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Siem Reap Local Day Tours

Going Beyond Angkor Wat

Siem Reap through the local’s lens: TakeMeTour’s Review 

The ultimate destination for any travelers to Cambodia, Siem Reap is wonderfully rich in man-made and natural beauty. Marvel at the impressive feats of ancient architecture, from the world-renowned Angkor Wat to the hidden gem Koh Ker. Then, breathe in the fresh air as you cruise along the Tonle Sap River or bike past rice paddies, all the while immersing yourself in the life of locals. Looking for more details and fun activities? We’ve compiled all the best ways to spend your time in the ancient capital below.  

 Top 7 ways to make the most of your time in Siem Reap: 

1. Get on the bike and explore

Feel the speed of a tuk tuk or rickshaw is too fast for you? Or what if there are hidden gems you’ve set your mind on where the rumbling machines can’t get you? Then, biking might just be the right way to experience Siem Reap for you. Take a spin to the temples, or deep into the heart of villages. It’s the perfect pace to soak in your surroundings and interact with the locals! The best time to hop on your bike is definitely in the early morning, as the afternoon sun can be grueling in Cambodia’s tropical climate. Plan your ride in time for the sunrise or sunset for a picturesque bonus! 

2. Eat surprising and delicious local food

To fully get to know a place, you must of course generously stuff yourself with the local food. You might have heard of the national dish Prahok, the fermented fish paste, and while Siem Reap has its signature Prahok made from big fresh water fish, now locals have added a new twist by making Prahok from fireants! It’s a must-try to tell your friends and family all about! 

Other local favorites include Nom Banhjok Somlor Khmer, rice noodles doused in a thick green soup peppered with Prahok and sweet palm sugar; Mjou Srae, a sour soup with krills, crab meat, tiny fish and water lilies; and grilled seasoned chicken (the best in town is from the Puok Market). Don’t miss out on classic Cambodian dishes such as Amok, Prahok Ktis and Samlor Korko either. You’ll probably love all of them so much that you’ll want to learn how to cook it yourself, which you can! Your food escapade also can’t be complete without a stroll through the street food. Try out delicious barbequed snails and tap into your adventurous spirit by munching on those deep-fried bugs! 

3. Learn about the traditional art of basket-weaving 

The delicate craft of basket-weaving has been passed down through the generations, and Siem Reap is one of the homes where it shines. Usually done by women, for many, this art form is a way for families to earn extra income on top of farming. Woven from finely cut bamboo or reeds, the baskets come in a variety of forms with eye-catching intricate patterns, fit for both practical use and decoration. The baskets are often kept in their original tan or brown color. Though the process is long and arduous, many find joy in being able to support themselves and keep this ancient craft alive. You will surely gain an even greater appreciation of the beautiful baskets after learning about the effort and care that go into making them. You might even want to pick it up as a hobby! 

4. Head to the Tonle Sap Lake

Siem Reap is one of the five provinces bordering the Tonle Sap Lake which, connected with the Tonle Sap River, is vital for the Cambodian population. Get away from the touristy Chong Kneas and venture farther to Kompong Khleang for a more authentic and worthwhile experience. Get a glimpse of life in the ‘floating villages’ where getting around by boat is the norm and the bustle of fishermen and women will surely spark your senses and curiosity. For a deeper connection with nature, be sure to go on the soothing boat ride through the flooded mangrove forest in Kompong Phluk or observe the fascinating bird species in Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary. The best time to visit the floating villages is during the rainy season from June to October, as the lake is mostly dried up during the dry season. Catch the myriad of bird species at their liveliest, largest gatherings during the peak season between December and early February.  

5. Get your adventure spirit on 

For those looking for an adrenaline rush, how does zipping across the open air surrounded by gorgeous scenery sound? If you felt a thrill just from imagining that, then be sure to check out Angkor Zipline which flies you across the luscious jungle near Ta Phrom temple. In addition to the zipline, you can also head over to the skywalk and have a guided tour through the forest to learn more about the array of plants and wildlife. Though some may find the packages a bit too pricey, much of the money is reinvested into maintaining the site and quality of staff as well as social programs such as a gibbon release program and English classes for locals. Speaking of gibbons, spotting a family of them can be truly exciting, so try your luck early in the morning and you might end up with a bonus memorable moment in your adventurous day!  

6. Get lost in the epic saga of history 

Cambodia is an ancient country, and the city of Angkor was where much of history’s most significant moments and battles took place. When King Jayavarman II reunited the fractured states into the Khmer Empire that would become the most powerful and prosperous in the region, he established Angkor as the capital city and kings continued reigning over and developing it for many centuries that followed. The legacies from these reigns stand tall today in over 100 temples scattered across Siem Reap. With a knowledgeable guide, you’ll find yourself lost in the politics, events, beliefs and cultures of that time. You’ll also likely find yourself fascinated by the stone carvings and statues of the temples, and you can dive deeper into their meanings and art styles at the Angkor National Museum. Cambodia is also wrought with dark periods, from the fall of the Khmer Empire to the wars in contemporary times. For the recent tumultuous period of the Khmer Rouge to 1990s, be sure to check out the War Museum, where you’ll also be able to see the soldiers’ weapons.  

7. Be a night owl 

To wrap up your eventful day, you’ll probably want to forgo sleep to explore the city’s night life. The signature Pub Street is a can’t miss. The explosion of sounds, colors and activities will leave you wide awake, and there are tons of bars and clubs to chill and party in. But don’t think that’s all Siem Reap has to offer at night. If you’re looking for a more tamed way to spend your time, why not stop in for a performance by PHARE, The Cambodian Circus? There are no trained animals, only talented dancers and acrobats who powerfully tell a story through their performance. The troupe’s depiction of life in the Khmer Rouge, especially, is absolutely stellar, and you can rest assured that you will walk out feeling mesmerized and touched by what you’ve experienced.   

Still looking for more trips? Try these other amazing local trips in nearby provinces. 

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