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Siem Reap is the capital of Cambodian tourism thanks to its close proximity to the Angkor Wat Archaeological Complex. Nearly 2.5 million people visit Siem Reap every year, and for good reason! Siem Reap offers a variety of experiences and activities for visitors. Here I’ll detail the BEST things to do in Siem Reap (other than temples)!
For most visitors, the temples of Angkor will be the the number one activity on their Siem Reap itinerary. The Angkor Wat temple complex does not disappoint, and I highly recommend that anyone traveling to Siem Reap takes the time to explore Angkor Wat!
With that said, there is a LOT more to do in Siem Reap than just temple hopping! We spent two weeks in Siem Reap, and there were plenty of attractions to keep us busy.
If you’re wondering what to do in Siem Reap keep reading, I’ll cover all the best non-temple things to do in Siem Reap!
Mine Sniffing Rats- APOPO Visitor Center
Just south of the Angkor temple complex is the APOPO visitor center, a very unusual experience that I HIGHLY recommend.
APOPO is a humanitarian organization that has come up with an incredible and unique way to locate and disarm land mines throughout Southeast Asia. They use giant African rats!
These rats have a very strong sense of smell, allowing them to sniff out land mines buried in the ground. Since these rats only weight about a pound they are too light to set the bombs off! Once the rats sniff out a bomb, specially trained humans will disarm and remove it.
Land mines are a huge problem in Southeast Asia. During the Vietnam war millions of undetonated explosives were dropped on Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. In Cambodia it is estimated that there are between 2 and 6 million undetonated land mines still littered across the country.
During your tour at the APOPO Visitor Center you will get to watch a training demonstration with the African rats, who are actually pretty darn adorable! There is a small donation requested for the tour, and this is a great way to give back to the country of Cambodia while you travel through.
Angkor National Museum
The Angkor National Museum is a must-visit Siem Reap attraction! I recommend that you visit this museum before you visit the Angkor Archaeological Park.
This beautiful, modern museum walks you through the history of the Angkor temples through an easy to follow audio tour, and loads of beautiful photos, movies, and interactive exhibits.
After visiting the Angkor National Museum we were able to really appreciate the temples of Angkor because we had a solid understanding of what we were actually looking at!
PRO Tip: Be sure to spend the extra few dollars to get the audio tour! The audio tour was what really made this museum special, and the exhibits are not very self-explanatory so the audio tour is a must.
Best Siem Reap Night Markets
Siem Reap hosts a variety of markets daily. Whether you’re looking for delicious street food, a quick massage, or souvenirs, the Siem Reap markets have you covered!
Made in Cambodia Market
This market focuses on creating jobs for the Khmer people. The market provides skills training to local sellers, and jobs are created for farmers and villagers who’s goods are sold in the market stalls.
Stop by this market at Kings Road Angkor from noon to 10pm. On weekend evenings there are special performances by musicians and acrobats as well!
Angkor Night Market
This is the original Siem Reap night market, and it is BIG, with over 200 stalls! This market also has a roof over it, making it a perfect spot to shop if it’s raining.
Here you’ll find street food, art, souvenirs, and massage stalls. One of our favorite treats at this night market was ice cream rolls! We probably ate them a few more times than we should have…
The Angkor Night Market is located in the center of town off of Sivatha Road, and is open from noon to midnight every day.
The Phare Ponleau Selpak Circus is an organization that supports the education of nearly 2000 Cambodian children. 500 of those students attend a vocational school that specifically focuses on circus performance!
You can see the Phare Circus perform every night in Siem Reap, and it is WELL worth the cost of attendance. The circus acts are incredible, and the show weaves an entertaining plot that ties the performances together. Plus, you know that your ticket money is going to a great cause!
Find tickets for Phare Circus here! [[LINK THIS]]
Cambodia Landmine Museum
Landmines are a huge problem in Cambodia, and many innocent Cambodians die from landmine explosions every year.
