Top 10 Things to do in Siem Reap

The Angkor Complex in Siem Reap is definitely one of the prime highlights of this city. Being a renowned tourist destination it attracts travellers from across the globe. But there is a lot more to Siem Reap than just temples. From relaxing by the hotel pool and basking in comfort, to experiencing the various adventure activities and vibrant nightlife, Siem Reap ought to make it to your Cambodia itinerary. Here’s our list of top 10 things to do in Siem Reap to indulge in during your stay in Cambodia.

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angkor wat siem reap things to do Angkor Wat is what you come for, Siem Reap is what you stay for.

1. Phare, The Cambodian Circus

Phare is an innovative social initiative that uses profits generated, to support the youth and promote Cambodian culture. The spellbinding shows use various traditional forms of art, like dance, drama and music. These performances convey Cambodian stories – from folktales to recent history, with a touch of uniqueness. Visiting Phare is something you should definitely indulge in if you’re travelling to Cambodia with kids.

The artists are graduates of the NGO school and professional arts training centre, Phare Ponleu Selpak, Battambang. The circus is a means to fund the NGO, support free education and professional arts training. Experience this one-off circus, not only for a cultural experience, but also to contribute to responsible tourism.

phare the cambodian circus A platform for young, talented artists coming from economically backward backgrounds who showcase Cambodia’s rich past and fascinating folktales using different mediums of Art – Dance, Music, Drama.

2. Cycling Tours

If you’re looking to participate in exciting activities bound to get your adrenaline pumping, a cycling tour in Siem Reap is just the activity for you. Riding along the unexplored countryside of Siem Reap allows for an authentic travel experience. The scenic routes wind past the quaint village towns, and you can interact with locals while exploring the countryside. This tour is ideal for those looking to catch a glimpse of the Angkor complex without spending too much time delving into the minor details. This is the ideal replacement to being lost amidst large tourist crowds with the same old cliched experiences.


bicycle tour in siem reap Bicycle Tours are a great way to explore the countryside surrounding Siem Reap and other cities in Cambodia.

3. ATV/ Quad Biking

For adrenaline junkies in search of adventure, ATV’s or quad biking makes for another way to explore the countryside of Siem Reap. This is an opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking view at sunset that engulfs the city with its golden glow. Quaint villages, vast stretches of lush green rice fields, and the city’s gorgeous countryside make for a picture perfect journey.

ATV tours are also popular within the Angkor complex for a unique experience, unlike the usual walking tour. The authenticity of this activity lies in the opportunity of witnessing the local rural communities and interacting with them. It provides an insight into the traditional ways of life and the history behind the regions present day culture.


atv quad biking in siem reap - things to do Get the adrenaline pumping with a quad bike tour in the countryside of Siem Reap.

4. Zip lining

Siem Reap is evidently no stranger to adventure activities. While you’re here, irrespective of the large crowds, you’re most likely to visit the Angkor Complex. To add some excitement to your Angkor tour, experience zip lining at this UNESCO World Heritage site – the Angkor Archeological Park. Flying through the Cambodian jungle amidst wildlife makes for a once in a lifetime experience. Angkor Zip Lining, the official organisation conducting this activity, offers a variety of packages. Zip line across multiple lines or combine it with other adventure activities, like mountain biking or ATV riding, within the complex.


zip lining in siem reap Kids will love the zip lining activity in the dense jungle surrounding the Angkor Temple Complex.


To put it in simple terms, APOPO is an organisation that conditions, trains and then uses rats (referred to as HeroRATS) to detect landmines. This method is used alongside existing efforts in order to speed up the mine clearance process. Landmines in Siem Reap are “weapons of social cataclysm”. They’re the primary cause of an appalling number of injuries, hampering social and economic development and depriving locals of access to fertile land. It has had a never-ending list of lasting negative impacts on the region and its inhabitants.

Being extremely lightweight, APOPO’s HeroRATS are used mainly to detect landmines which is followed by immediate clearance. Visiting the center will give you a detailed insight into the process and all of it’s resulting benefits. Extend your support by making a donation, volunteering with the organisation, adopting a HeroRat or simply making a purchase at the APOPO gift store, the profits of which are used to sustain this project.


Apopo visitor centre The Apopo hero rats help finding landmines in Cambodia and therefore save millions of lives.

