Most travellers descend on Siem Reap to see Cambodia’s famous temples, including Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, without realising that there are lots of other exciting things to experience in Siem Reap.
You may be thinking, what is there to do in Siem Reap apart from seeing the temples?
Besides the ancient temple complexes, visitors can experience favourite activities in Siem Reap, such as cookery classes, circus shows, trips to Tonle Sap lake and Kulen mountain, and even zip-lining through the jungle.
And you can learn more about the culture of Cambodia by supporting local enterprise ventures by eating in Siem Reap’s community restaurants and buying Cambodian crafts from local artisans.
This post has been written to help you discover 17 of the best things to experience in Siem Reap, and the best Siem Reap tours to book.
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How Many Days Should You Spend in Siem Reap
If you only want to see the Angkor Wat temple complex, then one day is enough; however, you will undoubtedly be missing out on some of the other must-see things in Siem Reap.
I spent four days in Siem Reap, which allowed me to see the five most popular Angkorian temples at a leisurely pace alongside some of the other popular attractions in Siem Reap.
Angkor Archeological Park #1
Angkor Archaeological Park is a bucket list destination that every traveller should visit in their lifetime and is, of course, one of the best things to experience in Siem Reap.
Wander around ancient temples and imagine a time when the city of Angkor was a bustling metropolis of royalty, scholars and workers. Visit at sunrise or sunset, and you will leave Cambodia with memories that will last forever.
If you are short on time, then book here for a Two-Day Sunrise and Sunset Temple Tour.
Phare Circus #2
After a day of temple hopping, you might be looking for something completely different to experience. Phare Cambodian Circus is one of the popular things to do in Siem Reap in the evening. It offers a one-hour show mixing traditional and modern theatre, acrobatics, music and comedy.
You can book here for Phare Cambodian Circus tickets
Dine at a Local Community Restaurant #3
One of the best things to do in Siem Reap is to sample local Khmer food and western dishes by visiting one of the local community restaurants for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
These restaurants and cafes have been set up to support the learning and education of their employees and their local community. Training in culinary skills at restaurants such as Haven and The Footprint Cafe allows students to gain qualifications and build a skill for themselves.
Food and drinks at all the local Siem Reap community restaurants are of a high standard and are delicious.
Cambodia Landmine Museum #4
You will have spotted limbless locals all around Siem Reap, and it is heartbreaking to see. These Cambodians have mostly lost their limbs from stepping on landmines still buried in the jungle, left there after the wars.
A trip to the Landmine Museum will inform you of what went on and what is being done now to rid Cambodia of these deadly explosives waiting for an unexpecting passer-by.
The entry fee is $5, which helps keep the museum afloat, and you can visit it without needing an Angkor Temple Pass if this is the only place you intend on visiting.
Address: 67, Phumi Khna, Cambodia – located inside the Angkor Archaeological Park near Banteay Shrey Temple.
Angkor National Museum #5
The Angkor National Museum is an archaeological museum dedicated to collecting, preserving, and presenting Angkorian artefacts. It also provides information and education about the art and culture of the Khmer civilisation.
Address: 968 Vithei, Charles De Gaulle, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Pub Street #6
While Pub Street seems to be a very popular tourist place to visit in Siem Reap, I will buck the trend by saying I wouldn’t say I liked it. We went there only to see Miss Wong’s 1930’s Shanghai cocktail bar, but the bar was shut!
Nothing about Pub Street said you were in Cambodia; in fact, the loud, brash bars with door touts beckoning you inside could have been just about anywhere in the world.
We walked the length of Pub Street but didn’t stay, preferring instead to return to one of the quiet backstreets away from the chaos of drunken tourists and over-enthusiastic Cambodian market sellers, and enjoyed an authentic Khmer meal (not Pub Street burgers and chips) at one of the local community restaurants.
Of course, this is purely my preference, and if you are looking to drink copious amounts of alcohol for next to nothing and dance until the morning, then Pub Street is the place for you!
Siem Reap Night Market #7
Much like the rest of Southeast Asia, Siem Reap doesn’t fall short when it comes to night markets. This is where you will find the all-important harem pants (who even are you if you don’t own a pair of these!), fridge magnets, incense burners, t-shirts, and jewellery – the list is endless.
