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Siem Reap Tourist Attractions, Things to Do & See
Siem Reap is the most fascinating attractive region of Cambodia, also the gateway to discover magnificent Angkor Wat – the world’s most renowned heritage. Siem Reap has much more to be explored such as colonial architecture in the Old French Quarter, museums, traditional Apsara performances, unique Cambodian Phare Circus, Cambodian cultural village, souvenir and handicraft shops, silk farms, rice-paddies of the countryside, fishing villages and bird sanctuary, waterfalls and the floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake.
Angkor Wat Temple
Angkor Wat “Temple City” is the famous 7th Wonders of the World, designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1992. Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. Stretching over some 400 km2, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, and is the largest religious monument in the world as well as the soul of Cambodia. The temple was built in the early 12th century under the reign of King Suryavarman II, was originally constructed as a Hindu temple for the Khmer Empire, gradually transforming into a Buddhist temple toward the end of the 12th century. Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple-mountain and the later galleried temple. It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the Devas in Hindu mythology: within a moat and an outer wall 3.6 kilometers long are three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. At the center of the temple stands a quincunx of towers with 65m high.
Angkor Thom “Great City” was the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire, established in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII. It covers an area of 9 km², within which are located several monuments from earlier eras including Baphuon and Phimeanakas as well as those established by Jayavarman and his successors. At the center of the city is Jayavarman’s state temple, the Bayon, with the other major sites clustered around the Victory Square immediately to the north. There are five entrances (gates) to the city, one for each cardinal point, and the victory gate leading to the Royal Palace area. Each gate is crowned with 4 giant faces. The South Gate is often the first stop on a tour.
One of the main Angkor temples, was built in late 12th century under the reign of King Jayavarman VII. The giant stone of smiling faces of Bayon has become one of the most recognizable images connected to classic Khmer art and architecture with 37 standing towers. The temple is known also for two impressive sets of bas-reliefs, which present an unusual combination of mythological, historical, and mundane scenes. Bayon temple is a must to visit when travel to Cambodia otherwise you would feel that you didn’t experience Cambodia enough in meaningful.
Ta Prohm Temple
Unlike most Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm has been left in much the same condition in which it was found: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of stunning trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings have made it one of Angkor’s most popular temples with visitors and it was where Lara Croft – Thomb Raider was filmed. Ta Prohm temple was built in the Bayon style largely in the late 12th and early 13th centuries under the reign of Jayavarman VII, located 1km east of Angkor Thom and on the southern edge of the East Baray.
Banteay Srei Temple
Bateay Srei “The citadel of woman” is situated northeast of Angkor, 40km away from Siem Reap and takes around 1 hour drive. The intricately carved, pink sandstone temple was built in 10th century, dedicated to Hindu and god Shiva, considered to be a Jewel of Khmer art which features elaborate decorations and fine detail. It has become one of the favorite temples for tourist after the main temples of Angkor. There are a few attractions which tourist can visit on the same day if they plan their trip to Banteay Srei. Those attractive places are including butterfly garden, landmine museum and local handicraft souvenirs, and palm sugar making and packing.
Kbal Spean, The river bed of 1000 lingas
Kbal Spean “Bridge Head” is located southwest slops of Phnom Kulen waterfall, which takes approximately more than 1 hour drive from Siem Reap town. The Kbal Spean River is commonly known as the “Valley of a 1000 lingas” or “The River of a Thousand Lingas”, it’s where the ancient Khmer religiously believed that the water that flowed passing by, those who got bathing under the falls, would be more powerful and they still believed the holy water could get rid out of any diseases, cynical evils and so on. The Kbal Spean also provides a nice short hiking from the foothill to the river bed, which is around 40 minute hike each direction. Strong footwear, insect repellent, hat and long sleeves are recommended to bring along to the site.
