Top 8 Things to Do in Siem Reap
TOP 8 THINGS TO DO IN SIEM REAP
BY LOGAN NOLIN · OCT 2018 · TRAVEL
#1: TAKE A COOKING CLASS
One of my favorite things to do in a new country is take a cooking class. Food is such a huge part of every culture and being able to learn what’s in the unique dishes and discover new techniques is super fun. The instructor in my class at Beyond Unique Escapes taught us how to make fish amok (fish curry), mango salad (THIS WAS SO AMAZING, OMGGG), and sticky banana coconut in an outdoor kitchen station. After eating our creations, we were given a cookbook.
#2: GO OUT ON TONLÉ SAP LAKE
My hostel, Siem Reap Hostel, organized a group boat outing to Tonlé Sap Lake. About 15 of us hopped in some tuk tuks and were taken through some dirt roads to the boat, stopping every 10 minutes or so to buy some beers from stalls on the side of the road. Once we boarded the boat, we passed a little village on the water where people actually lived. I snapped a photo of the young girl in pink above.
We ended up in the middle of the lake and it was gorgeous. Some of our tuk tuk drivers turned on some Cambodian music and we all sat around drinking beer and laughing. The best part of the trip was sunset. The sky was filled with pinks and blues and the reflection on the water was really special.
#3: CHANNEL YOUR INNER ARMSTRONG FOR A RURAL CAMBODIA BIKE TOUR
I was lucky enough to be the only person on a bike tour with KKO. You could also say I was unlucky enough to be the only person a bike tour with KKO. The tour guide FLEW across the dirt roads, no matter how much I panted or lagged behind. We stopped at a children’s school, a mushroom farm, a lotus field, and a buddhist temple. We would pass by houses and little Cambodian children would run to the road, waving, smiling, and saying “hello” to me in English. Every person I encountered in this country was so friendly and happy. Very poor, but very happy. Maybe we could learn something from them.
Fun fact about the tour company, KKO. They give back to their community and help support a local children’s school. A part of the proceeds of your tour goes to these efforts.
#4: GO OUT ON PUB STREET
This is super touristy, but you have to do it. Pub Street is just a giant street where there are shops and restaurants and bars and souvenir shops and street performers, etc etc etc. Someone in my hostel recommended checking out Tuk Tuk Tacos (which I learned closed this summer), and so we did. Huge success. The tacos were amazing and the margaritas were even better. After touring the ruins all day, this was a great ending.
We also ended up at a bar called Laundry. Super chill and would highly recommend if you aren’t super into clubs like me.
#5: EAT BUGS
Bugs have SO much protein in them…and they don’t even taste that bad. While I was on Tonlé Sap lake, some of the the tuk tuk drivers were eating some water bugs and asked if I wanted to try them. I picked one up and popped it in my mouth. Definitely not going to replace doritos, but wayyy better than I was anticipating. While you’re walking around Siem Reap, you’ll probably see stalls selling spiders and scorpions etc. Do yourself a favor and just go for it.
#6: VISIT A MUSHROOM FARM
While on the bike tour I took, we stopped at a mushroom farm where I met a family of mushroom farmers. They explained their process. They take rice that they’ve cooked in stove and place it in plastic bags with a small amount of dirt and sawdust. They then stack these bags in a cool covered space and regularly spray them with water. After a few weeks, mushrooms start growing. Insane process, but it was really cool to see.
#7: TOUR THE RUINS
The Angkor ruins are probably the most well-known sight in Siem Reap, and there’s a good reason. Knowing that these UNESCO world heritage sights were built thousands of years ago is incredible. The architecture is truly amazing and you can EASILY spend an entire day going through the ruins. I went through the ruins with a couple new friends from my hostel, Lisa, Lisa, and Paul. We saw monkeys, drank fresh coconut water, and tripped over the ancient stone stairs the entire day. It was a blast.
I have to mention the permits! Every person going through the ruins needs a special photo ID. Your tuk tuk driver will take you to the place where you buy these the morning of your trip. It’s kinda like a bank. There’s several people at a counter. You go up, you pay, they take your photo, and then you leave. I’m not sure if it’s the cameras they use or the software, but your photo WILL be distorted AF. Never ever throw away this precious momento with your disfigured face on it.
PRO TIP: Everyone under the sun recommends that you wake up at the crack of dawn to get the perfect insta shot of the sun rising over Angkor Wat.
It was super underwhelming and there are hundreds of people everywhere.
#8: GET LOST
This is cheesy, but I totally mean it. I never felt unsafe in Siem Reap and I found so many cool little shops and food from just walking around and getting lost. In the photo above, I encountered a group of Cambodians, lifting a giant stick in the air attached to a white piece of cloth. Once it was in the air, a man would scream and they all would yell “WOOOO”
I had no idea what was going on, but that was kinda the beauty of it.
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