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Angkor What? Top 10 Things To Do in Siem Reap for Backpackers

things to do in Siem Reap for backpackers

Top 10 Things To Do in Siem Reap: More Than Just Angkor Wat

The number 1 on our top 10 things to do in Siem Reap may not be a surprise, but there’s more to this town than just temples and sunrises. Check out our run-down of the best ways to fill your time in this fun and fascinating part of the world. 

10. – Get a Cheap Massage

You’ve just arrived in town after a long, hot and dusty bus ride. How better to recover than get a great massage in one of the many beauty centers in town? For just a couple of dollars your feet can be treated to a rejuvenated rub, and if you splash out five bucks then you’ll get the full body experience. 

09. – Eating Insects at a Night Market

It’s not quite at Khao San Road level, but the night market in the center of Siem Reap still offers many of the same tourist experiences. Crunch your way through a tarantula or snack on a bag of grasshoppers to really get a taste of the local area. You might need an Angkor beer to recover afterwards though!

08. – Visit the Tonle Sap lake

Sparkling in the middle of Cambodia, the Tonle Sap is a huge inland lake just a few kilometers from Siem Reap. Jump on a scooter to explore the area around the lake yourself, or book on a trip if you want to let someone else take the strain. Expect traditional scenes and a taste of the Cambodia of the past. 

07. – Get a Fish Pedicure

Pretty popular all over Asia, fish foot spas are for some reason huge business in Siem Reap. If you haven’t tried it before then give it a go here, as there are some good deals to be had. Just be aware that if you’re ticklish then the feeling of small fish nibbling away the dead skin on your feet might be right on the edge of your comfort zone!

06. Visit the Cambodia Landmine Museum 

Any trip to Cambodia should include a minute to reflect on this beautiful country’s turbulent past. The Cambodia Landmine Museum is an informative and sobering look at the way that landmines have blighted the country, and profits from the entrance fee are reinvested into clearing land that is not yet safe. Entrance costs $5 and it’s well worth a visit. 

05. Visit the Angkor National Museum

Our first mention of The Big Event, Angkor Wat! However this is the museum that sits alongside the site, rather than the temples themselves. Entrance is $15 but the amount of detail and context given in the audio guide included in that price is fantastic. It’s highly recommended to come here before visiting the temples, to gain an understanding of what you’re about to see. 

04. Go ziplining at the Flight of the Gibbon

If you’ve traveled elsewhere in Asia you may have come across other branches of this zipline activity center, but they’re all equally good fun. Whizz through the tree canopy on lines that get longer and higher as you move through the course, and if you’re lucky you’ll see some real gibbons while you’re at it!  Flight of the Gibbon gets top grades from Bodega!

03. Visit a Floating Village

Much of traditional Cambodian life is lived next to water, and local people have adapted to the changing water levels by building whole villages that float on the surface of rivers and lakes. Visiting these places is a unique experience, so take the time to explore and have a meal at one of the many local restaurants that dot the area. 

02. Get a hangover on Pub Street!

Like a counterweight to the heavy culture of Angkor Wat, Siem Reap’s infamous Pub Street is a place built for heavy drinking. The drinks deals are INSANE, think 50 cent beers all night long, and the parties go on till dawn. Just make sure you don’t schedule this one before the final activity on our list…

The #1 Thing to Do in Siem Reap: Visiting Angkor Wat

Of course there was never going to be anything else at number 1 on the list- you absolutely have to visit the temples of Angkor Wat! Huge, brooding, atmospheric, expansive, peaceful, impressive, exhausting, exhilarating, the list of descriptors goes on and on. Fork out for a guide because understanding the heritage of these sights is key to getting the most out of your visit here. Watching a sunrise here is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, albeit one shared with many thousands of others!

Click below to read more about the best temples in Cambodia…

Angkor Wat is the #1 thing to do in Siem Reap

Come for a couple of days, stay for a week (at least)…

Siem Reap is a great place. It’s cheap to grab a drink, there are plenty of fun activities to fill your time and you’ll find a ton of other like-minded people to share it with. Turn up and prepare to relax and enjoy it because we guarantee you won’t want to leave any time soon! 


Want to learn more about Cambodian culture? Check out our guide to learning basic Cambodian phrases to enhance your backpacking trip to Siem Reap!

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