Beng Mealea Jungle Ruined Temple
Beng Mealea, its name means “lotus pond”, one of the Hindu temples, built during Angkor Era, located 60km away from Siem Reap town (1 hour and half drive). The primary material is sandstone and it is largely unrestored, with trees, overgrowths and thick brush thriving amidst its towers and courtyards and many of its stones lying in great heaps. It offers great adventure tour by walking within the lush jungle into the temple galleries, its ruins, climbing over/down the rocks, suddenly you feel the authentic nature of the lost temple and it is the wonderful place for picturesque photography. On the way, you have chance to visit Bamboo sticky rice, is one of Cambodian traditional famous snack made from sticky rice mixed with black beans and grated coconut flesh and all is stuffed into the inside of the green bamboos and cooked over the fire as well as beautiful countryside views. Strong footwear, insect repellent, hat and long sleeves are recommended to bring along to the site.
National Park Phnom Kulen Waterfall
Phnom Kulen “mountain of the lychees” is one of Cambodia’s national parks, is located around 50km northward Siem Reap. The most popular waterfall park is Siem Reap, provides wonderful vacation and relaxation by the river. Beautiful water offers great view, the pleasant spot for swimming and cool down. Phnom Kulen is considered a holy mountain in Cambodia, of special religious significance to Hindus and Buddhists who come to the mountain in pilgrimage, it was where the King Jayavarma II proclaimed independence from Java in 804 CE. Jayavarman II initiated the Devaraja cult of the king, a linga cult, in what is dated as 804 CE and declaring his independence from Java of whom the Khmer had been a vassalage state (whether this is actually “Java”, the Khmer chvea used to describe Champa, or “Lava” (a Lao kingdom) is debated, as well as the legend that he was earlier held as a ransom of the kingdom in Java.
The Great Lake “Tonle Sap”
Tonle Sap “Great Lake”, the largest freshwater lake in the Southeast Asia and is an ecological hot spot that was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997. Tonle Sap connects to the Tonle Sap River to meet of lower/upper Mekong and Bassac at the confluence “commonly called Chaktokmuk”. The river has a length of about 120km, The River flows crossing Pursat, Kampong Chhnang, Kandal and Phnom Penh City. Tonle Sap is a freshwater wetland covering an area of 250,000 – 300,000 km2 in the summer and have a larger scope than 5-6 times during the rainy season. The system of wetland is one source of freshwater fisheries in the world, and this ecosystem is very important in the supports to biodiversity, the livelihoods of people’s lives around the lake (5 provinces – 3 millions) and provide nutritious protein for Cambodians until 70% of the total nutrients.
Mechrey Floating Village
One of the small unspoiled floating villages, nice and less touristy spot for those who like to feel beautiful atmosphere and the nature. It is not located far from the Siem Reap town, drive along road number 6, it takes approximately 30 minute (25km). After the drive took off the main street, the journey provides charming views of rice paddies, see cattle as well as farming activities in the rice fields before you reach at the boat pier. Mechrey is the floating community based on tourism, offers such nice sightseeing along the channel where your sights are being attracted by interesting daily life of activities, floating houses, kids playing in the water, visit a mall floating souvenir shop, the crocodiles and active Buddhism pagoda. If you take the boat cruise further, you will see the Great Lake of Tonle Sap, well-known as the largest freshwater lake in the Southeast Asia and is an ecological hot spot that was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997.
Kompong Phluk Village & Mangroves
Kompong Phluk means “Harbor of the tusks”, is a small village located at the edge of Tonle Sap Lake, about 35km from central Siem Reap (1 hour drive). It is one of tourism attractions, the well-famous mangroves “flooded” provides great boat adventure where tourists paddling into the mangroves and explore the nature, the tranquility or you may see water-birds or hear birds singing nearby. The peddle boat adventure also takes to visit the stilt houses with lifestyle animated by fishing activities and a great time to take picturesque photos. Next, your boat excursion cruises down to Tonle Sap “Great Lake” where you see the largest lake in South East Asia and is an ecological hot spot that was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997. Get to learn more about its ecosystem, fishing techniques and the fisheries.
