Siem Reap Province is located in northwest Cambodia as it is home to the major tourist attraction, the Angkor Archaeological Park as well as home to Travel Loop Adventure; Siem Reap town is the provincial capital located near the huge Tonle Sap Lake. Siem Reap town has seen massive expansion in the last 10 to 15 years and now caters for several million visitors per year, with almost 2 million visiting the largest, well-preserved Angkor Wat temple. To cater for this there are now hundreds of hotels from hostels to guesthouses to 5-star hotels. There is a huge choice of restaurants, shopping and bars, getting around town is easy, and there are many attractions just a short tuk tuk or cycle away. Siem Reap International Airport is the busiest in Cambodia and is continually undergoing expansion. It is fed from most of the large Asian hub airports such as Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Singapore.
As we are based in Siem Reap, Travel Loop Adventure is ideally placed to arrange your day trips or trips to other parts of Cambodia. Our itineraries are 100% flexible, just tell us what you want to do in and around Siem Reap, for 1 day or 30 days, and we will sort it out quickly and efficiently.
• How to get there?
Siem Reap is the main tourist town in Cambodia and as such is well served by many routes in and out. The international airport is Cambodia’s busiest and is continually expanding. Many airlines fly direct now from Malaysia, China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore and others, and more routes are opening every year.
There are dozens of bus companies heading for Siem Reap from many start points all over Cambodia and SE Asia. Tickets are generally very cheap, and some operators (such as Giant Ibis) offer night buses with sleeper beds. However, be aware that traffic accidents at night on buses are all too frequent and Travel Loop Adventure recommends day travel where possible.
Taxis and minivans can be hired to and from Siem Reap. Be careful to specify your seating requirements and fix the price as you may find yourself sharing the back seat of a Toyota Camry with 5 other people (and 2 or more in the front seat). Similarly minivans can set off way overloaded. If you are paying for a seat it can seem very cheap, but after 8 hours travelling with chickens and bags of rice along with too many people, reserving the car or van will seem like a better option.
• Where to go
Angkor Archeological Park
A day-pass for the park costs $20; a 3-day and a 1-week pass are also available. After 5.30 PM entry is free of charge.
Nobody should come to Siem Reap without visiting this world-famous, iconic temple. It’s usually the reason for coming, and after all it has recently been voted the worlds number 1 attraction. And Siem Reap the worlds number 1 destination
• Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. It was originally founded as a Hindu temple for the Khmer Empire, gradually transforming into a Buddhist temple toward the end of the 12th century.
• The Khmer King Suryavarman II built it in the early 12th century in what was then the Khmer capital.
• Breaking from the tradition of previous kings, Angkor Wat was instead dedicated to Vishnu. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious center since its foundation. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors.
• Angkor Thom was the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire. King Jayavarman VII established it in the late 12th century. It covers an area of 9 km², within which are located several monuments from earlier eras as well as those established by Jayavarman and his successors. At the centre of the city is Jayavarman's state temple, the Bayon, with the other major sites clustered around the Victory Square immediately to the north.
• The most notable earlier temples within the city are the former state temple of Baphuon, and Phimeanakas, which was incorporated into the Royal Palace.
• The Bayon is a well-known and richly decorated temple in the Angkor Thom complex, built in the late 12th or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Buddhist King Jayavarman VII. Following Jayavarman's death, it was modified and augmented by later Hindu and Buddhist kings in accordance with their own religious preferences.
• The Bayon's most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and massive stone faces on the many towers, which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak. The temple is known also for two impressive sets of bas-reliefs, which present an unusual combination of mythological, historical, and everyday scenes.
• The Baphuon is located in Angkor Thom, northwest of the Bayon. Built in the mid-11th century, it is a three-tiered mountain temple built as the state temple of Udayadityavarman II and dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. It is the archetype of the Baphuon style.
• The temple adjoins the southern enclosure of the royal palace and measures 120 metres east west by 100 metres north south at its base and stands 34 meters tall without its tower, which would have made it roughly 50 meters tall.
• A 9-metre tall by 70-metre long statue of a reclining Buddha was built on the west side's second level, which probably required the demolition of the 8 meter tower above, thus explaining its current absence. The temple was built on land filled with sand, and due to its immense size the site was unstable throughout its history. Large portions had probably already collapsed by the time the Buddha was added.
