Siem Reap is the most popular destination in Cambodia. The big draw is the temples of Angkor, but they are not the only things to see and do in Siem Reap. There are museums, restaurants, shopping, and more to check out. In the following list, we’ll take a look at the 7 best Siem Reap tourist attractions.
I love history and ancient ruins, so you’re bound to see a few of those on the list. We’ll start off by taking a look at some of the best ruins I’ve ever visited…
Angkor Archeological Park (Angkor Wat)
The biggest tourist attraction in Siem Reap, and all of Cambodia is the temples of the Angkor Archeological Park. Angkor Wat is the largest and best-known temple and is a significant element of the Cambodian culture, even being the centerpiece of the country’s flag.
The Angkor temple complex comprises hundreds of acres and dozens of temples. You can cover the major sights in two days on a circuit known as the Mini and Grand Tour. It hits all the most popular temples and if you choose to hire a professional guide, their knowledge and commentary will educate you on the historical and cultural importance of the site.
The temples range from well restored to those that look they have been just discovered. Trees grow from the top of some, giving the impression they were just carved from the jungle underbrush.
Cambodia Landmine Museum
Cambodia went through decades of war, from its involvement in the Vietnam Conflict to years of civil war, genocide, and oppression from its own Khmer Rouge government. The remnants of these conflict still exist today in the form of landmines planted throughout the country. Cambodia has one of the largest numbers of unexploded landmines in the world, estimated in the millions.
Many people in Cambodia have been killed and maimed by these unexploded ordinances over the decades and it continues on til this day.
The Cambodia Landmine Museum is an educational and somber experience. It was set up by a Cambodian man that has been on a quest to rid his country of landmines. On display is a large collection of diffused ordinance he and his group has disarmed over the years. There are several educational displays about the war and the Khmer Rouge.
It is well worth a visit to understand the modern history of Cambodia and the struggles they still face today dealing with landmines.
Angkor National Museum
The Angkor National Museum is a great collection of some of the finest antiquities collected from the Angkor Archeological Park. One entire room is dedicated to the thousands of Buddha figures collected from the site.
A visit to the Museum before visiting the temples will give you a great overview of the history, religion, and culture and can really add to the enjoyment and understanding of your temple tour.
The museum is self-guided, visitors get an audio guide and headset at the entrance. As you stop in front of each of the numbered exhibits, an audio track will play to explain what you are looking at. A visit here is highly recommended.
Cambodia War Museum
The Cambodia War Museum is a collection of military equipment used in the conflicts fought in Cambodia. There are rows of artillery, tanks, a helicopter, and other military armaments on display. A lot of the vehicles show the signs of war, with armor torn apart where they were hit by shells.
In addition, they have a collection of small arms and other educational displays. Guides are available for free (donations appreciated) or you can wander around the ground on your own.
This is probably a quick stop for all but the most ardent military and history buffs.
If you are looking to find the center of restaurants and nightlife in Siem Reap, then Pub Street is the place you want to go. It is a small section of the downtown area with many bars and restaurants. It is usually quite busy with tourists in the evenings and party goers long into the night. Pub Street is a lively area where you can find a wide range of travelers, from backpackers to tour groups.
Angkor Night Market
The Angkor Night Market is an outdoor market that is a great place to shop for souvenirs, cheap t-shirts, and various nick-knacks. Located a short walk from Pub Street the Night Market is a popular place to wander around and browse for all those items you never knew you needed.
The Artisans d’Angkor is collective of local craftsmen who create a wide range of Khmer arts and crafts. The company was started to provide sustainable jobs while at the same time reviving traditional Khmer skills and art.
Visitors can tour the workshops and see the workers carving sculptures, weaving silk, and creating a variety of artwork. They have a store where you can purchase any of the things you see being made.
A tour here is both fun and interesting and the artwork and crafts they produce by hand are beautiful. You can envision the stone carvings and bas-reliefs being on display at Angkor Wat during the height of construction.