National road 6, #06, Banteay Chas, Slorkram
Siem Reap - Cambodia
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Thing To Do in Siem Reap

As enthralling as the temples of Angkor may be, there are lots of other things to see and do around Siem Reap. Seeing a bit of Cambodia away from the temples can help avert ‘temple-burnout’ and round out your Cambodian experience as well as help Cambodia by taking some tourist pressure off of the temples and spreading the tourism dollars a bit more widely. In addition to the following suggestions, check out the sections on visiting the Tonle Sap Lake and bird sanctuary, attending a traditional dance performance, going on a helicopter, balloon and elephant rides, traditional markets and good causes. Also see Charitable Organizations for more information.


 

Tonle Sap Lake and the Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary

 

Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary

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. The best time of year for viewing is the dry season (December-May) when flocks of migratory birds congregate at Prek Toal. As the dry season progresses and the water recedes, the number of birds increases but the travel to some of the more important viewing areas becomes more difficult.

Arrange a trip to Prek Toal through your guesthouse or a tour operator. To do it yourself, take a moto or taxi from Siem Reap to the Chong Khneas boat dock. Arrange a boat to the Prek Toal Environmental Research Station (starting at $60 return,) a $20 entrance fee and $30 for a guided boat tour of the sanctuary. The Research Station has information on the area's flora and fauna. There are also basic overnight accommodations if you want to stay the night to take full advantage of the sunset and early morning viewing hours.

Chong Khneas

Chong Khneas is the floating village at the edge of the lake closest and most accessible to Siem Reap. If you want a relatively quick and easy look at the Tonle Sap, boat tours of Chong Khneas are available, departing from the Chong Khneas boat docks all day long. Take a motodup or taxi the 11-15km from Siem Reap to the boat docks where there are always boats waiting for passengers. A two-hour boat trip through the floating village runs $20/pax and the boats may carry as many as 15 other people. The boatman will probably point out the differing Khmer and Vietnamese floating households and the floating markets, clinics, schools and other boatloads of tourists. Chong Khneas, while interesting, is over-touristed and is not as picturesque as floating villages further afield. The trip usually includes two stops: one at a touristy floating 'fish and bird exhibition' with a souvenir and snack shop, and the other at the Gecko Environment Centre, which offers information introducing the ecology and biodiversity of the lake area.

Kampong Phluk

Kampong Phluk is a cluster of three villages of stilted houses built within the floodplain 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. At this time of year many of the villagers move out onto the lake and build temporary houses. In the wet season when water level rises, the villagers move back to their permanent houses on the floodplain, the stilts now hidden under the water. Kampong Phluk's economy is, as one might expect, based in fishing, primary in shrimp harvesting.

Kampong Phluk sees comparatively few foreign visitors and offers a close look at the submerged forest and lakeside village life. The area can be reached by boat from the Chong Khneas or by road. Make arrangements through your guesthouse of tour operator, or charter a boat at the Chong Khneas docks. During the wet season, drive to Roluos village just off Route #6 east of Siem Reap and then take a boat through the flooded forest the rest of the way. During the dry season the road is clear, making the boat unnecessary. Much of the road has recently been improved, now paved most of the way.

Kampong Khleang

Kampong Khleang is located on the northern lake-edge about 35 km east of Siem Reap town, more remote and less touristed than Kampong Phluk. Visitors to Kampong Khleang during the dry season are universally awestruck by the forest of stilted houses rising up to 10 meters in the air. In the wet season the waters rise to within one or two meters of the buildings. Like Kampong Phluk, Kampong Khleang is a permanent community within the floodplain of the Lake, with an economy based in fishing and surrounded by flooded forest. But Kampong Khleang is significantly larger with near 10 times the population of Kampong Phluk, making it the largest community on the Lake.

The area can be reached by boat from the Chong Khneas docks or by a combination of road to Domdek on Route #6 and then boat to the village, the best method depending on the time of year. During the dry season, boats cannot get all of the way to the main villages. Consult your guesthouse or tour operator about current conditions. Many tour operators have very little experience in this area so it is best to consult with adventure tour operators and guesthouses that specialize in this area. Small group tours begin at about $35 for a half day and range up through $70 depending on the size of the group and the type of tour. To get there yourself, either charter a boat from Chong Khneas or take car or moto to Domdek village on Route #6 east of Siem Reap, turn south and continue to the water's edge where boats wait to ferry passengers into the village. During the dry season the road is clear and you can take a car or moto all of the way to the village.)


