Siem Reap Things to Do

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  • divecat1978's Profile Photo

    Starts with small temple visits

    by divecat1978 Written Feb 3, 2014

    We started our journey with buying the ticket for 3 days - USD 40. The crowd was huge and there were so many buses, tuk-tuk, bicycles, mini buses I ever seen.
    We had to use another route to avoid the crowd by starting Preah Khan. Then, slowly, we moved into Angkor Thom.
    If you can cycle, it will take you a while to visit each and every site. Every temple has a certain architectual structure, which we found out the information of the National Musuem was really useful.

    Entrance to Angkor Thom
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    Phnom Kulen

    by leigh767 Written Jan 16, 2014

    Phnom Kulen, also known as Kulen Mountain, is a favourite amongst locals and receives far fewer foreign tourists than many other sites around Siem Reap. This actually makes it an ideal destination if you're looking to take a break from the Angkor temples.

    It's about 1.5 hours' drive away and is along a bumpy road. But the ride actually isn't as bad as it seems because, if you're like my group, you would have been exhausted from the temple visits and simply napped those 1.5 hours away.

    Once there, take the time to enjoy the slower pace of life (great way to take in the REAL Cambodia and how Khmers like to unwind), and to explore the surrounding areas which has a beautiful waterfall (accessible through a long flight of wooden stairs), carvings of fertility symbols on the river bed itself, and a giant sleeping Buddha. All in all, Phnom Kulen was a great surprise for me as I wasn't expecting to come away having such a good time there but I most certainly did. Bring a swimsuit if you plan on taking a dip by the waterfall!

    Bonus tip: It's best to combine Phnom Kulen with other further-out destinations. My group's itinerary was Banteay Srei in the morning, Phnom Kulen in the early afternoon and late afternoon in Beng Melea. It fit a whole day nicely - we got back to Siem Reap just in time for dinner and drinks.

    Taken at the base of the waterfall.
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  • cris2984's Profile Photo

    Angkor wat

    by cris2984 Updated Aug 26, 2013

    We went 5 people for to see the temples. For buy the tickets you have to choose between 1 day or 3 days for to see everything, they didn't give you 2 days anymore. and you have to pay 20 or 40 dollars...it is really expensive!!!
    like you don't know how many time you need for walk around, you will buy for 3 days!!!!
    don't do it!!! becuase in only one day is possible to see everything!!!! of course you will have to wake up early in the morning....if you want also to avoid the chinese people...you must to do it.
    For me the more beautiful temples were Angkor, taphron and bayon.

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    WAX MUSEUM

    by balhannah Updated Jul 19, 2013

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    The Wax Museum is located in the Cambodian Cultural Village. This Museum, showcases famous Cambodian people from the first century up to the present. The Museum also gave a good insight of the lifestyle of Khmer people during the Angkor Period.
    There are over 30 different wax statues, all very well done, and with a description of what they are.

    Army General in the 16th Century Famous classical singer From the Mondulkiri provice King Norodom Suramarith & Queen Sisowat Kossamak
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    Cambodian Cultural village

    by balhannah Updated Jul 19, 2013

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    The Cultural Village is about 6kms from the centre of Siem Reap town on the way to the Airport.
    The Village covers quite a large area, so be sure to leave plenty of time to see everything.

    First of all, I had a look at the wax figure museum, then went into the gardens where cultural shows were held.
    I watched the Khmer Traditional music and the Khmer Wedding ceremony, both were excellent.

    I SUGGEST COMING HERE AFTER THE LUNCH BREAK, as I couldn't find much to do after the wedding ceremony finished at 11.25am. LUNCH BREAK IS LONG before more shows begin at 2.30pm
    It was very hot the day I was there, so I didn't stick around.

    At 2.30pm is the "charming scarf show,"3.10pm only on fri, sat, sun Tonle sap heritage dancing, 3.55pm, chinese traditional dancing, 4.25pm Peacock dancing, 5.00pm, choosing fiance, 5.40pm, My beautiful village, 6.15pm, rice praying, and only on fri, sat, sun The greatest king jayavarman 7 show at 7.30pm.

    I always enjoy these villages and this one I found extra good because of the shows.
    There weren't many Europeans there, so I guess they don't know.

    ADMISSION IS $15

    Dance performance dancers A village
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    Phare, The Cambodian Circus

    by AndreasH6 Updated Jul 16, 2013

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    Daily at 7h30 pm.

    Phare performance is an astonishing immersion into Cambodian Modernity.
    Phare, The Cambodian Circus is the only venue in Cambodia featuring a daily theatrical circus show of international standard. Modern Cambodian tales are embodied by a new generation of talented artists trained in Battambang. The performances mix theatre, music, dance, acrobatics, juggling, aerial acts, fire or contortion with an explosion of virtuosity and sensitivity.

