The splendor of Angkor Wat and its ancient intrigue is certainly reason enough to visit Siem Reap, Cambodia, however, this part of the Kingdom of Wonder has much more awaiting discovery - from deeper parts of the Angkor jungle to the city's warmly lit alleyways at night. The unique culture and lifestyle of the kind and smiling Khmer people, alongside relatively non-inhibitive business start-up regulations, have succeeded in attracting entrepreneurs - creative and business alike, inspiring them to follow their dreams. Be it culinary, craft or adventure, an excellent variety of experiences is the result of this dynamic and it's quite easy to fill two adventure-filled days and relaxing evenings.
As you explore the temples of Angkor, you will experience some of the ancient forests and most likely more than one macaque. There are opportunities to discover even more, from having a simple breakfast beneath the trees to careening across the canopies...
Angkor Zipline: Get a bird's eye view of the Angkor Archeological Park via zipline! As the only zipline located within a UNESCO World Heritage site, this is an adventure not to miss. Soar above the lush tree line and take in the amazing panoramas with the chance of spotting Siem Reap’s small population of gibbons.
Beng Melea Temple: A massive and spectacular temple complex, Beng Melea sits about 68km north of Siem Reap and is recently included in the ticket price for the Angkor temples. Given the 30 minute ride necessary to see the temple, it’s often missed by tourists. The experience is a one-of-a-kind true Indiana Jones temple hike through jungle-claimed ruins, across wooden walkways, and through mysterious chambers.
Arts & Entertainment
The recent tragic history of genocide has not extinguished the advance of creative talent rooted deeply in the Khmer people. Attention from the international community has been drawn to their variety of artistic expressions and opportunity for growth and development has been the result.
Mirage Art Space: This high-end gallery space is set beneath a beautiful tree-lined street in the center of town and is positioned to showcase Khmer artists who fully reflect the cultural diversity of Cambodia. One example of an exhibition includes "Her Sounds" - a collaboration that celebrated the passion, persistence, and power of Cambodia's women artists through image, sound and story. Any visit to the gallery is sure to instill a powerful perspective into the current Khmer culture and society.
Phare Circus: Combining music, theater, dance and circus acrobatics, these performers tell unique stories related to Khmer folklore and often offer a perspective on challenges in modern Cambodian life and society. Trained at the Phare Ponleu Selpak School in Battambang, these artists create an inspiring hour filled with entertainment and carefully orchestrated live music, delivering a unique take on tales and daily life.
Craft Your Own Souvenirs
Siem Reap has no shortage of markets with local and imported goods for sale, and a few with a focus on Cambodia-made items such as the Made in Cambodia Market at Kings Road. Or try your hand at making your own Khmer craft and create something that gives you the fulfilling experience of dabbling in a Khmer trade technique while building a truly custom souvenir.
Pottery Workshop: Work with a potters wheel, local clay and Khmer traditional tools to create your very own bowl, including some K'Bach (Khmer ornament) and the gentle guidance of the instructors. The Khmer Ceramics Centre offers a two-hour class to create your masterpiece and they'll fire it in the kiln overnight for next day pickup.
Brass Jewelry Workshop: Ammo Jewelry is well-known for its beautifully crafted brass jewelry, some of which even repurpose bullet shells. Choose a necklace base piece, then set to work adding your own design with a jewelers hammer and a multitude of stencils with the owner, Maddy, or one of her team of skilled jewelers at your side.
Unique Regional Dishes
You can find delicious local cuisine in many Siem Reap restaurants. Here are some that really shine above the rest.
Pou Restaurant and Bar: The dishes at Pou are truly a spectacular version of Khmer cuisine. Trained at Siem Reap's renowned hospitality school, Ecole de Paul Dubrule, Mengly and his team prepare delicious combinations served in delightful presentations. Don't miss the opportunity to try some of Cambodia's most unique dishes - like the Grilled Beehive Salad and the Red Ant dishes that end up favorites for almost everyone willing to try!
60 Road Picnic: The carnival atmosphere of 60 road is alive and well every evening of the week. Food carts, stalls, pop-up restaurants and grills line both sides of the street as well as the intersecting Apsara road. If you fancy true local picnic-style seating and a casual atmosphere, this is a fantastic place to find a variety of Khmer traditional foods, including prepared dishes, grilled meats and seafood, and a full selection of local fruits. A favorite evening spot for many Khmer, youth and families alike, you can be sure your food is prepared Khmer style. If you're a fan of grilled chicken, order some from your grill of choice (we recommend following the local crowd and going for the most popular spots) add some rice, and grab a seat on a mat. Your gracious hosts will bring a drink basket and all of your foods on a tray with some tasty sauces including chili garlic sauce and green tamarind paste - excellent accompaniments to chicken!
