions. 

It’s one of the best places to shop like a local, though. The market is divided into smaller sections according to what is being sold. You can find fruits, vegetables, meats, and many other things. 

You should also come here if you are looking for cheap souvenirs for people back home. The vendors in the back are usually the ones that sell non-food items, including spices and handmade crafts. 

The Old Market is located at 9V34+C42, Pokambor Ave, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia. They’re open every day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

Cambodia Landmine Museum 

Cambodia is a beautiful country, but they have an intense dark history. The Cambodian people were affected greatly by the Vietnam War. The Khmer Regime also destroyed many people’s lives and changed the country completely.

Landmines from these two historical events remain scattered around the fields of Cambodia. There are estimated to still be about 6 million landmines in the country that have not been found. 

The museum has some active landmines that have been removed from the ground. You’ll also see how local organizations are trying to find and clear existing landmines so the people of Cambodia can stop living in fear. 

It’s interesting if you go with the guide, as the people from Cambodia are generally very cheerful. When they share this history, it’s such a stark contrast to what you’ll see around you when you visit.

The Cambodia Landmine Museum is located at 67 Phumi Khna, Cambodia. It’s open every day from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 USD. 

Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre 

This is one of the best Siem Reap attractions for those that love butterflies. It’s also a popular place for travelers coming with their families and small kids. 

There are many different butterfly exhibits to explore. The butterfly sanctuary is one big enclosed garden that is supposed to replicate the exact environment that butterflies live in in the wild. 

You can wander around the center on your own or take a guided tour if you want to learn more about the individual species and the stages of the butterfly life cycle. 

The Banteay Srey Butterly Centre is located at GW5R+FCP, Banteay Srei, Cambodia. They are open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $4 USD. 

Take a Pottery Class 

If you’re looking for one of the most unique things to do in Siem Reap, head to the Angkor Pottery Center to take a Cambodian pottery class. All of the pottery teachers speak English, making it super easy to learn to make cups, vases, or whatever else you might want. 

After making the pottery, they will be heated in a ceramic oven so you can take them home the same day. They make great souvenirs!

The Angkor Pottery Center is located at 8RGV+3VH, Potter Road off, Wat Athwear Rd, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia. They’re open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Class prices start at $7. 

Explore the Kulen Nature Trails 

These nature trails are located in Phnom Kulen National Park. The location is pretty remote, so ask the reception at your hotel or hostel to get you a tuk-tuk driver or taxi that knows exactly where to go. You can also schedule a tour if you prefer. 

The trail is in the rainforests outside of Siem Reap. As you hike along the path, you’ll pass monasteries, temples, small villages, and waterfalls. 

The main waterfall at the end of the trail is called the Phnom Kulen Waterfall. It’s huge and absolutely stunning. 

The end of the trail has a few vendors that sell snacks, soda, and small Khmer dishes. You can fuel up and then head back down to the trail before going back to Siem Reap. 

Phnom Kulen National Park is located at 8 ផ្លូវលេខ ៣១៥, រាជធានី​ភ្នំពេញ, Cambodia.Tickets to the park cost $20 USD per person.  

Watch an Aspara Dance Performance 

I didn’t have time to do this during my quick week in Siem Reap, but it’s one of the main Siem Reap tourist attractions. 

The traditional Aspara dance dates all the way back to when Suravarman II was king of Cambodia. The dance was originally only performed for the royal family and only the most beautiful Khmer girls were hand selected to train for the dances. 

Nowadays, it’s a dance performed at a theatre to help showcase to travelers more of the Khmer traditional culture. 

The best place to see a dance performance is the Angkor Village Aspara Theatre. The show lasts about two hours. Along with dancing, you’ll get to see stunning costumes and handpainted sets. 

The ticket price also includes a set Khmer food menu and beverages. 

The Angkor Village Aspara Theatre is located at 52 ផ្លូវលេខ ភូមិ​វត្តបូព៌, សង្កាត់សាលាកុំរើក 17254, Cambodia. They have shows every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $29 USD. 

Kampong Phluk Floating Village

This floating village is about 20 miles outside of Siem Reap, so it can be a great half-day trip. You will need to use a private driver to get here. It’s possible to get there by tuk-tuk, but the rickshaw needs to be in good shape if you plan to do that as the roads are unpaved and very uneven. 

