If you’re planning a trip to Siem Reap there’s lots to do and keep you busy. The temples of Angkor will no doubt be top of your list and we hope you take time to discover the beautiful countryside on our unique bike tours, but there’s a lot more things to do in temple town. Check out our guide below, which we’ll add to as we think of more fun and interesting things to do.
Yes, there’s a circus in Siem Reap! And its fantastic! Not like the traditional western circus you might imagine, Phare Circus is a contemporary spectacle and ‘must see’ while you are in Siem Reap. Shows are held nightly and all the performers are from disadvantaged backgrounds and incredibly talented. Phare is a well established organization providing education to disadvantaged young people.
Learn more about the circus and how to get tickets here
Try the Local Food
Khmer cuisine may not have the international reputation of neighbouring Asian countries but that’s perhaps because its yet to be discovered. Siem Reap is the perfect place to dive into Cambodian food, with an endless supply of good restaurants. Whether you are a vegetarian or certified carnivore, you will find both cheap eats and fine dining at your disposal.
TripAdvisor is usually a good source of info for where to eat, but here’s a few of our favourite places to eat in Siem Reap.
If you’re looking for fine dining on a budget, try the free-flow breakfast every day from 6.30am. For $7 plus tax you can enjoy a range of dishes both local and western in a opulent setting. The prawn noodles are particularly good.
Pork & Rice
The staple Cambodian breakfast of pork and rice can be found all over town in local street-side restaurants. A cheap yet filling meal.
Pou is a fairly new restaurant that’s been cooking up a storm. The chefs at this homely restaurant serve up a modern take on Cambodian dishes to rave reviews.
Christa is one of our favourite family run restaurants. Set behind the night art market, Christa serves up delicious Cambodian and Western food at very affordable prices. To top it off, the service and atmosphere is as good as it gets.
Sister Srey Cafe is a Social Enterprise, located conveniently a few steps from the old market. Always a popular spot for breakfast, lunch and good coffee.
This homely family run restaurant hosts Tapas Night on Tuesdays and Saturdays and is well worth a visit. All the dishes are delicious and great value. The Makeral dish is not to be missed.
Tevy’s is very popular with locals and expats and serves delicious Cambodian food at very affordable prices.
Bang Bang Bakery
If you’re looking for some sweet treats look no further than Bang Bang on Thapul Road. Indulgent cakes, cookies await as well as bagels with various tempting fillings.
Enjoy a Dip in the Pool
Siem Reap is hot year round, especially so during April and May and a dip in the pool provides some welcome relief. A number of hotels in Siem Reap open their pools to non-guests for a fee. If your hotel already has a pool, lucky you! but if you’re accommodation doesn’t have one, check out this list for options.
Visit the Local Markets
Siem Reap has a number of local markets to explore.
Psar Jas (Old Market)
The old market represents the centre of town a stones throw from pub street. If your looking for souvenirs you will find them here but be prepared to haggle hard. The first price the seller quotes will be several times higher than what you pay if you haggle with a bit of charm. Although this market is mostly for tourists, there’s also a sizeable fruit & veg and meat section for a more local flavor.
For a more authentic market experience, head for Psar Leu on road 6 (in the direction of Phnom Penh). This is Siem Reap’s largest market and is always busy and hot. Here you will find just about everything you can think of. For a truly local experience, head to the back of the market where all the meat, fruit and veg is sold (not for the faint hearted).
This market runs along road 60 just out of town and is a popular stretch for locals to buy cheap clothes and eat together. We love it here for its local feel and amusement area with fun games and rides.
Made in Cambodia Market
As the name suggests, the array of products for sale here are made locally, including many handcrafted delights. Located in the charming Kings Road complex this market offers a laid back atmosphere to shop and learn about several great organisations making authentic Cambodian products. Performances and live music are often held too.
In the past year a number of shipping container markets have popped up across town. The fact these all opened at the same time means there’s too many of them and they are usually pretty empty unless there’s a special event on. Perhaps the two most popular are Boxville on Road 6 and Palm Container market on road 60. These markets are mostly bars and restaurants but you can also find some selling clothes and bags etc.
