The magnificent temples of Angkor is the main draw for visitors to Siem Reap.
But there is also a lot more to discover!
Angkor Archaeological Park
Only six km from Siem Reap lies the 400 square km large Angkor Archaeological Park. This park is the home of over 300 magnificent temple ruins from the Angkorian era, including the famous Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm. Most of the temples were constructed between the 9th and the 12th century. And they are a truly impressive display of ancient Khmer architecture, art and civilization.
Angkor was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992 - the same year it was also placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
This is a holy place so don’t forget to cover your shoulders and knees.
Touring the temples is hot and sweaty, so keep yourself well hydrated and wear light, airy and covering clothing to protect yourself from the sun.
Admission fee: 1 day pass $20, 3 day pass $40 (last for 7 days), 7 day pass $60 (last for 1 month).
The temple area is open for visitors between 5:00AM - 6:00PM everyday.
After a 36 km ride north through the beautiful Cambodian countryside you will discover Banteay Srei, the temple of women.
This temple is one of the best preserved and detailed temples that remain from the Angkorian time.
The beautiful carvings built from pink sandstone make the temples there an interesting and a popular place to visit.
Banteay Srei is a 45 minute drive from Siem Reap. Admission is included in the Angkor Admission Pass. The temple opens daily and closes at 5:00 PM.
Most people combine a visit to Banteay Srei with a visit to the Angkor Wat Park. It is also possible to combine with a visit to Phnom Kulen, Kabal Spean and the Landmine Museum.
Phnom Kulen is regarded as the birthplace of the ancient Khmer Empire. It is located 48 km from Siem Reap. At the Phnom Kulens National Park you can enjoy a beautiful and relaxing day. Walk along “The River of a Thousand Lingas”. Then visit a fresh spring and pagoda nearby. After that enjoy lunch at a local food stall and end the day with a bath in the waterfalls.
This is a holy place so don’t forget to cover your shoulders and knees. If you decide to take a cool bath, do as the locals and keep your clothes on.
Nearby is Preah Ang Thom, a 16th century Buddhist monastery notable for the giant reclining Buddha, Cambodia’s largest.
Phnom Kulen is a one hour drive from Siem Reap. The admission fee is $20 and the entrance to the area closes at 3:00 PM.
If you have a valid Angkor Admission Pass you can combine this trip with Kbal Spean, Banteay Srei and the Landmine Museum.
On Kulen Mountain you will find Kbal Spean, also known as “The River of a Thousand Lingas”. It consists of a series of stone carvings in and around the Kbal Spean River. The stone carvings are of various Hindu mythological motifs, including depictions of gods and animals.
To see the river and the beautiful stone carvings you have to walk up a 2 km path through the jungle. On the way up you will see some beautiful nature and great views.
This is a holy place so don’t forget to cover your shoulders and knees. If you decide to take a cooling bath, do as the locals and keep your clothes on.
Kbal Spean is a one hour drive from Siem Reap. The admission fee is $20 and the entrance to the area closes at 3:00 PM.
If you have a valid Angkor Admission Pass you can combine this trip with Phnom Kulen, Banteay Srei and the Landmine Museum.
If you are looking for a unique atmosphere and few tourists, then you should consider a visit to Beng Melea.
It is unquestionably one of the most beautiful Angkorian sites, since it is overgrown with jungle vegetation.
It is very similar to the famous jungle temple, Ta Phrom
The 63 km ride out to the temple offers you beautiful views of the Cambodian countryside. The road is now in good condition, and it takes about one hour to get there in a tuk-tuk.
Beng Melea has a separate $5 admission fee and the temple is open from dawn to dusk every day.
The trip can be combined with Koh Ker or Phnom Kulen if you want a full day trip
100 km northeast of Angkor itself, Koh Ker was the capital of the Khmer empire between 928 and 944. The Koh Ker site is dominated by Prasat Thom, a 30 meter tall temple mountain raising high above the plain and the surrounding forest. Great views await visitors at the summit of this adventurous climb.
Koh Ker is very attractive for anyone who would like to experience isolated temples, overgrown by the forest and inhabited only by the animals and birds calling to each other from the trees above.
