Although Siem Reap is rapidly becoming well-known as one of Asia’s most affordable destinations, it doesn’t hurt to save a few extra dollars along the way during your visit. That way, you can enjoy those moments when you do indulge a little more in that perfect night’s stay or the tour of a lifetime. To help our traveling friends out, the team at Grasshopper Cambodia has put together our list of top free things to do in Siem Reap! You might notice our own little community initiatives might get a mention or two ;)
The absolute best thing to do for free is Sunset, and I don’t just mean sitting on Pub Street as the sun goes down. There is a little-known secret among us living that after 5:30 pm (or even 5:20 pm if you are polite) you can actually enter the Angkor Park free of charge to watch the sunset. Grab a bike or tuk-tuk for the evening and head into the park to enjoy the sunset in some of the lesser-known spots without purchasing a ticket, including:
-South Gate of Angkor Thom
-The eastern side of Sras Srong (wait until Oct when the water levels are up)
-Or Pre Rup where you can actually walk up onto the temple and see the sun dip below the treeline.
Make sure to remember, however, that just because you can get into the Angkor Park, doesn’t mean you can enter the temples themselves - especially Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm which are all no-go zones after 5:30 pm and strictly for those with a ticket.
Explore The Local Markets
Siem Reap has a thriving market scene, where you can weave your way through the commotion and excitement of the local crowd as they go about their routine shopping. Most tourists visit the Old Market and that’s it, but for those looking for a little more authentic spot to explore, head out on road 6 to Psar Leu or Psar Samaki - this is where the real action is at. Beyond people watching it's a great place to stop if you are craving fresh fruit, or searching for fabrics or anything beyond the typical souvenirs found in town. This is a unique cultural experience not to be missed!
West Baray is another secret favorite among us folk who call Siem Reap home. The ancient reservoir to the Northwest of the city is a great scenic spot to chill out, experience local culture and explore without the need for a ticket. Towards the end of the rainy season, starting in October as the water levels rise, you can actually hire a bungalow next to the water’s edge, hang out in a hammock, have a BBQ meal and dip your toes in the murky water.
Grasshopper Adventure’s Own City Tour
Our new city tour at Grasshopper grew out of our passion to give our guests the chance to explore the awesome cafes, bars, and restaurants that we personally enjoy frequently. What has resulted is a fun-filled 2-hour walk, leaving the Grasshopper shop on street 26 every day Mon-Fri, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm. We explore the town and give tips and tricks on the best places to eat, drink, shop and explore. Complete with a beer & coconut. This tour is a must-visit for anyone new to town who wants to accelerate the learning process and get a solid list of Siem Reap's hottest spots for all budgets. The tour is totally free of charge (including drinks!), no need to sign up, just show up and our friendly staff will be ready to take you into the heart of Siem Reap and show you the wonderful city through our eyes.
Royal Garden Sunset Bat Flight
The Royal Gardens of Siem Reap are rarely visited by independent travelers! This is a fun stop to end the day as the sun goes down and watch the garden's inhabitants - about 1000 fruit bats - head off for their evening. Keep an eye on the sunset time throughout the year and make your way to the park about 15-20 mins before sundown to watch them take flight.
Free things to do in Siem Reap: Community Bike Ride
Another initiative which grew out of our own desire to enjoy cycling and new company! First Sunday of every month is Siem Reap's community bike ride - a 40km guided tour into the countryside on the outskirts of Siem Reap. No need to sign up in advance, just show up at 7:30 am and enjoy the company of expats and locals alike! If you have your own bike bring it along, otherwise rent one for $5 from the Grasshopper shop - the starting point of the ride.
That's a wrap from team Grasshopper! I guess it is true, the best things in life really are free!