Top 10 Things to Do in Siem Reap

Top 10 Things to Do in Siem Reap

By Wendy Updated Sep. 24, 2021

There is no doubt that the first thing that comes into your mind when you think about Siem Reap is the UNESCO World Heritage Site — Angkor Wat. But in Siem Reap, you can do more than just visit Angkor Wat.

We can arrange trips for the top things to do in Siem Reap, from visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site to doing fun activities and seeing the charming countryside scenery.

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1. Explore the City of Temples

Angkor WatAngkor Wat

Angkor Wat — Recommended Visit: Half a Day

The name, Angkor Wat, means the ‘city of temples’. It is a temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. Riding a bike from the center of Siem Reap, you will reach this site within 15 to 20 minutes.

Walking on the stone roads covered with moss, wandering in the mysterious corridors, capturing different aspects of scenery from different shaped stone windows, you will feel like you are falling into a time tunnel.

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2. Discover the Secret of the Smiles

Bayon — Recommended Visit: Half a Day

Located in the center of Angkor Thom, the capital city established by King Jayavarman VII, the Bayon is well-known for its mysterious smiles and fine relief carvings. There are about 200 smiling faces inside the temple and they face different directions.

If you are interested in the reliefs there, you will be shocked by the carving skills. About 11,000 characters were sculptured from stone with different appearances and actions. The culture, religions, and lifestyle of that time were permanently recorded on the stones.

Khmer Smile

3. Follow in the Footsteps of the Movie

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm — Recommended Visit: Half a Day

If you are a movie fan, you must have watched the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and will have a strong impression of the temple, which is wrapped by the trunks of thousand-year-old trees.

You may have believed it was the special effects in the movie but now your impression of Ta Prohm from the movie will change as you go there to experience the magical power of nature directly.

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4. Enjoy the Stunning Sunset

Bakheng — Recommended Visit: About 5pm to Get the Best View

Bakheng Hill is a 70-meter-high hill located between Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat. It takes 10 minutes to get to the top from the foot of the hill.

Bakheng Temple was built on top of Bakheng Hill and, after hundreds of years, the steps to the top of the temple have been worn away and deformed, but this doesn’t hamper visitors’ expectations of seeing the best sunset in Siem Reap.

In order to protect visitors’ safety and to maintain the temple, there is a restriction of 300 visitors going up to the top of the temple every day. If you want to have a bird’s-eye view of the whole city and enjoy the stunning sunset, you should end your trip to the other attractions before 5pm.

5. Cycling Through the Jungle

Riding Bike through the Jungle

To Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom — Recommended Trip: One Day

Cycling is the best and the healthiest way to discover Siem Reap. You can stop anywhere you are interested in rather than relying on a driver to take you to see areas of interest. It takes 15–20 minutes to ride from the center of Siem Reap to Angkor Wat.

On the way there, you will see friendly vendors smiling at you, you can shake hands with the children, and you can even smell the sunshine going down through the lush trees. These are the things you cannot experience when you are in a tuk tuk or a car.

When you are riding a bike through the jungle, you will feel like you are falling into a time tunnel and being a witness to its history.

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6. Close Encounter with Wildlife

Tonle Sap — Recommended Visit: One Day

Lying on the southeast side of Siem Reap, Tonle Sap is the largest and the most important freshwater lake for waterbirds in Southeast Asia. You will have a chance to enter this time-forgotten world.

When you get close to birds’ habitats, your expert bird-watching guide will use his/her keen eyesight to spot the birds and tell you their names. You can also get close to the birds’ nests with the help of the experienced boat driver.

Sitting on the mini Tara boat to Tonle Sap, you will pass the floating village of Prek Toal, which still retains the lifestyle that the ancient Cambodians used to have. In the village, you can see shops, schools, and markets, allowing you to see Siem Reap from another perspective.

7. Indulge in the Charming Countryside Scenery on a Quad Bike

People Standing on Quad Bike

Around Siem Reap — Recommended Visit: 2–3 Hours in the Afternoon

Want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Siem Reap city center? Want to stay away from the crowded tourist attractions? Want to get close to the countryside of Siem Reap? A quad bike trip is what you want.

You will pass the local villages, rice fields, and temples, which are seldom seen by other visitors. In the late afternoon, an amazing countryside sunset will also be waiting for you.

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8. Fly Over the Tops of the Trees

Angkor Archaeological Park — Recommended Visit: 2–3 Hours in the Morning

Have you ever imagined that you can fly through a forest like a gibbon? Take the Flight of the Gibbon Adventure — you will not only experience the quick sense of excitement but will also enjoy seeing Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom from another angle.

You can also cross four hanging sky bridges, scramble into a tree house, and make a rappel

9. Enjoy the Traditional Charm of Dance and Music

Aspara Dancers

Special Restaurants — Recommended for an Evening Meal

Apsaras are female spirits of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist mythology. They are superb in the art of dancing and the origin of today’s Apsara dancing.

After a day of sightseeing, you can dine out in a restaurant that provides an Apsara dance performance to drive away the day’s fatigue and have a feast not only for your stomach but also for your eyes and ears.

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10. Join a Cooking Class and Be Your Own Chef

Enjoy Cambodian Cuisine — Recommended Duration: Half a Day

If you are taken with the delicious Cambodian cuisine, it is the best time to learn how to get others to be taken with it too. Taking the morning class, you will have a chance to visit the local market. The chef and your guide will be very friendly and the instructions will be easy to follow.

After finishing the cooking class, you can enjoy your food and have an interesting conversation with your fellow travelers. This is a good alternative activity to temple visits.

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