The area is still heavily minded, so do not leave any well trodden paths.
Koh Ker is three hours away from Siem Reap but you should check the road conditions before leaving, especially in the wet season. It is a $10 admission fee to Koh Ker.
Koh Ker can be combined with a visit to Beng Melea.
Prasat Preah Vihear
Prasat Preah Vihear has the most spectacular setting of all the temples built during the six century’s long Khmer Empire. The Temple of Preah Vihear is dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva.
The temple itself is situated atop a 525-meter (1,720 ft) cliff in northern Cambodia. The view from the top offers panoramic views of Cambodia and nearby regions of Thailand. The only way to get around is on foot. The 500 meter elevation and the resulting breeze provide some relief, but it's still a hot and sticky 120 meter hike up the hill.
The road conditions are poor, and with a distance of over 200 km from Siem Reap, this is a full day trip.
It is possible to stay the night at a very basic guesthouse at the base of the mountain.
The temple area is open from dawn to dusk every day.
To learn more about the Khmer Rouge you should go to Anlong Veng: 125 km north of Siem Reap it was the last stronghold of the Khmer Rouge as well as Pol Pot’s final resident.
Anlong Veng is now a peaceful town with few signs of its awful past. Pol Pot’s house is a motorcycle ride from town. The house itself is not more than a shell, overgrown with foliage and covered in graffiti. Ta Mok’s (Pol Pot’s right hand) mountain house is also worth a visit. The view from the house is actually quite nice. A short walk from Pol Pot’s house lay the grave of Pol Pot.
The Damrek Mountain where the sights are located, is still heavily minded, so do not leave any well trodden paths.
Anlong Veng is a three hour ride from Siem Reap.
It is possible to combine this trip with a visit to Preah Vihear if you stay the night.
The famous floating village of Chong Khneas lies on the Tonle Sap Lake, south of Siem Reap. Because of the location this floating village is the most visited, and it is where the ferries from Phnom Penh and Battambang dock.
This entire village is on the lake, including a school, a church, a basketball court, restaurants, shops and more.
With well over 5000 people living in over 1300 houseboats, it is a unique place to visit. A trip to see the sunset over the floating village is highly recommended.
The Tonle Sap Lake is the largest in South - East Asia. The 160 km long lake fills with water and expands to 250 km long by up to 100 km wide over a period of three months.
The lake rises and progressively floods the surrounding forest and rice fields. The Fishing industry is one of the most important in Cambodia, and over two million people live on or around the lake.
Chong Khneas is located 11 km from Siem Reap town.
If you are looking for a place with fewer tourists you may want to visit Kampong Phluk. This is an entire village built on 10 meter high stilts. Here you can take a small boat and go through a flooded forest. Then have a lunch at one of the local family houses.
Kampong Phluk is about 25 km east of the floating village of Chong Khneas. As opposed to the floating village Kompong Phluk is a permanent village and for most of the year it is only accessible by boat.
This is a relatively small village that provides very good insight into the village lifestyle of the Tonle Sap. The flooded forest is the main attraction but please be aware that the forest is at its best for only about four months a year (August through November). It is at an average depth for another three months (July, December- January). Finally from February through June it's reduced almost to mudflats and not even accessible.
A trip to Kampong Phluk takes about six hours if you decide to eat and go through the flooded forest.
For those of you who want to go to a place with very few tourists, we can recommend Kampong Khleang. This is the next Tonle Sap town east of Kompong Phluk, about 35 km east of Siem Reap town.
Kampong Khleang is the largest permanent settlement on the lake. It's accessible by water and by land at certain times of the year.
During the dry season the view coming in from the lake when the water is down and the hundreds of houses and other buildings are soaring several meters above is nothing short of spectacular!
There is also a small floating village that moves around the vicinity of Kompong Khleang.
You can hire a boat and go between the houses and out to the floating village, they also have a pagoda and a local market if you fancy some local Khmer food.
A trip to Kampong Khleang takes a whole day.
Preak Toal Bird Sanctuary
Located on the tip of Tonle Sap, this bird sanctuary has a significant number of rare breeds gathered in a small area and it’s impressive for both ornithologist and the uninitiated. Discover the incredible variety of water birds, including endangered species such as storks, pelicans and ibises.
