Having spent quite a bit of time in Temple Town throughout the last (almost) 4 years I’ve had the good fortune to go on a few tours and participate in a number of activities. From eating bugs at a roadside stall to flying through the jungle canopy on a zipline I’ve jumped in and given it a go.
One thing Cambodia does well is adventure. From jungle trekking and avoiding landmines to “rediscovering” ancient temple ruins hidden in the jungle it’s a country that has everything covered.
But let’s put some order in this list. I think I’ll count down MY top 10 things to do in Siem Reap:
10) Ziplining through the tree canopy with Flight of the Gibbon! These guys offer some serious adrenalin in a part of the jungle inhabited by some recently released rehabilitated gibbon families. Check them out at http://bit.ly/1qKFLr4
9) Relaxing by the pool – OK, maybe this should be closer to number 1. In a country as hot and humid as Cambodia a daily (or day long!) swim in a cool pool is a treat you look forward to.
8) Shopping – who doesn’t love a bargain? There are markets aplenty in Siem Reap. The Old Market, Central Market, Night Market, Noon Night Market, Sameki Market, Leu Market…then there are the dozens of other smaller vendors and tiny markets that pop up everywhere. Just make sure you’re an experienced negotiator. They are!
7) Hanging out on Pub Street – While this would have been the number 1 thing to do once the sun went down a few years ago, Siem Reap has moved on from being merely a backpackers destination. Pub Street is still a lively, colourful, and noisy night time experience but it’s also got great food, cocktails, and entertainment if you know where to look. Luckily, even if you don’t, you don’t have to look too hard.
6) Teach English in a school – admittedly, it’s advisable to have some qualifications here. But, with a bit of planning, they’re easy enough to obtain. The requirements for teaching in Cambodia have increased over the last few years although donating your time and assisting at a school are always welcome. Check out the following links for additional information:
5) Donate your time to install a clean drinking water well – as crazy as it sounds there are many villages throughout Cambodia that simply don’t have consistent access to clean drinking water. The level of poverty and lack of education often prevents people from understanding how to gain access to this necessary resource. There are many organisations that assist people and villages to get clean water. Here’s a few to get you started:
4) Visit Artisans d’Angkor – (www.artisansdangkor.com) this fantastic concept is reviving ancient Khmer arts and skills. It provides employment for approximately 1,300 people across it’s network of businesses but more importantly, it provides local Cambodians with skills that are world renowned. Visit their workshops and buy their products knowing that you’re supporting a good cause.
3) Enjoy one of the best meals you’ll ever have!
There’s a HUGE foodie movement in Cambodia and Siem Reap hasn’t been left out. Many chefs from around the world have relocated to Cambodia after falling in love with the country. Here’s my list of recommended restaurants:
Bugs Café – (Facebook: Bugs Café - http://bit.ly/1U8YjJd) It’s a restaurant that serves meals made from bugs. The name says it all, really. Go on…don’t be squeamish!
Armand’s – (Facebook: Armands – The Bistro - http://bit.ly/20EeP8O) is a high quality restaurant that never disappoints. French/New York bistro food and excellent service with some of the best cocktails EVER!
George’s Rhumerie & Restaurant (Facebook: Georges Rhumerie http://bit.ly/1TL49Vh) has the best French Creole cuisine anywhere! But it’s also a rhumerie with 10 different infused flavours of original rum, AND they produce their own chilli paste, chutneys, and jam. What else could you want?
2) Participate in a cooking class – this is one of the most fun and rewarding things you can do for yourself. A cooking class in a foreign country isn’t just about the finished product. It’s also about the adventure of using exotic ingredients and learning from a local chef how best to combine them. Don’t wait! And Cooktuk Temple Tours & Cooking Classes combine a tour with a cooking class. Check them out on Facebook (http://bit.ly/25iKDTS) or at www.cooktuk.com
1) Temple Tours – let’s be honest. The temples (and especially Angkor Wat) are the main attractions for tourists to Cambodia. And with Angkor Wat being a UNESCO World Heritage listed site it’s a must see experience when you visit Siem Reap. But don’t forget the others: Ta Prohm was featured in the Angelina Jolie movie Tomb Raider, Bayon was an ancient State Temple, and the Roulos Group of temples were the Angkor Empire’s ancient capital. There are over 1,000 temple ruins throughout Cambodia. You won’t get to see them all but that shouldn’t stop you trying!