Siem Reap Things to Do

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Best Rated Things to Do in Siem Reap

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    Wat Thmey

    by theguardianangel Written Nov 19, 2012
    Wat Thmey
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    We had a different tuk-tuk driver for this tour since Mr. Chun (our driver to Angkor Wat) wasn’t available. We had Mr. Dee for a half day tour. He’s a family friend of Mr. Bun Kao (hostel owner). He speaks English well and very nice. He’s one of the people I find sincere in everything he says.

    Wat Thmey was part of the killing fields where a lot of victims were tortured and killed in Siem Reap. There’s no entrance fee, just a donation box was seen infront of the Pagoda for the reconstruction/maintenance of the temple. In the entrance, we saw this bulletin board which showed a number of pictures that include the events happened during the Pol Pot regime. It also showcased the pictures of the victims, how they were in prison, how they died and a picture of Pol Pot was included there. Having seen these, it brought chills in my spine. Those criminals have gone mad. The people were killed brutally. Honestly, I didn’t felt that good.

    One picture still scares me up to now- a woman seated on a chair, her arms tied at the back and a machine (I don’t know what it is) that looked like a gun was positioned directly at the back of her head. Mr. Dee said that the “machine” was used to drain the heads of the victims. Not really a good thing to imagine.

    On the left side, there’s a small stupa like in the Choeung Ek (Killing Fields) in Phnom Penh. It also contained a number of the victims’ skulls.

    On the right side was a bigger pagoda that was newly painted with the life of Buddha. We admired the painting; it’s very colorful and lively. Mr. Dee said that this pagoda was also used during the Pol Pot regime as a prison. The temple was now being maintained by the monks. We saw a few of them outside, cleaning the area while some praying.

    Out of curiosity, I asked Mr. Dee if he was already alive by that Pol-Pot time. He then told us his story; he was only about 9 years (as far as I can remember) so he was spared. During those times, children aged 13 years and above were taken by Pol Pot and his men to be trained and transform them to be ruthless “soldiers” who’ll dare to kill even their own family and friends. I can feel sadness in Mr. Dee’s voice as he went on. His parents with his brothers were killed as well as his other relatives then his voice somewhat cracked when he said, “I have no family left at a young age…” . I fought back my tears after hearing that....

    Mr. Dee has gone through a lot. I saw in his eyes the grief but no anger at all. He even called Pol Pot as “Mister Polpot” though we believe Pol Pot doesn’t have any right to earn that salutation. Just to make things feel lighter, I asked how Mr. Dee’s doing now. He said he has a family with 4 kids... this made me really happy for him. He said that he was able to survive and what happened was already in the past. I really admire his braveness to face life at a young age and the acceptance of those bad times.

    Everybody has a story to tell and his, was a worth sharing. There are a lot of people who easily give up in life but imagine how you can face it if you were in Mr. Dee’s shoes. I believe there are more people who have similar inspiring stories to tell like Mr. Dee’s.

    Moving on doesn’t mean you forget things. It just means you have to accept what happened and continue living.

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  • floating villages

    by inforesearch Written Mar 22, 2011
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    the great lake also called the Tonle Sap lake,is a huge bell shaped fresh water lake,its home to over 1 million people and consists of 160 different villages,some floating as the water receeds duing the dry season they move there homes out to the deeper part of the lake,chong khneas is the closest village to siem reap with over 6000 people living there mostly in floating homes and mostly fishing community.everything out here floats the schools,homes,churches,police,shops all floating.there are flooded forest to explore,huge water birds and plenty of fish.the environmental centre is well worth a visit also.if heading out for the sunset can recommend the tara riverboat as they serve up free dinner and unlimited drinks as part of there tours.the sunsetting over the lake is a awesome sight.further afield are villages like prek toal the home of 1000s rare water birds.kompong phluk a huge flooded forest and kompong khleang the main homes beening stilted homes rather than floating

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    ANGKOR THOM

    by ancient_traveler Updated Mar 28, 2012
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    Angkor Thom (Big Angkor) is a 3km2 walled and moated royal city and was the last capital of the Angkorian empire. After Jayavarman VII recaptured the Angkorian capital from the Cham invaders in 1181, he began a massive building campaign across the empire, constructing Angkor Thom as his new capital city. He began with existing structures such as Baphuon and Phimeanakas and built a grand enclosed city around them, adding the outer wall/moat and some of Angkor's greatest temples including his state-temple, Bayon, set at the center of the city. There are five entrances (gates) to the city, one for each cardinal point, and the victory gate leading to the Royal Palace area. Each gate is crowned with 4 giant faces.

