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,
traditional markets and good causes. Also see
Charitable Organizations for more information.
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. For the
Prek Toal bird
sanctuary see on the Tonle Sap page.
(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
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
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).
Tel: 011-426856, 099-604017
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Artisan Heritage of Light
ceramics classes (Monday-Saturday). Traditional techniques. 2 hour
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
Open from 8:00AM - 7:30PM.
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
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.
Champey Cooking Class
Twice daily, half-day cooking classes by a
Cambodian chef. Meet at Champey Restaurant on ‘The Passage’ (Pub Street
alley.) Visit a traditional market for fresh ingredients. Class
conducted in a traditional Khmer house in central Siem Reap. Upon
completion, complementary booklet, recipes, certificate and spices.
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
Call 063-963400 for schedule.
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
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
Kampoul Adventure Tour
Cultural and adventure tours. Tonle Sap Lake tours.
#0593 Wat Bo Road
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
The office is on Street 20 off Wat Bo Road, behind the New
Apsara, Supermarket, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
(has comprehensive info and photography of Angkor and beyond.)
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
River Road, Daun Pa Village
Offers unique single and multi-day adventure tours. Bicycling,
kayaking, boating, trekking and more. Angkor temple tours and
outlying temple tours, bicycling countryside trips, temple trekking
tours, combination bicycling/kayaking tours, etc.
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,
#169, Wat Damnak Road
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
#R-30 Rolous Street - Borei Prem Prei
During the day, elephants await customers near
or at the
Gate of Angkor Thom. In the evenings, elephants are stationed at the
Phnom Bakheng, ready to transport riders up the hill for sunset.
$10-$15 for a 25 minute ride.
Angkor Golf Resort
18 hole course, 7279 yards, par 72, built to
challenge all levels of golfers and has been rated by the US PGA. The
course’s maintenance is superb with the green paspallum grass. 300 yards
grass range. Practice putting green.
Phokeethra Country Club
Siem Reap’s first international golf club.
18-hole, 72 par golf course spread over 155 hectares and stretching 6.53kms. A combination of paspulum grasses allows for year round golf.
Putting green, pitching area, driving range, pro-shop and restaurant.
Managed by Sofitel Royal Angkor Golf & Spa Resort.
Located along Route #6 in Pouk district
16 kilometers from town.
Angkor Wat Putt
A 14-hole miniature golf course, many of the
putting greens employing accurate replicas of Angkorian temple ruins.
Family fun, fun for the kids. Hotel pick-up available.
Located just off
‘High School Road’ east of town center.
Offers scenic helicopter tours of the
temples beginning at US$90/person for an 8 minute jaunt around Angkor
Wat. It isn’t a particularly cheap way to tour but the view is
spectacular and memorable. Helistar Cambodia offers specialized tours,
aerial photography and charter services. Multiple aircraft in service.
Conveniently located at Siem Reap International Airport, Domestic
Terminal. Office on National Road 6, Borey Angkor Arcade, diagonally
opposite the Total petrol station. Walk-in customers welcome.
Cinema in the Angkor Trade Center near the
Old market showing blockbusters, kids movies, classics, old favorites
and more. Regular showing of new movies, or select a personal favorite
from a catalogue of movies. Fully air-conditioned, 100x200 inch screen,
5.1 channel speakers. American, Chinese, Japanese, Korean movies and
Family fun, fun for the kids at
the Sky High roller-rink located on the 4th floor of the Angkor Trade
Center just north of the Old Market. Roller skates for rent or bring
your own. Restaurant serving drinks and snack. Inexpensive.
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
9:00AM - 8:00PM.
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.
Cambodian Cultural Village
A unique, sprawling cultural attraction,
intended to introduce the visitor to Cambodian culture and history.
Interesting wax museum features scenes and figures from history. Large
park area with 1/20th scale models of important cultural sites and
landmarks. Full scale models of a variety of Cambodian architectural
types. Entrance: $12. 9AM - 9PM. Airport Road.
Siem Reap War Museum
Displaying a wide variety of military
hardware and equipment in decrepit condition, taken from the
battlefield. Heavy armor including T-54 tanks, anti-aircraft guns,
artillery pieces, rocket launchers, APCs, small arms and piles of
disarmed mines, bombs and small arms. Most of the larger pieces are
Located on Route #6 (Airport Road).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Scams, Annoyances and Considerations
Milk scam - Bedraggled woman with infant in
arms tells you she doesn't want money, just milk for her baby. You buy
milk for her at the mini-mart. After you leave she returns the milk and
splits money with the mini-mart.
Rice scam - Tout tells you orphanage/school needs rice for kids.
Takes you to market where you buy wildly overpriced rice to donate.
Tout/vendor split profit. Not as common these days.
Blackjack scam - Friendly stranger tells you he likes your
glasses, shirt, bag, etc. Casual conversation ensues. Invites you to
house to meet family/have cultural experience. Friendly card game
begins. Before you know it you owe hundreds or even thousands.
Kids/orphanages - Canby Publications supports Friends
International’s campaign to end orphanage tourism. Please do not pay
casual/short term visits to orphanages. It is potentially exploitive,
exposes the children to risks and is a violation of the children's
rights. Also please refrain from giving to child beggars. See the
‘ChildSafe Travelers Tips’ brochure or
If you see a child in danger, call the Childsafe Helpline at 017-358758
in Siem Reap
Peace Café Community
A unique community cafe/bakery offering fresh vegetarian
food, cooking classes, meditation, yoga, monk chat, pilates, movies,
free wifi, Fair Trade shop and values and eco-training. Relax in a lush
garden and enjoy a hassle free and child-friendly atmosphere as well as
fresh wholesome food.
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.