At the Cambodia Landmine Museum you’ll learn about the landmines themselves, and also about the conflicts that caused these landmines to end up all over Cambodia. You’ll also learn about the work that is being done by humanitarian organizations to locate and disarm the millions of landmines across Cambodia.
You’ll also hear the fascinating story of one man who has singlehandedly disarmed the majority of Cambodia’s landmines!
Pub Street Siem Reap
When it comes to Siem Reap nightlife, Pub Street is definitely the place to be!
Every night this stretch of road between Banana Leaf Restaurant and Red Piano Restaurant is blocked off to traffic so tourists can easily and safely hop from one bar to the next.
There is usually a combination of live music, dance music, street food, drink specials, and a LOT of fun. There are also plenty of restaurants lining the street, so be sure to stop and eat a good meal between drinks!
I’ll admit I did not actually try one of these “fish spas”, but there were several of them dotting the streets in Siem Reap, and we saw plenty of tourists indulging in this unusual beauty practice.
Basically, you pay to dip your feet into the fish-filled water for 15 to 30 minutes, and tiny fish nibble the dead skin off your feet!
It’s probably worth trying for the photos alone!
Aspara Dance Performance
For a fancy night out in Siem Reap, you can’t beat the Aspara Dance Performance at the Park Hyatt Siem Reap.
Aspara Dance is a centuries-old Khmer tradition that tells a story of ancient Khmer history. It’s also an extremely beautiful form of dance that is worth experiencing while you’re in Siem Reap.
The Park Hyatt hosts Aspara dance performances every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday during their dinner service.
Take a Cambodian Cooking Class
This is a great way to familiarize yourself with traditional Cambodian dishes like beef lok lak (my favorite!) and fish amok. I love getting to know a country through its food, and Cambodian food is well worth exploring.
Visit Kulen Waterfall
One of the best day trips from Siem Reap will take you to the beautiful Kulen Waterfall in Phnom Kulen National Park. Several nature trails lead to the waterfall, and once you’re there you can have a picnic by the beautiful cascade!
The easiest way to see this waterfall is to hire a guide who will drive you there, guide you on the trails, and explain the area to you. This can be arranged through your hotel.
Best Siem Reap Spas
Siem Reap offers a wide variety of spa experiences from massage street stalls to high-end luxury spa retreats. After a long day exploring the temples a massage is just what you need to relax!
These are the best spas in Siem Reap for every budget type:
Best Budget Spa- ISOP Spa
For the best budget massage in Siem Reap head to ISOP spa, where an hour massage will set you back just $8!
The inside of this spa is stylish and comfortable, and at this price point you can’t beat the value.
Best Moderate Priced Spa- Lemongrass Garden Spa
This spa is a fantastic value. For $16 you’ll receive a 60 minute full body massage in a beautiful, luxurious setting.
Tom and I splurged on massages here, and we were not disappointed! In fact, these were some of the best massages we had in all of Southeast Asia!
Best Luxury Spa- Mudita Spa
Mudita Spa offers herbal steam therapy, a jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, rain shower, and a variety of body treatments. You can purchase a day pass to all of these facilities, or purchase a treatment package to gain access.
Best Siem Reap Restaurants
Restaurants line the streets of Siem Reap, and there are so many on offer it can be hard to choose where to eat!
We stayed in Siem Reap for two weeks and tried TONS of different restaurants. There were a few that really stood out among the rest, and that we consider the best Siem Reap restaurants!
Best Cambodian Food- Lady Khmer Kitchen
The ladies at Lady Khmer Kitchen really know their stuff! The beef lok lak here was the best we ate anywhere in Cambodia, and every Cambodian dish we ate here was unbelievably delicious!
From the outside this restaurant looks the same as many of the other Khmer eateries surrounding it, but don’t be fooled! Lady Khmer Kitchen was by far the best Cambodian food we ate in the entire country.