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    PHNOM BAKHENG

    by ancient_traveler Written Mar 28, 2012
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    The construction of this temple mountain on Phnom Bakheng (Bakheng Hill), the first major temple to be constructed in the Angkor area, marked the move of the capital of the Khmer empire from Roluos to Angkor in the late 9th century AD. It served as King Yasovarman I's state-temple at the center of his new capital city Yasodharapura. The foundation of Bakheng is carved from the existing rock edifice rather than the laterite and earthfill of most other temples. Bakheng's hilltop location makes it the most popular sunset location in the area.

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    BAPHUON

    by ancient_traveler Written Apr 6, 2012

    Huge temple-mountain in the heart of Angkor Thom. Largely collapsed and in ruined condition, the main temple area is undergoing extensive restoration and is not open to the public. The exterior entry gate and elevated walkway are open. Note the unique animal carvings at the walkway entrance, and the large reclining Buddha on the west side, added to the temple at a much later period.

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    BANTEAY KDEI

    by ancient_traveler Written Apr 6, 2012
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    It was originally constructed over the site of an earlier temple, and functioned as a Buddhist monastery under Jayavarman VII. As with other works of Jayavarman VII's era, it is a tightly packed architectural muddle, which like Bayon, suffered from several changes in the plans at the time of construction. It was also built using an inferior grade of sandstone and using poor construction techniques, leading to much of the deterioration visible today. A restoration project is underway on many of the towers and corridors, and some areas are blocked off. The foundation stele of the temple has not been found so there is no record of to whom it is dedicated. The 13th century vandalism of Buddha images that is seen on many Jayavarman VII temples is quite apparent on Banteay Kdei.

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    Phnom Kulen

    by leigh767 Written Jan 16, 2014
    Taken at the base of the waterfall.

    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.

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    Starts with small temple visits

    by divecat1978 Written Feb 3, 2014
    Entrance to Angkor Thom
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    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.

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    A brief history study on Angkor

    by divecat1978 Written Feb 3, 2014
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    We started our day with a visit to the National Musuem.
    The musuem do not allow us to carry any big bags into the musuem. Only small waist pouch I carried.
    It was air-conidtioned in the exhibit halls. There are so many information you can find on the empire kingdom, architectual history and exhibits.

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    Thommanon Temple

    by rosequartzlover1 Written Apr 29, 2014
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    I continued riding along Victory way towards east only about 400m from the Victory Gate.There are 2 temples,one on the left side of the road which is Thommanon and another on the right side of the road whicj is Chao Sai Teveda.There are many temples in my list that I wanted to visit but the time was running out before sunset..so I have to choose.I quickly take a glimpse of Thommanon but I didn't walk inside the building.There were almost no visittors at the moment,so I have quite a peaceful moment there.This temple was built in Angkor Wat style in the reign of Suryavarman II,however, there is some disagreement as to the precise date it was built. Some believe that the distinctive carvings of females, known as devatas indicate that they were built during the reign of Jayavarman VI (1080–1113 AD).It was completely restored in 1960s by the French archaeologists by adding concrete ceiling in order to create the correct interior space.It's has typical layout of a single=towered temple of the period.The east facing sanctuary is topped with a tower and connected by a short corridor ,or an "antarala"(Antarala is a small antechamber or foyer between the garbhagriha (shrine) and the mandapa) The three make a central unit,set in an 60x45 m.enclosure.Gopuras on the east and west give access to the enclosure.There's no trace of North and South gopuras but the gaps in the wall show that they were intended.The enclosure was surrounded by a moat but now dry.There's a single "library" in the south -east corner.
    The time I visitted this temple ,there was preparation of a party in front of the west gopura as you can see in pic 4.I guess that it'll be a wedding party.
    There are many shops selling souvenirs and some snack and drinks near the road side so if you are with bicycle,no need to worry about the food and drink along the ride.There are enough of them.

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    Spean Thma

    by rosequartzlover1 Written Apr 29, 2014

    After visitting Thommanon Temple,it's a pity that I have to skip visitting Chao Say Tevada which is right opposited to each other.I continue riding further east for about 160 m. and happen to see this thing on the left side of the road .At first I just rode past it but I turned around cuz thinking that it's very interesting but still don't know what was it.Now I found some infomation for you.It's called "Spean Thma" means "Stone bridge".It was built in "post Bayon" style around 15-16th century.It is one of the few Khmer Empire era bridges to have survived to nowadays.It was built on the former path of the Siem Reap River between Angkor Thom and the Eastern Baray and it was probably rebuilt after the Khmer period, as it includes many reused sandstone blocks.The 14 narrow arches are 1.10 m wide.The builders here used exactly the same method for spanning space as in the temples,that is,narrow corbelled arches.This necessitated a bridge that was twice as wide as the river in order to achieve sufficient passage for the water to flow through.Even so this later proved insufficient and ,since it was built,the canalised river has changed course to go round the bridge.
    Several other bridges on the same model are visible ,for example... in the Angkor site (Spean Memai) and at several locations of the former empire. On the road from Angkor to Beng Mealea but I missed it..,the Spean Praptos is one of the longest with 25 arches.May be next time when I have chance to go back to Sien Reap again ,I'll find out how it looks like.

