Siem Reap, Cambodia offers a combination of tourist amenities and a glimpse of Cambodian life together with the surrounding natural sites and monuments. Siem Reap is fast growing and you can experience the traditional Cambodian cuisine, stores, music and entertainment as well as enjoying the comforts of hotels, restaurants and guided tours.
Temples in and around Siem Reap
The Angkor Wat UNESCO site is the most famous site near Siem Reap, it is a 12th century temple built by the Khmer people and will remind you of scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark with jungle vines overgrowing the temples. If you want to see and learn more about these temples then visit the Angkor National Museum. It is also helpful to hire one of the many local tour guides at the entrance to the temples.
Wat Preah Prom Rath is another truly fascinating temple with elaborate artwork reflecting the Buddhist culture.
The 900 year old Bayon Temple has 54 towers with huge faces carved on the tops and the sheer expanse of the place is awe inspiring.
Other Siem Reap Sights
Get a real look at the horrific effects of war in the Landmine Museum and get educated about this less glamorous side to the Cambodian life. The Wat Thmei Temple and Stupa Memorial to the Killing Fields is another educational experience. Visit the temple commemorating the people killed by Pol Pot’s ruthless army.
Take a trip out on the Tonle Sap Lake to one of the floating villages. The most often visited is Chong Khneas but its becoming too tourist oriented and if you have time go a little further and see Prek Toal near the bird sanctuary ( a tourist attraction in itself) or Kompong Phluk (which is not a floating village but on the edge of the water). See the village life and natural ecosystem while learning about the culture and see the breathtaking landscape.
Visit the crocodile Farm; see a show of Apsara dancing arranged through your hotel or visit the ACODO orphanage for a traditional Khmer dance display; take an elephant ride from the south gate of Angkor Thom; you can take a balloon ride above the ancient sites and also get a great massage at many places in Siem Reap.
In Siem Reap you can also take classes in local crafts like weaving and indigenous cooking.
Shopping in Siem Reap
You can enjoy some shopping in Siem Reap in the Psar Chaa flea market or in the central market which sells food clothing and accessories. You can also go a little out of the city to the Phsar Leu Thom Thmei market which sells everything and is popular with the locals. Go out at night and visit the night market where you can buy yourself a genuine Cambodian meal.
Support the local craftsmen by visiting the Artisans d’Angkor where you can also see the craftsmen at work, as well as the Khmer Ceramics and Fine Arts Center. The local crafts include pottery, wood and stone carving, lacquered wood and silk painting.