12 Best Things to do in Siem Reap, Cambodia

In this post, I will be discussing some of the best things to do while you are in Siem Reap. I will include different activities, day trips, foods and other things to try! Siem Reap, one of the most visited tourist destinations in southeast Asia. There are many quality places to celebrate honeymoon in Siem Reap.

If you prefer a quiet and serene place than take a stroll along the river. Venture a bit inside in the quiet old city and explore narrow streets with pebble stones. You will find may tourists and locals to socialize with. Many say that 1 day is enough, and it depends on how much you like this type of places. Siem Reap is a quiet city, full of hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and agencies that sell tours.

Best Things to do in Siem Reap

Okay, so you're planning on taking a trip to Siem Reap and you want to know what to do while you're there. Not a problem! I'll tell you where to go and what to expect while you're there. The first thing I'll mention is

1. Siem Reap Night Market

There are also things to do in Siem Reap besides Angkor Wat. One of the biggest attractions in Siem Reap is the nightlife! And the nightlife of Siem Reap would not be complete without its night markets. Siem Reap has a night market by the river and it is a place to take a stroll even if you do not want to purchase anything. You can also do some shopping at the night market.

The entire city, especially by the water is very well lit. Just cross the river using one of the foot bridges and hang around to witness the lifestyle and local culture. The markets tend to not be open fully throughout the day as some of the shopkeepers don't open up until the sun has set. This adds to the appeal of the markets as the lighting in the markets makes for a lovely scenery.

The markets hold all sorts of items such as clothing, jewelry and different sorts of souvenir items that will help you remember your time in the city. All items are fairly priced, most things being only a couple $US.

2. The Markets are Everywhere in Old Market

There are many night markets throughout the city of Siem Reap near the main hub. And they're hard to miss! In order to find one of the many markets, you need only follow the lights and the noise. And don't worry about whether you'll find a 'good one' or not as they all hold mainly the same goods with little variation for certain items.

And should you not be able to find a certain item you're looking for, simply ask one of the locals about where you might find it. The locals are all peaceful and glad to help support a shopkeeper they know find customers. All in all, the night markets can make for a great night out in the city.

As I said previously, there are many markets throughout the city and after you finish walking through one, you can head right over to another one! It's a great time to browse and see some of the culture.

3. Try Some of the Roadside Food near Art Center Night Market

In the city of Siem Reap, there are sooo many vendors selling food right out on the sidewalk. The foods vary from shwarma to pancakes to roasted insects to ice cream rolls! Throughout the city, although mainly near the central hub and markets, there are countless vendors. And besides the food tasting amazing, it's a fun experience to watch the vendor prepare your food for you.

As you walk through the streets you will almost always hear an ice cream vendor chopping up some fruits and other sweets to use for a bowl of ice cream rolls. It's quite the sight to watch! Don't feel like stepping inside to sit down at one of the fancier (more expensive) restaurants? That's fine, find one of the many roadside eateries with tables and chairs right on the sidewalk.

The food at locations like these will blow your mind. I know that I personally was holding myself to a budget when I went through Siem Reap and so I got most of my food from roadside places. And the food never disappointed, in fact I believe that the food in the streets is much tastier than in the indoor restaurants.

Side note: try the Loklak! Loklak is the national dish of Cambodia and usually comes served with rice, fresh veg and a fried egg.

4. Pub Street

Not far from Angkor Night Market is Pub Street and Psar Chaa Market. At night the most lively area is Pub Street, full of bars and restaurants. It will be the closest thing to the Khao San Road in Bangkok that you will find while traveling Cambodia. It is always lively and buzzing with people, music and dance. It suits all the pockets so nothing much to worry about.

Pub Street is buzzing with neon lights, roadside eateries, restaurants, bars and tourists from the world over. This is the place if you are a street food lover. Almost everything is for $1 each.

The best time to visit is in the evening when the neon lights starts glowing. Then hang around till late night and socialize with other tourists. There are so many eating options. The juices and milkshakes are the best. But the unforgettable is Fried Ice-cream. It is a treat to watch how they make it, more than you eat.

One of my personal favorite vendors throughout my time in Siem Reap was a smoothie vendor. There are many all around and you get to watch them make your smoothie with real fruits and little other ingredients before your own eyes! The list of fruits that they offer in smoothies is huge! And they even offer a couple fruits local to the general area of Southeast Asia that you must try!

All of the smoothies are made with simple ingredients and are oh so creamy and delicious. Not a smoothie person? Well, just about all of the smoothie vendors sell fruit juices as well. And I'm talking real fruit juices made right before your eyes like the smoothies. Also, many restaurants in the area serve real fruit juices as a part of their menu as well. It's a great place to be for a fruit lover like myself.

There are nice restaurants specializing in international cuisine. The cuisine of the young chefs at the restaurants in Siem Reap is quite enjoyable.

5. Get a Massage in Khmer Relief Spa

I'm sure you've heard of the infamous Thai massage. There are many places that you can get a traditional Thai massage or a massage in the more local Cambodian tradition. The parlors offer a multitude of different traditions from hot stone treatments to full body massages to a simple foot rub.

All of these different traditions are great ways to relax your body and relieve you from any of the stresses and discomforts of staying on your feet for hours at a time. Most all of the massages are performed at a very low rate of charge, I believe that I got a full body treatment lasting an hour for less than 10 USD.

