Friday, December 28, 2012

Top 9 Things To Do In Siem Reap

It's pretty safe to say I love the town of Siem Reap. After spending two months there it really began to feel like home to me. But whether you're staying for a few months or just a few days, the city has plenty of activities to keep you busy!

1. Explore Angkor Wat.
This one is a no-brainer; you should at least spend one day seeing the temples. A one, three and seven day pass cost $20, $40 and $60, respectively. Dress conservatively (cover your knees and shoulders) because there are certain parts of the temples you will not be permitted to visit if you don't. It's a good idea to bring water and snacks; you can get food and drinks around the temples but it will be more expensive. Don't forget to charge your camera battery!

2. See Tonle Sap Lake.
This is the largest lake in all of Southeast Asia and it has a lot to offer. You can go birdwatching to see some very rare breeds of birds, or take a trip to the Vietnamese floating villages. I personally didn't do any of these tours as I didn't hear amazing things about them (they've become very popular in the last few years and as a result you will likely be pressured into buying tacky souvenirs or giving money to a charity) but I really enjoyed just going to the lake to meander around the little town and see all of the houses that are built on stilts over the water.

3. Visit the Landmine Museum.
Located about 30km outside of Siem Reap, this museum is well worth a visit for anyone wanting to learn more about landmines and the impact they have on Cambodia. The museum was founded by a man named Aki Ra, director of the NGO Cambodian Self Help Demining and one of the leading de-miners in the country. Most of museum's proceeds go towards the orphanage that Aki Ra runs for about 50 children, many of whom have been impacted by landmines in one way or another. I was lucky enough to get the chance to meet Aki Ra and visit an active landmine field - click here to read about my experience.

4. Go roller skating at the Angkor Trade Center. 
At the top of the ATC mall there is a roller rink where, for $1.25, you can skate around to your heart's content. The rental skates were the smelliest and most uncomfortable I'd ever worn but I had such a good time. The best part was all the locals there; families, groups of friends, teenagers on dates... I really felt like I was getting a glimpse of a tourist free activity, a rarity in a town like Siem Reap. Don't forget socks. To see more of my photos click here.

5. Get a Fish Massage.
It would be impossible to visit Siem Reap without being asked if you want to try a fish massage. It gets annoying, and is a great motivation to learn "no thank you" in Khmer (otay awkun!) but having hungry fish nibble away at the dead skin on your feet is definitely worth trying. Plus it actually works! My feet had never felt so soft.

6. Go INSIDE the Old Market.
If you spend any time in Siem Reap you will undoubtedly pass the Old Market, located pretty much right in the middle of town. The perimeter of the market is lined with stall after stall selling the same tacky souvenirs. Once you're inside however, you'll find more local goods, produce and food - much more interesting!

7. Dance the night away at Angkor What.
If you're planning on going out at all in Siem Reap you should at least stop by Angkor What, a Pub Street institution. Buy any two buckets and you'll get a complimentary Angkor What t-shirt!

8. Go for a tuk-tuk ride in the countryside.
The town of Siem Reap is lovely but so is the countryside surrounding it. Hiring a tuk-tuk for a few hours to go exploring should cost you no more than $10 or $15 and you are guaranteed to see some stunning scenery and authentic villages.

9. Volunteer.
Obviously not everyone is able to do this, but Siem Reap is an amazing place to volunteer. That being said you do have to be careful about where you choose to volunteer, especially when it comes to orphanages (a topic I wrote about here). It's best if you are able to stay a few weeks or a month, but the longer the better! Consistency is key, especially if you are teaching as you are able to develop better relationships and build more trust with your students.


Anonymous said...

glad you are feeling better! love, Dad

Wondering and Wandering said...

Much better :) thanks Dad!