Top things to do in Siem Reap itself
Visiting the famous Angkor Archaeological Park’s many temples is without a doubt one of top thing to do in Siem Reap. You could actually go further than this and say it’s one of the top things to see in the whole of Cambodia.
Yet the attractions of Siem Reap don’t stop at the gates of Angkor Wat. There’s plenty more to discover within the city itself, so you should spend at least a few days exploring the centre as well. Here are six top things to do in Siem Reap other than Angkor Wat to get you started.
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This is the oldest Khmer Market in Siem Reap (hence the name!). Unlike some of the other markets in Siem Reap, this is the place to come to experience a local Cambodian market. Like most day markets in South East Asia, the Old Market is set in and around a building to shade you from the baking sun. In the market’s the outer maze of layers you can pick up anything from clothes and shoes to dried lentils and spices, with tourist souvenir stalls few and far between. And if you delve further it’s centre you’ll find the real heart and soul of the place, where locals come to buy and sell fresh meat, fish, fruit and vegetables in the early morning.
When you’re staying in the city it’s inevitable that you’ll end up on Pub Street at some point. This lively lane of restaurants and bars is one of the things to do in Siem Reap at night time. The analogy of a moth to a flame would be a good one here. The bright neon lights, pumping music and offers of cheap beer brings visitors out in their droves. Think Bangkok’s Koh San Road but slightly less tacky. It’s not just isolated to one street either. The surrounding area is getting in on the action too, creating a wider hub of restaurants, bars and strangely fish foot massage shops for tourists to while away the evenings.
Angkor Night Market
The Angkor Night Market is pretty much the opposite of the Old Market. This one is geared towards tourists, with stalls selling mostly Khmer handicrafts including paintings, jewellery and clothes. The idea behind the market is to keep these artistic traditions alive. Therefore expect to find a few really bespoke stalls there too, where you can tell things have actually been handmade by the seller. The market is quite small, and as it’s catered for visitors, the prices are a little higher, so it’s up to you to barter to what you think is a fair price.
National Angkor Museum
Another one of the top things to do in Siem Reap is the National Angkor Museum. Made up of a collection of exhibitions, the museum gives you a full history of the Khmer empire and Angkorian period. This includes information about when and how the temples were built, the development of design and symbols over time and the meaning behind them all. For these reasons I would recommend visiting the National Angkor Museum before the temples, as it will give you a better understanding of what you are seeing. Entry fee is a little steep at $10 per person, but it is definitely worth it for the amount of information you get.
Arts Centre Night Market
If I’m honest, there’s not that much difference in my eyes between this market and the Angkor Night Market. Both cater towards tourists with a focus on handicraft style goods. However, the market at the Arts Centre is a quite a bit bigger so has more choice if you’re shopping for souvenirs. Plus it’s also closer to Pub Street than the Angkor Night Market, so if you’re in that part of town in the evening anyway it’s just a hop and a skip away.
Temple Coffee & Bakery
There are plenty of cool cafes to discover in Siem Reap. But Temple Coffee & Bakery was by far my favourite. Head upstairs and settle yourself into one of their bed-like seats stuffed with big squashy cushions and relax. I actually spent quite a lot of mornings here doing either freelance work or blog writing. It’s not the cheapest place to get a coffee in the city by all means, but the laid-back vibe and comfy surroundings meant I didn’t mind paying a little more.
Hopefully, this short guide has given you an idea of some of the top things to do in Siem Reap other than the Angkor Wat temples, and maybe helped you to plan your visit too. Have you visited any other Siem Reap attractions that I haven’t mentioned on my list? Let me know in the comments!