Kompong Khleang Village
Kompong Khleang is a larger village located at the edge of Tonle Sap Lake, about 50km from central Siem Reap (more than 1 hour drive). The village provides unique boat excursion tour around, where you can witness local life based on The Great Lake, explore stilt houses, see students rowing boat from school to their houses, observe the ways they trade local products including fruits, meat and vegetables. You have chances to visit school, active pagoda and local market. Next, your boat excursion cruises down to Tonle Sap “Great Lake” where you see the largest lake in South East Asia and is an ecological hot spot that was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997. Get to learn more about its ecosystem, fishing techniques and the fisheries. There are a lot of photo opportunity during your exploring.
Siem Reap Bird Watching
There are 2 potential places where you can visit Cambodia rare endangered bird sites; 1. Boeung Pearaing & 2. Chreav Village of Tomnup 78. Both provide excellent friendly half day of bird watching tours, learn from your experienced local tour guides about many species of water/forest birds as well as getting to know how they are being protected and how Chreav community gets involved with local people to develop a better system of education in the order deliver a last long project relevant to the bird zones. These offer a great opportunity to tourists who love to see friendly birds and love photographing spectacular pictures of colorful birds.
Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity
The Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB), located near the famous temples of Angkor (40km), is the first nature conservation center in Cambodia, where you can have a guided walking tour to discover more about those endangered wildlife including Greater Adjutants, Gibbons, Silvered Langur, Malayan Pangolin and so on. The ACCB aims to contribute to the conservation of wildlife and biodiversity in Cambodia. The ACCB aspires to become a focal point for wildlife conservation and environmental activities throughout the northwest of Cambodia.
Pub Street & Nightlife
While Siem Reap is still growing gradually, the booming of bars, restaurants and night markets are appearing so fast that those offer a lot of choices for tourists to stroll around, bargain and do shopping. You definitely walk around pub street and may pop in a bar for relaxation after your exploration around Angkor temples. Some of bars are generally closed until 4.00am in the early morning while night market stores and restaurants are closed until mid-night. As you’re walking neat the pub street, you can hear loud disco music, see street cocktail carts with reasonable prices for all choices of the cocktails and street food is also nice that you may want to try. Old market and Angkor night market are good choices for shopping, prices are fairly ok but don’t forget to bargain to get a better price. Remember that there are a lot of night markets around town. However old market is still a better choice for shopping, unfortunately it is not open after 6.00pm.
Not far from central city of Siem Reap, there are charming rural countryside offering the charming landscapes as well as seeing the best insights into Cambodia. There are plenty of interesting local activities including farming, ploughing, planting, rattan weaving, palm roof snitching, oxcart riding and so on. Tourists have chances to try some of those activities to get a memorable day in a life. Through practicing local activities, tourists actually meet the host families, friendly children and a great opportunity for tourist to share/learn about their lifestyle, culture, customs and traditions. Amazingly, tourists can capture a lot of picturesque photos or stay an overnight in a homestay, or enjoy a meal time with the host.
Puok Silk Farm
The Angkor Silk farm offers free guided tours of the process from the mulberry bushes cultivation to the production of silk fabrics and accessories. As the Silk Farm covers an area of 8 hectares, of which 5 are used for the mulberry trees plantation, you will enjoy the beautiful setting while learning about the fascinating process of silk-making. During your visit, our guides will give you more details on the mulberry trees, silkworm farming, cocoon unwinding, preparation of the silk threads, ikat technique (tie-dyeing of the threads) and silk weaving. We are sure that you will be impressed by the dexterity of our artisans with silk threads. The Angkor Silk Farm also features a large showroom where you can buy high-quality silk products that were made in the workshops you just visited.
Functional, high-fired porcelain and ceramics constitute a significant feature of Khmer cultural heritage, reaching their peak during the Khmer Empire. Today, the renaissance of this art form by Khmer Ceramics & Fine Arts Center is contributing to the educational, social and economic development of Cambodia in general and disadvantaged communities in particular. Through employing nearly 100 people, providing on-the-job training and opportunities for local families, women and people with disabilities, Khmer Ceramics & Fine Arts Center ensures that no individual is excluded from this ongoing ceramic art revival.
