10 things to do in Siem Reap

Or rather ten things we did in Siem Reap. This is by no means a comprehensive list nor a list of the best things to do while here. Just what we found interesting to do and made our experience so much better.

Visit the wats – after all, this is why you came here. They will impress you, they will amaze you, they will make you love this place and in the end they will spoil you. There are so many things to explore in such a small area that you will probably need at least three days to thoroughly enjoy the experience. Do not get scared by the heat, keep your wits about you especially when having to climb stairs like these ones, and do not forget to drink water. Lots of it.

Buddha face in the Bayon Wat

Buddha face in the Bayon Wat

Drink beer – there is nothing better than a cold refreshing beer after a hot tiring day. Just pick one of the many restaurants and cafes in the center of the city and enjoy your Angkor beer. You could also pick some Cambodia or Tiger beer, but the first one is not as tasty while the later is imported and more expensive but with not much gain in taste. Or just get some drought beer for no more than 75 cents and watch the bustling life on the street.

Angkor beer

Angkor beer

Eat eat eat -  I can not stress enough how good the food in Cambodia is. You could just focus your whole trip on perusing the restaurants menus and tasting everything that the street has to offer you. Fish, seafood, rice, noodles, an abundance of vegetables and fruits, cooked with local spices and herbs like lemon grass, mint, basil, turmeric, galangal, coconut milk and accompanied by fish sauce, soy sauce, sweet and sour chilli sauce, lime juice, it’s all a regal of food. Visit our food gallery for some samples.

Blue lobster

Blue lobster

Enjoy a tuk tuk ride – you will have loads of fun and will make for a cooler ride than walking or riding a bike (although both of these are good options as well). We had the hotel arrange a pick up from the airport for us and we were pleasantly surprised when Mr. Tourn brought us to his tuk tuk (instead of a more boring car). We were lucky to have him as our driver during our stay in Seam Reap. It’s exhilarating to feel the wind in your face and it makes for a cozy place to sleep on the way back from visiting the wats :)

Tuk tuk ride

Tuk tuk ride

Figure out how to cross the street – the traffic here is, hmm how should I put it…interesting. There are no street lights, no cross roads, no lanes, no real driving on the right but more of a ‘driving where there is space to drive’, but somehow it all works. People are swerving between each other, taking turns, stopping and parking without many problems. The honk is the key, a friendly one though, just letting you know ‘hey, I am coming, don’t make sudden moves’. Now, good luck crossing the street. Without a honk.

Traffic in Siem Reap

Traffic in Siem Reap

Take a cooking class – It will give you the opportunity to learn more about how the people here leave, the ingredients they use and how they are grown, plus it will teach you some interesting recipes. And you get to eat what you cook too! I know, you might think that you could find those recipes on the internet, but I have to tell you that while I like cooking I always found the Asian cuisine a bit daunting. Well, not anymore, I am firmly convinced I will be cooking some of these when I’ll get back home.

Staple ingredients: garlic, shallot, galangal, turmeric, lemon grass, ngor leaves, kaffir lime leaves

Staple ingredients: garlic, shallot, galangal, turmeric, lemon grass, ngor leaves, kaffir lime leaves

Roam around on the city streets – Both during the day and the night. It is interesting how the perspective changes together with the scenery. The stalls selling vegetables and meat change to carts selling food and ice cream, breakfast places close and pubs open, the streets get more busy as the cool of the night brings some relief from the sun. At night, don’t miss The Alley (for food) and The Pub (for drinks, of course). At day, don’t miss the souvenirs shops and the massage places (they stay open through the night).

Pub Street at night

Pub Street at night

Go to the market – here you have two options: the day market, which is the place to go get your veggies, fish, meat, fruits, lunch and a dose of local feeling (might get a bit overwhelming at times) and the night market, selling all kinds of souvenirs from scarves to paintings, little trinkets to carvings, t-shirts, books, incenses, and everything you might need. Or not.

Visit Doctor Fish – this has to be the most fun thing i did in a very long time. i was scared to do it, but finally, one night, after one too many beers I decided i have enough courage to try it. It liked it so much that I went for a second treatment a few days later. What is Doctor Fish? It’s a fish also known as the nibble fish, which, well, nibbles at your feet. Big tanks of water are filled with this type of fish, from smaller than my pinky to as big as my feet,  happy to start cleaning your feet once you (dare to) put them in the water. The beer included in the 3 dollar for half an hour price helps a lot. The feeling is weird, ticklish, especially when they decide the sole of your feet is more tasty than other parts of your leg. I eased into it by slowly dipping my feet it, laughing, screaming, pulling them out, putting them back in and so on. I have to admit that after a while your nerves get numb and you can just let them have a feast. Unless one tricky fish, with slightly bigger teeth nibbles a bit harder between your toes. Oh yeah, good luck with that!

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And here is the proof I did it!

Try some ‘weird’ food – we were not very good at this one, ending up just trying some fried frogs. But there are plenty of options to pick from like snakes, spiders, bugs, durian. Some of them we did not even find out what they were. maybe it’s better this way :)

Fried frogs - they were pretty yummy

Fried frogs – they were pretty yummy

3 thoughts on “10 things to do in Siem Reap

  1. Maribeth

    You two are soooo adventuresome!! I love your attitude, always have, your acceptance of others really shows in your blogs! You see the goodness and best in those around you.

    Keep having a wonderful time and spreading goodwill where ever you are!

  2. Pingback: Angkor Wat and other Siem Reap temples | We Could Get Lost

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