Nestled along the banks of the Siem Reap River, this vibrant town is a captivating blend of history, culture, and modernity. With its warm hospitality and diverse attractions, Siem Reap is a destination that seamlessly weaves the old and the new, making it a must-visit for travelers seeking a unique and enriching experience.
This article will focus on all of the best things to do in Siem Reap. Don’t miss out on a thing.
Siem Reap is the starting point for all tourists wishing to visit the nearby Angkor Wat. And while Angkor Wat is the city’s main attraction, there are many other things to do in this sprawling city.
One of Siem Reap’s best-known and most popular things to do is to go to Angkor wat, the largest and most famous temple complex in Cambodia. Built between the 9th and 15th centuries, Angkor consists of a series of temples, all of which have been officially recognized as World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Angkor Wat is just one of many temples in the Angkor Archaeological Park. Spend at least a full day exploring the main temples, including Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, and Bayon. Watching the sunrise is one of the most amazing things you can do. Arrive early to secure a good spot; the area in front of the reflecting pool is the most popular. If the sky is clear, you can watch the sun rise behind the temples of Angkor.
You also can buy your Angkor Wat tickets online on the official website of Angkor Enterprise.
The museum offers historical context about Cambodia’s tumultuous past, including the Vietnam War, the rise of the Khmer Rouge, and the civil war that followed. Inside the museum, you’ll find displays of various weapons, uniforms, and equipment used by different factions during the conflicts. These artifacts provide insight into the military history of the region.
Ta Prohm is often referred to as the “Jungle Temple” or the “Tomb Raider Temple” because it appears to be swallowed by the jungle. Massive tree roots and dense vegetation have grown over and around the temple’s structures, creating an awe-inspiring symbiosis between nature and architecture.
Learn more about the history and culture of Angkor at this informative museum, which provides context to your temple visits. A visit here is one of the best ways to learn about the different eras of the Angkor period and the succession of kings who tried to outbid each other on their temple-building projects.
Must-sees include the Entrance Gallery, which houses 1,000 images of Buddha through the ages; Gallery A explains the founding of the Khmer Empire; and Gallery C, dedicated to the history of the four greatest kings of the Angkorian period: Jayavarman II, Yasovarman I, Suryavarman II, and Jayavarman VII.
There is lots of boutique shopping in Siem Reap, but don’t forget to visit the marketplaces as well.
The Old Market (Psar Chaa) in Siem Reap is one of the most central market places, offering everything from fresh vegetables and low-cost apparel to wood and stone crafts. Although much of the craftwork here is of poor quality, it is nonetheless enjoyable to browse.
Another market not to be missed is the Angkor Night Market. It is normally open from late afternoon until midnight. Local craftwork, ranging from silk scarves to silver jewelry, is abundant here.
Take a boat tour on Tonle Sap, Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake, and explore floating villages and their unique way of life. The villages are often explored by boat, either on an organized tour of Siem Reap or by arranging an independent tour with boat operators once you reach the lakeshore.
Kompong Khleang, 55 kilometers southeast of Siem Reap, has a community-based boat trip company as well as individual boat operators and is one of the top Tonle Sap sites to visit.
Kompong Phluk, 32 kilometers southeast of Siem Reap, is another attractive town famed for its lakeside stilt-house architecture. Some of the stilts here are almost six meters tall.
Visitors can explore the museum’s exhibits, which include a vast collection of defused landmines, bombs, and artillery, as well as displays detailing the history of landmines and their impact on the country’s people. The museum also highlights the heroic efforts of demining teams working to clear these deadly remnants of war.
Beyond its educational mission, the museum supports landmine clearance efforts and provides a safe haven for at-risk children. The visit is not only informative but also serves as a testament to the resilience and hope of the Cambodian people as they work toward a safer future.
Koh Ker was built in the 10th century and served as the capital of the Angkor Kingdom during Jayavarman IV’s reign. Jayavarman IV’s most remarkable temple here is the 40-meter-high tiered pyramid temple of Prasat Thom, where you can ascend the steep steps for views from the summit.
After climbing Prasat Thom, make your way to the southern end of the cleared site to visit Prasat Bram’s stunning temple, with its towers partially eaten by and intertwined with tree roots.
Pub Street, the heart of Siem Reap nightlife, is lined with an array of restaurants, cafes, and street food stalls offering a wide range of cuisine, from traditional Khmer dishes to international favorites like pizza, burgers, and sushi.
You’ll find a variety of themed bars along Pub Street, from cocktail lounges to sports bars. Some bars have unique themes like the Temple Bar, which is inspired by Angkor Wat.
Remember that Pub Street can get crowded, especially during the high tourist season, so if you prefer a quieter evening, consider exploring some of the quieter streets and hidden gems in Siem Reap. Whether you’re looking for a night of dining, shopping, dancing, or simply soaking up the vibrant atmosphere, Pub Street offers a diverse range of experiences for visitors to enjoy after a day of exploring the temples of Angkor.