Once you get near Kampong Phluk, you’ll sail along the Tonle Sap Lake, passing through many different parts of small villages. 

The first place you get to is called the Stilt Village because all the homes rise above the water on stilts. You can also ask the boat driver to stop at one of the floating restaurants if you feel hungry. 

You’ll see several floating villages along the way where you can buy vegetables, fruits, and many other items. 

The only thing I recommend not doing is the Alligator Farm. It’s basically just a pit full of alligators with a small store selling items made out of alligator skin. It’s a bit cruel, and the alligators are obviously not treated well. 

The ticket office for the Kampong Phluk Floating Village is located at 6X5F+JGX, 812, Kampong Phluk, Cambodia. It’s open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The boat fee is $20 USD per person. 

How to Get to Siem Reap

The easiest and fastest way to get to Siem Reap is by flying. Siem Reap International (REP) is very small, so you can’t reach here from all places. If you’re already in Phnom Penh or Bangkok, then you can catch a cheap flight to Siem Reap. 

Otherwise, you will first need to fly into Southeast Asia, likely Bangkok,  and then catch another plane to Siem Reap. You can also take a bus from other places in Southeast Asia, like Vietnam and Thailand. However, flying is easier, cheap, and fast.  

How to Get Around Siem Reap

Siem Reap is not big, so you can reach the majority of the places you want to go by walking. If you are going somewhere a little further away, you will need to either take a motorbike or a tuk-tuk. 

You can find both options on every street. All you have to do is flag one down and tell them where you want to go. Feel free to bargain prices with them as well as they tend to overcharge tourists. 

When to Visit Siem Reap

Peak season in Siem Reap is December and January because these are the months with the best weather. It doesn’t rain often, and it’s slightly less hot than the rest of the year. 

You won’t really find a cool month in Siem Reap, though. Make sure to bring sunscreen, wicking clothes to keep you cool, and bug repellant.

Best Places to Stay in Siem Reap

Budget—Onederz Siem Reap: This is a fantastic budget place to stay near the Angkor Night Market. They have dorms and private rooms. Make sure to head to the rooftop, as it’s one of the best bars in Siem Reap. They have free Wi-Fi, and you can get breakfast at a small extra fee. 

Mid-range—Tara Angkor Hotel: This should be the first place you book if you’re searching for where to stay in Siem Reap. They have free breakfast and free bikes you can use. They have tons of amenities, including an outdoor pool, a spa, a gym, and even Cambodian cooking classes. 

Luxury—Zannier Hotels Phum Baitang: This is one of the best boutique hotels in Siem Reap and offers travelers a unique experience. The wooden villas are built on stilts with upgraded villas, and they even have plunge pools on the terraces. Enjoy the free Wi-Fi, cocktail bar, outdoor infinity pool, and spa. They also have a kids club and playing area. 

Best Restaurants in Siem Reap 

Not sure where to find the best Cambodian food in Siem Reap? Here are some of the best choices. The city is also well known for its many bars and international cuisine options. 

  • Cuisine Wat Damnak: This is by far the best restaurant in Siem Reap. The famous chef Johannes Rivieras cooks up an incredible fusion menu that combines Cambodian and French food. 
  • Blue Pumpkin: I loved eating here at their many different locations around Cambodia. It’s great for casual food as well as baked goods and ice cream. 
  • Angkor Reach Restaurant: This place is right across the street from the entrance of Angkor Wat, so it gets packed in the afternoon and evening. It has a mix of different dishes including Chinese, Thai, and Khmer. 
  • Embassy Restaurant: This is a great place to come if you want to eat at an upscale establishment. It’s a Khmer food-based menu, but it changes regularly as they only use fresh seasonal ingredients. You can also opt for a wine pairing menu with wines hand selected by their in-house sommelier.

The Best Things To Do In Siem Reap Are Waiting For You!

If you’re heading to Cambodia, make sure to see the best Siem Reap activities by following the excursions and attractions listed in this guide! The city is full of history and culture that is worth checking out. 

A few days are usually enough for all the best things to do in Siem Reap, but you can easily spend a few weeks here. 

Are you heading to Siem Reap? Which of these attractions are you going to do first? 

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