Top 5 things to do in Siem Reap
While the main reason for visiting Siem Reap on holiday is the stunning Angkor Temples, this charming small town has a host of other attractions you should see while you are in Siem Reap.
Siem Reap is a delightful town packed with great dining, shopping and places to explore, naturally the big attraction is the huge array of Angkor temples located just outside of Siem Reap in the Angkor Archaeological Park. Spending your days discovering the incredible architecture and stunning carvings from this ancient site is something you could do for days on end. But we all get temple’d out occasionally, so here’s 5 things to do in Siem Reap apart from the temples.
Phare – the Cambodian Circus (pictured)
No one should visit Siem Reap without an evening at Phare. Here traditional tales are showcased through awe-inspiring stunts and emotive performances. The circus is made up of underprivileged Cambodian youth, so by purchasing a ticket, you’re helping to provide gainful employment to these young artists. Grab a tuk-tuk to the show. You can pre-purchase your ticket, which is wise if you want the best seats or are travelling in High Season from November to March.
Psar Chaa (Old Market)
The market for anything you may want, here you need to haggle for your silks, paintings, wood carvings and other arts and crafts at this bustling market.
It’s located right in the heart of town right near Pub Street and operates every day and night.
Angkor National Museum
A museum dedicated to the collection and preservation of artifacts from the Khmer Empire’s Angkor period (circa 9th to 14th centuries). An excellent interactive display tells you the fascinating story behind the temples so make a trip here before visiting the temples. Highly recommended and even better if you pop in here before you visit the Angkor Temples. You only need an hour or so.
Give a little for the children
One of the more touching stories in Siem Reap is that of Dr. Beat Richner, who came to Cambodia in 1975 as per the request of the Red Cross to work at the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital. Though he was forced to return to Switzerland because of Khmer Rouge invasion, he came back to Cambodia in 1991 and founded the Kantha Bopha Foundation in 1992. Everyone who visits is welcome to donate blood at the hospital that gives free medical care to children. Sadly Dr. Richner passed away recently but hopefully his dedication to the livelihoods of the beautiful Cambodian people will carry on with a little giving from visitors.
Explore Artisan’s at work
Around Siem Reap local ancient crafts are coming back to life, from essential oil making, basket weaving, silk making and carving. It is a pleasure to see almost lost art forms being reinvented. No better place to see this is with a visit to the Artisans Angkor on Stung Thmey Street. Started as an educational project in the 1990’s, Artisans Angkor has now become a Cambodian semi-public social company that aims at providing job opportunities to young rural people near their home village.