Many of the night markets are located close to each other, so you can walk from night market to night market in one night. The most popular Angkor Wat night market is Ankm Khmer Market. The market is open from 5 pm to midnight and it is a great place to spend the night. Try the ice cream rolls or the fresh fruit smoothie.
Since the Angkor Wat Night Market is situated near Pub Street, it is more expensive than other night markets. However, if you are a fan of haggling, you should be able to get good prices, just like other night markets in Angkor Wat.
Head over the wooden bridge to reach the Siem Reap Art Centre Night Market. They’re open from 4 pm – 11 pm. As the name suggests, you’ll find a myriad of artwork from canvas, to prints and sculptures, but you’ll also find various souvenirs and clothing present at the other markets.
The best time to visit Siem Reap is between November and April when the weather is sunny and dry. However, It depends on your preferences for weather, crowds, and the activities you want to engage in. There are three main seasons in Siem Reap: summer, monsoon and winter.
Siem Reap offers a wide range of hotels, from luxury resorts to boutique guesthouses, catering to different budgets and preferences. Here are some of the best hotels in Siem Reap, known for their quality and guest satisfaction:
Siem Reap, located near the iconic Angkor Wat temple complex, offers a rich and diverse culinary scene that combines traditional Cambodian flavors with international influences.
When visiting Siem Reap, be sure to sample these delicious dishes and culinary experiences:
Siem Reap offers a vibrant dining scene with a variety of restaurants catering to different tastes and budgets. While the “best” restaurant can be subjective and may vary depending on individual preferences
Begin your Southeast Asian tour with a taste of real Khmer cuisine! Malis has a large menu and is known for its exquisite classic cuisine with modern touches. We highly recommend reserving a table in their alfresco area, where you can enjoy your meal while overlooking their water pond and regular Apsara dance performances.
Khmer Kitchen has a diverse menu of traditional Cambodian foods. Their recipes are founded in family heritage and are particularly recommended for larger groups due to the restaurant’s enormous portion sizes. If you’re visiting Siem Reap with family or friends, make sure to include this great diner on your itinerary!
This is an Australian-owned cafe so expect to be served sumptuous Western breakfast and vegan items. This vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant focuses on healthy and organic cuisine. It’s a great option for those looking for plant-based dishes.
Marum is a social enterprise restaurant that not only offers delicious Cambodian and international dishes but also supports local youth in culinary training. The menu features a mix of traditional and creative dishes.
It’s about 460 kilometers (290 miles) from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap. There are 2 ways to get from Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) to Siem Reap, including bus and flight.
There are 4 travel classes for this journey, including: Luxury, Tourist, Hotel and Coaster.
Each bus ticket offers an individual seat with basic passenger necessities. It takes between 13 and 14 hours to travel by bus from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap, and this includes stops and having to change from one bus to another, usually in Phnom Penh.
The three tour bus companies you can choose from are: the SinhTourist, Mekong Express, and Kumho Samco.
There are three airlines who fly from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap: Vietnam Airlines, Cambodia Angkor Air, and Lanmei Airlines with a starting Price is $136.09. There are 1 departures a day, or 7 departures a week. The only travel class available is Economy. Each flight ticket offers an individual seat with basic passenger necessities. Conditions and amenities vary by provider.
To travel from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, you have several transportation options, including buses, domestic flights, and private taxis.
Buses are a popular and affordable way to travel between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Several bus companies operate daily services along this route, with various departure times. Some reputable companies include Giant Ibis, Mekong Express, and Virak Buntham. The journey takes approximately 5 to 7 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions. Buses usually provide air-conditioned comfort and may offer snacks and refreshments during the trip.
* Tickets can be purchased online in advance or at bus terminals in Phnom Penh.
Siem Reap International Airport (REP) is well-connected with Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH), and several airlines offer daily flights. The flight takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour, making it the quickest option. Flights can be more expensive than bus tickets, but discounts are available if you book in advance.
If you prefer more flexibility and comfort, you can hire a private taxi or car for the journey. Taxis can be arranged through your hotel or a local transportation service.
The trip typically takes around 5 to 6 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.
It’s more expensive than taking a bus but offers privacy and convenience.
This is the quickest and most convenient way to get from Bangkok to Siem Reap. Several airlines, including Bangkok Airways, Cambodia Angkor Air, and Thai Smile, with duration is approximately 1 hour
*Be sure to check visa requirements for Cambodia before your trip.
There are several bus companies that operate services on this route, and you can book tickets in advance. The journey by bus takes significantly longer, usually around 8 to 12 hours, depending on road conditions and border crossing procedures.
Most buses depart from Bangkok’s Mo Chit Bus Terminal or Ekkamai Bus Terminal and arrive at the Siem Reap Bus Terminal.
*The border crossing between Thailand and Cambodia can be a bit time-consuming, so be prepared for potential delays.