Siem Reap Cambodia : Recommended Trips Around
Recommended trips around Siem Reap Cambodia, some of the best things to do and see.
Trips in and around Siem Reap and Angkor are an effective way to avoid ‘temple burn out’ (a common affliction for those people who aren’t temple enthusiasts!).
Tonle Sap Lake
The Tonle Sap Lake is one of the biggest freshwater lakes in the world reaching 12,000KM2 in the wet season and shrinking to 2500KM2 in the dry period. There are numerous boat trips available on the Tonle Sap catering for individual interests and time constraints. Most travel and tour operators will organise boat trips. Ask at your guesthouse or hotel for names and contact details. Recommended is Sampan Boat Tours run by Terre Combodge. It has a variety of well-organised half to ten day tours (tel: 012 84340 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Before setting off on your boat trip, it’s not a bad idea to head to the Tonle Sap Exhibition, which has been set up by Krousar Thmey, a Cambodian foundation aiding deprived children. The exhibition includes pictures, models, fishing gear and a film on the Tonle Sap. The aim of the exhibition is to educate people of the need to preserve the lake and inform about child welfare. It can be found on the road to Angkor Wat and near Kanta Bopha Children’s hospital. Free admission.
Once on the lake, expect to see some Fish Farms (consisting of fish, waterfowl, souvenirs and drinks), a number of photographic floating fishing villages and the Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary. The Prek Toal in the Tonle Sap is home to 120 different species of birds (best time to visit is breeding season during January to June). Admission is $10-$20.
Cambodian Cultural Village
The Cambodian Cultural Village is a sort of a theme park approach to the history and culture of Cambodia. It’s a clean, spread out, well-landscaped affair offering a museum as well as reproductions of a number of famous Cambodian landmarks and villages, and a variety of performances of rites and ceremonies of Khmer culture.
The museum has two sections. The first has stuffed versions of the types of wildlife found (or once found) in the jungles of Cambodia, and there’s also an assortment of tools, implements and ancient jewelry. Additionally, there are several wall murals ( including a scene of Angkor Wat).
The second section is a wax museum which shows figures throughout the history of civilization in Cambodia. It begins with an Apsara dancer, a depiction of Jayavarman VII and an Angkorian era army general. The next room brings in figures of the 19th and early 20th centuries with depictions of ethnic hilltribes, entertainers from the 60s and the 90s, an ideal modern family, and an UNTAC soldier shown with his arm around a taxi girl (an exhibt that has caused some controversy!). The Cambodian Cultural Village has English-speaking guides, who, to the credit of the facility, do indeed speak excellent English (especially handy as there are no English captions underneath the exhibits explaining what they are and why their shown in such a way).
Outside of the museum, there are also some reproductions of Udong, the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, the National Museum, the Central Market, and Wat Phnom. Plus, there are reproductions of an ethnic Kroeung settlement, and floating, Chinese, Cham and Kola (from the Pailin area) villages. A typical countryside Khmer village and a millionaire house are also on display. Sceduled performances of Apsara dancing, fishing, weddings and games are all there to see. The Cambodian Cultural Village is on the Airport Road. Admission is $5.
A former landmine layer called Akira opened this modest museum in order to raise awareness of this arbitrary killer in Cambodia (the most heavily mined country in the world). It is also a vital source of funding (via voluntary donations) for children who have been victims of landmines. There are many examples of different landmines in the museum and demonstrations are often held. There are newspaper articles on the walls detailing the life of the former Khmer Rouge landmine layer who also laid mines for the Vietcong after they captured him. He finally helped uncover mines for the UN in the early 1990’s. According to the newspaper stories, the museum isn’t popular with the local authorities as it’s positioned near to Angkor Wat and it is believed by them to give a very negative impression of the country to visiting tourists. For this reason, they regularly try and close it down. Definitely worth a quick visit if you have the time. Your driver will know where it is.
There are four medium sized markets in Siem Reap. Of these, the Old Market is probably the best for tourists to visit and is a good place to buy souvenirs, and experience the general everyday market atmosphere seen all over Cambodia. Despite its name, its actually a newly built market and can be found near the Old French Quarter by the river. All sorts of weird and wonderful stuff are found here. There is also a New Market mainly geared towards tourists on Sivutha Road. Remember to haggle!
With its beautiful temples, jungles, rice fields, towns, villages and people, Cambodia is definitely worthwhile exploring by 4WD, dirk bike or boat. Of course, you’ll need time to do this but if you do, you won’t regret it and it’ll probably be the highlight of your trip to the country. Consult a travel agent or tour operator (there are many now springing up all over the country) for detailed info.
Carvings & Silk
Visit Les Artisans dÁngkor - Chantiers Ecoles to see students learning traditional wood and stone carving (along with finishing techniques and styles). Established in 1992, it is a joint Cambodian/French initiative, and partly financed by the EU. Or if you’d like to learn about all the different processes that go into creating silk, visit the Angkor Silk Farm 15km west of Siem Reap.
Tropical garden which contains over 1000 butterflies along with ponds, waterfalls, fish and a patio snack bar. Go over the bridge from the market and look for the signs ($1). Recommended if you have the time.
Located 1km from the town centre and towards the lake ($1). Other animals can also be viewed.
You can ride elephants during the day around Bayon and the south gate of Angkor Thom. In the latter part of the day, you can enjoy a ride from the base of Phnom Bakheng to the summit, just in time to enjoy the sunset ($10-$15).
Take a balloon 200 metres high in the air, providing a great view of the Angkor temple complex, and the surrounding jungles and rice fields. Situated on the road from the airport to Angkor Wat and 1km from the front gates of the temple. Definitely worth doing if you have the money.
Plenty of war relics (with descriptions) highlighting the fact that Cambodia has suffered from over 20 years of civil war. Positioned on the road to the airport (No. 6).
Its possible to take a helicopter tour of the Angkor temples and it is a wonderful experience. You can have a tour individually catered to what you’d like to see in the area. Tel: 012 814 500
Its stupa holds the remains of victims of the Khmer Rouge regime and can be found on the secondary road to the temples.
18th century temple (near Wat Bo Street) with paintings chronicling French colonial times.
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