Visit a Pagoda
Siem Reap has an abundance of beautiful pagodas, home to Buddhist monks. The oldest is Wat Bo and is worth a visit. Also located centrally is Wat Damnak just across the river from the old market. These pagodas are open for the public but also where monks live and study so you need to be respectful. You will often be warmly greeted by the monks wanting to practice English with you.
Grab a Fruit Shake
As you surely know by now, Siem Reap is hot! One of the best ways to stay refreshed is by having a delicious ice cold fruit shake sold everywhere and its cheap! The best ones use lots of real fruit. For an even cheaper and local refreshing drink, look out for the sugar cane juice stalls dotted along the road.
Check out the Art Scene
Siem Reap has some great artists and creative spaces to explore, so if you’re into art make sure to check them out while you’re in town. See some of our recommendations below.
The Small Art School
The Small Art School is a wonderful organisation providing art education to local children. Founded by a retired Japanese art teacher, their school near Wat Damnak offers classes to local children as well as outreach with nearby villages. The gallery downstairs showcases some of the students amazing and original works.
Learn more and get in touch with the Small Art School here
Theam’s House is the home cum-atelier of the Cambodian artist and designer Lim Muy Theam. Set in a beautiful traditional tropical garden, this artistic oasis has to be seen while in Siem Reap. The works on display include Theams’ personal collection and unique works created on site at the workshop providing employment for the community.
Learn more here
AMMO (short for ammunition) is a jewellery brand, and a social enterprise, offering young or disadvantaged Cambodians apprenticeship training, learning how to make jewellery from silver and from recycled brass bullet casings. Their workshop is open to visitors and you can even have a go at making your own jewelry!
See more here
Located in the trendy Kandal Village area, TRIBE focuses on Urban / Street and contemporary art. The gallery’s purpose and mission is to support and nurture local Khmer artists while also showcasing international artists. To further tempt a visit, they also have a cocktail bar with the gallery.
Enjoy a Cocktail
There’s plenty of options for a evening cocktail in Siem Reap, including at most of the hotels. But for the most unique cocktail experience in a beautiful setting, visit Miss Wongs, tucked away in a lane behind Pub Street.
Go to an Event / Performance
Siem Reap has a large expat community doing all sorts of interesting things. Check out the local expat pages on Facebook to get information on upcoming events such as pub quizzes, exhibitions, yoga classes and much more besides.
See a Football Match
A few kilometers out of town off road 6, is Siem Reap stadium, home to Angkor Tiger football club. Tickets are $1. Check out the Angkor Tigers website for fixture dates and times. Show up early to get a seat under the roof to avoid the sweltering sun or pouring rain!
Take Some Photos
We’re not talking selfies here, there’s plenty of time for that. Capture the memories by making photos of all the wonderful things around you. As for taking photos of people, just ask nicely and although often shy, most Cambodian’s wont mind at all. Cambodian’s have the best smiles in the world so don’t be afraid to ask for a photo.
Whether you’re into yoga, zumba, running, the gym or a power-walk, you can do it all in Siem Reap. To do as the locals, head down by the river in the early morning or after 5pm by the royal gardens (near Raffles Hotel) where you will find people playing badminton, doing aerobics classes and all manner of healthy activities.
Get out into ‘the Sticks’
Now that you have explored what Siem Reap has to offer, get out into the countryside! Siem Reap is blessed to be surrounded by stunning countryside in almost every direction you take. Lush green rice fields, palm trees, lotus fields, water buffalo’s and rural villages await you and we highly recommend at least a few hours to explore to truly experience Cambodian way of life.
Join one of our unique guided bike tours to discover the picturesque countryside beyond Siem Reap town.
Learn the Lingo
You’ll be amazed how by just learning a few simple words and phrases of Khmer will enhance your stay here. Cambodian’s love it when you make a little effort to speak their language and will open up and respect you more for doing so. You might get a little giggle if your pronunciation is off but its never malicious. Here’s a few words and phrases to get you started.
Chum reap sour = Formal greeting / Sursdey = Informal hello
Orkun = Thank you
Soksabay = How are you?
Tlay poun man = How much is it?
Money = Loy / Som kit loy = the bill please