    During one hour, Phare performers transmit emotions and excitement, blowing away the audience by their integrity and power. Set in the heart of Siem Reap City, Phare circus tent can comfortably accommodate 360 spectators and is specially designed to fulfill the acoustic needs of the live music performances.

    On site, spectators enjoy 3 course set meals before and after the show with prior reservation in our cozy Phare Cafe.

    Phare artists are graduates from Phare Ponleu Selpak's vocational training center in Battambang. Coming from vulnerable households they gained international recognition through their art practice. The Cambodian Circus is a tool to build the careers of Cambodian artists, to contribute in the reviving of the Cambodian art scenes and to sustain the artistic, educational and social programs of the association.

    Come and enjoy the show every day at 7:30 PM

    The big top for performance Eclipse Phare Cafe Putho! Eclipse
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    Ta Prohm

    by IreneMcKay Updated Jul 6, 2013

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    This was my favourite of all the temples. Unlike the other temples much of it has been left covered with jungle. Huge trees sprout out of its walls. Giant roots smother its stones. Many of its walls lie in collapsed heaps. Wandering around it you feel like an intrepid explorer who has just discovered it.

    Ta Prohm was built around mid-12th century to early 13th century by King Jayavarman VII and was dedicated to the mother of the king.

    More recently some scenes from the movie Tomb Raider were filmed here.

    Gazing out on my discovery - Ta Prohm. Ta Prohm. Ta Prohm.
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  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo

    Bakheng Hill.

    by IreneMcKay Updated Jul 6, 2013

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    We were collected by included transfer from Siem Reap Airport. We fully expected just to be dropped off at our hotel and left to get on with it. Instead the driver started the hard sell for seeing a spectacular sunset. Eventually we agreed. There is nothng wrong with Bakheng Hill for viewing a sunset except that everyone else in Siem Reap has been brought there by their drivers for the same purpose. We waved to our friends from the airport again. One of many times we saw them

    The temple on Bakheng Hill was one of the first to be constructed when the Khmer Empire moved its capital from Roluos to Angkor in the late 9th century AD. We tried to escape the crowd and wander around the quieter areas of the temple complex. That was more interesting than sitting around waiting. We noticed some people came up the hill by elephant to view the sunset. On this occasion the sunset was not especially spectacular. I guess that is all down to luck.

    Around Bakheng Hill. Temple on Bakheng Hill. Elephant rides, Bakheng Hill. Waiting for the sunset, Bakheng Hill.
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  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo

    Miniature models of the temples

    by IreneMcKay Written Jul 6, 2013

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    While wandering around Siem Reap we stumbled upon the home of Siem Reap's master sculptor Dy Preung. He has made a miniature replica of Angkor Wat and other temples and displays them in his garden. He was friendly and happy to pose for photos. His works were very impressive.

    My husband with the sculptor. Miniature Angkor Wat Miniature temple.
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    Angkor Thom

    by IreneMcKay Updated Jul 6, 2013

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    Angkor Thom was the last capital of the Khmer Empire. It was a fortified city. Within its walls stood the royal palace and at its centre stood the Bayon with its enigmatic smiling faces.

    The city of Angkor Thom forms a huge square, with each of its sides about three kilometers (1.9 miles) long. It was once surrounded by defensive walls. A moat with a width of 100meters (328 feet) surrounds the outer wall. Each wall has an entry tower and a long causeway over the moat except on the east side where there are two entrances instead of one. A small temple known as Prasat Chrung stands at each corner of the wall around the city of Angkor Thom.

    The causeways leading to each entry tower are lined by a row of 54 stone figures on each side – demons on the right and gods on the left- to make a total of 108 mythical beings guarding the city of Angkor Thom. The demons are depicted with grimacing expressions and wear military headdresses while the gods look serene and wear conical headdresses. A huge serpent with nine heads in the shape of a fan is located at the beginning of each causeway. Its body extends the length of the causeway and is held by the gods and demons.

    The Terrace of the Elephants is located in the Royal Square of Angkor Thom. It was built at the end of the 12th century.

    The Terrace of the Leper King is located in the northwest corner of the Royal Square of Angkor Thom.
    It has a statue depicting the Hindu god Yama, the god of death. The statue was called the "Leper King" because when it was found it was discoloured and covered with moss and looked like a person with leprosy. This idea also tied in with a Cambodian legend of an Angkorian king Yasovarman I who suffered from leprosy.

