Sightseeing and Activities

SHOPPING

Local Markets

  • Old market
  • Samaky Market
  • Central Market
  • Leu Market

What to buy

  • Cambodian Silk
  • Statues and Carvings
  • Silver betel Containers
  • Temple Rubbings
  • Gems and Jewelries
  • Artisans d’Angkor

Helps young people to develop traditional craft skills. Location in Siem Reap is called the Angkor Crafts Center. Free guided tours. Shops in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh airports. Angkor café opens daily from 8:00am to 5:30pm
Located off of Sivatha St. in Siem Reap.

Angkor Silk Farm [Artisans d'Angkor]

The Angkor Silk Farm is located at the National Silk Center in Puok District. Entrance and guided tours are free of charge. Open daily from 7:30am to 5:30pm

MUSEUMS

Angkor National Museum

The new National Museum in Siem Reap has recently opened and features the Angkor National Museum itself plus a Cultural Mall and shops. The museum’s 8 main galleries contain original artifacts restored by Angkor Conservation and a collection of 1000 Buddha statues. Other galleries focus on ancient clothing styles; the four principal kings of Angkor; the extant written material from the Angkor temples and the history and religion of pre-Angkor period. Innovative mixed-media displays tell the story of the Angkor civilization and multi-lingual tour guides and audio units are also available.
The Angkor National Museum is located on Charles de Gaul Boulevard heading north towards the Main Entrance to Angkor Wat.
Entry costs $12 for foreigners Open 9.00am - 8.00pm

Mine Museum

Founded by Mr. Akira, a former soldier and de-miner, this museum is a fascinating testament to Cambodia’s violent past, and to Aki Ra’s personal survival. It documents the story of Aki Ra’s life and experiences through a quarter of a century of war, and houses one of the world’s largest collections of decommissioned mines and other ordnance. Aki Ra is constantly seeking donations, and has recently founded an NGO, in cooperation with CLMMRF, to maximize his vision of “making my country safe for my people”. The museum is home to several young landmine victims taken in by Akira and his wife. This is a unique museum and a thoroughly worthwhile project that deserves your support. The museum is open from 7am to 6pm. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted and much appreciated.

NOTE: The Mine Museum is now on the right hand side of the road leading from Siem Reap to Banteay Srey.

Cambodian Cultural Village

Owned by the Canadia Bank, the museum displays Cambodian history and culture in a kind of over-priced theme park [entry for foreigners is 6 times the local price]. Good displays of traditional dance performed with vigor and enthusiasm by the exponents. There is also a wax museum. Avoid the crass and distasteful Judgment Tunnel, especially if you have small children.

War Museum

A limited display of guns, mines, tanks and other military hardware. Open from 8am to 5:30pm. Entry costs $3. Do not confuse this museum with the Mine Museum.
Location: Kasekam Village off of National Rd. #6 on way to airport.

Balloon Rides

The balloon station is 1km to the west of Angkor Wat. The balloon rises 200 meters in the air on a fixed wire and provides amazing views of the temples and landscape. Sunrise and sunset are the most popular times for a ride.

Elephant Rides

During the day, elephants await customers near Bayon and at the South Gate of Angkor Thom and they offer rides between those two points. $15 for a 20-30 minute ride. In the evenings the elephants move from Bayon and are stationed at the base of Phnom Bakheng, ready to transport passengers up the hill for sunset ($20 for the ride up and, if you chose to ride down instead of walk, $15 for the ride down.)

Countryside Tours

If you are enchanted by rice paddies and water buffalo, houses on stilts and little villages; you will find a tour through the Cambodian countryside truly worthwhile. Many drivers are happy to do this and genuinely delighted that visitors are interested to see more of their country. The brash new hotels and restaurants in Siem Reap can give visitors a false impression of Cambodia. Poverty and poor living conditions affect most of the population and Siem Reap Province remains the second poorest Province in Cambodia, according to aid organizations. A journey in the Cambodian countryside can help to redress the balance.