Angkor Hospital for Children

The Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC), is a charitable organization, was founded by renowned Japanese photographer Kenro Izu in 1999. The hospital provides treatment and care to local children as well as children from neighboring provinces. The hospital is recognized by Cambodian’s Ministry of Health as an official teaching hospital and AHC’s Medical Education Center serves as a training site for health professionals from all over Cambodia. Our Capacity Building and Health Education Program works to strengthen the capacity and improve the quality of local health practices. The Friends Center at Angkor Hospital for Children gives visitors the unique opportunity to visit the hospital and learn more about its programs. Designed for environmental sustainability with the purpose of educating about the hospital the Friends Center also displays prints donated by Kenro Izu and hosts rotating art and photography exhibitions. The donation of money and blood are much appreciated!


Bird Watching and Environmental Tours

Siem Reap offers some unique bird watching opportunities. The Prek Toal bird sanctuary on the Tonle Sap Lake and the Ang Trapeng Thmor reservoir northeast of Siem Reap both are home to many rare and threatened species.

(The following about Ang Trapeng Thmor comes courtesy of the Sam Veasna Center.) Originating as a reservoir on the Angkorian highway 66 it was rebuilt as a man-made irrigation and water storage reservoir by slave labor during the Khmer Rouge Regime in 1976. The reservoir now harbors a unique wetland associated with grassland, dipterocarp forests and paddy fields. Aside from being a feeding ground for more than 300 Sarus Crane in the dry (non-breeding) season, more than 200 species of other birds occur here, of which 18 have been classified as globally or near globally threatened. This is also one of the handful of sites in Cambodia where the endangered Eld’s Deer can be seen. Colonies of fruit bats inhabit larger trees that are often semi submerged on the edge of the reservoir.

The best time to see the Sarus Crane is from February to May though an abundance of bird species can be viewed all year. There is also a hill top Angkorian temple a few kilometers into the forest while traditional silk weaving is still practiced in the adjacent village. A boat trip can be taken on the reservoir which depending on the time of year is 11km along and 8 wide and offers fantastic views of the surrounding countryside

Officially declared a Sarus Crane Reserve by Royal Decree in 2000 the area designated covers over 12000 Hectares, following the work of Sam Veasna and his friends at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), all foreign visitors are required are required to register at the WCS Office in the adjacent village.

ATT is a day trip from Siem Reap though accommodation can be arranged at the WCS HQ (tel 012 703033) or organized through the Sam Veasna Center in Siem Reap (tel 012 520828) in the adjacent village, giving birdwatchers the chance of dawn sightings and offering the opportunity of visiting the massive Angkorian temple complex of Banteay Chma

Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB)
is the first nature conservation center in Cambodia, located near Kbal Spean, about one hour north of Siem Reap. The aims of the center are the rescue, rehabilitation, breeding and reintroduction of threatened wildlife, in combination with an environmental education program, promoting wildlife conservation and training local villagers in the sustainable use of natural resources. Free guided center tour Monday to Friday at 13:00 (for groups, other times can be arranged).

Sam Veasna Center (SVC)
SVC organizes half or full day trips focusing on birds but offering a glimpse of Cambodian rural life with a trained local guide. SVC was set up to promote wildlife conservation in Cambodia. It works together with the Wildlife Conservation Society and local village communities to develop remote sites close to the habitat of some spectacular bird life. The local communities benefit from the infrastructure set up for the visitors. Trips to see Sarus Crane at Ang Trapaeng Thmor, Giant and White Shouldered Ibis at Tamtboey, A vulture restaurant at Chhep amongst others, plus some of the most beautiful and unspoiled countryside in Cambodia.


Beatocello and Jayavarman VII Children's Hospital

Dr. Beat Richner plays Bach on the cello and speaks about the activities of his children’s hospitals (Jayavarman VII in Siem Reap, Kantha Bopha 1 and 2 in Phnom Penh) every Friday and Saturday evening at 7:15PM. Performances are held at the Jayavarman VII Hospital, located on the road to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. Dr. Richner provides an entertaining and worthy Saturday evening. The hospital welcomes both monetary and blood donations.


