Siem Reap Top Attractions: A sensational province and packed with things to do. It is the ultimate destination for the majority of its many thousands of tourists.
The greatest attraction of all being the Angkor Archaeological Park. Home to the world-renowned and utterly momentous Angkor Wat.
Siem Reap is certainly brimming with top attractions. An outstanding number of attractive activities are offered to its visitors.
There are numerous terrific temples. Remarkable markets and museums. Not to mention the exhilarating day trips.
The list keeps on growing:
- Hiking & walking tours
- Public parks
- Cooking classes
- Performing arts
- Public parks
- Horse riding
Not only is Angkor Wat the world’s biggest and Cambodia’s best-known temple. But also the country’s main tourist attraction. Representing a marvel of engineering which still leaves people mystified to this day. Siem Reap has a staggering amount of temples. In short, this may leave visitors slightly puzzled as to where to begin.
Undoubtedly, the only place to begin is at Angkor Wat. Rediscovered in the mid 19th century, it is the world’s largest religious building. Rightfully, said to be one of the wonders of the ancient world, along with Taj Mahal and Macchu Picchu. Angkor Wat is the main attraction of the Angkor Archeological Park.
The capital city of Jayavarman VII’s empire. A truly great city of its time. Jayavarman VII had it built to commemorate his victory over the Cham. Angkor Thom literally translates as ‘Great City’.
Spread over 9 square kilometres, Angkor Thom contains many of the famous Angkor temples.
The Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King establish a 500m platform. This runs across the east side of the Royal Palace in Angkor Thom. The terraces are quite different than other Angkor temples. The carvings of Airavata (Indra’s three-headed elephant) and the Balaha (the five-headed horse) are spectacular. In particular, the midday sun dramatically highlights the Balaha carving.
Bayon Temple, located at the centre of Angkor Thom, is exceptional. The giant faces carved out the stone are unique. Bayon’s galleries exhibit some striking bas-reliefs. These illustrate scenes of battles, mainly fought against the Cham. While others showcase scenes of everyday life.
Baphoun, a large mountain temple, is located to the northwest of Bayon. Baphoun was the state temple of King Udayadityavarman II. Also, the temple predates those of Angkor Thom. Dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva. Alas, it is a temple which is now mainly in ruins. Nevertheless, extensive restoration work having begun in the late 1950s continues to progress.
Angkor National Museum
The Angkor Nation Museum gives visitors a great insight into the cultural heritage of Cambodia. Housing many magnificent collections of valuable artifacts from the Khmer Kingdom’s golden era. Including examples of art, history, culture and legends too.
Visitors to the museum gain a deeper understanding of the Khmer culture. The galleries highlight different aspects of Khmer civilization throughout the ages.
An extensive array of information on Angkor Wat is exhibited. It shows us how this remarkable structure was built. Meanwhile, the equinox phenomenon at Angkor Wat is also illustrated. All of which gives visitors a mass of information and a better understanding of the temple complex.
The Khmer’s cultural beliefs and traditions are reflected throughout this interesting museum.
The War Museum
The War Museum is the biggest museum of its kind in Cambodia. This will grab the attention of history lovers. The museum gives visitors the opportunity to learn about Cambodia’s recent history. Inside there are unique examples of war machines, such as the D-44, the field artillery gun, a jet fighter aircraft, a T-54 tank and the Mil Mi-8 helicopter.
Included also is a rare collection of photographs from the most recent war, in the 1970s, are also on display.
Cambodian Land Mine Museum
You may also like to take the time to visit the Cambodian Land Mine Museum. The purpose of creating this particular museum was to help children who have been injured by landmines.
The museum was founded by Aki Ra. In the 1970s Aki Ra was recruited as a child soldier by the Khmer Rouge. Since that time he has not only helped the children injured by landmines. But also been responsible for defusing thousands of landmines that he had originally planted.
Taking a boat trip on the Tonle Sap Lake gives you an entirely different way of seeing this part of Cambodia.
Cruising along by boat you will get a glimpse of rural life away from the city’s hustle and bustle. You’ll learn about the fishing villages, specifically, their traditional way of life.
Above all, small group tours are family friendly. Besides, it’s a great benefit having a personal guide. In any event, a guide will offer you a professional and informative day out. Boat trips are a wonderful way to experience rural life. As you sail along you will pass pagodas, floating markets and fishing boats, even schools. In fact, there are hundreds are floating villages on Tonle Sap Lake.
Indeed, whole communities live on the lake. You’ll see the fishermen as well as their families living a distinctly different way of life. There are houses built on stilts. Built in this way so as to avoid the flooding during the rainy season.
