Top Things to See in Siem Reap and Angkor

Angkor Wat is the number one reason tourists enter into Cambodia. It’s the largest religious monument in the world displayed in most travel guides and featured in blockbuster movies, while Siem Reap is the gateway into this mysterious region. The Angkor site itself spans over 160 hectares, which can be overwhelming for visitors setting foot into this mystical and stunning site. And with Siem Reap on its outskirts, bustling with plenty to do, just how do you sort through it all? Below are some of our favourite must-see sights in Angkor and Siem Reap.

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Angkor Wat

Let’s start with the most famous site and the real reason the majority of visitors visit Siem Reap and Angkor. Towering at a height of 669 feet, and surrounded by a moat, Angkor Wat is quite the site to behold. Built by Khmer King Suryavarman and once a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu, it was transformed into a Buddhist temple during the end of the 12th century. It is the best preserved temple on site and undoubtedly the most elaborate built in stone in the classic Khmer style, and intricately carved and decorated with images and symbols that give a glimpse into Cambodia’s mysterious history.

The Bayon

The breathtakingly stunning Bayon temple, built in the 12th century, sits in the centre of Angkor boasting 54 towers and over 200 faces of Avalokiteshvara. Build on three levels, its best to visit this temple either in the morning, or the evening for dramatic scenes of the sun rising and setting on the temple. The mysterious temple has an intricate attention to detail making it a favorite amongst visitors to Angkor. The scale in itself is incredibly striking and it’s easy for one to get lost in counting all the royal faces jutting out of this structure.

Prasat Kravan

The red symmetrical towers of Prasat Kravan might be one of the smaller temples on the Angkor lot, but it’s also one of the oldest dating back to the 10th century. Made out of red brick, the temple gives off an orange shade giving some color to the stone temple environment. Built in 921 CE, this temple was a religious monument dedicated to Vishnu, and its five towers were once a part of a much larger structure.

Ta Prohm

The natural looking Ta Prohm temple sits in the jungle, though not completely overtaken by it giving it a beautiful organic look. Most famous for being the backdrop to the blockbuster film Tomb Raider in 2001, many visitors to Angkor pay this temple a visit to tap into their inner action star in an authentic surrounding. The silk-cotton trees and fig trees that encompass the temple help to hold the temple in place, but can also assist in its collapse so visitors should be careful when exploring Ta Prohm.

Visit Angkor Wat at Sunrise

Not only does waking before the sun offer you the chance to take advantage of the cooler morning air, the views of the Angkor’s temples at sunrise are spectacular and if you have the chance, shouldn’t be missed. Arrange to have your taxi or tuk-tuk pick you up in the wee hours and head to the site early to make sure you get in on time. Many people will have the same idea, so leaving time to get there and through the gates will be beneficial to this breathtaking experience.

Visit the Night Market

The Angkor Night Market in Siem Reap is the best place to get your hands on some unique treats and delicious eats. You’ll be able to find interesting local crafts and artwork, as well as local produce, clothes and restaurants serving up inviting meals. The night market becomes a vibrant hotspot every evening and it’ll be easy to find a bar or pub to relax with a refreshing drink after some time spent bargain hunting.

Bug’s Cafe

You might have seen a number of stalls and food carts offering up prepared ants, spiders and scorpions as an afternoon treat. But if you’re feeling adventurous, it could pay off to wait until you get to Siem Reap’s Bug’s Cafe. This tapa style restaurant serves up beautifully and creatively presented crickets, bees, and grasshoppers in a relaxed, contemporary setting so you can ease into these unique Cambodian delicacies. This cafe combines traditional flavours and ingredients with insects to create a culinary experience that actually plays a part in reducing your carbon footprint. Start your culinary adventure with feta and tarantula samosas before moving on to a plate of Cajun coconut snake.

Visit a Floating Village

Both Kompong Phlouk and Kompong Khleang are close to Siem Reap and Angkor, making it easy to see local life at one of Cambodia’s floating villages. These areas are heavily inhabited by Cambodia’s fishermen who live in ‘floating homes’ set on stilts in the water. These villages are not crowded with tourists (Kompong Khleang being the quieter of the two) so you’ll be able to get an authentic look into traditional Khmer living.

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