Balloon Rides

Unique new addition to the Angkor area. Take a tethered helium balloon ride 200 meters straight up for an amazing aerial view of Angkor Wat, Phnom Bakheng, West Baray and other ruins amongst the surrounding jungle and rice paddies. Bring a camera and binoculars if you have them. The big, yellow balloon is based on the road from the airport to Angkor Wat, about a kilometer from the front gates of Angkor Wat.


Butterfly Gardens

Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre
An interactive butterfly exhibit located 25 km north of Siem Reap, on the road to the Bantey Srey temple. The exhibit consists of a netted tropical garden with thousands of free-flying butterflies, all of which are native species to Cambodia. The enclosure provides residents and tourists with an interactive and visual environment to learn about butterflies.


Butterflies Garden Restaurant

Features 1,500 tropical butterflies and a koi pond in a romantic, private garden. Creative tropical cuisine, including unique Khmer specialties. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Fresh juices, shakes, beer, wine and cocktails.
#535, Street 25, Wat Bo area.


Cambodian Cultural Village

A unique, sprawling new cultural attraction in Siem Reap, intended to introduce the visitor to Cambodian culture and history. Wax museum with scenes and figures from history. Fascinating 1/20th scale models of sites such as Phsar Thmey and the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh and the hills and temples of Oudong. Full scale models of a variety of Cambodian architectural types, including different styles of huts and homes, hill tribe houses, pagoda and mosque.
On Airport Road.


Ceramics Classes

Artisan Heritage of Light
Daily ceramics classes (Monday-Saturday). Traditional techniques. 2 hour duration. $10-$15


Khmer Ceramic Center

Make a ceramic within 2 hours. Make by hand or on the potters wheel using Khmer traditional techniques. Experience potters will guide you through the process. Your piece will be fired and glazed and delivered to your hotel within 24 hours. Free pick-up from your hotel for the class.
Road to Angkor Wat...


Cooking Classes

Alliance Café
Half day Cambodian cooking classes at the Alliance Café by a Khmer chef. Begin with a trip to a traditional market to select the ingredients. Cook and dine on several Khmer recipes. Wat Damnak area, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Beyond Unique Escapes
Half and full day Cambodian cooking courses held in a rural setting just 10 minutes from Siem Reap. Maximum six people per class. Booking is essential.
Corner Sivutha Blvd & Alley West, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
 
Champey Cooking Class
Twice daily, half-day cooking classes by a Cambodian chef. Visit a traditional market for fresh ingredients. Class conducted in a traditional house in Siem Reap. Complementary booklet, recipes, certificate and spices. Reservations required.
 
Peace Cafe

The Peace Café in the Wat Bo area holds regularly scheduled vegetarian cooking classes. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 11:00AM-1:00PM. $20/person, no appointment needed. Lunch included.
 
The RiverGarden - Cooks in Tuk-Tuks
Restaurant is offering culinary tours and cooking courses focusing, of course, on local fare. Unique culinary tours such as ‘Cooks in Tuk Tuks’ and include a tour of a local market(s) with an introduction to local culinary culture, foods and ingredients, cooking equipment, etc. followed by cooking classes at the restaurant.
 
Massage Classes

Body and Soul Spa Massage Class
Regularly scheduled classes from only US$15 – studying Khmer and Thai style massage a Reiki. Located on The Passage (Pub Street Alley)


Countryside Tours

If your schedule allows, set aside a day or three to get out of the Siem Reap Town/main temple area and into the countryside. The vast majority of Cambodians live and work in the rural countryside and a countryside tour or even a day trip to a remote temple ruin can provide a glimpse of ‘real Cambodia’ - picturesque, bucolic scenery, rice paddies and water buffalos, countryside pagodas and little villages filled with traditional stilted houses... And there are a number of ways to see it: by 4WD or dirtbikes, ATVs, bicycle, ox cart and more. The following tour operators specialize in countryside expeditions.


Camoflage Adventure Cambodia

Mountain bike from Bakong temple to Kampong Phluk village, and boat jouney on Tonle Sap.
#37, New Street A behind U-Care


Hidden Cambodia Dirt Bike Tours
Hidden Cambodia Adventure Tours
Hidden Cambodia Tours

Single and multi-day all-inclusive, high end, cultural, ad- venture and humanitarian tours by 4WD vehicles, dirt bike and car to Koh Ker, Preah Vihear, Preah Khan temples and historic KR area, Anlong Veng. Tonle Sap Lake tours.
Just off the road to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.


