Many travelers come to Siem Reap, Cambodia just for Angkor Wat. But there are so many things to do in Siem Reap besides visiting these grand temples. From cooking classes to off-roading with dirt bikes, to horseback riding, to butterfly watching and living in shameless luxury, the list goes on. But in addition to this myriad of activities, you can also do a lot of downright crazy and fun things… And those are the ones we’re going to look at today!
BUT FIRST… ANGKOR WAT
Angkor Wat is the main sight in Siem Reap, but also in all of Cambodia. I’ve written two separate posts on how to visit the temples in 2 days and everything else you need to know. Both those posts are ideal if you want to visit independently.
However, if you’re all about convenience, you can join a guided tour that includes a photo stop at sunset or sunrise. They’re quite cheap compared to what you get, and you won’t have to lift a finger, although you will have to walk a bit to explore the temple complexes. These are, in my opinion, your best options for day trips to Angkor Wat:
Book full-day sunrise tour here: Angkor Wat Full-Day Sunrise Tour
Book full-day sunset tour here: Angkor Wat Temple Hopping Tour with Sunset
Book full-day small group tour here: Siem Reap: Full-Day Small Group Temples Tour
1. TAKE A RIDE IN A BATMOBILE
Price: $2-20 ($15-20 if you’re going to Angkor Wat)
Traffic in Siem Reap is total chaos so getting around town – no matter your transportation – could be defined as crazy. You could rent a car or walk, but it’s much more fun in a tuk-tuk. And in Siem Reap, they have bat mobiles and superman tuk-tuks. How cool is that!
To avoid a rip-off, remember to negotiate the price before getting in.
2. EAT A DEEP FRIED TARANTULA
If you’re looking for adventurous things to do in Siem Reap, you’ll find it at the night market! This is the place to taste or photograph fried insects. Snakes, roaches and scorpions – and tarantulas.
Fried spiders are a regional delicacy in Cambodia, especially in the Cambodian town of Skuon (Cheung Prey, Kampong Cham Province). There’s even an adventure tour specialised in fried insects in Siem Reap, which will show you how to cook and prepare insects.
My friend Brad from My Wanderlist recommends the fried spiders, btw. He says they taste just like “soft-shelled crab… but hairy”.
Are you feeling adventurous?
Book your ticket here: Siem Reap: Fried Insect Cuisine Adventure
3. GET A MASSAGE AFTERWARDS
Price: $1 – $7
If you just ate a tarantula, or any other bug for that matter, I’d say you deserve a nice, long massage. And let’s face it… a visit to Asia just isn’t complete without a massage.
Massage places can be found everywhere in Siem Reap
4. TAKE A POTTERY CLASS
If you feel like recreating that famous pottery scene from Ghost, here’s your chance. You’ll get to shape your own masterpiece under expert guidance and add some Khmer ornamentation to your piece. The class takes two hours.
Book here: Siem Reap: Cambodian Pottery Class
5. DRINK AT ANGKOR WHAT?
Having a drink at Angkor What? is a must for many travelers. This bar is famous for its buckets, great tunes and cool atmosphere, so if you’ve walked around Angkor Wat all day and need to recharge, this is the place to go.
You’ll find Angkor What? at Pub Street
6. VISIT PUB STREET
Price: Free activity
Whether you’re going for a drink, having lunch or meeting new people, Pub Street is where it happens. During the day, it’s a good place for eating, and in the evening all the night clubs and bars open.
Ever been to Khao San Road in Bangkok? Well, it’s similar… ish.
7. LET FISH CHEW ON YOUR FEET
Price: $2 for 20 minutes
This is as weird as it sounds. For $2 you can place your feet in a water tank filled with toothless Doctor Fish and have them clean off the dead skin of your feet.
FYI, not all operators change the water regularly, which can cause infection so be sure to try this somewhere nice-looking.
There’s a tank at Pub Street.
8. EXPLORE THE BIZARRE OLD MARKET
Price: Free activity
The old market “Psah Chas” is right in the centre of town. This is the place to buy clothes, food and souvenirs.
Right in the middle, you’ll find the food market; a labyrinth of tables with raw meat, local sausages and grisly pig heads. In the midst of it all is a swirl of local women selling and buying, laughing and negotiating.
9. DISCOVER EXOTIC FRUITS
Price: Free activity
Throughout Cambodia’s markets, you’ll find tropical fruits aplenty. Most of the markets have tamarind, dragon fruit, jackfruit, mango (mmmm, mango), oranges, pineapple, watermelon, mangosteens and star fruits, and those are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head.
Fruits taste different abroad, so I highly recommend you try some. It’s cheap and absolutely delicious. The best place to go in Siem Reap is the old market (Psas Chas).
Remember to bring coins for change.
10. VISIT A FLOATING VILLAGE (TONLE SAP LAKE)
A popular day trip from Siem Reap is the floating village at Tonle Sap Lake. It’s kind of similar to the floating market in Bangkok, although this is a complete village with a school, market, a crocodile farm and more. It’s a great way to watch the locals go about their daily life.
The 4-hour trip includes an English-speaking guide, private boat and round-trip transportation from your Siem Reap hotel.
11. VISIT THE LANDMINE MUSEUM
Price: $5 (but free guide)
The War Museum in Siem Reap has a unique collection of landmines and tanks from The Khmer Rouge in 1975 and the Vietnamese occupation in 1979. Millions of land mines and unexploded objects were left behind by decades of conflict. A few of them are kept for display here.
If you like history, you could also visit The Landmine Museum, 25km north of Siem Reap.
11. EXPERIENCE AN APSARA DANCE
Price: $25 at Smile of Angkor
One of the most exciting things I experienced in Siem Reap was an apsara dance. It’s a Khmer traditional dance drama that conveys a story – quite dramatic and really beautiful. If you like culture and dance, this is definitely worth the splurge. You’ll notice that there are many apsara performances around town, but the only place I recommend is Smile of Angkor. The show is performed in a big theatre with lighting effects and music. The buffet dinner isn’t fantastic so you can skip that, but the show is spectacular.
I recommend you book online (the show ticket, not the dinner + show ticket).
GREAT HOTELS IN SIEM REAP
Prices for accommodation in Siem Reap are really low, which makes it’s a perfect destination for both luxury and budget travelers. You can easily find a 4-star hotel at $50 per night. I did. Here are a few of my favorite hotels in Siem Reap:
- Resort La Villa Loti ($68 per night for a deluxe double room). Click here to see the latest prices.
- Hotel 20th Street ($40 per night for a deluxe room). Click here to see the latest prices.
- The Villa Siem Reap ($34 per night for a superior double room). Click here to see the latest prices.