Markets in Siem Reap include the Art Centre Night Market, Angkor Night Market, Old Market and Noon Night Market. Unlike the low-level sales pitches we had encountered in Vietnam and Thailand, the ones in Siem Reap were more similar to markets in places such as Egypt. We found the stallholders more forceful and rude, which we weren’t expecting. Be firm if you don’t want to buy, or you may go home with more harem pants than you could ever need!
Wat Preah Prom Rath City Temple #8
Wat Preah Prom Rath is a 12th-century Buddhist temple set in beautiful grounds in Siem Reap. Visitors will enjoy the decorative pagodas, colourful wall paintings, a giant sleeping Buddha and secluded areas to escape from the hustle and bustle of Siem Reap.
It is an active temple, and you may see Buddhist monks giving daily offerings and prayers inside the temple.
Address: Opposite Temple Coffee & Bakery, Pokambor Ave, Krong Siem Reap 17254
Banteay Srei Temple #9
Head further afield and visit a few lesser-known Angkor temples, including Banteay Srei, Neak Pean, Pre Rup and Preah Khan.
You can book here for your Day Trip to Banteay Srei Temple
Siem Reap River #10
Siem Reap River runs along the outskirts of the central hub of Siem Read and is a pleasant place to take a stroll in the early evening.
Made in Cambodia Market is open daily from 12 pm – 8 pm and can be found along the river selling handicrafts made by Cambodian artisans. It has a more mellow vibe than the night markets in central Siem Reap and has a few bars and street food vendors. The main philosophy behind the Made in Cambodia Market is to help create Khmer jobs, from the villagers producing the handicrafts to the sellers interacting with the visitors.
Address: Oum Khun St, Oknha-Oum Chay St, Siem Reap
You can book here if you want to try a Cambodian Pottery Class for yourself.
Experience the Angkor Zipline #11
One of the fun things to experience in Siem Reap is ziplining. Close to Ta Nei Temple in the Angkor Archaeological Park, the Angkor Zipline will take you through the Cambodian jungle canopy between zip lines and canopy bridges. You may even spot the park’s gibbons swinging from the trees alongside you.
Angkor Zipline is a great adventure activity in Siem Reap for thrill-seekers.
Join a Cambodian Cookery Class #12
Without a doubt, Asian food is delicious, and now is your chance to join in with one of the popular activities in Siem Reap – a cookery class. Learn how to prepare and cook a favourite Khmer dish with a local to recreate when you get home. It is sure to impress family and friends!
You can book here to experience a Cambodian cookery class in the home of a local.
Private Street Food Tour and Dinner #13
One of the fun things to experience in Siem Reap is a street food tour with a local. Visit a local fruit market and navigate the alleyways of a bustling market. Explore the stalls and bright lights at Siem Reap’s local picnic spot, and hear insights from your local guide on Cambodian favourites.
Book here to enjoy a Private Street Food Tour in Siem Reap.
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Day Trips from Siem Reap
Prek Toal Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve Tour #14
Prek Toal is a must-see location for birdwatchers visiting Siem Reap or Cambodia. Located on Tonle Sap Lake, Prek Toal Biosphere Reserve is the most important breeding ground in Southeast Asia for large waterbirds. Enjoy a tour around the wetlands before returning to the Queen Tara riverboat for a meal.
This Siem Reap day trip includes stops at rice and lotus fields, a boat ride through a floating village and other activities on Tonle Sap highlighting daily life on the river.
Eco-Quad Bike Experience #15
Hop aboard an eco-quad and head to the Siem Reap countryside to ride through paddy fields and local villages.
Book a Quad-Bike Countryside Experience.
Kampong Phluk floating village #16
If you want to see an authentic Cambodian floating village, then head 15 miles out of Siem Reap, and you will arrive at Kampong Phluk floating village. The village sits on the famous Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, and gives visitors a chance to see first-hand what life is like on the river.
You can book here for a tour of Kampong Phluk floating village.
Kulen Mountain #17
If you love a waterfall, Kulen Mountain is a magical place to visit. Hike through the rainforest and swim in the shadow of the magnificent waterfall featured in the Tomb Raider film and see the sacred site of Wat Preah Ang Thom.
You can book here for a Full Day Kulen Mountain Waterfall Tour.