Phnom Kulen National Park
Another key attraction is Phnom Kulen National Park. This wonderful place gives visitors the opportunity to explore the jungle. Moreover, the park includes the Kulen Mountain Discovery Trail. This trail, in particular, was set up by the Ministry of Environment with various NGOs. Its purpose is to preserve, not only the natural habitat of the wildlife. But also to provide local communities with an income other than logging or poaching.
The trail takes you hiking through the Cambodian jungle. Rambling through a mainly untouched evergreen forest that’s dotted with huge boulders. Phnom Kulen National Park is a popular, although peaceful, tourist attraction.
Markets (Phsar in Khmer)
Siem Reap has a wide of markets to choose from. Selling everything imaginable from fresh fruit to motorcycle parts. Not to mention the clothes, household items and electronics. The markets in Siem Reap sell goods at a fraction of the price in comparison to many shops. If you love a bargain, market shopping in Siem Reap is for you.
With so many to choose between, you may wonder which one to visit first. Nevertheless, at the top of our list is the Made in Cambodia Market.
Made in Cambodia Market
The Made in Cambodia Market redefines what it means to be ‘made in Cambodia’ today.
This market, in particular, not only showcases the most unique examples of Cambodian craftsmanship. It also unites them with internationally recognised charities. Examples include Rehash Trash, Ammo, Friends International and others.
Visitors going to the market have the opportunity to buy quality, handcrafted products and luxury goods. Only Cambodian-made items are sold here. The items themselves are often created from recycled waste. For this singular reason, Made in Cambodia Market is at the top of our list.
Although smaller, the purpose of this market is to ensure the Cambodian people directly benefit from their sales. The main philosophy behind the Made in Cambodia Market is to create Khmer jobs for Khmer people. By the same token, the greatest benefit is to the people involved. Benefitting everyone from the villagers who create the products to the stall holders you’ll meet when you visit.
A good example is Rehash Trash which is an exceptional initiative. This organisation helps both disadvantaged women to earn a regular, independent income while at the same time combatting plastic pollution. Everything sold by Rehash Trash is made from recycled waste, just as its name suggests! They estimate using around 5,000 plastic bags a week. This means, 5,000 bags a week are taken off the streets. Consequently cleaning up the local area of unsightly rubbish. Finally and equally importantly stopping this rubbish from ending up in the sea.
Angkor Night Market
Angkor Night Market is the original night market. Established in 2007 and the first of its kind to open in Siem Reap. Not only that but also it’s actually the first night market to open in Cambodia.
This bustling night market is made up of thatch-roof huts. A great place that sells something for everyone. On sale are charming handmade products as well as delightful souvenirs.
On top of that, there are additional attractions. Examples of which include spa services, massage and great places to eat. Incidentally, there’s even a cocktail bar if you fancy a drink.
All in all, Angkor Night Market offers visitors an enjoyable and authentic experience. Apart from that, it is also accessible to wheelchair users.
Many other markets in Siem Reap also gain the attraction of plenty of tourists such as:
- The Old Market or Phsar Chas
- Phsar Leu (The Upper Market)
- BB Angkor Market
- Siem Reap Art Center Market
- Noon Night Market
Apsara is a traditional Cambodian dance. Reaching the peak of popularity in the 12th century, yet still exists today. In Khmer mythology Apsaras are beautiful, celestial maidens. Additionally, legend says they are born from the ‘Churning of the Ocean of Milk’. Believed to have come down from heaven to entertain the gods and the kings. The Apsara dance comes from this ancient mythology.
These celestial maidens are intricately carved into the bas-reliefs found in many temples. The Apsara dance was only performed at the Royal Court in the past. Today, Apsara dances are a tourist attraction. There are places, such as Apsara Theatre Restaurant (on Street 26) in Siem Reap that perform shows for the public. Thus providing visitors with an alternative to the usual attractions by way of contrast.
Hindu mythology is the major influence of the Apsara dance. Known for their beautiful costumes, extravagant headdresses and jewelry, Apsaras are not exclusive to Cambodia. As a result, other countries such as Thailand and Indonesia also have similar traditional dancers.
Pub Street’s is a lively environment which gains the attraction of thousands of tourists every year. As the name suggests, there are plenty of places to find a drink.
Pub Street is a combination both nightclubs and restaurants, as well as various food stalls. A great place to enjoy a drink and a good meal.
This is the place to party for many tourists. The atmosphere is exuberant, a place where music is played seemingly nonstop throughout the night. Put on your dancing shoes, come to Pub Street to enjoy an exciting and fun night out!