Along with fantastic food, this restaurant was easy on our budget, with main courses costing just $2- $4.
Best Western Food- Kuriosity Kafe
Don’t be turned off by the kitschy decorations at Kuriosity Kafe! The food more than makes up for the oddball decor.
The Kuriosity Kafe is located on Sok San Road, and serves authentic, mouthwatering, western style BBQ dishes!
The baby back ribs here are so tender and fatty they fall right off the bone, and they come cooked in your choice of BBQ rub or sauce.
This was a bit of a splurge for us as a draft beer and ribs meal cost about $11, but if you’re craving some solid western food this is definitely your spot!
Best Cocktails/Bar Food- Soul Kitchen
Every time we stopped in this bar/restaurant combo we were treated to excellent live music and awesome cocktails! Tom even got a proper martini here, which is basically a miracle in Southeast Asia.
We returned here a few times over the course of our stay. We also sampled a few of the appetizers and they were tasty, though a little overpriced. Generally we ate dinner elsewhere and then stopped here for a cocktail.
Best Beer- Siem Reap Brewpub
The local beers in Southeast Asia are decent, and we certainly drank our fair share of Angkor Beer in Cambodia. But if you’re looking for a pint of real, craft beer, then Siem Reap Brewpub is your place!
As native Oregonians, Tom and I appreciate a good pint of beer, and we visited Siem Reap Brewpub a few times over the course of our two weeks in Siem Reap. Whether you prefer a hoppy IPA or a dark, malty ale, this brewery has you covered.
Keep in mind that they bring you a bowl of fresh-roasted peanuts with your beers, and the food here seems overpriced, so we usually had a couple beers and headed elsewhere for dinner.
Best Indian Food- Bombay Kitchen Indian Restaurant
There are Indian food restaurants ALL over Southeast Asia. As huge Indian food lovers, Tom and I were pleasantly surprised by this fact, and in Siem Reap we tried a few different Indian eateries.
Bombay Kitchen was by far the best Indian food we had in Siem Reap, and, actually, in all of Cambodia! This restaurant is run by a lovely Indian family who makes absolutely mouthwatering Indian dishes.
Best Siem Reap Hotels
Figuring out where to stay in Siem Reap can be difficult because there are so many choices! Siem Reap is full of hotels for all budget levels.
Here we’ve narrowed it down to our favorite hotels in each budget level!
Budget Hotel- Bokre Angkor Hostel
More of a boutique hotel than a hostel, Bokre Angkor was one of the best budget hotels we experienced in all of Southeast Asia!
Between the attentive and kind staff, the small but beautiful pool, and the large, modern rooms, you really can’t beat Bokre Angkor Hostel. You get SO much for your money here, with double rooms costing just $17/night.
Moderate Priced Hotel- Borei Angkor Resort and Spa
Beautiful, clean rooms, a giant pool area, and top notch service are all benefits of the Borei Angkor Resort and Spa.This hotel gets rave reviews, and with good reason.
It is centrally located, making it easy to access both the temples and all of Siem Reap’s other attractions. Expect to pay $65-$70/night for a room.
Luxury Hotel- Phum Baitang Resort
This resort is a true escape from the hustle and bustle of Siem Reap. A true oasis, Phum Baitang offers 45 private villas that are designed in traditional Cambodian style.
5 star restaurants, a large spa, and a gorgeous pool area all round out this ultimate luxury retreat in Siem Reap!
Siem Reap has so much to offer besides the incredible Angkor temple complex. You can easily make an entire vacation out of Siem Reap alone!
Are you interested in reading more about Southeast Asia? We backpacked Southeast Asia for 6 months with only carry on bags!
Wondering how much it costs to travel around Southeast Asia? Check out our complete Southeast Asia backpacking budget.
Before Southeast Asia, we spent two years traveling North America full time in a camper! Read all about our camper life here!
Every summer we return to the US for festival season! Read all about our favorite festivals here!
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