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Things to do in Siem Reap, Cambodia

1.  Angkor Wat

I could yarn on and on about Angkor Wat, but they say a picture is worth 1,000 words, so I’ll just give you two suggestions and then let the rest speak for itself.

First, definitely get up to go at sunrise.  Yes, its 4:30 am and yes that sounds crazy, but it really does make the experience that much better.

Even if the sunrise itself isn’t so great (like the day we went), being at such a sacred and majestic place that early in the morning is magical.

My second suggestion is to not dilly dally outside of the temple after the sunrise occurs.  Before you know it, the temples will be overrun with large (and noisy) Korean and Japanese tour groups, even at this early of an hour.

Sneak in to the temple right after sunrise, before the rest get mobilized, and you’ll have this amazing place all to yourself.  Those 15 quiet and peaceful minutes I had alone in the temple were hands down the best part of the trip.

 

2.Eat a frog

I’m no stranger to eating weird foods, but usually its not as enjoyable as it is comedic.  Eating a frog is completely different; it’s delicious!

And not in a “it’s delicious for a really weird food” type way, but in a legitimate  type way.  As cliche as it sounds, it tastes like chicken, just juicier and more flavorful.

3.  Get a fish massage

$1 will buy you 15 minutes and a free beer, so when you ask me why you should put your feet in a tank full of goldfish, my answer would be “why not?”  And if you really need a reason, just believe the men when they tell you your dead skin is feeding the gold fish.  It’ll placate the animal love in all of us!

 

4.  Eat dinner in a bathtub

Madam Beergarden Under Construction (yes, that’s its real name) is as famous for its awesome food as it is for its crazy décor, and that’s saying something!

While dining on some of the best and cheapest eats in Siem Reap you can “lounge” in a sawed in half bathtub, among other interesting objects that dot the beergarden.

Whether you come for the food or the atmosphere, you won’t be disappointed!

 

5.  Indulge Yourself on Pub Street

One of the good things about Pub Street and the surrounding areai is that most bars 50 cent draft beers for happy hour.  An even better thing:  Happy Hour lasts “all day” or “from open to close”, depending on which sign you choose to read!

So no matter what time you decide to prowl Pub Street, a 50 cent draft is never far away.  I can’t think of a better way to beat the heat than relaxing a street side pub and having a few drafts for less than $2!

Angkor Wat is the bar that started it all, but really, you can’t go wrong with any of them (I mentioned beer was 50 cents, right)?  Here’s a list and map of most of them.  And just in case you get lost, the town has now erected a neon flashing sign to point all foreigners in the right direction!

Find yourself turned around? Just look for the big neon sign that points all foreigners in the right direction!

 

6.  Haggle in the markets

Handbags, t-shirts, bathing suits, or live chickens…whatever your fancy, the street markets of Siem Reap have it all.  And while the prices are already low by our standards, it’s fun to engage in a little friendly bargaining!

My typical starting point is half of their first asking price.  Just remember, these people could use the extra dollar much more than you, so have fun with it, but don’t push too hard.

 

7.  Ride in a tuk-tuk

There is no more authentic Southeast Asian experience than riding in a tuk-tuk, an open air wagon pulled by a motorbike that serves as a taxi.  For traveling through town, where the roads are congested and lanes are just a suggestion, a tuk-tuk will be just as fast as a regular taxi and easily half the price.

Plus, you’ll get to enjoy all the sites, sounds, and smells that make Siem Reap.  And if you’re lucky, you may even witness a fistfight (see 0:33 of video below).

8.  Eat a traditional Cambodian meal

Cambodian food certainly doesn’t get the publicity that it’s neighbors do but its delicious in its own right.  Some people may even prefer it to Thai food as the flavor is more subdued and its certainly less spicy.

Two of the most popular traditional dishes are amok and lok lak.  Amok is fish covered in crushed peanuts, coconut milk, and egg, that is wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed, whereas lok lak is a marinated beef stir fry served with special Cambodian seasoning.  Both come with rice, as does most every dish in Cambodia.

There is no better place to try these dishes, and much more, than at Khmer Kitchen, a Cambodian-run restaurant right off of Pub Street that is as cheap as it is delicious.  Additionally, you’ll get a pretty good rendition of either one of these dishes at the stalls that line the area around Angkor Wat.

While Angkor Wat gets most of the publicity, and justifiably so, there are still many really cool and authentic things to do in Siem Reap.  So if you find yourself venturing to northern Cambodia to see this amazing Wonder of the World make sure to try out some of my top 10 to make your trip even that much better!