Breakfast in Siem Reap is certainly best when you know where to go. These two spots are certain not to disappoint...
Missing Socks Waffles: What’s this waffles and socks talk? The best waffles in town are served at Missing Socks Laundry Cafe, a super cute spot with a laundromat outside... for its dormitory customers upstairs. Waffles come in delicious combinations of fruit, ice cream or even surrounding a burger patty, the waffles are crispy on the outside with a soft tasty center and come with an excellent deal on coffee or tea.
Breakfast Bagel: Little Red Fox Espresso has the most excellent breakfast bagel in Siem Reap. A stack of crispy fried bacon, solid chunks of cheddar cheese, and fried egg are arranged with cream cheese and green olives inside a delicious bagel sandwich. Go ahead, indulge. Order their large cappuccino for an impressive sized and delicious morning start.
Coffee culture has quickly become popular in Cambodia and shops with a variety of tea and coffee selections can be found everywhere. Here are a couple of the tastiest options tucked into the main streets of town.
Crane Cafe: This cafe is one for really getting your creative juices flowing, and everything they serve from unique cocktails (like The Brown) to the Crane fresh fruit punch to a flavor-packed oh so healthy "Green Bowl" will send your taste buds singing.
Dialogue, Lime Latte: Indeed, a combination of refreshment and invigoration, this iced latte with lime syrup was a signature drink of the owner Piseth's 2018 barista winning award! All their drinks are given precision treatment for a delicious experience each time. Their Red Truck craft brew is also amazing, though maybe for a different time of day... maybe.
Pub street is definitely not the only spot in town with evening drink options! Take in sunset views with a unique cocktail or stop into a friendly lounge to meet up with fellow travelers. Siem Reap has some great spots to enjoy a great atmosphere alongside great drinks and some snacks to go along with.
Jaya House River Park: One fantastic location for sunset drinks is the rooftop at Jaya House River Park. Located on the riverside, the atmosphere is classy, very comfortable and the staff are always on point with a warm welcome and attentive service. As if taking in a gorgeous sunset from such a spot wasn't enough, they even have a happy hour from 5-7 pm.
The Pineapple Chili Margarita: This is a cocktail combination not to miss. Who knew such flavors would mix so well? Well, the Khmer for one, as much of their fresh citrus fruit is often served with a sweet chili garlic paste. You'll find the Pineapple Chili Margarita, with just the right amount of spicy, served at Marum restaurant in a warmly lit garden atmosphere. Marum is also known for their unique tapas of Khmer varieties, so go ahead and order a few snacks while sipping your new-found favorite cocktail. Happy hour is 4-7 pm!
A number of craft dessert locations have made their mark in Siem Reap, has become a favorite for visitors and locals alike.
Bang Bang Cakes: Every piece is scrumptious - from the Chocolate Fudge to the Cherry Cheesecake, oh and the Carrot Cake and we can't leave out the Apple Crumble. Go with an appetite and time to decide, as many minutes can be spent staring at those confectionary delights. Try not to get snagged by the perfect chocolate chip cookies waiting by the register either - we warned you!
Kampot Pepper Chocolate Ice Cream: Nothing cools the heat intensity of tropical weather like a scoop of creamy, flavorful craft ice cream. Gelato Lab is a small shop, tucked into an alley full of character. The menu boards with ice creams "Creme" and sherbets "Sorbetti" are listed in their Italian names with assorted flavors all sounding more exotic and delicious than the previous, so be sure to take full advantage of the taste-testing. One very unique flavor worth trying while you're in Cambodia is Cioccolato al Pepe di Kampot - a combination of rich chocolate ice cream and pepper from Cambodia's world-renowned province of Kampot. The first flavor you'll notice is the chocolate, then the pepper surprises you and adds a fantastic punch that remains. It’s one for the adventurous, but if you're at all a fan of pepper might just love this.
Make sure to note some of your favorite suggestions down, or bookmark this page if you’re visiting Siem Reap, and take in the best of this corner of Cambodia! In fact, Grasshopper Adventures offers a tour extension that will knock a few of these off the list immediately. With our 2-day extension, you'll experience the marvel of an Angkor Wat sunrise before a cycle ride through the Angkor forest, to include a jungle breakfast. Take in Siem Reap by night on the back of a Vespa, when your driver whisks you off on a fantastic evening that includes 60 Road as part of the food tasting fun, and enjoy a Phare circus performance on another evening.
The range of interesting activities continues beyond this, but this list highlights some of the best and gives you a great start to making the most of Siem Reap and taking home some unforgettable memories.