6. Artisans d’Angkor

Cambodia has a fascinating history when it comes to arts. Ceramics, intricate pottery and carvings are all examples of Cambodian handicrafts. Their existence dates back to the pre-Angkorian era. Artisans Angkor is another social enterprise we highly recommend you visit. With the aim to revive ancient art forms, it helps in the improvement and empowerment of those living in rural areas. While preserving Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage, it educates and trains the youth coming from these rural backgrounds.

Besides skill development, it also then employs them as artisans. Artisans Angkor’s vision speaks for itself – “Caring for the past, Crafting for the future”; a strategy to preserve the traditional art culture and creating a self sustainable environment.


artisan work in siem reap Stone work has a long tradition in Siem Reap dating back to the great Angkorian empire. Marvel at the talented work by these artisans!

7. CULTURAL Workshops

Backstreet Academy is ideal for travellers looking to engage with local artisans for a unique perspective of Siem Reap. The workshops range from mastering stone carving, to cooking classes that introduce you to the complexity of preparing traditional Khmer cuisine. Backstreet academy caters to a variety of activities depending on your interests and hobbies.

Other exciting workshops include wood carving, an introductory course in traditional Cambodian boxing, and several other unique experiences. This is a means to unearth a unique travel journey off the beaten path, instead of venturing through Siem Reap the normal way.


art work siem reap Learn some of the traditional crafts that are still practised in Siem Reap yourself by attending a workshop.

8. Savour the creepy crawlies

Due to Cambodia’s recent history and the effects of the long-lasting Khmer regime, it is home to a unique and rather strange food culture. The local cuisine comprises a number of insects that are an integral part of the regions’ present day street food culture. From tarantulas and crickets to grasshoppers and silkworms, you find them all. Despite how odd it may sound, this tradition, a popular custom, arises from the country’s tragic past.

This includes the civil war and the brutal oppression during the Khmer rouge period in the 70’s. For protection from starvation and eventual death, the locals resorted to consuming insects, protein-rich food. Understanding the origin of this food culture is the key to accepting and embracing it.


crickets siem reap Sample some of the infamous grilled crickets, scorpions, snakes or ants on the streets or in the restaurants of Siem Reap.

9. Tonle Sap lake

Another offbeat experience in Siem Reap is taking a trip, preferably a guided tour, to Tonle Sap. It is Asia’s largest freshwater lake. The second most popular tourist destination in Siem Reap, Tonle Sap is known for its vibrant ecosystems. You could either take a tuk tuk and visit the floating villages on and around the lake or go kayaking to explore the villages. Each village boasting its own set of unique characteristics.

You could also sign up for a cycling tour to explore the small lakeside communities. This way you can learn about the daily lives of these villagers and the constant challenges they face. Avoid taking the tour from March to August as the lake dries up, leaving you with not much to see.


tonle sap lake siem reap The Tonle Sap Lake is south of Siem Reap. You can take a cruise or even kayak on the lake between August and February.

10. Phnom Kulen National Park

Considered to be one of the most sacred mountains by the Khmers, this national park is extremely popular among tourists and locals alike. Hire a car or drive there yourself- there is tons to do here. It’s prime highlights include breathtakingly beautiful cascades, a majestic reclining Buddha statue and the river of a thousand lingas. It also makes for the ideal destination for avid trekkers. The best time of the year to visit the serene Phnom Kulen National Park would be post August until March, after which the waterfalls dry up, marking the end of the wet season. To steer clear of large local crowds, avoid visiting on the weekends.

A well-kept local secret, the park is now gaining popularity among tourists for its rich history, religious significance and ecological harmony. An offbeat destination for those looking to escape the urban city, it is a sheer gem for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts.


Phnom Kulen National Park siem reap Visit the Phnom Kulen National Park between September and February when there is enough water.


Three days in Siem Reap is the ideal amount of time to experience it all. The region that is usually only associated with its temples and their history and origin is only one among several other interesting cities to visit while travelling to Cambodia. Whether you’re looking for a Southeast Asia itinerary or simply wish to wander off the beaten path in Cambodia, we can help plan you trip. Simply hit that Plan Your Trip button and we’ll help make sure to curate a trip that meets all your specifications.

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