• It underwent an problematic restoration over more than 50 years and finally re-opened to the public in 2011.
Terrace of the Elephants
• The Terrace of the Elephants is part of the walled city of Angkor Thom. The terrace was used by Angkor's king Jayavarman VII as a platform from which to view his victorious returning army. It was attached to the palace of Phimeanakas of which only a few ruins remain. Most of the original structure was made of organic material and has long since disappeared. Most of what remains are the foundation platforms of the complex. The terrace is named for the carvings of elephants on its eastern face.
• The 350m-long Terrace of Elephants was used as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king's grand audience hall. It has five outworks extending towards the Central Square - three in the centre and one at each end. The middle section of the retaining wall is decorated with life size garudas (mythical, half-man, half-bird creatures) and lions; towards either end are the two parts of the famous parade of elephants complete with their Khmer mahouts.
Terrace of the Leper King
• The Terrace of the Leper King is located in the northwest corner of the Royal Square of Angkor Thom.
• It was built in the Bayon style under Jayavarman VII, though its modern name derives from a 15th-century sculpture discovered at the site. The statue depicts the Hindu god Yama, the god of death.
• The statue was called the "Leper King" because discolouration and moss growing on it was reminiscent of a person with leprosy, and also because it fits in with a Cambodian legend of an Angkorian king Yasovarman I who had leprosy.
• The U-shaped structure is thought by some to have been used as a royal cremation site.
• Phnom Bakheng is a Hindu and Buddhist temple in the form of a temple mountain dedicated to Shiva. It was built at the end of the 9th century, during the reign of King Yasovarman and is located atop a hill.
• Nowadays it is a popular tourist spot for sunset views of the much grander temple of Angkor Wat, which lies amid the jungle about 1.5 km to the southeast.
• Constructed more than 200 years before Angkor Wat, Phnom Bakheng was in its day the principal temple of the Angkor region, and historians believe it was the architectural centerpiece of a new capital, Yasodharapura, that Yasovarman built when he moved the court from the previous capital of Hariharalaya in the Roluos area.
• Sitting just 1 Km East of the walls of Angkor Thom lies Ta Prohm, made famous by being a location for the first Tomb Raider movie. A spectacular place, with most of the temple having been reclaimed by the jungle and trees over a very long period of time.
• Ta Prohm was built in the Bayon style largely in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. It was founded by King Jayavarman VII as a Buddhist monastery and university. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm has been left in much the same condition in which it was found: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings have made it one of Angkor's most popular temples with visitors.
• Roluos archeological site is located about 13 Km east of Siem Reap town. Once it was the seat of Hariharalaya, the first capital of the Khmer Empire.
• Amongst the Roluos group of temples, we find some of the earliest permanent structures built by the Khmer. They mark the beginning of the classical period of the Khmer civilization, dating from the late 9th century. Some were built completely with brick, others partially with laterite or sandstone (the first large Angkorian temple built with sandstone was possibly Ta Keo, close to Angkor Thom).
• The Roluos group is composed of 3 major temples: Bakong, Lolei, and Preah Ko, along with the tiny Prasat Prei Monti. At both Bakong and Lolei there are contemporary Buddhist monasteries.
• Banteay Srei (or ‘women’s citadel’) is a 10th-century temple dedicated to women as well as the Hindu god Shiva. It is located around 25 km northeast of the main group of temples but is well worth the trip out of town. Banteay Srei is built largely of red sandstone, a medium that lends itself to the elaborate decorative wall carvings, which are still clear today.
• The buildings themselves are miniature in scale, unusually so when measured by the standards of Angkorian construction. These factors have made the temple extremely popular with tourists, and have led to its being widely praised as a "precious gem".
• Beng Mealea, which means "lotus pond" is located 40 km east of the main group of temples at Angkor.
• It was built as a Hindu temple, but there are some carvings depicting Buddhist motifs. Its primary material is sandstone and it is largely unrestored, with trees and thick brush thriving amidst its towers and courtyards and many of its stones lying in great heaps. However it is a very peaceful place, shaded with many trees and often very few other tourists.
The Cultural Village is an interesting day out especially for families or groups. Cambodian Cultural Village (CCV) is a theme park located on the road to and from the airport, 6 km from the town.