Cambodian Cultural Village
Assembles all the miniatures of famous historical buildings and structures, local customs and practices of all races. There are 13 unique villages, which represent difference cultural heritages with 8 scenes of show performance. At each scene, the tourist will be able to enjoy with traditional dancing perform by dancers that suitable to find out, the lifestyle landmark providing completed facilities and recreation services for both tourists and local community. Just a half day visit Cambodian Cultural Village such as travel over Cambodia and getting to know about Cambodia, Cambodia Culture, Cambodia ethnic, Khmer Traditional, the significant people in Cambodia and more. Cambodian Cultural Village situated along the road number 6, 3 Km away from International Siem Reap Airport.
Cambodian Cooking Classes
The cooking class station is located away from Siem Reap central town about 6km, provides the best insight into local life’s culinary including 30 minutes guided walking tour around local village to visit local family and learn about traditional Khmer household, local ingredients, food customs and superstition regarding to Khmer food. You’re going to hand on everything from the beginning to the end. You have experienced chef standing by, shows and explain you detail during the class. After the class ended, you’ll enjoy you own creation and get the recipe book. The class takes around 2.30 hours to 3hours.
Made in Cambodia Market
Made in Cambodia Market is absolutely worth your time. Aside from the colourful, original array of food, art, clothing, homewares, cosmetics, toys, jewellery and more, its chief defining characteristic is, as the name suggests, that everything sold here is made in Cambodia. This is in stark contrast to every other market in town, where the majority of the wares sold are generic junk made in China, Vietnam or Thailand. Those who visit Made In Cambodia have the opportunity to purchase fine artisinal products and luxury goods that redefine what it means to be made in Cambodia today. Each item for sale has been produced by a new generation of talented Cambodians.
Angkor Zipline – Eco Adventure
is the only Cambodian zipline tour, located within the lush jungle of Angkor park, provides amazing experience and fun. You feel the tranquility of the nature and you have a chance to see a gibbon’s family that the only family who lives in this Angkor jungle. Explore the jungle across four hanging bridges spanning hundreds of meters, enjoy the zipline rappelling down a 50-meter descent from one station to others. Feel relaxing and enjoy Khmer, traditional lunch with the serenity and may hear birds singing.
Oxcart Adventure Ride
Oxcart Adventures provide amazing opportunity to see glimpses of rural lifestyle, get to know more about Cambodian culture, customs and friendly locals. Located 7km away from central Siem Reap, the oxcart is organized by locals in the purpose to enrich the living condition, in Chreav village, the traditional and poor community situated amongst picturesque rice fields and surroundings. The traditional ox cart has been an important part featuring about Cambodian culture dating back to hundreds of years. Until the present, oxcart is still used to transport goods, stacks of thatches, sacks of rice from the one place to others. Apart from using oxcart to carry stuff, it brings an attractive adventure to tourists who wish to see charming Cambodia.
Phare Cambodian Circus
A contemporary circus without animals, Phare Circus is an amazing blend of traditional and modern theater, music, dance, dram, acrobatic, juggling, mime, comedy and contortion beautifully choreographed and performed around stories about Cambodian lives, customs, and society. The purpose of Phare Circus is to improve the development of local communities by providing education as well as encouraging the practice of art.
Helicopter – Scenic Flight
Helicopter is wonderful adventure to allow you to explore magnificent wonders of the kingdom of Cambodia. Be amazed by the enormous scale of the World Heritage site of Angkor, the ancient moat within the complex, lush jungle and its rich landmarks. Of course, there are a lot of opportunities for you to capture spectacular photos. The helicopter provides from 8 up to 48 minutes fly, mainly includes Angkor complex and choices of extra discovery above the largest freshwater lake “Tonle Sap”, the national park of Phnom Kulen and the major capital of the Angkorian-era Khmer Empire “Rolous Group”.