Angkor Hospital for Children 

The Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC), is a charitable organization, was founded by renowned Japanese photographer Kenro Izu in 1999. The hospital provides treatment and care to local children as well as children from neighboring provinces. The hospital is recognized by Cambodian’s Ministry of Health as an official teaching hospital and AHC’s Medical Education Center serves as a training site for health professionals from all over Cambodia. Our Capacity Building and Health Education Program works to strengthen the capacity and improve the quality of local health practices. The Friends Center at Angkor Hospital for Children gives visitors the unique opportunity to visit the hospital and learn more about its programs. Designed for environmental sustainability with the purpose of educating about the hospital the Friends Center also displays prints donated by Kenro Izu and hosts rotating art and photography exhibitions. The donation of money and blood are much appreciated! 

Tel: 063-963409

www.angkorhospital.org

Tep Vong Street, Old French Quarter

Apsara Dance Performances 

It has been a tradition since the earliest days of tourism in the 19th century to treat visitors to Siem Reap with a ‘Apsara dance performance’ - a taste of classical Khmer culture. These days no visit to Cambodia is complete without attending at least one traditional performance.

 

In Siem Reap dinner performances are now the most popular venue with most places offering buffet or set menus combined with a one-hour traditional performance, usually dance though some places also offer traditional puppet performances.

 

Dinner ordinarily begins at 6:00 or 7:00PM and the performance at 7:30PM or 8:00PM. The usual dance performance consists of 4 or 5 different dances, both classical and folk dancing. Most dinner performances run $10-$35 including dinner and admission. Some place do not charge admission for the performance, but you are expected to order dinner. For the best seats, call for reservations.

 

See Khmer Traditional Dance and Performances page for performance venues, schedules and more on Traditional Khmer Dance.

 

Bird Watching and Environmental Tours

Siem Reap offers some unique birdwatching opportunities. The Prek Toal bird sanctuary on the Tonle Sap Lake and the Ang Trapeng Thmor reservoir northeast of Siem Reap both are home to many rare and threatened species. For the Prek Toal bird sanctuary see on the Tonle Sap page.

Ang Trapeng Thmor (ATT) Sarus Crane Reserve

(The following about Ang Trapeng Thmor comes courtesy of the Sam Veasna Center.) Originally constructed as a water reservoir, the reservoir was rebuilt for irrigation and water storage by slave labor during the Khmer Rouge Regime. The reservoir now harbors a unique wetland associated with grassland, dipterocarp forests and paddy fields. Aside from being a feeding ground for more than 300 Sarus Crane in the dry (non-breeding) season, more than 200 species of other birds occur here, of which 18 have been classified as globally or near globally threatened. This is also one of the handful of sites in Cambodia where the endangered Eld’s Deer can be seen. Colonies of fruit bats inhabit larger trees that are often semi-submerged on the edge of the reservoir.

The best time to see the Sarus Crane is from February to March, though an abundance of bird species can be viewed all year. There is also a hill top Angkorian-era temple a few kilometers into the forest where traditional silk weaving is still practiced in the adjacent village. A boat trip can be taken on the reservoir.

Officially declared a Sarus Crane Reserve in 2000 the designated area covers over 12,000 hectares, following the work of Sam Veasna and friends at the Wildlife Conservation Society, all foreign visitors are required are required to register at the WCS Office.

ATT (Ang Trapeng Thmor) is a day trip from Siem Reap though accommodation can be arranged at the through the Sam Veasna Center (see the following listing), giving birdwatchers the chance of dawn sightings and offering the opportunity of visiting the massive Angkorian temple complex of Banteay Chmar.

 

Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB)

The Angkor Center for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) is the first nature conservation center in Cambodia. They offer rescue services to Cambodian wildlife, breed threatened species and serve as an education and training center for communities, wildlife officials and visitors. Visitors are encouraged to visit ACCB, they offer a daily tour Monday through Saturday at 1PM for a minimum donation of $3 per person.

Cambodia Bird Guide Association

Day trips and tailored visits to key wildlife habitat and remote vilage communities. Visit Prek Toal bird sanctuary to see one of the largest waterbird breeding colonies in Southeast Asia.

Sam Veasna Center (SVC)

SVC organizes half or full day trips focusing on birds with a trained bird guide. SVC was set up to promote wildlife conservation in Cambodia. It works with the Wildlife Conservation Society and local village communities to develop remote sites close to the habitat of some spectacular bird life. The local communities benefit from the infrastructure set up for the visitors. Trips to see Sarus Crane at Ang Trapaeng Thmor, Giant and White Shouldered Ibis at Tamtboey, a vulture restaurant at Chhep, plus some beautiful and unspoiled countryside. 