Opened in 2003, it covers an area of 210,000 square meters. The CCV presents miniature versions of important historical buildings and structures, together with local customs. There are eleven unique villages, representing the varied culture heritage of nineteen ethnic groups. At each village are wood houses, carvings in stone, traditional performances in different styles such as: Apsara dancing, performances of ethnic minorities from the north-east of Cambodia, traditional wedding ceremony, circus, folk games, peacock dancing, acrobats, and more.
The Cambodian Cultural Village is considered by some as "kitsch", but is popular with Cambodians and other Asian visitors. Note that there is little English commentary at the shows.
Note that while there are many food stalls and a few restaurants, it’s a great place to take your own picnic as there are many scenic lakeside spots ideal for lunch.
Artisans d’Angkor is a Cambodian social business whose purpose is to create job opportunities for young people living in rural areas, while reviving at the same time traditional Khmer craftsmanship (stone and wood carving, painting on statues and on silk, lacquering, and silver plating).
The organisation is located on Stung Thmey Street; 2 minutes walk from the Old Market in Siem Reap town centre.
Two sites are open to the public in Siem Reap – one specializing in crafts located on Stung Thmey Street and the other specializing in silk at the Angkor Silk Farm, a short 20 minute tuk tuk ride from the town. Free entry and guide – donations and tips encouraged.
Many outlets for Artisans d’Angkor products can be found in town.
Offering a free tuk tuk and tour, Senteurs d’Angkor workshop is well worth a visit. All based on locally sourced ingredients and packaging, here they make soaps, spices, spa products, tea, coffee, candles, home perfumes and incense.
They also have a range of delicatessen products such as jam.
Located not far from town, you can watch how all of these products are made. Senteurs employs a high percentage of locals with disabilities and is open daily from 07:30 to 17:30 hours.
Angkor Wat Putt
Known elsewhere as Crazy Golf or Mini Golf, the 14-hole course comprises obstacles representing the temples of Angkor. It’s a great family outing. Located a little out of town but only a 10-minute ride by tuk tuk, it’s well worth the trip.
The fun has been increased recently by the addition of a high water-slide.
Should you be lucky enough to get a hole-in-1, claim a free soft drink or beer.
There are quite a few options for this activity. One of the better ones is with Tigre du Papier on Pub Street.
Visit the market to select your fresh produce, make your chosen dish and have it for lunch or dinner.
Various prices for this depending on when and where you go. A rough guide would be from $15 to $25 or more if you choose one of the 4 or 5-star hotel classes.
Most will also offer a free recipe booklet so that you can try when you get home.
Located right in the centre of town, near the river, this is probably the busiest market of all of them. Used by locals and tourists alike it sells just about anything you can name.
Don’t miss a look at the food area while you walk around. Your nose will guide you towards the fish stalls.
It is also a great place to get your souvenirs of Angkor. Don’t forget to bargain the price down a bit though. Some goods such as household goods tend to be petty well fixed prices.
There are 3 or 4 night markets scattered across town, and to be honest most sell the same goods.
Aimed squarely at the tourist, prices can vary and haggling is expected. Typical goods vary from fairly tacky models of Angkor Wat to some very beautiful hand crafted goods such as woven silk items and lacquer ware.
Land Mine Museum
This museum focuses on educating visitors about the dangers of landmines, where they came from, who laid them, how they work, and their presence in Cambodia. One mine means one life impacted and those odds are still far too high in Cambodia with some estimated 5,000,000 still lying in wait.
Located a 45-minute ride by tuk tuk from Siem Reap town, it is also close to a few of the less-visited temples and so can be combined with these to make a day of it.
Hours of Operation are 7:30-17:30 every day of the year with entrance fee of $5 USD (children under 10 and Cambodians are free)
War Museum Cambodia
Cambodia’s war years went from the early 1970’s right up to the late 1990’s and the events of these dark times are documented here.
On display are weapons, artillery, war artifacts as well as a tank, a fighter plane and a helicopter.
Open daily from 8:00 till 17:30 hours, entry is $5 USD ($1 for Cambodians)
Happy Ranch Horse Farm
The Happy Ranch Horse Farm offers countryside trail rides from 1 to 4 hours . From sunrise to sunset, the horses can take you to places that are otherwise unreachable, through local countryside villages, scenic rice fields and tourist-free temple ruins, all waiting to be explored.
