As enthralling as the temples of Angkor may be, there are lots of other things to see and do around Siem Reap. Seeing a bit of Cambodia away from the temples can help avert ‘temple-burnout’ and round out your Cambodian experience as well as help Cambodia by taking some tourist pressure off of the temples and spreading the tourism dollars a bit more widely. In addition to the following suggestions, check out the sections on visiting the Tonle Sap Lake and bird sanctuary, attending a traditional dance performance, going on a helicopter,balloon and elephant rides, traditional markets and good causes. Also seeVolunteer opportunities and Charitable Organizations: All Cambodia for more information. Fort more ideas on other things to do around Siem Reap see and visit the NGO.
Siem Reap offers some unique bird watching opportunities. The Prek Toal bird sanctuary on the Tonle Sap Lake and the Ang Trapeng Thmor reservoir northeast of Siem Reap both are home to many rare and threatened species. For the Prek Toal bird sanctuary see on the Tonle Sap page.
If your schedule allows, set aside a day or three to get out of the Siem Reap Town/main temple area and into the countryside. The vast majority of Cambodians live and work in the rural countryside and a countryside tour or even a day trip to a remote temple ruin can provide a glimpse of ‘real Cambodia’ - picturesque, bucolic scenery, rice paddies and water buffalos, countryside pagodas and little villages filled with traditional stilted houses... And there are a number of ways to see it: by 4WD, Tuk Tuk, Motorbike, bicycle, ox cart and more. The following tour operators specialize in countryside expeditions.
A unique, sprawling cultural attraction, intended to introduce the visitor to Cambodian culture and history. Interesting wax museum features scenes and figures from history. Large park area with 1/20th scale models of important cultural sites and landmarks. Full scale models of a variety of Cambodian architectural types. Entrance: $12. 9AM - 9PM. Airport Road. Tel: 063-963836
Displaying a wide variety of military hardware and equipment in decrepit condition, taken from the battlefield. Heavy armor including T-54 tanks, anti-aircraft guns, artillery pieces, rocket launchers, APCs, small arms and piles of disarmed mines, bombs and small arms. Most of the larger pieces are labeled. Located on Route #6 (Airport Road).
Helistar Cambodia offer scenic helicopter tours of the temples beginning at $90/pax. Specialized tours, aerial photography, charter services. Multiple aircraft. Conveniently located at Siem Reap International Airport, Domestic Terminal. Office on National Road 6, Borey Angkor Arcade, diagonally opposite the Total petrol station. Walk-in customers welcome.!
During the day, elephants await customers near Bayonor at the South Gate of Angkor Thom. In the evenings, elephants are stationed at the base of Phnom Bakheng, ready to transport riders up the hill for sunset. $10-$15 for a 25 minute ride.
Unique new addition to the Angkor area. Take a tethered helium balloon ride 200 meters straight up for an amazing aerial view of Angkor Wat, Phnom Bakheng, West Baray and other ruins amongst the surrounding jungle and rice paddies. Bring a camera and binoculars if you have them. The big, yellow balloon is based on the road from the airport to Angkor Wat, about a kilometer from the front gates of Angkor Wat.
Web site: www.fwab.org
Tel: 012 920002 / 016 920002
Wat Bo Founded in the 18th century. A large, highly respected pagoda. Like the Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh, the vihear of Wat Bo contains very unique wall paintings of the Reamker that are said to be late 19th century. Look for the ordinary-life market scenes such as an opium smoking Chinese merchant, the colonial era French officer at the market and the French soldiers attending a traditional dance performance. Also of interest is the large collection of Buddha statues located behind the main Buddha.
Wat Preah Prohm Rath An unspectacular but idyllically situated wat on the river in the center of town. Founded in 1915, the main vihear was constructed in 1945. Oddly enough, the wat grounds hold two large cannons said to have belonged to the larger-than-life 20th century warlord, Dap Chhoun.
Wat Thmei (New Wat) The wat contains a unique glass-walled stupa containing the bones of victims of the Khmer Rouge. Some of the bones were recovered from a nearby well while others are the remains of soldiers who died on a nearby battlefield. 500m west of the road to Angkor about 1.5km north of town.