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Being one of the millions of tourists visiting Cambodia every year to witness the magnificence of the Angkor Wat temples, little did I know that Siem Reap had much more in store for me than just the temples. Here are some of the places to visit in Siem Reap other than the world famous temples.
Additional Read – Want to know about the rich heritage of Cambodian temples? The highlight of Cambodia – Angkor Wat temples.
Information on Siem Reap
|Visa on Arrival available
Closest Airport : Siem Reap International Airport.
Tuk-Tuks are the standard option in the town. Also, you can find taxis and bicycles for rent to roam around and for the temple tours too.
In Siem Reap, dollars are accepted everywhere. Hence, there is no need to convert to the official currency – Cambodian Reil. On an average, you would need $30 per day excluding stay and Visa fees.
The best time to visit would be around November – March. Although, during off-season(May to early October) prices will be lower and also, you can dodge the crowds. It is usually warm year round with temperatures hardly going below 25°C.
Places to visit in Siem Reap
The talented local and international artisans fabricating woodworks, craftworks, and paintings, the delectable street food, the very happening nightlife at Pub street – Siem Reap is surely going to dazzle the tourists. With beautiful and intricated handicrafts, silk shawls and silver accessories to take away for souvenirs, you will be spoilt for choices.
The eclectic food options include and not limited to crispy fried grasshoppers, tarantulas, cockroaches, snakes, and meat from octopus to crocodiles. And, I found it particularly amusing. Being a vegetarian, I was worried about the bizarre food scenes in Cambodia (Read above). But as it turns out, there are a lot of vegetarian options too. From the assortment of fresh fruits, fried banana kebabs, roasted corn, fried noodles, yummy banana-chocolate pancakes to the amusing fried ice cream – all by the street. Consequently, the diversified food options are surely going to delight everyone’s appetite.
Furthermore, with vehicles passing by on the right side of the road, unlike other parts of Asia, friendly English speaking natives all over Siem Reap and people transacting in dollars – it’s easy to observe that this small town is influenced to a large extent by the western tourists.
The only street in Siem Reap open till 2 AM; boasts of tourist-laden minibars along the street. Tourists and locals alike dance to the tunes of some western music on the street and in the pubs likewise.
Few pubs here have Apsara dancers in their luscious garments adorning elaborate headdresses. Apsara dancers perform Khmer style of classical dance to the tunes of the brilliant Khmer musicians. It’s an opportunity to soak in the Khmer style of classical dance while in Cambodia. Not to be missed!
Temple Club, Siem Reap
Located on Pub street, it offers free dance performances every night between 8 PM – 9 PM when you dine there. No pre-booking needed. A lot of other clubs also offer free or sometimes paid dance performances. There are plenty of choices to choose from.
Places to visit in Siem Reap for adventure lovers
For the outdoorsy folks, there are options aplenty. Ranging from zip-lining through the 1500 year rainforests, cycling or quad biking in the rustic countryside, boating over Tonle Sap lake and floating villages, or visit crocodile and silk farms. Also, you can make a day trip from the city to Kbal Spean waterfalls by the Phnom Kulen National Park (55km away from Siem Reap) popular for 1000 lingas, or visit the abandoned temple of Beng Mealea hidden deep in the heart of the forest (75km from Siem Reap). You can also check out the ever-popular Cambodian circus. The tour operators are usually bustling with tourists. Just head over to any of the tour operators around Pub street and book yourself an experience. Additionally, indulging in yourself has never been easy with the growing number of spas and salons offering a medley of services.
Life in Cambodia
Nevertheless, the repercussions of the tyrannical history still stand heavy on the economy and the community strives to make a living. The livelihood of the locals in Siem Reap town involves mostly around catering to tourists. Be it the sometimes pestering tuk-tuk drivers or resourceful guides or amicable shopkeepers or talented artists or apsara dancers or hospitable hotel owners or multi-cuisine restaurant owners or street vendors flourishing on the tourist dollar.
Contrary to popular belief, I found it pretty safe for travelers, solo travelers or otherwise. And no hint of chicanery from the locals. They are warm and friendly people and helped us whenever they could.
Despite the incredible architecture of Angkor, the delectable food, the happening night scene and the genial locals forging Siem Reap as a peppy atmosphere, Cambodia has a lot more to offer than Siem Reap. This post stands testimony that there are many more places to visit in Siem Reap apart from the temples.
With a sad heart, I had to bid adieu to Cambodia without exploring the southern parts of the country. Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, and Kampot are now on my wishlist for a later time. Goodbye Cambodia, until we meet again or as the Cambodians would say – chum reap Leah!
Where to stay in Siem Reap
Being a low-cost city, Siem Reap offers luxury accommodations for affordable prices. Based on the location, food, amenities, and budget, here are some of the recommendations to stay by The Roving Heart sorted by price (lowest to highest):
Kafu Resort and Spa – It’s a beautiful Khmer style property, 10 mins away from Pub Street and easily accessible to party and variety of food options. Provides both Khmer (local) and western food. It features an outdoor swimming pool nestled in tropical gardens. One of the best budget-friendly hotels in Siem Reap, with great value for money. Book your stay at Kafu Resort and Spa now.
Advaya Residence – One of the top-rated hotels in Siem Reap, Advaya Residence is just 500m away from Pub street. It features an outdoor swimming pool, offers both Asian and western food. Also, provides complimentary airport pickups. Book your stay at Advaya Residence now.
Tara Angkor Hotel – Located very close to Angkor National Museum, Tara Angkor Hotel also offers complimentary two-way airport transfers. It offers both garden and city view rooms with wooden flooring. Book your stay at Tara Angkor Hotel now!
Mane Village Suites – It is one of the top picks in Siem Reap by Booking.com. It offers amenities like business center, game room, library, and a fitness center. Features an in-house restaurant that serves delicious Cambodian and international dishes. Guests can enjoy the drinks by the Sky bar or the pool bar. Book your stay at Mane Village Suites now!
Additionally, if you are traveling to Cambodia anytime soon, then check out these tips.
Have you visited Siem Reap for the temples and then discovered something offbeat? Let me know your favorite places to visit in Siem Reap in the comments below.