Headed to Cambodia? You’ll definitely want to explore the magical city of Siem Reap while you’re there. If you find yourself with just one single day in this city, follow this guide, crafted by our savvy Siem Reap locals, to make the most of your time there — and to give a bit back to the community.
Start your day off by jumping on a bike or remork-moto (a local tuk-tuk that’s a motorcycle with a cabin attached to the rear) and head to the back roads, riding through the sleepy countryside farmland and villages. Make your first stop at the Green Gecko Project (visitors are welcome from 9.30am – 10.30am Monday to Friday) to learn about how this project is helping to make a difference for street kids in Siem Reap. Green Gecko provides security, education, support, and opportunities to Siem Reap’s street children through their formative years and into their adult lives, empowering them to achieve their full potential.
Continue on the back roads to the Roluos group of temples, and don’t forget your Angkor pass as you’ll need it if you want to enter this site. Located about 13 kilometres out of town, these temples predate Angkor Wat and its location is away from the more famous temples. Even if you don’t go in to explore, observing from the outside is enough to take in the tranquility of this breathtaking space.
From there, head to the Khmer Ceramics Fine Arts Centre, which assists present and future generations of young Cambodians to revive the country’s rich ceramic heritage. The Khmer ceramic tradition is very different from the ceramic traditions of China, Vietnam, Champa, and Siam. Nearby is a traditional weaving centre, where women are busy at work weaving traditional scarves, called krama.
Head back to Siem Reap and stop off at Artisans d’Angkor. Established in 1998 by a local French NGO named Chantiers-Écoles de Formations Professionnelle, this organisation trains young Cambodians in the art of traditional handicrafts and stonework, and has a workshop and retail store open to visitors. The workshop produces rich crafts in terms of quality and design, and the scheme offers underprivileged young Cambodians the opportunity to learn a skill to provide a sustainable living and income. The emphasis is on ornamental stone and wood sculpture, lacquerware, silk weaving, and painting. The workshop welcomes visitors who may be interested in learning about some of the processes used in traditional Khmer craftwork.
Siem Reap is a relatively small town, but offers an amazing range of cuisines, dining, and shopping venues. The emphasis of its cuisine is, of course, on Khmer/Cambodian food, which can be found at restaurants across town. If you want to try Khmer barbecue (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?!), cross the bridge from the Old Market and turn to the right. There are six or more barbecue restaurants here, serving up good food with cold beer.
Afterwards, the Angkor Night Market is open til late and has a variety of textiles, jewellery, and art at reasonable prices. Walk right to the end of the original night market street (accessed off Sivatha Boulevard) to find some of the market’s better-quality items. There is also the Island Bar if you need to grab a cocktail while you shop.
If the night is still young, how about a relaxing Khmer massage to wind down? Seeing Hands Massage (which employs visually impaired masseurs) has various outlets across town and is a great cause as well as a terrific service.
Headed to Siem Reap? Check out our unique, locally led Siem Reap tours!