Siem Reap is one of Cambodia’s main tourist destinations and there are plenty of things for visitors to see and do here. While most visitors use Siem Reap as a base to explore the nearby Angkor temple complex, the city also contains a large number of interesting attractions, ranging from artistic triumphs to modern temples and museums.
Visitors should allow at least three days to see all that Siem Reap has to offer, while those who have more time to spare will find it easy to fill an entire week exploring the attractions here as well as bar hopping and dining on a wide range of delicious culinary delights.
Angkor Temple Complex
By far the most popular attraction in the area is the Angkor temple complex, which contains one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – the incomparable Khmer 12th century Angkor Wat.
A protected UNESCO World Heritage site, people travel from all over the world to witness the majestic beauty of these magnificent temples and at least two full days is needed in order to see them in all their glory. The Angkor temple complex is much too large to cover on foot and most visitors opt to hire a moto with a driver for the day, although bicycles are also available for hire. While Angkor Wat is by far the most famous temple here, other celebrated sights include Angkor Thom, Banteay Srei, Pre Rup and Preah Khan. More on Angkor.
This masterpiece by a local sculptor allows visitors can see scaled down replicas of all the temples in the Angkor Wat complex, which provides an excellent introduction to the area as well as some exciting photo opportunities.
Wat Dam Nak
Located in the centre of Siem Reap, Wat Dam Nak was used as a royal palace during King Sisowath’s reign. These days it contains the Centre for Khmer Studies, and this is a good place to visit in order to gain an insight into the rich and diverse culture of Cambodia.
Siem Reap Cultural Village
A number of unusual exhibitions can be found in this enchanting village, which is located on National Road 6. Visitors can watch a re-enactment of a Khmer wedding ceremony here, enjoy displays of local dancing, see miniatures of national buildings and monuments plus check out the wax museum.
There are also a number of interesting ancient temples located just a short drive from Siem Reap and 12th century sandstone Beng Mealea can be found on the road to Koh Ker.
The the best thing about Beng Mealea is that it is largely overlooked by tourists, allowing visitors plenty of space to explore the detailed carvings and engravings that adorn the outside of the temple.
Cambodia Landmines Museum
Located 20 miles north east of Siem Reap, along the road to Banteay Srei, the Cambodia Landmines Museum has been established by former Khmer Rouge soldier Aki Ra and offers an interesting if shocking insight into the atrocities committed by Pol Pot’s brutal regime. Among the many colourful exhibits here is a large collection of landmines, which are just some of the 50,000 deactivated by Aki Rai since the 1990s.
Khmer Dancing in Siem Reap
Those who are looking for a dose of some culture in the evening should perhaps visit one of the restaurants that offer traditional Khmer dance performances to their customers. One of the most popular venues is Butterflies Garden, where delicious dishes are served in a pretty garden setting. Free of charge.
Bars and clubs in Siem Reap
Party people will also find plenty to do in Siem Reap as the city boasts a large number of vibrant bars, while clubs such as the Wayfarer’s Pub and The Temple Bar offer the opportunity to dance the night away to pumping tunes spun by local DJs. More on Siem Reap bars and nightlife.