Horse riding and horse card riding

The Happy Ranch Horse Farm offers countryside trail rides from 1 to 3 hours. From sunrise to sunset, the horses will take you on a journey to places that are otherwise unreachable, through local countryside villages, scenic rice fields and tourist-free temple ruins, all waiting to be explored. An authentic taste of the real Khmer lifestyle viewed from horseback, and a welcome break from other tourists.


Village Homestay

Cambodia is a land of culture, tradition and the Khmer ethnic civilization. A Cambodia countryside homestay is one of the best ways to fully immerse yourself in Cambodia whilst experiencing absolute, unadulterated authenticity. This is about meeting and getting to know local Cambodians, living their lifestyle and experiencing Cambodia travel at grassroots level during an adventure that is sure to involve a series of unexpected encounters, pleasant surprises and long-lasting memories. Note that is real village homestay that means the facilities are basic.


Camping and jungle trekking

The perfect experience for those who wants to experience the natural and historical Cambodia that few visitors ever have a chance of seeing. The Cambodian countryside, its hidden, mysterious temples and traditional village life are all here, waiting for you to discover. Camping out under the Cambodian sky will be an experience that you will not soon forget and will want to return year after year as hundreds already have.


Angkor Gondola

Angkor Gondola is an unique Khmer traditional boats service in the moat along Angkor Thom Great Wall. Come and discover a natural wonders, hidden treasure of the historical site and cultures. Travel the water where history, nature and culture come alive while you can enjoy sunset view with cocktail on the boat. 


Elephant ride

Founded in 1997 with the vision of bringing elephants back to Angkor the Compangnie des Eléphants d’Angkor has grown over the years improving the facilities for its Cambodian elephants and its service to the visitors at Angkor. Elephants ride is available from the South Gate of Angkor Thom where they will lead you down the road to the majestic Bayon Temple with the backdrop of inquisitive monkeys and jungle. Once at Bayon Temple the elephant can lead you around the perimeter of Angkor Thom's main temple of Bayon. You can also take an elephant up to Bakheng Hill for sunset viewing.


Museums

Angkor National Museum

The newly opened Angkor National Museum in Siem Reap promises eight chronologically ordered galleries of Angkorian-era artifacts and multi-media presentations of Angkorian history and culture. The Museum had just opened its doors and was not quite completed at time of printing, but should be very soon. Admissions price: US$12 (for foreigners). $2 for a camera. Hours:
Located in town, on the road to the Angkor Park.


Cambodia Land Mine Museum & Relief Facility

The Cambodia Landmine Museum has evolved from a small shack museum by former soldier and deminer Akira to a formal museum and charitable organization. The museum exhibits a variety of defused mines, bombs and other ordinance as well as information on mines, demining and Cambodia’s mine problem.
Located six km south of Banteay Srey.


Pagodas & Shrines

Buddhist pagodas are the traditional seat of Khmer culture. Siem Reap, like many Cambodian towns, is a collection of villages, which grew around individual pagodas, later coalescing into the town. To get a true feel for Cambodia, a visit to at least one pagoda is a must.

Shrine to Preah Ang Chek & Preah Ang Chorm Of particular importance to the locals is the small shrine in front of the Grand Hotel D’Angkor containing two standing Buddhas of the names Preah Ang Chek (taller) and Preah Ang Chorm (shorter). They are surrounded by stories of power and indestructibility. Visitors are welcome to make offerings and take photos. The reverence of local pilgrims is palpable.

Shrine to Ya Tep Under a huge tree in the traffic circle in front of the royal residence is a statue of Ya Tep, a neak-ta. Neak-ta are powerful spirits connected to a particular area of land. Ya Tep is local to Siem Reap and is said to help bring protection (and winning lottery numbers) to the faithful. Offerings of chicken skins can often be seen around the shrine.

Wat Bo
Founded in the 18th century. A large, highly respected pagoda. Like the Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh, the vihear of Wat Bo contains very unique wall paintings of the Reamker that are said to be late 19th century. Look for the ordinary-life market scenes such as an opium smoking Chinese merchant, the colonial era French officer at the market and the French soldiers attending a traditional dance performance. Also of interest is the large collection of Buddha statues located behind the main Buddha.