The research station out at the sanctuary has information about the areas flora and fauna, they can also provide basic accommodation for those who want to stay the night to fully take advantage of the sunset and early morning viewing hours.
The best time for visiting the Bird Sanctuary of Preak Toal is from December to June when you will find the concentration of birds really amazing. Later, as the water level rises, most of the birds scatter away.
The admission fee is $5, and you can get a guided boat tour at the sanctuary for $20.
To get there you have to take a tuk-tuk, moto or taxi to the boat dock, and from there the boat takes between one and two hours, depending on the water level.
The museum has an exhibition of deactivated mines and unexploded ordinance. It also contains information about different types of mines and why they are such a big problem.
Cambodia is one of the heaviest mined countries in the world. The former child soldier and founder of the museum, Akira, started to work as a deminer after the war.
Today he helps his country and its people by continuing his work as a deminer.
The income from the museum goes to the on-site orphanage and mine awareness campaigns.
Admission fee is $1 and its open daily from 7:30 AM – 5:30 PM. The museum is located on the road to Banteay Srei, about 40 minutes from Siem Reap.
The trip can easily be combined with a visit to the Angkor Park, Banteay Srei, Kbal Spean and Phnom Kulen.
The Angkor Silk Farm
If you are looking for some of Cambodia’s finest silk products, or if you just are interested in the making of them, a visit to the Silk Farm is recommended.
Here you can experience the entire chain in making silk with a free guide
that will show you how mulberry trees are grown to provide feed for silkworm raising.
You will observe artisans at work, removing the silk thread from the cocoons and then working the thread prior to traditional weaving.
Tours can be given in Khmer, English, French and Japanese.
There is also a gift shop and a cafè if you would like to buy some souvenirs or maybe a refreshing drink.
The Silk Farm is located 16 km (30 minutes) west of Siem Reap, and its open between 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM.
The trip can be combined with a visit to West Baray and the Sangkheum Center for Children.
Sangkheum Center for Children
Since 2001 the Sangkheum Center for Children ('sangkheum' means 'hope' in the Khmer language) has been providing education, training, scholastic support and care to disadvantaged children in Cambodia. The center is providing a brighter future for orphaned, abused and neglected children who would otherwise be at risk of turning to a life on the streets.
The Sangkheum Center for Children is a joint project between the Italian NGO Progetto Continenti and the Khmer Angkor Development Organisation. Since 2001, the center has been providing hope for over 260 children, with 48 staying in the center, while supporting another 58 children who still live in their communities and over 160 children in education and training.
Take a tour to learn about the Center, the issues surrounding Cambodian children, and the activities in the villages.
The center is open for visitors everyday from 7:30 AM - 5:00 PM, and it is located 10 km (20minutes) west of Siem Reap.
The trip can be combined with a visit to the Silk Farm and West Baray.
The Khmer Ceramic Center is dedicated to the lost art of Khmer ceramics. Khmer ceramics once thrived during the Khmer Empire from 802 to 1432.
Visit the centre and you will be fascinated by the many activities taking place here.
The trainees will give you a fully guided tour with explanations and demonstrations of all stages and processes involved in turning raw clay in to a full finished, fired and glazed Khmer ceramics. You can also try your hand at the potter’s wheel, and visit the shop and the show room.
The Ceramic Center is located on the main road from Siem Reap to the temples, about 5 minutes from the city center.
The guided tour is free of charge, and the center is open every day from 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM.
The West Baray
This handmade water reservoir is the only one out of four from the Angkorian era that still holds water. This makes this a very popular place for locals to hang out. Here you can have a relaxing day in a hammock, go for a swim and try some of the local BBQ food. There is also a Hindu temple on a small artificial island on the lake. The temple is included in the Angkor admission pass, and it’s easy to hire a boat to go out there.
Originally, the West Baray blanketed 1760 hectares of land with an average depth of seven meters. Today, only the western two-thirds of the baray are filled with water and the average depth is about four meters.