After visiting Angkor temples and other attractive sites, golfing is an ideal activity sport that you may like to get started despite you are not a good golfer. Expand your holiday while staying in Siem Reap, at least spend a morning to golfing because this is also great to find more experience in the ancient landmark of Angkor, Siem Reap. You probably want to play the premier golf course at Angkor Golf Resort which is designed by European legendary golfer, Nick Faldo.
Apsara Dance Performance
Apsara dance performance is the title of a Khmer classical dance created by the Royal Ballet of Cambodia in the mid-20th century under the patronage of Queen Sisowath Kossamak. The Apsara is played by a woman, sewn into tight-fitting traditional dress, whose graceful, sinuous gestures are codified to narrate classical myths or religious stories. Apsara dance was only performed for the Khmer kings during the Angkor time. Now Apsara dance performance can be widely visited at some of local restaurants and hotels in Cambodia, especially in Siem Reap. The performance generally takes an hour with 5 courses of the different dances.
Shopping & Nightlife
While Siem Reap is still growing gradually, the booming of bars, restaurants and night markets are appearing so fast that those offer a lot of choices for tourists to stroll around, bargain and do shopping. You definitely walk around pub street and may pop in a bar for relaxation after your exploration around Angkor temples. Some of bars are generally closed until 4.00am in the early morning while night market stores and restaurants are closed until mid-night. As you’re walking neat the pub street, you can hear loud disco music, see street cocktail carts with reasonable prices for all choices of the cocktails and street food is also nice that you may want to try.
Artisan d’Angkor Wood & Stone Carving Centre
Artisans Angkor has developed from the ambitious belief that it is possible to revive ancient Khmer Arts & Crafts while improving the lives of thousands of people living in rural areas. Not only has Artisans Angkor become a company dedicated to the preservation of traditional Khmer skills in silk-making, stone and wood carving, lacquering and painting, but it is also an organization committed to promote the development of individuals and secure their future by the means of education and welfare. Today, Artisans Angkor is proud to show that Cambodian handicraft is still alive and more creative than ever.
Bird Watching, Bird Sanctuary
Boeung Pearaing Responsible Eco-tourism is located at the southeast of Siem Reap, it is about 12 km from Siem Reap town. This community project is created by Chreav Community, it is in order to preserve and bird conservation. Boeung Pearaing has many species of water birds and it is including: Comb Duck , purple swamphen , Cormorant , Darter , Purple and Grey Heron , Adjutant , Lesser whistling duck, black headed Ibis etc. It is a good place for bird lovers and relax. Pearang eco-tourism aims to create more interesting ecotourism activities in the purpose to improve the local living and generates more jobs for community. A guided boat tour is the greatest adventure to explore various waterbirds.
Not different from Boeung Pearaing, Prek Toal bird sanctuary is the largest and the most important conservative breeding areas on Tonle Sap biosphere reserve, the greatest home for rich biodiversity and its rare endangered waterbirds including greater adjutants, black headed storks, milky storks, oriental darters, black headed ibis, grey headed fish eagles and etc. Prek Toal bird sanctuary is located in Battambang province. Beside the core area, a floating fishing village of the same name is the staging post for entry into the reserve, after a gentle one-hour boat journey takes you across the lake from either Mechrey or Chong Kneas. Prek Toal is one of the wealthier villages on the Tonle Sap, though that is still a relative thing.. Read more
Street Food at Road 60
If you’re looking for the authentic local street food, the road 60 is the best local street displaying with plenty of exotic delicious food, where you also see the nightlife of the locals trading their products including color clothes, fruits, bags, food, footwear etc. Especially the traditional noodle food that you should try. There are playground and gift gaming where you see a lot of kids playing around there. Having a guided orientation to discover the authentic street food is also a pleasant tour to see Cambodia differently.
Massage & Spa
There are many massage and spa places around Siem Reap town, which easily can be found at Angkor night market, pub street & old market area. The small open air massage offer very competitive prices with ranges of different types of massage while there are some of professional, well-trained massage spa offering affordable prices with the high standard quality that meet your expectation and you will do love it. Here our suggestion for the well treatment massage & spa in Siem Reap: Bodia Spa, Sokkhak Spa & The Lemongrass.
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