6. Staying in a safe Hostel near Wat Bo Road

If you're anything like me, one of your main concerns while traveling is spending as little money as you can (while also having a great time). And one great way to save money is by staying in a hostel and not paying for your own private room. In Siem Reap, there are many many different hostels to stay at for as low as $1 US/night.

Yes, you heard that right. I was able to spend about a week in Siem Reap while spending less than $10 for my room the entire time! Siem Reap is a fairly safe city to stay in a hostel, as the nightlife is pretty strong and there is little opportunity for someone to get a moment alone with you. Also, the local people are, for the most part, very friendly and helpful.

I believe I stayed at Route 66 Hostel on Sok San Road, which is a great spot to stay. There is a bar/restaurant on the bottom floor and it is very close to a lot of markets and attractions.

Accommodation in Siem Reap is very economical like in the rest of Cambodia, but it has an advantage. The price to quality ratio seems much higher than the other cities. Most of the flights arrive around noon and is the most preferred timing. Settle down and then hire a Tuk-tuk and visit one of the floating villages in the outskirts of Siem Reap.

Now, for the big stuff...

7. Spend a Day or more in Angkor Wat

Getaway for a day and see the heritage of Angkor Wat and the surrounding sites! It is so very worth it to go out and see Angkor Wat while you're in Siem Reap. It is the reason that many people go to Siem Reap anyhow. There are different packages that you can sign up for and your hostel/hotel staff will certainly help set you up with an agency or have their own agency.

The packages will include getting your own tuktuk driver to get you to the area and follow you around to take you to each individual site. Angkor Wat (pictured above) is the main attraction and there are many other temple and heritage sights all around the area to see. See the sunrise over Angkor Wat and then go around and walk through all of the sites and it is worth it.

I got dropped off by my tuktuk and then there is a long walk to get to site, via bridges and walking through the ancient walls to reach Angkor Wat. From there, it's a waiting game until the sun rises over the great ancient site. It is a magical experience that you will not be able to find anywhere else.

The sites surrounding Angkor Wat are also really really interesting. Some of the sites are built with the present nature and some rise up into the sky. All throughout the sites, there are different mystical sights such as trees growing off the tops of the structures and solid rock. The energy is mesmerizing.

In this case there are ornate wall decorations to take in, so that you can really spend a couple of days trying to notice it all. No one typically would; a normal attention span might limit a visit there to a couple of hours. But then there are another dozen amazing temples in that small area, with Bayon really standing out, the one with many statue images of faces repeating throughout.

8. Angkor Thom

Cambodia has a spiritual atmosphere, thanks to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Angkor Wat temples. We can't prepare a list without visiting one of the best places in Cambodia. It is the most famous tourist attraction in this country. The current Angkor Wat complex resides within Angkor Thom. The design of Angkor Thom was adopted from the mythological theme of Samudra Manthan (churning of the ocean).

The base for visiting the famous temples of Angkor Wat is the city of Siem Reap, which is 6 km away. You need to buy the entry pass so get up early and be one of the first ones in the queue. It opens at 5 am. Then straight away head to Angkor Wat and DO NOT miss the sunrise. The sun rises from behind the temple and is a site worth an experience.

The main temple, which we all call Angkor Wat Temple was an eventual mausoleum dedicated to Vishnu. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as one of the archaeological wonders of the world. There are many more sites that you might be interested in when you visit the complex.

9. Phnom Bakheng

You may also want to climb the mountain Phnom Bakheng to enjoy the landscape of Angkor Wat.

City Temple is the largest of all Angkor temples. It is one of the biggest Indian temples all over the world. The entire complex was built in early 12th century across a 2 square kilometres area, by the then Khmer King Suryavarman II. The temple's balance and composition, makes it one of the finest architectures in the world. It is also said to have been created by Vishwakarma.

At the top is a linga, a gigantic cylinder of stone over four meters high and one to two meters in diameter, a phallic symbol representing Shiva. Besides, one can visit the Angkor Archaeological Park and Ta Prohm Temple. Standing in the architecture of the ancient temple at the Golden Temple Residence will provide a wonderful opportunity to see the sunrise.

10. Bayon Temple

The Bayon Temple is one of the wonders that can be found in the Angkor Thom complex. It represents the creative genius of the most celebrated Khmer King of Cambodia. It stands in the middle of the capital city of Angkor Thom. From outside, this temple looks more like a rubble but the magic becomes apparent inside, especially on the upper levels.

11. Angkor Thom

The Baphuon is a three-tiered temple built in the 11th century, known as the largest 3D jigsaw puzzle in the world. A visit of this temple is at the top of my recommendation list. Climbing stairs is a bit of a workout and a bit scary, but the view of the temple from the upper level is worth all the effort.

12. Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm is one of the most visited complexes after the main temple in Angkor Wat. It shot to fame after the Hollywood movie Lara Croft Tomb Raider, featuring Angelina Jolie featured several parts of this place.

A visit to the Landmines Museum is mesmerizing if you are interested in knowing the troubled past of Cambodia.

In Conclusion

All of that should be enough to get you started on what you'd like to do while you're in Siem Reap. The nightlife is wonderful! The food is phenomenal! The stays are cheap! And the ancient heritage is beyond what you've seen anywhere else!

Thank you for reading, leave a comment if you have any questions or concerns. I wish you the best on your travels!
Kalyan Panja