Don’t forget that this is a holy place, so if you decide to go for a swim, it’s a good idea to adjust your bathing clothes to local customs.
West Baray is located 12 km (20 minutes) west of Siem Reap.
The trip can be combined with a visit to the Silk Farm and the Sangkheum Center for Children.
The Happy Ranch Horse Farm
The Happy Ranch Horse Farm is the only western style horse farm in all South East Asia.
The ranch is set on 10 acres of beautiful Khmer countryside, around a miniature lake. Most of the horses are pure Cambodian breed, and the ranch accommodates 29 horses, stallions, mares and foals.
Riders get to explore a different side of Siem Reap. This is definitely a unique way to see Cambodia's countryside.
The local guide takes you away from the touristic areas, through countryside villages, rice fields and unvisited temples. You will get a taste of the rural Khmer life.
Located only 1,5 km from the center of Siem Reap, it’s accessible by foot, bicycle, moto and tuk-tuk.
Enjoy a bird’s eye view of Angkor and its historical landmarks as you sail with the clouds and admire the majestic Angkor Wat. Angkor balloon ride gives you the best sunset and sunrise view of the temple site.
Angkor balloon ride gives you a chance to rise up 200 meters above the main temples in a line attached tethered hot-air balloon. The ride takes 10 minutes and gives you a great opportunity to enjoy a very photogenic view of the temples, Siem Reap, the West Baray and the Cambodian countryside with its rice fields and villages.
The balloon ride can be subjected to cancellation for safety reasons due to bad weather. There is no sunset trip in the wet season because it often rains in the evening hours in this period. The balloon has a specially designed safe platform which can lift 30 passengers at the time.
The big, yellow balloon is based about one km west from Angkor Wat.
Cambodian Cultural Village
This cultural attraction opened in September 2003 and has a total area of 210 000 square meters. Its intention is to introduce visitors to Cambodian culture and history. The CCV contains a wax museum and a large park with 1/20 scale models of important cultural sites and landmarks in Cambodia. Inside the park they also have 11 unique villages, each representing different culture heritages and characteristics of different ethnic groups in Cambodia.
Everyday tourist will be able to enjoy live traditional dance and music shows, Khmer boxing shows, a traditional Khmer wedding ceremony and more. There are also miniature versions of Phnom Penh's Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, National Museum, Central Market and Wat Phnom.
The village is open from 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM and the admission fee is $12 per person with guides available for $5.
Cambodian Cultural Village is located only 3 km from the city center.
Angkor National Museum
This new museum is actually a world class museum and a cultural mall combined together in one building. Angkor National Museum will take its visitors through the journey back in time from the creation to the highest point of civilization. The museum offers eight chronologically ordered galleries of angkorian era artifacts and a multimedia presentation of angkorian culture and history. The gallery of One Thousand Buddha's exhibits one of the most prestigious collections of 1,000 Buddha statues and relics ever assembled.
The cultural mall which is open to both museum visitors and the general public contains restaurants, bookshops, a souvenir shop, tourist information and a Spa and beauty center.
The museum and the museum mall are open from 09:00AM – 08:00PM. Admission fee is $12 and $2 extra if you want to bring your camera.
The Angkor National Museum is located in central Siem Reap.
This beautiful dance has been a part of Khmer culture for well more than a millennium, during the Angkorian era it was enjoyed by kings and common folk alike. The dances are better described as dance-dramas as the dancers use stylized movements and gestures to tell a story or message. Apsara dancers are adorned with gold headdresses and silken tunics and skirts, and the costumes are highly ornate and heavily embroidered, sometimes including spangle and gems.
This dance form is an important piece of Khmer cultural heritage. Like so many other Cambodian traditions, Apsara dancing was almost lost during the Khmer Rouge Regime, but got revived in the 1980’s and 90’s.
Enjoy a free performance every Friday at Soria Moria Boutique Hotel by the children from the Sangkheum center. The same kids also preform every Wednesday at De La Paix Hotel.
There are also several places in Siem Reap that has daily Apsara shows, including Angkor village, Grand Hotel, Kulen 2, Tonle Mekong, Amazon, Sofitel and Le Meridian
Traditional Khmer Cuisine is a delicate and healthy cuisine. Khmer recipes go back to the days before the introduction of the chili, so the food is consequently much milder than most Asian food.
