10 things to do in Siem Reap Cambodia [Part 1]

Siem Reap is a unique blend of magnificent architecture with monument temples to cultural activities. Siem Reap itself has lots of attractions to become a perfect tourist destination.
 
Siem Reap is best known for the temples at the Angkor complex. However, beyond splendor temples, there are plenty of other activities that travelers might be miss in the city. To help you get the most interesting things in this wonderland, here’s our top list of things to see and do.

1. Discover Angkor temples

Located five kilometres from Siem Reap’s centre, Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites of Southeast Asia. Angkor contains the magnificent remains of several capitals of the Khmer Empire. Angkor served as the seat of the Khmer Empire, which flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries. It extends over approximately 400 square kilometres, including forested area, consists of scores of temples, hydraulic structures (basins, dykes, reservoirs, canals) as well as communication routes.

Angkor complex is really huge. There are temples spread out over a vast 100 square kilometer jungle site. Temples such as Angkor Wat, the Bayon, Preah Khan and Ta Prohm are representative to the Khmer architecture as well as being imbued with symbolic significance. Angkor Wat (meaning “City Temple”) is the most magnificent and largest of all Angkor temples. The structure occupies and enormous site of nearly 200 hectares (494 acres). Built under the reign of king Suryavarman II in the first half of the 12 century, Angkor Wat is the pinnacle of Khmer architecture. This arrangement reflects the traditional Khmer idea of the temple mountain, in which the temple represent Mount Meru, the home of the gods in Hinduism.
 
The largest temple in the complex, Angkor Thom ( literally “Great City”) is the second most visited temple after Angkor Wat. Surrounded by huge walls with massive entrance gopuras with face towers and a 100 meter wide moat, the city was well protected against invaders. Covering an area of 9 square kilometres, at the center of Angkor Thom is Bayon Temple, which is home to massive, carved stone heads. The next popular site is the Terrace of the Elephants, part of the walled city of Angkor Thom.

Unlike most Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm is a popular temple with the unique feature - trees growing out of the ruins. The huge trees and massive roots growing out of the temples’ walls create a special atmosphere and a feel of being right in the jungle. Built from 1186, Ta Prohm was a Buddhist temple dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII. After the fall of the Khmer empire in the 15th century, the temple was abandoned and swallowed up by the jungle. Unlike any of the other popular Angkor temples, Ta Prohm really gives you the feeling of discovering something hidden and truly ancient.

Located far from the main group of temples, Banteay ( known as the “city of women” ), Banteay Srei is one of the smallest sites at Angkor. Banteay Srei is the only Khmer temple not built by a king. It was built by a Brahmin, who was the spiritual advisor of a Khmer king, in honor of Hindu god Shiva. Built of fine grained rose-pink sandstone, the temple walls are elaborately decorated with floral motifs and epic Ramayana scenes. The walls are covered with deep, intricate carvings, each one carved with superb detail. The detailed carving of the sculptures, lintels, and friezes, make it an aesthetically pleasing structure.

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2. Enjoy Apsara dance show

A walk around the majority of the temples will show Apsara dancers carved into the walls and bas reliefs, with their dance forming an essential part of Khmer culture. A show of classic Khmer dance is perfect after a day at the Angkor Wat temples, as the dancers will bring the myths and mythology to life. There are several venues in Siem Reap where you can attend a traditional Apsara dance performance. But most travelers attend one of the nightly dinner performances at a local restaurant such as Por Cuisine restaurant or Koulen restaurant.

Apsaras, according to the India tales, are beautiful goddesses. They are famous for their mesmerizing dance skills. With the elegant feature and sophisticated move, Apsara has gone from the tale into the spiritual and cultural life of people in those countries heavily affected by Hinduism like Thailand and Cambodia. By the 13th century, the dance was assuming a Khmer identity rather than Indian – the source of its roots. It combined gentle movements with loud, traditional Khmer music during its performance. In that era, Apsara dance was performed solely for the benefit of the upper class, and particularly for the king.

Apsara dancers who are charming and full are symbols of Khmer spirit. As a famous dance of elegance, nobility and softness, every movement displays a balance in soul, no frustration or rush. In performances, Apsara dancers wear tight shirts in bright colors, traditional sampot skirts, and hat in temple-shape which is golden and decorated very sophisticatedly.

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3. Glide along the floating villages

A visit to the floating village on Tonle Sap lake is one of the most fantastic Mekong river excursion in Cambodia. There are a number of floating villages (such as: Chong Kneas, Kampong Phluk, Kampong Khleang) that can be visited from Siem Reap where you can see traditional stilt architecture, floating rice paddies, and talk to local fishermen who might invite you to their home for a fresh caught lunch. 

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4. Flight of the Gibbon

Flight of the Gibbon is the most renowned company for Ziplining with the highest possible safety and the most creative ziplines, suitable for the whole family. The “Flight of the Gibbon” does actually involve sightings of real gibbons. This activity is a combination of the visiting trip “Gibbons in the jungle” and the game “Ziplining Canopy”. Angkor Archaeological Park provides the ultimate backdrop for a zipline experience. Flight of the Gibbon is located inside the Angkor protected area that includes 10 ziplines, 21 treetop platforms, four skybridges and an abseil finish where travelers have a chance to learn about the flora and fauna in this unique environment..

High in the treetops of Cambodia’s Angkor Park, you will glide through the jungle canopy via a range of thrilling zipline wires woven into the jungle eco-­system. There is a panoramic refreshment stop at the halfway stage to explore the vegetation and the wildlife in the journey. If you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a gibbons family in the jungle. Or you can have some great photos and have an interesting on the trees.

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5. Horse riding through Siem Reap countryside

Siem Reap is surrounded by an incredible mass of countryside that provides some interesting things about the local life of people in here. If you are interested in exploring into more rural areas then you can try horse riding.

Happy Ranch Horse Farm are an excellent company who organizes the horse riding in Siem Reap. This journey takes you through the secluded temple Wat Atvea, a peaceful visit that gets you away from the hustle and bustle of Siem Reap. The experience is great for individuals or families, as there are horses suitable for all experienced levels or non-experienced levels. The trails through the countryside bring you through small villages and local communities, rice paddy fields fringed with palm trees and lesser-explored temples.

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