Massage and Spa

There are numerous establishments around town that offer just about every variety of massage. Massages are also available at some hotels, nightclubs and hairdressers.

Helicopters

Flight packages available from $100 Per 12 minutes.

Cambodia has some of the most amazing sites in the world like Angkor Wat. To fully appreciate the wonder and scale of this unique temple region, you need to see it from the air. Helicopters lets you do this in comfort and style in one our luxurious, air-conditioned helicopters. More comprehensive scenic flights to remote temples are also available. Helicopters are available for private and commercial charters.

Night Club

Given the current size of Siem Reap it is surprising that there isn’t a wider choice of nightclubs.

Tonle Sap Lake - Cambodia’s heart

Cambodia’s Great Lake, the Boeung Tonle Sap (Tonle Sap Lake) is the most prominent feature on the map of Cambodia - a huge dumbbell-shaped body of water stretching across the northwest section of the country. In the wet season, the Tonle Sap Lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia, swelling to an expansive 12,000 km2. During the dry half of the year the Lake shrinks to as small as 2500 km2, draining into the Tonle Sap River, which meanders southeast, eventually merging with the Mekong River at the ‘chaktomuk’ confluence of rivers opposite Phnom Penh. But during the wet season a unique hydrologic phenomenon causes the river to reverse direction, filling the lake instead of draining it. The engine of this phenomenon is the Mekong River, which becomes bloated with snow melt and runoff from the monsoon rains in the wet season. The swollen Mekong backs up into the Tonle Sap River at the point where the rivers meet at the ‘chaktomuk’ confluence, forcing the waters of the Tonle Sap River back upriver into the lake. The inflow expands the surface area of lake more than five-fold, inundating the surrounding forested floodplain and supporting an extraordinarily rich and diverse eco-system. More than 100 varieties of waterbirds including several threatened and endangered species, over 200 species of fish, as well as crocodiles, turtles, macaques, otter and other wildlife inhabit the inundated mangrove forests. The Lake is also an important commercial resource, providing more than half of the fish consumed in Cambodia. In harmony with the specialized ecosystems, the human occupations at the edges of the lake is similarly distinctive - floating villages, towering stilted houses, huge fish traps, and an economy and way of life deeply intertwined with the lake, the fish, the wildlife and the cycles of rising and falling waters.

The lake sits only about 15 km south of Siem Reap town. If you take the ferry between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap you will cross the lake and dock at the village of Chong Khneas. There are several ways to see the culture and wildlife of the lake area depending on the amount of time you have and your interest.

Chong Khneas Floating Village - Tourist trap

Among the non-temple related activities in Siem Reap is a visit to the floating village of Chong Kneas. A two-hour long boat ride to the village most recently cost $20 per person if you are less then ten people. Complete with driver and boat guide, the motorized boat goes through the floating village for about 1 hour. There is an opportunity to stop at the small floating schools and give materials (which can be bought somewhere in the village) to the students. The boat goes on to Tonle Sap lake, which joins the river in shrinking and expanding dramatically with the seasons, thereby causing villagers to move their floating houses to different points. The next tourist stop is at the cat fish and alligator farm / souvenir shop. Then the boat takes you back to the shore; the total trip is often over before two hours simply because there isn’t anything else to see.

Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary - Highly recommended

The ‘bird sanctuary’ at the Prek Toal core area of the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve has been called “the single most important breeding ground in Southeast Asia for globally threatened large waterbirds.” The Biosphere covers 31,282 hectares at the northwest tip of the Tonle Sap Lake and plays host to species including Greater and Lesser Adjuncts, Black-headed Ibis, Painted Stork, Milky Stork, Spot-billed Pelican, Grey-Headed Fish Eagle and many more species. Of the three Biosphere core areas on the Tonle Sap Lake, Prek Toal is the most accessible from Siem Reap and the most popular with birdwatchers. You should go to Prek Toal in between November and January. But the best time to go there in December.

