angkor wat temple siem reap sunrise spe e1709306488682

13 things to see in Siem Reap (not just temples!)

Siem Reap is indisputably an iconic destination in Southeast Asia. This ancient city known for the Angkor Archaeological Park, the world’s largest temple site, is a testament to the reign of the Khmer Empire. Beyond the impressive temples, Siem Reap is a charming town filled with local markets, tasty restaurants, and bars. This is also the perfect base to explore the Cambodian countryside and experience unique activities.

Things to do in Siem Reap

1. Explore the ancient temple of Angkor Wat

No need to introduce the temple of Angkor Wat which is probably on every traveler’s bucket list! This UNESCO World Heritage site built in the 12th century for the Khmer Empire is one of the world’s most significant archaeological wonders. Originally built as a Hindu Temple dedicated to the God Vishnu, it has since become a Buddhist Temple.

angkor wat temple siem reap sunrise 7

Start your visit with an unforgettable sunrise uncovering the iconic Angkor Wat silhouette. Yes, it will be crowded but the reflective pools and pink colors in the sky are magical. Inside, you will marvel at the Hindu bas-relief before ascending the upper levels for panoramic views of the jungles around the temple.


We recommend hiring an experienced local guide to understand the significant history of Angkor Wat. If you want to visit by yourself, buy a guidebook because there are not any explanations on site.

angkor wat temple siem reap 7
angkor wat temple siem reap
  • How to get there: Angkor Wat is located about 5.5 kilometers north of Siem Reap town center. Hire a tuk-tuk or a taxi to reach Angkor Wat. Many hotels also offer guided tours to Angkor Wat. If you find a guide on your own, always negotiate the price ahead.
  • Ticket price: A one-day pass to Angkor Archaeological Park costs $37, a three-day pass costs $62, and a seven-day pass costs $72.

2. Marvel at Bayon Temple in Angkor Thom

Explore the striking Bayon Temple built in the 12th century in the heart of the ancient Khmer capital, Angkor Thom. This unique Buddhist temple stands out with its 54 colons and iconic smiley-stoned faces. Wander through the different galleries as you will learn about the historical importance of this temple for the Khmer Empire.

temple angkor siem reap
temple faces siem reap
temple faces siem reap 3
  • How to get there: Bayon Temple is located in Angkor Thom which is north of Angkor Wat. You can hire a tuk-tuk or a taxi to take you there. Always negotiate the price with your guide ahead.
  • Ticket price: A one-day pass to Angkor Archaeological Park costs $37, a three-day pass costs $62, and a seven-day pass costs $72.

3. Discover Ta Prohm’s Jungle Temple

Step into the unmissable Ta Prohm Temple which was our favorite temple to visit! This highly recognizable temple, also called the Tomb Raider Temple, is depicted in the adventurous “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” movie.

Built in the 12th century, the temple was later abandoned after the fall of the Khmer Empire explaining why you’ll see massive trees and roots growing out of the temple’s ruins. The temple is not only beautiful but seeing the jungle’s reclaiming its way makes it even more mystical.

Ta Prohm temple siem reap 7
temple siem reap 12
Ta Prohm temple siem reap 5
Ta Prohm temple siem reap 2
Ta Prohm temple siem reap 3
  • How to get there: Ta Prohm is located east of Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat. You can hire a tuk-tuk or a taxi to take you there. Always negotiate the price with your guide ahead.
  • Ticket Price: A one-day pass to Angkor Archaeological Park costs $37, a three-day pass costs $62, and a seven-day pass costs $72.

4. Explore Tonlé Sap Floating villages

Tonlé Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. Surrounded by hundreds of floating villages, the site has a unique and diverse ecosystem recognized as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

The water from the Tonlé Sap Lake and river flows into the Mekong River for eight months. During the rainy season, the current reverses with the waters of the Mekong River flowing into Tonlé Sap Lake with so much fish. This region plays a crucial role in Cambodia’s agriculture and the villages’ sustainability providing around 75% of the country’s freshwater fish catch.

Embark on a traditional wooden boat through the mangroves to witness the local life with fishermen working, rare birds, or aquatics species.

20240315 floating villages tonle sap lake 3
20240315 floating villages tonle sap lake

The area has become super popular with tourists so avoid the tourist traps! The floating village of Chong Kneas is no longer authentic to visit.

We also don’t recommend visiting Tonle Sap Lake during the dry season as there isn’t as much to see.

  • How to get there: Tonle Sap Lake is about 15 kilometers south of Siem Reap. You can hire a tuk-tuk or a taxi to take you there.
  • Ticket price: Prices vary depending on the type of tour you choose, but expect to pay around $15 to $20 for a basic boat tour of the lake.

5. Discover the Hero Rats at APOPO Visitor Center

A visit to the APOPO Visitor Center offers an eye-opening experience contributing to a good humanitarian cause! You will learn about the HeroRATs, these specially trained African giant pouched rats that are detecting landmines with remarkable accuracy. The rats are massively helping the communities to feel safer in Cambodia.

20240315 apopo heroes rat 2
20240315 apopo heroes rat 3
  • How to get there: Located 7 kilometers south of Siem Reap city center. Visitors can hire a tuk-tuk or taxi to reach the APOPO Visitor center.
  • Ticket Price: Free admission although donations are welcomed to support their cause.

6. Have a drink at Pub Street

After a long day exploring Angkor’s temples, head to the famous Pub Street. Located in the center of Siem Reap, you can’t miss the large Pub Street sign and all the lights that make the area quite memorable. Every night, travelers gather to the bustling bars, live music venues, and restaurants! Whether you want a party atmosphere or just a simple dinner, you will find the perfect spot.

