The feeling you don’t have enough time to visit all the beautiful places in and around Siem Reap will accompany you during your stay in the city. But rest assured – this is natural. So, regardless of the number of days and nights you are to spend here, it is best if you have a plan or, at least, a list with the most important places and activities you shouldn’t miss. Some of them are related to the Khmer culture and lifestyle, others are not.
A World of Knowledge, History, and Myths
First, you need to see the vestiges of Cambodian history. The great Angkor Empire, followed by five centuries of massive social and ethnic modifications left many traces in a country which now seems a peculiar combination of old, invaluable ruins and contemporary globalization. You shouldn’t miss:
- Angkor – over 100 spectacular temples, some of which older than one millennium.
- Angkor Thom – a royal city built in the 11th century.
- Ta Keo – A temple in the shape of a pyramid, more than 20 meters high.
- Kobal Spien – also called the river of a thousand lingas, it offers a spectacular sight of riverbed carvings.
- The Landmine Museum – probably not for every eye, due to the incredible harsh realities it displays.
A World of Customs
From the Cambodian scarves that you will see in many local shops, to pottery and silverware, Siem Reap is a good place to learn more about the rich tradition of these people. Some places may seem unappealing at a first glance, but don’t let yourself fooled by a description in a local brochure: you may blow your chances and miss a really authentic experience in the heart of the country.
- Chong Khneas – a floating village close to the city, which offers good insight in the life of some Cambodians today.
- The Silk Farm – an excellent solution to find out about Khmer traditions.
- Tonlé Sap – a place not very far from Siem Reap where you can enjoy stunning sunsets while being taught about local fishing traditions.
And a World of Joy
They say joy is for the young and healthy, but this saying is so far from the realities in Siem Reap. It doesn’t matter what’s your age as long as you know what to visit during your stay. Read the list below having in mind the age groups at the left:
- 5-15: The Ta Prohm Temple, for its setting which seems borrowed from an adventure movie.
- 5-80: Butterflies Garden is the perfect stop for a hungry tourist with kids interested in exotic insects.
- 15-70: Local pagodas offer a blend of silence and exotic settings.
- 15-60: The Old Market is where you must go if you want to leave Cambodia with a suitcase full of souvenirs.
- 5-70: International restaurants in Siem Reap are full of tourists and local people, who are more often than not a very pleasant company.
- 10-75: The Cambodian cultural village may be the perfect spot for a relaxed afternoon. It’s a wax museum displaying replicas of a real Khmer village. It’s great if you visit it in the dry season.
- 20-40: The Night Market is a good place for a shopping spree.