When you think Siem Reap, you think temples, right? And of course, the Angkor temples are the sole purpose of everyone’s trip. But sometimes there are people (me, for instance) who don’t enjoy 3-day-long tours with a witty-ish guide and an overload of info. Although the town is small, there are some awesome alternative things to do in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
So, after an amazing 5-day experience doing all the alternative things, I feel I am qualified to give you 5 things to do in Siem Reap (for the not-so-temple-crazy).
1 | Take a trot through the temples
For the less historically-inclined but sportier bunch, mix temple-viewing with some exercise and do the annual Angkor Wat Marathon. This is considered an easy race because it’s shady and flat, making it a great way to enjoy some of the temples en-route while taking in the beautiful scenery. Just remember to leave 2 hours before the race because traffic is hectic. The race takes place early in December when the weather is fab for a jog.
2 | Pub it up
One of the most entertaining things to do in Siem Reap is hit up the Pub Street. A lot like Bui Vien in Ho Chi Minh City and other Southeast Asian hotspots, Siem Reap’s Pub Street is small, crowded, and offers scarily cheap beers (think R5 for a draught). Although a little grubby, and probably not a spot you would take your folks, there is something oddly charming about the place (after a few beers I’m sure you’ll agree). Here, you can try the scorpion and spider delicacies that you’ve seen on TV. Personally, I loved staying walking distance from Siem Reap’s Pub Street to avoid driving after a night out.
3 | Shop a little
Looking for some ellie-print pants to prove you’ve been in SE Asia? Or maybe some curios for the loved ones? The Siem Reap Markets will have what you’re looking for. The more touristy markets are just behind the Pub Street and include a food market if you want to grab some local grub. However, I really recommend going to the ‘Made in Cambodia Market’ near the Hard Rock Café. It has really tasteful, good quality crafts.
4 | DIY temple tour
Yes, obvs you have to do the temples. But if, like me, you’re a little less temple-obsessed and just want to be Lara Croft for an hour or two, make sure you create your own itinerary and do your tour on a hired scooter. Do some research and see which temples are quieter. The popular temples, although steeped in history, lose some of their magic amidst the crowds. I recommend doing two of the popular temples at around midday when the tour groups are having lunch, and enjoy the real Angkor feel in some of the quieter spots in the early morning and later afternoon. My favourite temple was Banteay Kdei (known as The Tree Temple). I wouldn’t describe myself as a spiritual yogi, but boy, I felt it in there.
5 | Unwind by the pool
To be honest, this is one of my best things to do in Siem Reap besides temple viewing. Cambodia is hot. Most of the hotels are designed for this climate, making it easy to relax by the pool and still be close enough to your room for quick nap breaks. Order cocktails by the pool and laze around until it’s time to catch a sunset over Angkor Wat (is this even real life?). If you want to stay somewhere extra special, give Heritage Suites a try. Using the ENTERTAINER to get excellent 2-for-1 deals on your stay, of course.
I may have only been in Cambodia for a few days, but I felt as though I had the opportunity to try all the things to do in Siem Reap, as well as see the temples.
Have you been to Siem Reap? What’s next on your bucket list?