An authentic taste of the real Khmer lifestyle viewed from horseback, and a welcome break from other tourists.
Prices vary from $28 for a 1-hour trail, to $69 for 4 hours. Reservations are essential, and trails can be booked from dawn till dusk.
Note that payment here is by cash only.
Dinner with Apsara Dance Performance
Many of the larger buffet-style restaurants offer a good deal with fixed price food and soft drinks (alcohol etc. extra) and includes a traditional Apsara dance show.
Apsara dance is the traditional Cambodian dance style depicting stories from folklore and tales from centuries ago.
Temple Bar in Pub Street offers one of the best with a normal à la Carte menu.
Chong Khneas is the more well known of the floating villages at the edge of Tonlé Sap lake. 15 Km South of Siem Reap town it takes only 30 minutes by tuk tuk to the boat dock where there are always boats waiting for visitors.
The boat trip through the floating village takes approximately two hours. You will explore the different Khmer, Muslim and Vietnamese floating households and the floating markets, fisheries, clinics, schools, basketball courts etc.
Chong Khneas has gotten very commercial over the recent years and is now run by a private firm.
The boat trip usually includes two stops: one at a touristy floating 'fish and bird exhibition' with a souvenir and snack shop, and the other at the very highly recommended Gecko Environment Centre, which offers displays and information introducing the ecology and biodiversity of the lake area.
There are other less well known floating villages on the lake so if you prefer this to competing with all the other tourist, just speak to the Travel Loops team.
Taking in Kampong Phluk floating village, the nearby floating mangrove forest is a fascinating place. Peaceful and tranquil, drift on the lake and listen to the macaques and other wildlife.
Tonlé Sap Lake
Ranging from 1000 square miles in dry season to an amazing 6,700 square miles in wet season, Tonlé Sap Lake is the largest freshwater lake in SE Asia.
Boat trips are available to visit the floating villages and other lake inhabitants, as well as offering an alternative to road travel to Battambang and Phnom Penh.
Prek Toal and Bird Sanctuary
The boat trip to Prek Toal takes about two hours from Chong Kneas boat dock to the research station. Here you will find information on the area's flora and fauna.
There is also some basic overnight accommodation if you want to stay the night to take full advantage of the sunset and early morning viewing hours.
The entrance fee for bird watching for 2 people costs $25 each, for 3 or more it costs $20 per person including a guided boat tour to the bird sanctuary. Entrance fees are used to help promote responsible tourism in Cambodia, and contribute to the conservation of the area especially the education of children and locals about the importance of the birds and the unique flooded forest environment.
The Biosphere covers 31,282 hectares at the northwest tip of the Tonlé Sap Lake and plays host to species including Greater and Lesser Adjuncts, Black-headed Ibis, Painted Stork, Milky Stork, Spot-billed Pelican, Grey-Headed Fish Eagle and many more species.
The best time to explore is the dry season between December and May when flocks of migratory birds congregate at Prek Toal.
Phnom Kulen National Park
Kulen Mountain is situated at north east of the Angkor Complex about 50 Km from Siem Reap. There is an entry fee (cheaper if bought in Siem Reap before setting off) of $20 at the gate. The mountain is 487 meters high and plateau stretches for 30 km.
The road is steep and narrow and it’s only possible to go up before 11 AM and to come down after midday, to avoid vehicles meeting on the narrow road.
Kulen is considered by Khmers to be the most sacred mountain in Cambodia and it is therefore a popular picnic place for locals during weekends and festivals.
On the hilltop there are 56 Angkorian temples made of bricks and volcanic stones, but most of them are now in poor condition.
Also at the top you can see a large statue of a reclining Buddha, some 8 metres in length. Century, carved in the 16th century.
The highlight though is the waterfall, split in two spots. The amount of water will vary a lot from dry to wet seasons. Hire a shelter for a few dollars, have food delivered from the restaurants and relax.
The water is considered holy and Khmers like to bottle it to take home with them. The source of water eventually flows in to Tonle Sap Lake and is thought to bless the waterways of Cambodia.
