Siem Reap is Cambodia’s number one tourism destination because of the grand temples of the Angkorian era sitting right on its doorstep. Everyone who arrives is here to see Angkor Wat, but the town’s burgeoning popularity with travelers has led to a whole host of other attractions and activities opening up, which provides some downtime from temple-hopping.
Best Time to Visit
If you are planning a Travel to Cambodia then Cambodia’s dry season runs from November to April. Because Siem Reap is in the north of the country, it tends to be a little cooler, and temperatures are at their most comfortable from December to February.
Top Places to Visit in Siem Reap
1. Angkor Wat
Siem Reap’s energetic and forever expanding tourist industry is all down to the fact that one of the world’s most incredible ancient sites sits next door. The vast Angkorian city that sprawls across Angkor Archaeological Park (more commonly called after its major temple complex, Angkor Wat, by visitors) built by a succession of kings between the 9th and 15th centuries, contains hundreds of temples and is so vast that even after multiple visits, you’ll still feel you’ve only scratched the surface. After Angkor Wat, head to the sprawling 10-square-kilometer Angkor Thom complex where you’ll find one of the most photogenic temples in the site. The Bayon Temple is famed for its 216 stone faces of Avalokitesvara carved into the temple’s 54 towers.
2. Angkor National Museum
An excellent accompaniment to a visit to Angkor Wat, this modern museum does a good job of explaining and unpicking the history of the Angkorian period with audio-visual presentations, excellent information boards, and a well set out collection of Khmer treasures from the site’s temples, along with pieces from other Cambodian archaeological sites. A visit here is one of the best ways to get your head around the various eras of the Angkorian period and the succession of kings that attempted to outbid each other on their temple building schemes.
3. Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre
This is Southeast Asia’s largest butterfly enclosure, home to thousands of endemic butterfly species that fly freely around a huge, enclosed tropical garden brimming with lush foliage and a variety of tropical flowers. A visit here provides an interesting natural diversion from all the temple-hopping, particularly for families with young budding botanists in tow. As well as simply admiring the spectacular kaleidoscope of colors from the amount of different butterflies within the garden, you can also see the entire life cycle of a butterfly from the pupae stage.
4. Flight of the Gibbon
Inside the Angkor Park area, the Flight of the Gibbon zip line tour (which also runs two zip line tours in Thailand) offers 10 zip lines crossing over a jungle canopy on a two-hour course. Along the way are four hanging sky-bridges, a 50-meter abseil that will please those seeking an adrenaline rush, and 21 platform stations. There are also plenty of opportunities to learn more about the jungle environment and flora and fauna, including edible plants, medicinal plants, wild orchids, and a tarantula house. There’s also a chance that you may spot gibbons in the surrounding jungle as a couple have been released back into the wild here.
5. Phare Ponleu Selpak
Cambodia’s lauded circus, Phare Ponleu Selpak, is a dazzling spectacle combining acrobatics, music, dance, circus slapstick, and a variety of other performance arts, and it’s also for a good cause. This is a contemporary circus, similar in style to Canada’s famed Cirque du Soleil, with a story weaved through the performance, combining drama and comedy all into one show.