The Top 10 Things to do in Siem Reap
Feb 13 , 2012
With all of the beauty in Cambodia, you'll never be at a loss for things to do in Siem Reap. From tuk tuk rides to elephant rides, making your way around town is sure to be an exhilarating experience. Check out our list of the best of the best when it comes to touring this beautiful city.
1. Angkor Wat: Of all the things to do in Siem Reap, the archaeological site at Angkor Wat is by far the most popular among visitors, and attracts people from all over the world to Cambodia. This awe-inspiring complex of ancient temples is a must-visit. Explore the surrounding jungle environment, where ruins of temples lay intertwined in vines, and then climb your way through the five towers of Angkor Wat, the main temple of the site. Be sure to stick around for sunset -- the sight is truly captivating.
2. Bike Riding: One of the coolest things to do in Siem Reap is explore the city on two wheels. Cambodian drivers are generally quite respectful of bicyclists, and the terrain is mostly flat, so tourists often adapt easily to biking in the city. At a rate of just a few dollars a day, they are also an incredibly affordable way of getting around.
3. Tuk Tuk Ride: Another popular mode of transportation in town are the myriad of tuk tuk cars, which are motorcycles pulling hooded carriages. These nifty rides are traditional to the region, and are a great way to get around town while enjoying a little sightseeing. Rent a tuk tuk driver for a full day, or simply head from one side of town to the other. They’re pricier than a bicycle, but still an economical way to traverse the city.
4. Floating Villages: Among the stunning cultural sites around Tonle Sap Lake are the fascinating floating villages of Cambodia, including well-known Chong Khneas and Kompong Phluk. Though the experience can be touristy and cliche, it really can’t be missed -- you’ve likely not seen anything like it before. You’ll float along through water tunnels filled with merchants, homes, and fisherman going about their daily lives.
5. Tonle Sap Lake: Once you’ve decided on your vehicle of choice, it’s time to dive into the multitude of things to do in Siem Reap. One favorite among visitors is a trip to Tonle Sap Lake, designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Take a stroll along the banks, or hop on a boat tour -- there are various types of excursions to choose from, and all promise a beautiful view and educational experience.
6. Elephant Rides: When you’ve had enough of the usual modes of transportation, it’s time to step it up... and ride an elephant! These adventures are most common around the Angkor Wat complex, and are a frivolous, fun way to discover Cambodia’s natural beauty. The most common route is to take a ride from the south gate of Angkor to the temple of Bayon, which should run you less than $20, and leave you at a breathtaking backdrop.
7. Wat Thmei: An important cultural site on the list of things to do in Siem Reap is the Wat Thmei killing field. This memorial site remembers the victims of the genocide that occurred under the violent rule of the Khmer Rouge regime. Approximately 20% of the Cambodian population was murdered, many near this site. Today the site is a solemn place to remember those who lost their lives, and to learn about the effect of Cambodia’s socialist regime on the country.
8. Aspara Dance Performance: No trip to Siem Reap would be complete without seeing a performance of the traditional Cambodian dance style, known as aspara dance. These shows not only exhibit the local style of dance and movement, but also tell a dramatic folk story. Theatrical in nature and popular among tourists, aspara dance performances are easy to find and are a great way to spend an evening in town.
9. Quad Adventure Cambodia: For the adventurous traveler there are plenty of exhilarating things to do in Siem Reap -- like four-wheeling through the outskirts of town. Tours with Quad Adventure Cambodia offer a unique view of the country, from countryside trips to visits to small towns. A great way to get off the beaten path, ATV tours will give you a view of Cambodia unlike any other.
10. Samatoa Silk Shop: When all else fails, go shopping. Cambodia is known for its high-quality silks, and the Samatoa silk shop is one of the best places to visit for textiles. Clothing can be custom-tailored within 48 hours, and the selection can’t be beat. Best of all, the stores practice fair trade -- a concept we can all get behind!
You are sure to work up quite the appetite exploring hidden temples, and hiking through the forest, so feed that culinary craving at a local restaurant.