Siem Reap is riding high on its position as the gateway to the temples of Angkor. The town is chic, charming and bustling with by far the best tourist scene in Cambodia – this is the place to find beautiful resorts, decadent spas and first-class dining. The temples may be Siem Reap’s main focus but you’ll find the town has a number of attractions worth visiting in their own right.
For an overview of the art and culture of the Khmer civilisation, this archaeological museum is a must visit. Spread across eight galleries you’ll find artefacts from the site itself alongside a thorough exploration of its history, pre-Angkorian relics and interactive displays.
Located about 15 kilometres south of Siem Reap, Tonle Sap offers a glimpse of a totally different side of Cambodia. Lakeside villages, which are stilted in the dry season or seemingly floating in the wet season, are home to fishermen and their families who make a living from the lake – you can visit Chong Khneas (the most accessible and therefore most popular), Kompong Kleang or Kompong Phluk to get a feeling for the way of life here. The lake is also a UNESCO-listed biosphere – the closest reserve to Siem Reap is Prek Toal, which is particularly good for spotting water birds.
Siem Reap is an excellent place to pick up souvenirs with plenty of markets, stalls and arts and crafts galleries. The Angkor Night Market is full of stalls selling handicrafts and silks (don’t forget to barter) whilst shops such as Artisans d’Angkor and Nyemo make a conscious effort to support local causes and uphold local craft techniques. Look out for the seal of the Angkor Handicraft Association (AHA) to guarantee authenticity.
A theatrical spectacular, the Cambodian Circus is run by the NGO Phare Ponlea Selpak who give underprivileged youths an education in the arts and a place to earn a living wage. Performances mix theatre, music, dance and acrobatics whilst addressing the big issues in Cambodian society. There are plenty of other culture shows, including traditional Apsara dancing, also available here.
Located in the quiet outskirts of Siem Reap, the Navutu Dreams is an intimate resort with a focus on relaxation and wellness. Simple, elegant, Mediterranean-style rooms access beautiful gardens that have a tropical vibes, with manicured lawns and three swimming pools. The hotel provides tuk tuks to tour the nearby Temples of Angkor, whilst evenings can be spend sampling the delicious Khmer and Italian food in the on-site restaurant.
In the centre of Siem Reap, with easy access to the Angkor Temples, the Angkor Paradise Hotel offers comfort and elegance in a resort-style complex. Rooms boast traditional furnishings and private balcony and there is an outdoor pool, gym and sauna onsite, as well as three restaurants serving a range of cuisines.
Halfway between Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor, the Siddharta Boutique Hotel is an intimate and refined resort set in beautiful tropical gardens. The hotel provides all of the modern comforts in a typically Cambodian style, and features a saltwater pool and rooftop restaurant.
Spread over 15 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor exudes old-world Cambodian grandeur infused with the best of modern comforts. Facilities include the award-winning Raffles Spa, a 35 metre pool and an array of fine dining choices.
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