What originally began as the go-to place to touch down en route to Angkor Wat is now a destination to stay beyond the famous temples. What might have begun as an essential destination for exploring ancient history will become a peaceful holiday haven that secures a place in your Cambodia Best Destinations portfolio.
Siem Reap is one of two gateway’s to Cambodia yet through the chic vibe and conscious effort to truly appeal to the unique traveller, exudes a gentle village vibe. Expect to find fewer cheap knock offs and run down palaces, Siem Reap delivers on quality and will ‘wow’ even the hardest to impress traveller. From spa treatments and classy wine establishments to boutique shopping, yoga, and monk talks; there is no shortage of things to do in Siem Reap for the spiritual wanderer to the luxury traveller in equal measures.
Explore Angkor Wat
Stating the obvious since this is typically the very reason why traveller’s find themselves in Siem Reap to begin with, exploring Angkor Wat deserves at least 2 day’s time. The area is enormous and Angkor Wat is best enjoyed slowing, gently and serenely. There is a fair amount of intense haggling from local kids at the larger wats but once you venture further into the UNESCO World Heritage Site it is possible to leave the bustle behind and really experience what Angkor Wat is about. Exploring under the fresh Cambodia air, weaving between trees, overgrown roots and alongside stagnant mossy rivers should claim top priority on the list of things to do in Siem Reap.
Chill Out at The Peace Cafe
It might seem strange to place a cafe on a things to do in Siem Reap list but The Peace Cafe is no ordinary cafe. This is the kind of place that draws you in, enhancing a travel experience for so much more than coffee. The Peace Cafe acts more as a central point for travellers to Siem Reap, predominantly due to the activity calendar and community initiatives.
In true keeping with the essence of Siem Reap, the Peace Cafe’s primary focus is sustainability and giving back to the environment. With an adjoining fair trade shop and organic garden, The Peace Cafe takes the role of proving for the Khmer people very seriously. For the traveller, the activity calendar is what needs to take prized position on the Siem Reap things to do list.
From Monday to Sunday the activity calendar offers Khmer lessons, traditional yoga classes, monk chats and introductions to Buddhism. There are also traditional cooking classes available for learning how to cook in the authentic Khmer method.
The Peace Cafe’s schedule is more than an activity calendar, it is an exquisite way for travellers to feel less like a traveller, gaining true insight into the Siem Reap community; a population which is gentle by nature and kind by heart.
Explore Angkor Night Market
The Angkor night market is far from your typical market due to quality. While many parts of Asia are known for markets filled with knock offs and lesser quality items, the Angkor night market leads the pack for how a market should be.
Set up mostly in the outdoors, without the usual lane way format that markets tend to stick with, mood lighting, live Cambodia music and a sprinkling of serene bars along the way, make the Angkor night market an enjoyable experience. Items sold at the stalls appear to have have true thought and love put into them. You’ll find all the expected Cambodia local crafts but instead of mass produced production lines, here they tend to be hand made.
The Angkor night market is the perfect place to find souvenirs and quality gifts to take home while enjoying locals perform live music at the same time.
Hike to Kulen Mountain Waterfall
Located about 50km North East of Angkor Wat is Phnom Kulen National Park; a place where local Cambodian’s choose to head to for relaxation and play time.
The park is strewn with activities and cleverly designed to keep locals and travellers content for hours under the heat of the Cambodian air.
At Phnom Kulen National Park there are temples to visit, picnic tables, shelters and hammocks to relax at and park land in which to play games. One of the more popular attractions at Phnom Kulen National Park is to hike to Kulen mountain waterfall.
The hike is up a mountain and in the humid South East Asian air this can prove more challenging that some hikes. Intensity aside, this is a delightful hike and once at the top invites a 360 degree views of the region and will have you up close with a giant reclining Buddha. Cool off for a swim in the waterfall too or hire tubes to float about. Be mindful though; this is considered to be a holy place for locals and modesty is essential. Guys and girls should swim in t-shirts and shorts.
Dine at Malis Restaurant
This is not the street food vendor you might expect to find in Siem Reap, but you see that’s exactly what Siem Reap excels in: researched quality to appear to every visitor t the region and stand out from the rest.
Breakfast, lunch or dinner at Malis will deliver authentic Kymer cuisine to your tastebuds. Using traditional cooking methods where flavours and textures have a long lasting presence on diner’s palette.
Laid out in a courtyard environment with live musicians accompanying the night crowd, a meal at Malis will be a special one.