We did however get into the edge of the reserve on a small rowboat and saw a LOT of birds (although not getting into the heart of the reserve meant that I missed out on seeing Milky Stork and Greater Adjutant). Did however see Lesser Adjutant, Spot-billed Pelican, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, hundreds of Painted Storks, and huge numbers of various herons, cormorants, kingfishers etc. The trip was well worth it despite not seeing one or two of the key species and I would definitely recommend it.

One day is enough, with an early morning start from Siem Reap, returning back there late afternoon. The boat trip across the Tonle Sap takes a while but is far from boring, there are some interesting birds to be seen, and you pass through floating villages at the beginning and end of the crossing which are interesting too. Please contact Mr Kim San to help you go there.

Kampong Phluk Floating Village - Well worth a look

Kampong Phluk is a cluster of three villages of stilted houses built within the floodplain of the Tonle Sap about 16 km southeast of Siem Reap. The villages are primarily Khmer and have about 3000 inhabitants between them. Flooded mangrove forest surrounds the area and is home to a variety of wildlife including crab-eating macaques. During the dry season when the lake is low, the buildings in the villages seem to soar atop their 6-meter stilts exposed by the lack of water.

Heading east along the bank of Tonle Sap will take you to Kompong Phluk — and a world away from the tourist trap of Chong Khneas. Unlike its well-touristed sister, this is a stilted village rather than a floating one (although you may see some floating raft houses about the place), and it’s a very different place between the wet and dry season. The houses are stilted to around six metres in height, so in the height of the wet the water is close to the top of the stilts, but in the dry, the village is, well, dry, and so the houses tower six metres above you. During the latter period, most of the villagers move out into temporary shacks lakeside as that’s where their livelihood is (it also saves them having to climb six metres worth of stairs daily). Kompong Phluk also has substantial mangrove forest (known as the flooded forest), a trip through which, by boat, is part of the standard deal. While Kompong Phluk gets tourists on most days, it sees but a fraction of the trade of Chong Khneas and the extra time and expense spent in getting here is well worth it. Kompong Phluk can be reached by boat from Chong Khneas.

Kampong Khleang - Highly recommended

Like Kompong Phluk, Kompong Khleang is a stilted rather than floating village, but it’s a massive village — the largest on the lake — and around ten times the size of Kompong Phluk. As with Kompong Phluk, the main pastime here is fishery-based, but in a number of ways it is a more interesting village to visit. There’s a large village temple and there’s a good stretch of village that can be wandered through — even in the height of wet season. Further field you can continue by boat out to a meeting tree where locals meet to sell their catches of the day — or you can continue even further out onto the milky waters of the Tonle Sap. The water within the heart of the village is nine to ten metres deep in places and is a brackish, almost black hue — this certainly isn’t water you want to swim in — but the area all around the central village is fascinating and very unadulterated by tourism. It’s a long drive or ride from Siem Reap to here (figure on 1 hour each way) but well worth the effort — and the expense. If you’ve got the time and the money, this should be your number one choice on this bank of the lake. While it’s possible to get here by boat from Chong Khneas, we’d suggest coming to and fro by road via the village of Domdek to be the better approach. Highly recommended.

Apsara Dance performance (Traditional)

No visit to Cambodia is complete without attending at least one traditional Khmer dance performance, often referred to as ‘Apsara Dance’ after one of the most popular Classical dance pieces. Traditional Khmer dance is better described as ‘dance-drama’ in that the dances are not merely dance but are also meant to convey a story or message.

As evidenced in part by the innumerable apsaras (celestial dancers) that adorn the walls of Angkorian and pre-Angkorian temples, dance has been part of Khmer culture for well more than a millennium, though there have been ruptures in the tradition over the centuries, making it impossible to precisely trace the source of the tradition. Much of traditional dance (especially Classical) is inspired by Angkorian-era art and themes, but the tradition has not been passed unbroken from the age of Angkor. Most traditional dances seen today were developed in the 18th through 20th centuries, beginning in earnest with a mid-19th century revival championed by King Ang Duong (reigned 1841-1869).