7. Wander through the night markets

Siem Reap has a diverse range of shops from traditional markets selling local crafts to more sophisticated shops!

  • The Old Market, also called Psar Chas, is an authentic shopping experience offering everything from fresh produce, handicrafts, souvenirs, and jewelry. This is the most traditional market you’ll find in Siem Reap. Never forget to negotiate the prices down with the sellers!
  • The Night Market comes alive after the sunset. This market is definitely appealing for tourists who want to buy hand painted canvases, jewelry and so much more. It is surrounded by a lot of street vendors which is nice if you fancy an evening bite.
  • Made In Cambodia Market is a lovely market promoting local artists or artisans. The sellers are super friendly and are selling unique products that you will not find in any other markets. The prices are reasonable so don’t hesitate to buy some great souvenirs!

8. Local Arts at Artisans Angkor

Artisans Angkor is one of Siem Reap’s proud local social businesses aiming to preserve the traditional Khmer arts and support Cambodian artisans. You can visit the different workshops where they use old techniques to create unique, modern, and high quality products such as silk textiles, stone sculptures, and paintings. There is also a boutique to buy the handmade goods !

20240315 artisans agnkor
20240315 artisans agnkor 3
  • How to get there: the shop is located in the center of Siem Reap.
  • Ticket Price: Free

9. Learn at the Landlines museum

Take a moment to learn about Cambodia’s tragic history at the Landmine Museum. The museum’s exhibits detail the major impact of landmines on Cambodian communities with poignant testimonies from survivors. By visiting the Landmine Museum, you contribute to the museum’s humanitarian efforts to keep removing landmines and help all the victims.

20240315 landlines museum siem reap
  • How to get there: located about 25 kilometers north of Siem Reap. You can hire a tuk-tuk or a taxi to take you there.
  • Ticket price: $5 per person.

10. Take a Cambodian cooking class

One way to delve into the Cambodian culture is to take a cooking class! Tours usually begin with a stop at a local market to buy fresh ingredients. You will then learn traditional cooking techniques and prepare classic dishes such as fish amok or beef lok lak. Prices usually vary between $15 to $25.

11. Visit Angkor National Museum

The Angkor National Museum is a great insight to the ancient Khmer Empire’s art and history! There are many interesting archaeological artifacts, art displays, and informative exhibits that provide a good knowledge of the Khmer culture and Angkor’s temples you will visit.

20240315 angkor national museum
20240315 angkor national museum 1
  • How to get there: Located in Siem Reap town, the museum is easily accessible by walking, cycling, or short tuk-tuk ride.
  • Price: Admission:. Additional fees may apply for audio guides or special exhibitions.

12. Phare – the Cambodian Circus

Enjoy a fun night at Phare, the Cambodian Circus. This surprising show depicts Cambodian culture and history combined with theater, dance, circus arts, and acrobatics. The circus was created to help the children who suffered from the war following the Khmer Rouge regime.

Battambang circus 2
Battambang circus 4

Although we haven’t been to see Phare in Siem Reap, we saw a similar show in Battambang which was very fun to watch. All the young performers are super talented, we loved it!

13. Lotus Farm Siem Reap

When you visit Siem Reap, one experience you shouldn’t miss is the unique Lotus Farm by Samatoa. This isn’t just a typical farm; it’s a pioneering local business that mixes the beauty of lotus flowers with sustainable practices and social responsibility.

Here, you not only get to explore breathtaking fields of lotus flowers, but you’ll also learn about the farm’s efforts to support the local community, particularly vulnerable women. The guided tour will give you in-depth insights into the entire process – from the delicate extraction of fibers to the crafting of the final textile products.

20240315 lotus farm
20240315 lotus farm 3
20240315 lotus farm 1
  • How to get there: Located 10km south of Siem Reap town, the best way to reach the Lotus Farm is with a tuk-tuk.
  • Opening Hours: Every day from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Tour Price: $5, which includes a guided tour accompanied by lotus tea and cakes.

Best restaurants & bars

Siem Reap is filled with many local and international restaurants in Siem Reap:

  • Sambo Khmer & Thai Restaurant
  • Khmer Kitchen Restaurant
  • The Source Cafe
  • Damnak Mahob Khmer Restaurant
  • Mesa – Restaurant
  • New Leaf Eatery
  • The Christa Restaurant & Bar
  • Wat Else Café
  • LABO Pizza Bar

Where to stay in Siem Reap

There are many accommodation options in Siem Reap. Whether you want a luxury hotel, a small boutique hotel or a cheap hostel, you will easily find an accommodation that suits your budget.

We stayed at the Mad Monkey Hostel in the center of Siem Reap. Our private room was very large, clean and cheap. We liked the atmosphere in the hostel and the excursions they offered.

How to travel to Siem Reap

You have two main options to reach Siem Reap.

  • Siem Reap has an international airport located 15 minutes away from the city center which is very convenient.
  • You can also reach Siem Reap by bus from other cities like Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh or Bangkok.

Getting around

Siem Reap is a relatively small town so you can walk around easily. Hiring a tuk-tuk is a great idea for short city trips, or for a day to explore the outer lying temples. Rely on reputable tuk-tuk drivers recommended by your hotel.

Best time to visit Siem Reap

The best time to visit Siem Reap is from December to February when the climate is dry and the temperatures are cool. From April to June, it is still nice to visit but expect some rain and high temperatures. The rainy season is from July to October but it is also less crowded!

How many days do you need

You will need at least three full days to see Angkor’s highlights and discover Siem Reap town.
If you love ancient temples and want to explore the country side, you can easily spend a week in Siem Reap.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *