Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia is the gateway to the world renowned Angkor temples, making it the country’s most visited tourist destination. In Siem Reap, you will find everything from rich cultural heritage to exciting outdoor activities and lively local life.
There is no shortage of things to do in Siem Reap. To make the most of your visit here, you can rent a bicycle and explore the city and the countryside. In addition to savouring the delicious native cuisine, you can also head to a cooking class and learn to make those mouthwatering dishes! Make sure you witness a traditional Khmer dance performance, especially the graceful Apsara dance and you will find plenty of these dances scheduled in the city. And after a long day of cycling around and temple-hopping, treat your body to a much needed Cambodian massage. For the best nightlife experience in Siem Reap, hit Pub street which is lined with numerous bars and clubs and for shopping, head to the old market.
Angkor Wat is not just the highlight of Siem Reap, but Cambodia itself. Angkor Wat is the largest religious complex found on the planet and this other-worldly destination should be on the bucket list of every traveller. You will find imposing lotus shaped towers, impressive statues and elaborate stone carvings which represent Hindu motifs like elephants, apsaras and others. The temple was constructed in the 12th-century featuring classic Khmer architecture and was dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu. However, in the late 12th-century, the complex turned to Buddhism and today stands as a symbol of union between the two religions.
At every turn in Siem Reap, you will come across impressive temples, both old and now. The UNESCO listed Angkor Archaeological Park, which includes the famed Angkor Wat and over 50 Buddhist and Hindu sites from the Khmer period is the best place to witness Cambodia’s rich heritage.
Angkor Thom, which served as the last capital of the Khmer empire is located around 9 km from Siem Reap and is a popular site within the park. Among the many temples found in this complex, the Bayon temple is the most popular and you will also find several impressive towers, gateways, statues and stone carvings. Near the Bayon temple, you will find the Ba Phuon Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Ta Prohm Temple and the Terrace of the Elephants are other popular temples in this complex.
Head to the Angkor National Museum if you wish to learn more about the fascinating history and culture of ancient Cambodia and the Khmer Empire. The museum is divided into eight galleries with clear descriptions and commentary on the displays. Here, you will find thousands of artefacts which were discovered from the Angkor temple complex and other artefacts belonging to the Khmer empire. You can gaze upon impressive statues of Buddha and Hindu Gods like Vishnu, grand traditional costumes and historic tablets bearing Khmer and Sanskrit inscriptions.
The Angkor Silk Farm aims to preserve the traditional sericulture of the country and produces exquisite silk clothing and accessories. It is located around 16 km away from the city and a visit here will also give you a chance to experience the countryside. A guided tour of the farm will take you through the entire silk-making process, from planting the mulberry trees to harvesting the silkworms’ cocoons and weaving the silk threads. You can also pick up a few authentic silk products on your way out.
Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre is a popular tourist attraction in Siem Reap and is one of the largest enclosed butterfly centres in Southeast Asia. The centre is located around 25 km from Siem Reap city. The enclosed centre resembles a rainforest and in this lush setting, you will find beautiful butterflies fluttering away. You can also opt for an educational tour to learn more about the different species of butterflies and their life cycle.
Siem Reap is especially popular among backpackers and history buffs. Being home to Cambodia’s most iconic landmark, the Angkor Wat, the city has become a top travel destination in Southeast Asia. Steeped in history and culture, with a lovely countryside, exotic cuisine and friendly people, Siem Reap will guarantee you an exciting and memorable visit.
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