    The Elephant Terrace. The Elephant Terrace Causeway to Angkor Thom - gods. Causeway to Angkor Thom - demons. Causeway to Angkor Thom - gods.
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  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo

    The Bayon

    by IreneMcKay Written Jul 6, 2013

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    The Bayon is located in the centre of the ancient remains of Angkor Thom. The Bayon was built in the late 12th to early 13th century, by the King Jayavarman VII. He was a devout Buddhist. Even today the Bayon is regarded as one of the most enigmatic parts of the remains. The Bayon is covered with over 2000 large serene faces carved into the walls of its 54 towers.

    'The faces with slightly curving lips, eyes placed in shadow by the lowered lids utter not a word and yet force you to guess much', wrote P Jennerat de Beerski in the 1920s.

    It is widely believed that the four faces on each of the towers are images of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (a bodhisattva is an enlightened being in Buddhism who has achieved a high level of compassion) and that they represent the omnipresence of the king who sees everything going on around him. The characteristics of these faces - a broad forehead, downcast eyes, lips that curl upwards slightly - form the famous 'Smile of Angkor'.

    The Bayon was created around 100 years after Angkor Wat. It is a moving experience to wander around the Bayon being gazed at on all sides by these huge stone faces.

    The Bayon. The Bayon.
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  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo

    Angkor Wat

    by IreneMcKay Updated Jul 6, 2013

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    On the second day we visited Angkor Wat. This temple dates from the 12th century and the image of the temple is so famous it even appears on the Cambodian flag. The city of Angkor first attracted the interest of Europeans in the 1800s when Cambodia was colonized by the French.

    Angkor was the capital of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to the 15th centuries. Angkor Wat temple was built by King Suryavarman II in the 12th century as a funerary temple that would hold his remains when he eventually died. Many of the bas-reliefs in the temple depict scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. By the 16th century much of Angkor Wat was abandoned and overgrown with jungle. When Cambodia became a colony of France, Europeans began searching for the lost city of Angkor which at that point was completely overgrown with jungle.

    As we wandered around we saw some wonderful stone carvings on the walls. We even scrambled up staircase after staircase to get to the highest level of the temple. When we reached the top, we enjoyed the view then set about trying to get back down. The stairs that seemed steep on the way up were positively vertical sheer drops on the way back down. I suddenly realised I was afraid of heights. My thanks to the pleasant European male tourist who was trying to get down behind me when I suddenly announced I was too terrified to move another step. He patiently talked me out of my fear. If it wasn't for him I'd still be up there now!!!

    Me in front of Angkor Wat. Hubbie in front of Angkor Wat. Hubbie in front of Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat.
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    War Museum

    by Cathy&Gary Written Apr 5, 2013

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    We visited the Siem Reap War Museum and there was a $5 entry fee and it was definitely worth it, especially for Gary and my brother in law Brett who have 45 years army experience between them. This fee includes a guide however we did not use him as we just wanted to take our time looking around.

    There was so much to look at and play with, tanks, anti aircraft guns, rocket launchers, planes, etc. If you have a Military history you will like the War Museum, we found it very interesting and really enjoyed our time there.

    War Museum War Museum War Museum War Museum War Museum
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    Cambodia Cultural Village

    by Cathy&Gary Written Apr 5, 2013

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    We did not realize just how big the Cambodian Cultural Village is so make sure you allow at least 3 hours and check when the shows are on.

    There are miniatures of famous historical buildings that are set out as 10 separate villages each with their own displays and different shows such as Aspara dancing, the Peacock dance, a traditional Wedding Ceremony, acrobats, etc.

    The museum has displays of wax figures depicting how Angkor Wat was built and the lifestyle of the Khmers during the Angkor period.  

    Was it worth the $15 entry fee, I am not too sure about that as we were only there for a couple of hours and I do not think I would bother going back to see what we missed.

    The Cambodian Cultural Village is on National Highway 6 about 3 kilometers from the airport.

    Cambodia Cultural Village Cambodia Cultural Village Cambodia Cultural Village Cambodia Cultural Village Cambodia Cultural Village
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    Wat Thmei

    by Cathy&Gary Written Apr 5, 2013

    Halfway out of town on the way to Angkor Wat you will find Wat Thmei.  This was once one of Cambodia’s horrible killing fields where many innocent men women and children were tortured and killed.
     
    There is a large stupa filled with bones and skulls that were collected by locals in memory of their family and friends. Today many tour groups go to Wat Thmei but it is still Siem Reaps main place for locals to remember their loved ones.

    I am shocked that there are some reviews saying things like disappointed or not worth going, or nothing there worth seeing. If it is Disneyland people are looking for your in the wrong country.

    Wat Thmei is definitely worth a visit to pay your respects and have a good think about what happened to this country!

    Wat Thmei Wat Thmei Wat Thmei Wat Thmei Wat Thmei
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