Wat Keseram “Pagoda of the Cornflower Petals”. Pastoral setting and extensive, detailed collection of the life of Buddha on the interior of the vihear make this one of the more interesting wats to visit. The date of establishment is unclear, but most agree that the vihear was constructed in the early 1970’s.

Wat Preah Prohm Rath
An unspectacular but idyllically situated wat on the river in the center of town. Founded in 1915, the main vihear was constructed in 1945. Oddly enough, the wat grounds hold two large cannons said to have belonged to the larger-than-life 20th century warlord, Dap Chhoun.

Wat Thmei (New Wat) The wat contains a unique glass-walled stupa containing the bones of victims of the Khmer Rouge. Some of the bones were recovered from a nearby well while others are the remains of soldiers who died on a nearby battlefield. 500m west of the road to Angkor about 1.5km north of town


Caberet

Rosana Broadway
Broadway-style stage show in the spirit of a full-cast cross-dressing cabaret. Music, dance, extravagant costumes, cross-dressing cast, themes from Cambodia, Japan, Vietnam, England, China, India, Korea Dozens of performers. 1 hour 10 minutes.
Located on Rte #6, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Circus
Phare Cambodian Circus
Cambodian circus offering nightly 1-hour shows. An amazing blend of traditional and modern theater, music, dance, acrobatics, juggling and contortion. Every evening 7:30PM-8:30PM. Located behind the Angkor National Museum.


Yoga Classes
 
The New Leaf Book Café
Yoga, Khmer and English lessons all available in a versatile space overlooking the Preah Prom Rath pagoda. “100% of profits are donated to local charities.”
 
Peace Of Angkor
Set up by a British photographer in 2003; Peace Of Angkor run special tours to remote temples and Tonle Sap Lake all year round.  Bird watching Tours at Prek Toal and The Sarus Crane Reserve at Ang Trapang Thmor are featured
 
Sabai Moto Adventures
Guided, all-inclusive half and full day motor bike tours to ancient temples and the remote countryside. Drive a cub 125cc motorbike. Visit traditional villages, distant temples, rural culture. Easy riding - good for all levels of riding ability.
River Road, Daun Pa Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Siem Reap Angkor Quad Bike Countryside Tour
Quad Bike tours. One hours, multi-hour, half-day, full day, extreme tour overnighter. Countryside tours, rice paddies, pagodas, villages, more.
#169, Wat Damnak Road, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
 
Terre Cambodge/Biking Cambodia
Mountain bike (TREK, GIANT) and trekking specialist. Overnights. Tonle Sap Lake boat tours (bird sanctuary, floating and stilted villages,) elephant trekking and more. Tailor made itineraries.
#R-30 Rolous Street - Borei Prem Prei, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Elephant Rides
During the day, elephants await customers near Bayon or at the South Gate of Angkor Thom. In the evenings, elephants are stationed at the base of Phnom Bakheng, ready to transport riders up the hill for sunset. $10-$15 for a 25 minute ride.


Silk Farms
 
Pouk Silk Farm
Offers the opportunity to enjoy the Cambodian countryside and learn about the age-old tradition of producing Cambodian silk. Take a free guided tour that explains the meticulous process of silk production, from cultivating mulberry bushes to the Cambodian ikat technique and the dyeing, weaving, and creation of silk fabrics. You can also purchase high-quality Cambodian silk products in their shop. Located in Pouk district, 20 minutes from Siem Reap town and open daily 8:00AM to 5.30PM. Free daily shuttle buses from Artisans Angkor showroom in Siem Reap at 9.30AM and 1.30PM. Visa/MC/JCB/AMEX/ANZ
Rte #6, 16km west of town


Tattoos
 
Angkor Tattoo
Tattoos by western artist Roel, a tattoo artist of 25 years experience. Promising adherence to strict U.S. standards. All tubes and needles are single use and disposed of after each client. All inks and needles are imported from the U.S.
Located on Alley West, Pub Street area.
 
Neng Synat Tattoo Machine
Local tattoo artist. Tattoo by gun or by the traditional bamboo method. X-Bar road 200m west of Sivutha. Professional Khmer tattoo artist since 2001. Hygienic, clean, safe & healthy. Good quality USA ink.


Zipline Adventure
Flight of the Gibbon
Zipline course in a dense piece of jungle actually within the Angkor Archaeological Park boundaries. World class zipline course through the jungle canopy, including 21 platforms, 10 ziplines, 4 sky bridges , a 50 ft. abseil finish and more.

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