Khmer Ceramics & Fine Arts Centre
If you visit the Angkor National Museum you will see many fine examples of early pottery on display. Khmer Ceramics will teach you how to throw your own Angkorian bowl on the potter’s wheel.
They will also show you the painting and carving techniques and you get to take your favourite (from the 5 you make) home with you. They will fire it for you for pickup the next day.
Painting and Pottery classes cost just $20 and is a great family activity. They also offer free pick-up and drop-off.
The Great Escape
The Great Escape is a live escape room game located close to Siem Reap town. You are locked in a room with friends, family or work colleagues for an hour and have to solve a series of puzzles and mysteries to escape. Around 40% escape.
You will have to search high and low for clues and work together if you want to escape. You have 60 minutes to escape using only your brain and there are no physical activities or challenges involved in the game.
Cost from $18 to $25 per person depending on season. Open daily 10:00 till 22:00.
Angkor National Museum
The Angkor National Museum displays the magnificent history of the once very advanced civilization of the mighty Khmer Empire. Take an interactive journey through time. You can also rent an audio guide for $3 for the day (you can leave and return with no additional fee).
Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children and the museum is open from 08:30 till 18:00.
Flight of the Gibbon
The Flight of the Gibbon is an award-winning zip-line experience, set right in the heart of the Angkor Archaeological Park. In all there are 10 zip-lines crossing the jungle canopy, 4 hanging bridges spanning hundreds of metres, a 50-metre rappel descent and 21 platforms.
This is combined with education on the wildlife, flora and fauna of the area, bottled water and a meal.
Safety standards are exceptionally high, and every group of 9 has 2 Sky Guides with you on the way round.
Free pickup and drop off included, at a cost of $109 for 2 hours of adventure and thrills. (NB this includes the $20 Angkor Park day-ticket so you can also visit the temples if you have time).
You may even see a gibbon or two.
This is a must-see performance for any visitor to Siem Reap. Part of a larger, Battambang-based organisation, the energy of the young performers has to be seen to be believed.
The musicians, acrobats, jugglers and dancers all display dome amazing skills and talents, gained through months and months of training and very hard work. Unforgettable.
Shows vary and are on every night from 20:00 sharp and lasts one hour. No entry after performance start. Tickets start from $18.00 and other packages such as dinner + show are also available.
There are around 3 companies offering Quad Bike half and full day trips in and around Siem Reap.
Once you get out of town you can follow the back roads on your all-terrain vehicle, passing rice paddies and traveling through the local villages.
There is normally plenty of time for photo and water stops.
Great fun and unforgettable adventure.
• Food & Accommodation
In Siem Reap you are spoiled for choice of eating and accommodation. With literally hundreds of each you can find everything from street food to fine dining, and from dorm rooms in hostels to 5-star luxury hotels.
At Travel Loop Adventure we know this market exceptionally well; contact us and we are sure to find something to suit your budget.
There are 2 children’s hospitals, bot offering free treatment to under 15-year-olds, 1 public hospital and 1 private internationals hospital.
There are also many privately operated clinics.
All the health facilities in Siem Reap have varying reputations. If you have good health insurance we recommend the very expensive international hospital.
For anything major we recommend medevac to a centre of excellence in either Thailand or Singapore.
We offer the same advice as for Phnom Penh. Siem Reap is a bit of a party town and alcohol in many places is ridiculously cheap.
Your safety is our primary concern. Like all big cities, petty crime exists but common sense prevails. Don’t wander around in the early hours of the morning, especially if alcohol was involved as you could be inviting theft.
Always arrange transport where possible. Take tuk tuks home; get the phone number of your hotel drivers. Even for a short stay, getting a $2 SIM card for an old Nokia phone could prove invaluable. More serious crimes involving assault seem contained to the local population.
Don’t be tempted to buy drugs or any other ‘services’ offered by tuk tuk drivers or other individuals on the street.
• Entertainment and shopping
Siem Reap has many shopping areas scattered around town, but most are located in or around the Old Market area.
There are at least 4 other markets, some catering for the tourist and others more aimed at locals. There are also many shops selling locally made handicrafts such as textiles, lacquer ware, paintings and carved souvenirs.
Several bars offer live music most nights, and the musical taste varies from pop music to rock music. Pub Street in the centre of town host the late night club music.