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Things to do in Siem Reap

Things to do in  Siem Reap

Welcome to Siem Reap

With more than 2 million visitors descending on UNESCO World Heritage–listed Angkor Archaeological Park each year, the small, nearby city of Siem Reap has become Cambodia's epicenter for tourism. Once a sleepy, rural town, Siem Reap now bursts with life (although you wouldn't necessarily know it during the day). There are a few sights in Siem Reap itself—notably Cambodian Landmine Museum and School and Angkor National Museum—but the magnificent Angkor temples are the obvious draw, and that's where most visitors spend their days. From watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat to wandering through the ancient Khmer palaces of Angkor Thom and dozens of other atmospheric ruins, you could easily spend three days exploring the vast archaeological site. If you ""temple out"" quickly, or just need to escape the heat for a few hours, book a massage at any number of Siem Reap's relaxing day spas. Or, sign up for a cooking class and learn to make a few Cambodian dishes. In the evenings, head to the vibrant Angkor Night Market for souvenir shopping and a tasting tour of Khmer street food. You might also catch a cultural performance of traditional music or dance. Night owls will find a few more entertainment options on the aptly renamed Pub Street. After the temples, the most popular day trips head south to Tonlé Sap, where lakeboat cruises set sail for the Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary, and glide past the floating villages of Kompong Phluk and Chong Khneas.

Top 15 attractions in Siem Reap

Beng Mealea

Said to date back to the 12th century, Beng Mealea is a sandstone temple that replicates the design of the iconic Angkor Wat. The temple grounds are surrounded by a gigantic moat that was once entirely consumed by jungle; if you enter from the south side, you’ll find yourself amid haphazard sandstone blocks and creeping vines.More

Phnom Kulen National Park

Phnom Kulen National Park, which sits north of the famous temples of Angkor Archeological Park, features Khmer landmarks in a gorgeous natural setting. Visit to see waterfalls streaming from a holy mountain, natural pools, the phallic carvings at Kbal Spean (the River of a Thousand Lingas), and a popular Buddhist shrine.More

Tonlé Sap

This great lake covering 1,000 square miles (2,600 square kilometers) is not only the largest body of fresh water in Southeast Asia, it’s also a UNESCO-designated biosphere due to its remarkable natural features. The flow of water in Tonlé Sap changes direction twice during the course of the year, expanding and contracting with the seasons.More

Kampong Phluk

Perched on the floodplain of Tonle Sap Lake—the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia— Kampong Phluk is a floating community of around 3,000 villagers. Visit to see how the residents live—in stilted homes and depending on fishing as a livelihood.More

Kbal Spean

Nature meets ancient architecture at Kbal Spean, whose phallic symbols and religious imagery are etched straight into a stone riverbank. The site is in Phnom Kulen National Park, where visitors can spot carvings while hiking a riverside trail. With fewer crowds than the main Angkor Temples, here’s the chance to channel your inner explorer.More

Angkor Village Apsara Theatre

A large, air-conditioned wooden pavilion on the grounds of Siem Reap’s Angkor Village Resort, the Angkor Village Apsara Theatre hosts classical Khmer dance performances with a live orchestra. Shows typically include the graceful apsara (nymph) dance and scenes from the Hindu epic known as the Ramayana, with a Cambodian-themed dinner.More

Angkor National Museum

Opened in 2007, this modern, interactive museum showcases Khmer civilization and the Angkor era. Eight different galleries put the period in context with artifacts gathered from sites including Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. Topics covered include religion and belief, the great Khmer kings, the pre-Angkor period, and ancient costume.More

War Museum Cambodia

Refurbished in 2018, the 5-acre (2-hectare) War Museum Cambodia is devoted to the weapons of Cambodia’s many conflicts. The collection, which you’re allowed to handle, runs from tanks and fighter planes to small arms and rocket launchers. One room focuses on the landmines that have caused such suffering in Cambodia.More

Cambodia Landmine Museum

Landmines left over from Cambodia’s many conflicts still kill dozens of locals a year. The Cambodia Landmine Museum, founded by former child soldier Aki Ra, shows the horrors of this national curse. The small, largely open-air museum reopened in January 2019 after a fire led to its closure.More