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    Ta Keo Temple

    by rosequartzlover1 Updated May 1, 2014
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    Ta Keo temple is one of the temple along the Small circuit of visitting Angkor temples.I didn't have time to explore this temple cuz almost end of the day and my aim was to visit another "must see" one in my list which is "Ta Prohm" and it should be the last one of the day so I just took a picture of Ta Keo that can do by the road side .Anyway I would like to share some information about this temple for you .Ta Keo temple was built around late 10th to early 11th century ,in "Khlaeng" style in the reign of king Jayavarman V who succeeded his father ..Rajendravarman II (builder of Pre Rup and East Mebon) Ta Keo stands out for being the first of these great undertakings to be built entirely of sandstone..,but its appearance is all the more massive for being incomplete.Indeed...the temple carving had only just begun when worked stopped.The temple is surrounded by moats,the outer banks measure 244 m. east -west /195m. north-south.,faced with steps of laterite and sandstone.The pyramid rises 14m.from the second terrace in 3 tiers,it's total height above the ground is 21.35 m..The pyramid is crowned by 5 towers,the central one being larger and on a higher platform than others according to the tradition plan.
    This picture was taken from the west side of the temple,now is under restoration,ride further the road turn left and you'll see another view from it's south side.

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    Ta Prohm

    by rosequartzlover1 Written May 19, 2014
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    (Part 1) From Ta Keo ,it’s about 1.3 km. further east to Ta Prohm.I arrived Ta Prohm very late afternoon ,sun still shine very strong towards the west entrance of Ta Prohm.Traditionally .. visits began on the west side but now that the east of the temple has been cleared and the road approach to it is easy . Many tour groups that visitting the place ,enter the site from the west gate and leave from the east gate ,but.. some did the other way round.I parked my bicycle right at the west entrance gate and walked in from there.There’s ticket check point ,just show the Angkor pass.We walked through the forest for about 300m. to the site.
    Ta Prohm was built in late 12th to 13th centuries in Bayon style.It’s one of the major temples of Jayavarman VII.I like this temple very much because of it’s pureness image.It’s the effort of archaeologists from Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient that chose this site to be left in its natural state and it’s one of the best example of how most of Angkor looked on its discovery in the 19th century.This is an inspired decision and involved a lot of work to prevent further collapse(pic 5) and enough clearing of vegetation to allow entry.The trees that have grown interwined amoung the ruins make Ta Prohm atmosphere look romantic and mystical ..,make me have similar impression to Beng Mealea.

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    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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    Cambodian countryside moto tour

    by LeiaElizabeth Written Mar 5, 2013
    Exploring awesome Angkor Wat!
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    No visit to Cambodia is complete without a proper motorbike ride through the countryside. Motorbikes are an integral part of the daily life for people living in the country that is home to the famous Angkor Wat temple.

    As majestic, ancient and incredible as the temples of Angkor Wat may be, it was the motorbike tour with Sabai Adventures that became a highlight of my visit to the kingdom. My day out exploring the rugged countryside was a memorable activity. Setting out from Siem Reap with my knowledgeable Cambodian moto guide Sokpan, it didn't take long before we left the hordes of tourists behind and the real journey began. If you’re like me and enjoy getting away from the busy crowds of "package tourists" and the oversized buses they occupy, then consider a countryside moto tour with these Sabai Adventures.

    Sabai Adventures showed me the world just beyond Angkor Wat. As my guide took me along the countryside roads, I discovered small villages that hardly ever see any foreign visitors. Children came running up to the side of the road enthusiastically shouting hello as we drove past.

    During the tour we stopped at a few remote temples and we were pretty much the only people there. The first temple involved hiking up a steep staircase to an ancient site at the top of the mountain that offered stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

    As we returned to the bikes and continued driving along red clay roads through rural communities, I tried to absorb the beautiful scenery and unique culture I was witnessing. Seeing locals working the fields by hand using primitive tools and ox pulling wooden carts was an incredible sight. I thought to myself that little has probably changed in hundreds of years, other than the obvious introduction of items such as motorbikes and cell phones.

    Sokpan, my guide, led me to another small temple with charm. The monks in the pagoda joined me as we hung-out on the fallen stones of the millennium old temple in the shade of the mid-day sun.

    On the way back we stopped at a secluded small lake for a refreshing swim. During the drive back to Siem Reap, I thought of the great day I just completed out in the Cambodian countryside. As we were coming to the end of the tour, I couldn’t help but think, no visit to Cambodia is complete without a proper motorbike ride through the countryside with Sabai Adventures.

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