Beatocello  
Dr. Beat Richner plays Bach on the cello and speaks about the activities of his children’s hospitals (Jayavarman VII in Siem Reap, Kantha Bopha 1 and 2 in Phnom Penh) every Friday and Saturday evening at 7:15PM. Performances are held at the Jayavarman VII Hospital, located on the road to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. Dr. Richner provides an entertaining and worthy Saturday evening. The hospital welcomes both monetary and blood donations.

www.beatocello.com

Charles de Gaulle Blvd, (road to Angkor Wat,) Jayavarman VII Children's Hospital

 

Balloon Rides 

Take a tethered helium balloon ride 200 meters straight up for a pretty good aerial view of Angkor Wat (1km away), the surrounding countryside and a couple of other temples peeking up through the jungle. The balloon itself does not float free, but is attached to the ground by a heavy teather that is reeled out then back in to allow the balloon to rise and return to the ground. The balloon itself is filled with helium with a fenced in gondola capable of holding more than a a couple dozen people. They give you about 10-15 minutes at the top, more than enough time to take in the full panorama and take plenty of pictures. The balloon does not run during inclement weather and is best on days that are not too windy. The big, yellow balloon is based about 1km east of Angkor Wat on the road from the airport. You can't miss it. Usually you can show up without reservations and be on the balloon within 15-40 minutes. Admission $15/adult; $7.50/child.  

East/West Road between Angkor Wat and Airport, about 1km west of Angkor Wat

Butterfly Gardens

 

Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre

An interactive butterfly exhibit located 25 km north of Siem Reap, on the road to the Banteay Srey temple. The exhibit consists of a netted tropical garden with thousands of free-flying butterflies, all of which are native species to Cambodia. The enclosure provides visitors with an interactive and visual environment to learn about butterflies.

 

If, as part of your temple tour, your are heading out top see the distant but spectacular Banteay Srey temple, that is the perfect time to drop into the Banteay Srey butterfly garden for a break from the temple and the road.  Open: 7 days a week, 9 am - 5 pm, all year round. Admission: Adult: $4; Child: $2

Butterflies Garden Restaurant

Running sonce 1999. Butterfly Gardens is a unique butterfly enclosure with over 1,500 tropical butterflies and a koi pond in a romantic, private garden on a quiet street in the center of town. In addition to being a butterfly enclosure, Butterfly Gardens also is a cafe serving creative tropical cuisine, including unique Khmer specialties. Fresh juices, shakes, beer, wine and cocktails. A very unique place to take a meal or a drink and soak up the peaceful atmosphere. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 

Conveniently located in town in the Wat Bo area, just a 2-minute tuk-tuk ride from the Old Market area.

#535, Street 25, Wat Bo area

Circus/Theater/Cabaret

 

Phare The Cambodian Circus

"Siem Reap's Incredible Phare Circus"

- CNN Travel.

More than just a circus, Phare performers use theater, music, dance and modern circus arts to tell uniquely Cambodian stories; historical, folk and modern. The young circus artists will astonish you with their energy, emotion, enthusiasm and talent. Phare artists receive free artistic and academic education at the NGOschool Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang. Phare the Cambodian Circus offers the artists professional development and gainful employment. Nightly performances at 8:00PM. Highly recommended.

End of Sok San Rd at Ring Rd, behind Happy Ranch Horse Farm.

Rosana Broadway

Combination tradition Cambodian dance performance and Broadway-style stage show in the spirit of a full-cast cross-dressing cabaret. Music, dance, extravagant costumes, cross-dressing cast, themes from Cambodia, Japan, Vietnam, England, China, India, Korea Dozens of performers. Quite an spectacular performance, 

 Contact us

Hello, our name is Mr. David and Mr. Phorn,We are English speaking driver in Siem Reap, Cambodia, We have been taking tourists to visited Angkor temples for many years. We are a fully licensed local private taxi driver in Siem Reap and have experience with my transport like TUK TUK / CAR / VAN with air con, comfortable seats and good price, If you have a short time in Siem Reap. I can also help your plan trip for you in Cambodia.

Please contact us if you need us as your own driver to everywhere in Siem Reap.
Address: Wat Damnak Village, Old Market Area., Veasna Rd, Krong Siem Reap.
Email: info@driverinsiemreap.com

WhatsApp: +855 92 266 385(Mr. Phorn)

Phone: +855 93696697 (Mr. Davit )

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