Wat Bo

One of Siem Reap’s oldest temples, Wat Bo is known for its collection of well-preserved wall paintings from the late 19th century. Though Wat Bo is a Buddhist temple, these paintings depict the Reamker, which is Cambodia’s interpretation of the Ramayana—an epic Hindu story about the love between Rama and Shita, the strongest man and the most beautiful women of all time. There is also an impressive collection of Buddha statues.It won’t take long to explore Wat Bo as it’s not that big of a temple. However, the paintings are well preserved and, in addition to illustrating the Reamker, the paintings also give insight into daily life in this area. A sharp eye might catch foreigners painted into the scenes, get an idea of what fashion looked like in those days and perhaps spot the likeness of French soldiers. It’s a quiet respite from the liveliness of Siem Reap and a nice break from the expansive temples of nearby Angkor Wat.More

Wat Preah Prom Rath

Set back from the west bank of the Siem Reap River, Wat Preah Prom Rath temple boasts a history that may date back to the 13th century. However, everything to be seen here was built after World War II. Colorful statues and lush gardens in the heart of downtown offer the chance to see how Cambodian Buddhism is practiced today.More

Pub Street

Lined with bars, clubs, and restaurants, Pub Street is Siem Reap’s after-dark hotspot. Here, tourists and locals sip Angkor beer, purchase Cambodian treats from street vendors, get their feet rubbed at roadside parlors, and dance the night away. It can be crowded, loud, and a little wild, but for many visitors that’s precisely the draw.More

Angkor Night Market

Since it opened in 2007, Angkor Night Market has become one of Siem Reap’s most popular attractions. Cambodia’s first night market, the gigantic open-air venue has more than 240 shops, stalls, street food vendors, bars, and restaurants.More

Siem Reap Old Market (Phsar Chas)

With everything from handicrafts to fresh produce, Siem Reap’s Old Market (Phsar Chas draws a mixed crowd of locals and tourists. While there’s plenty of souvenir shopping to do here—look for hand-woven, colorful silks—the market is also a fascinating snapshot of daily life in Siem Reap, complete with vendors hawking deep-fried bugs.More

Siem Reap Art Center

The Siem Reap Art Center Night Market is open from morning until late in the evening, but it is more of a night market than an art center. Close to the Old Market (Phsar Chaa or Phsar Chas), the site boasts a wealth of stalls selling crafts, souvenirs, the obligatory elephant pants, and snacks.More
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Trip ideas

How to Spend 2 Days in Siem Reap

How to Spend 2 Days in Siem Reap

Ways to Experience Khmer Culture in Siem Reap

Ways to Experience Khmer Culture in Siem Reap

Top activities in Siem Reap

Angkor Wat Admission Ticket

Angkor Wat Admission Ticket

Angkor Wat Full Day Private Tour with Watching Sunset at Temple
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Angkor Wat Full Day Private Tour with Watching Sunset at Temple

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Old Siem Reap Sunset Food Tour by Tuk-tuk
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Cambodian Village Cooking Class
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Cambodian Village Cooking Class

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People Also Ask

Why is Siem Reap famous?

Siem Reap is Cambodia’s second largest city. It’s the base for exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor, a vast expanse that was the capital of the Khmer kingdom from the ninth century to the 15th century. The most famous structure is the 401-acre (163-hectare) temple, Angkor Wat.

How do I get to Siem Reap?

Siem Reap is about 200 miles (320 kilometers) northwest of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. Siem Reap International Airport has flights from regional hubs and other Cambodian airports. But it’s cleaner, greener, and more scenic to take a boat from Phnom Penh, while buses and minivans are cheaper and more sustainable than flying.

What should you not miss in Angkor Wat?

Angkor Wat is the greatest of the temples that adorn the city of Angkor: highlights include the Churning of the Sea of Milk carving. As well as Angkor Wat, travelers flock to Ta Prohm, with its strangling tree roots, and Angkor Thom, a walled city that houses the Bayon temple, decked in giant faces.

What is there to do in Siem Reap besides Angkor Wat?

Siem Reap is a lively city with street food, restaurants, nightlife, and shopping. It’s a center for artisan crafts and blind massage, with temples, gardens, a silk farm, a war museum, and a landmine museum. The Tonlé Sap floating villages and the waterfalls in Phnom Kulen National Park are popular trips.

Is 3 days enough in Siem Reap?

No. It takes two days to cover the most famous Angkor monuments, but temples like Beng Mealea are a long way out of town. It’s worth taking the time to discover Cambodian food, crafts, culture, and rural life, learn about the war, and visit the national park and the lake.

Is Siem Reap worth visiting?

Yes. Travelers come to Siem Reap for the UNESCO-listed ruins of Angkor, particularly the majestic spires of Angkor Wat, the largest religious structure in the world. You could spend weeks exploring ancient Khmer monuments, but it’s also a good base to discover Cambodian crafts, culture, heritage, and rural lives.


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