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Siem Reap is perhaps the best-known city in Cambodia, made famous by the world-renowned Angkor Wat Temple complex.

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While exploring Angkor Wat is an awesome reason to visit this city, there are so many things to do in Siem Reap outside of the famous temples. With vibrant culture, great food, and fun nightlife, this is an essential stop on any trip through Cambodia!

Best Time to Visit Siem Reap

Like most countries in Southeast Asia, Cambodia has a dry and a wet season.

The dry season is between November and April. During this time, you can expect light rains and higher temperatures. Avoid visiting during Christmas and New Year, as it is often extremely crowded and expensive during this time.

Between May and October, Siem Reap is more susceptible to monsoons and downpours. Temperatures still remain high but are slightly more bearable compared to the dry season. One good thing about the rainy season is that the vegetation turns a bright and lush shade of green.

Lush surroundings of Angkor Wat in the rainy season
Lush surroundings of Angkor Wat in the rainy season

In addition, the moats around the Angkor Wat temple complex are often filled with water during the rainy season, which makes for some great scenery, especially for photography.

Things to Do in Siem Reap

Visit Angkor Wat & Other Temples

The temples in Siem Reap are vast and require a few days to explore. Purchase a multi-day pass instead of trying to cram all the sightseeing in one day and check out this article to get the most of your visit. 

Of all the things to do in Siem Reap, visiting Angkor Wat is inarguably number one. Considered the largest religious complex on Earth, Angkor Wat and its surrounding structure are truly massive.

Angkor Wat was constructed during the Khmer Empire of the 12th century and was originally used as a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu. It was converted to a Buddhist temple less than a century later and has remained so ever since. Of all the temples in Siem Reap, Angkor Wat is the best-preserved and definitely the most impressive. 

Angkor Wat temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia

If you don’t mind having an early morning and really want the best photo opportunity, consider joining a sunrise tour.

Breathtaking sunrise at Angkor Wat
Breathtaking sunrise at Angkor Wat

READ NEXT: How to Get the Most of an Angkor Wat Visit

Angkor Thom

Just like Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom is an impressive and large temple complex that deserves a visit. Some of the best places to visit at Angkor Thom include the North and South Gates, the Terrace of the Elephants, Phimeanakas, and Bayon.

South Gate entrance into Angkor Thom complex
South Gate entrance into Angkor Thom complex
Things To Do In Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Thom Wat, Cambodia

You can visit both Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom in addition to a number of other temples with the same Angkor Wat Archaeological Park park pass. 

Bayon Temple

Bayon is technically part of Angkor Thom, but is better known for being the temple with the smiling faces. The temple consists of 37 towers and more than 200 faces carved out of stone. Make sure to bring your camera, as this temple is one of the most picturesque in town. A visit to Bayon is one of the best things to do in Siem Reap, so don’t miss it!

Inside Angkor Thom: Bayon Temple
Inside Angkor Thom: Bayon Temple

Tour Psar Chaa, the Old Market

Siem Reap is also well known for having excellent markets. At Psar Chaa, you can shop for local goods like produce, grains, and meats. Although it is primarily a food market, the Old Market offers lots of other things for sale, such as clothes, crafts, decorations, and trinkets.

If you’re more interested in seeing things from a local perspective, there’s a walking tour of the city.

Things To Do In Siem Reap, Cambodia

Visit the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity

There are many things to do in Siem Reap, but visiting the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity has to be one of the most unique activities.  The Centre is best known for its work in wildlife rehabilitation and is currently rehabilitating a number of species including, pileated gibbon, silvered langur, Malayan pangolin, and Asian palm civet, to name a few. You can take a tour to better understand the Centre’s work and see it in action.

Journey through Kampong Phluk Floating Village

Located just a short tuk-tuk ride away from the flashing lights of Siem Reap, Kampong Phluk is a floating village built on stilts on Tonlé Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. 

Kampong Phluk - a village on stilts in Tonlé Sap
Kampong Phluk – a village on stilts in Tonlé Sap

This village is unlike any other village in Cambodia, it that has no streets, no shops, no restaurants, no cars, and no tuk-tuks. But despite all that, life in this village life goes on as it would anywhere else in the country. Hire a boat and float along the canals of the village observing the day to day life of the residents that call this unique community – their home. 

Explore After Dark

There are so many things to do in Siem Reap at night. Start your night tour at Pub Street, a backpacker hangout full of buzzing bars and travelers from all over the world. Afterward, visit the night markets where you can stroll the street stalls, tasting different local specialties.

Pub Street, Siem Reap, Cambodia. Photo by Alan Wat via Flickr CC
Pub Street, Siem Reap, Cambodia. Photo by Alan Wat via Flickr CC

Where to Stay in Siem Reap

There is no shortage of hotels and hostels in Siem Reap, but we always try to stay in properties that minimize the impact on the environment and have a positive impact on the communities they serve. Here are a few eco-conscious accommodation options we recommend in Siem Reap. 

  • Sala Lodges: At Sala Lodges, you can stay in renovated Khmer houses that are comfortable and eco-friendly. Enjoy the incredible pool as well as the fantastic on-site restaurant.
  • Eco Villa Siemreap: The Eco Villa Siemreap is a stunning 4-star hotel with a picturesque pool and lovely decor. Its best feature is the large garden that surrounds the property.
  • Eco-Home: If you’re on a budget, the Eco-Home hostel is a perfectly comfortable place to stay. It’s run by a local family and your stay helps support an NGO that one of the family members runs to support underprivileged children in Siem Reap.

Where to Eat and Drink

Things To Do In Siem Reap, Cambodia
Photo courtesy of VIBE
  • VIBE: For incredibly artistic vegan food, head to VIBE Cafe. Almost everything in the cafe is homemade and they even have their own drool-worthy cookbook for sale.
  • Green-Go Garden: This is another one of Siem Reap’s only fully vegan restaurants. Green-Go Garden offers healthy and delicious food at affordable prices.
  • Banlle Vegetarian Restaurant: At Banlle Vegetarian Restaurant, you’ll find lots of healthy choices in both Cambodian and international cuisine. There are lots of vegan options as well.
  • Marum: Creative local cuisine, delicious cocktails and fruit shakes, made using only the freshest ingredients. Marum is not just a restaurant but is also, and most importantly, a social business with the ultimate goal of employing former street youth, and providing them with the skills they need to become employable in the thriving hospitality industry.

How to Get to Siem Reap

By plane: Siem Reap is home to the second-largest airport in Cambodia, so the city is easily accessible from most destinations in Southeast Asia. You can obtain a visa on arrival at the airport.
Overland: Major bus companies operate routes from a number of destinations within Cambodia as well as from Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. It is also possible to arrive by boat, train or shuttle. Click here to find the best way to get to Siem Reap.
 

How Much Time Do You Need in Siem Reap?

The amount of time you need in Siem Reap largely varies from person to person depending on what you’re most interested in. If you are in a rush, you can get an overview of Angkor Wat and its surroundings in just 1-2 days.  But to properly explore all the temples and the nearby areas, you’ll need at least 3-4 days. 

Siem Reap really is a must-visit city when traveling in Cambodia. Angkor Wat might (justifiably) be the symbol of the city, but there really are a number of other things to do in Siem Reap besides temples. The atmosphere in town is special, so take your time while exploring there and enjoy everything that Siem Reap has to offer.

Have you ever visited Siem Reap? What other sights or activities would you recommend to a first time visitor? 

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