If you find the local Khmer cuisine delicious and are interested in learning the secrets of how to prepare and cook it, joining Le Tigre de Papiers cooking demonstration is a good idea.
Your chef and teacher will take you to old market, explain everything about Cambodian vegetables, herbs, spices and other ingredients and teach you the art of Khmer Cuisine. This follows with a cooking class where you prepare your own meal using local recipes. Finally you will get to enjoy your own prepared Khmer lunch.
Le Tigre de Papiers cooking school starts at 10:00 AM onwards until 04:00 PM. This all takes place in central Siem Reap.
Siem Reap has three golf courses and the Phokeetra Country Club was the first international-standard golf course. The Sofitel-managed Country Club brings world class golf to Cambodia. The course has a challenging championship layout featuring water on almost every hole. The signature hole is the 18th with double water and island green. Sweeping fairways and generous greens give the club a distinctive identity in the region. Natural lagoons and sand traps thread through the course to challenge golfers to raise their game. The course provides a good mix of tricky par 3s, individual par 4s and par 5s.
Designed by D golf design and it’s a 18 hole 72 par course spread over 155 hectares. The area includes separate pitching and putting greens, driving area, pro shop and a restaurant.
Phokeetra Country Club has trained English, Thai and Japanese speaking caddies that will accompany players in electric powered carts. They also provide with equipment rental, golf carts, shoes and locker room facilities.
The Golf course is located 16km outside of Siem Reap.
Quad Adventure Cambodia
Take a trip with Quad Adventure Cambodia and explore the country side in a safe and fun way. A quad bike is the perfect all terrain vehicle, and easy to ride even for beginners.
Quad Adventure Cambodia offers relaxing sunset tours and multi day adventure rides through the villages, rice paddies, temples and to more remote areas and sights. Get a real insight into this beautiful country and its friendly people.
Quad Adventure Cambodia provides you with protective gear and a short introductory lesson before all trips.
The prices start at $20 for a one hour trip on the rice paddies and its $150 for a full day.
Their office is located in central Siem Reap.
Dirt Bike Tours
Discover Angkor, Siem Reap and what lies beyond it. There are several companies in Siem Reap that will take you out on a guided tour on the Cambodian countryside. You will be able to see a part of Cambodia most visitors never experience.
In all their tours they are interested to show you the culture, the people, their way of life and the local history.
The Dirt Bike Tours is very safety-oriented to ensure that their costumers have the best experience possible. Each of their tours is tailored to suit the skill level of the group. They plan trips to all areas of the country, but concentrate on the north, east, west and southwest of Siem Reap.
Please ask the staff at European Guesthouse for more information.
A scenic helicopter ride is definitely the most exciting and breathtaking way to experience the size, scale and enormity of the Angkor archeological park.
Siem Reap has two different companies who offer flights around the main temple area or to more remote destinations.
You can also take a swing out over the northern edge of Tonle Sap Lake to see the floating villages and local fishing boats from a different perspective.
The tours must be booked in advance and have a minimum two people requirement.
A normal tour around the temple site takes approx 12 minutes and costs $110 per person.
Pagodas & Shrines
Buddhist pagodas are the traditional seat of Khmer culture. Siem Reap, like many Cambodian towns, is a collection of villages, which grew around individual pagodas, later coalescing into the town.
Siem Reap has two shrines and many pagodas, but only three of them
are of any interest to visitors:
Both shrines are located close to Grand Hotel d'Angkor. They play an important role in the life of Cambodians, and Visitors are welcome to make offerings and take photos.
Wat Bo is one of the biggest, oldest and most respected pagoda in town. The pagoda was built in the 18th century, and it contains very unique paintings and a large collection of Buddha statues. You will also be able to observe monks doing their daily routine. Wat Damnak is also a very old pagoda and houses the Centre for Khmer Studies (a public library) on its compound. Wat Thmey should be visited for its unique glass-walled stupa containing the remains of victims of the Khmer Rouge regime (killing fields of Siem Reap).