Southeast Asia is rich in culture and full of historical wonders. Last August, Redza and I decided to fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia for our 2nd year anniversary. While planning for a trip overseas, we honestly didn't think we'd conclude and agree on flying to Cambodia as it's not a place where people often talk about visiting like Bali or Phuket. The common question would be "what's there to do in Siem Reap, Cambodia aside from the Angkor Wat?". Well, you'd be amazed! Read on to find out about the adventures you can have in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
1. Learn Pottery At The Khmer Ceramics Fine Arts Centre
Redza & I had so much fun learning how to make our own ceramic bowls and plates out of clay. Pottery is such a relaxing fine art skill, it looks easy but it definitely takes a lot of patience. It costs 20USD per person if you pre book online and the best part is you can be a total amateur to join the class. The skilled potters are always on the look out to see if you need help and they'll guide you from A-Z so you can get the whole idea of how to do pottery the right way. The class is about an hour and 45 minutes, they have classes at 8am, 10am, 2pm and 4pm daily. This activity is great for families and couples, one of the plus points of this class is that you get free pick-up and drop off before and after class at your hotel!
2. Have A Meal Or Two At Local NGO Restaurants
NGO restaurants are common in Cambodia. They're usually set up by foreigners living in Cambodia who want to give back to society. I would say NGO restaurants are kinda like the "hipster cafes" aka they're surprisingly the most Gram-worthy ones. These restaurants and cafes hire locals who are suffering from poverty to work in their cafe or restaurant and pay them a fare wage. Aside from that, these eateries also donate a percentage of their profit to various causes in the country. It may come off a little pricier but do note that it's for a good cause!
To visit: New Leaf Eatery & Sister Srey Cafe
3. Let History Amaze You At The Angkor Heritage Park
Explore the ruins of the centuries old Khmer Empire in Siem Reap while you're there. The ruins consist of man made temples and kingdoms from stone. Inside, you'll find yourself amazed by the man made carvings on the wall and statues build from stone. Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and the Bayon Temple are famous sights you ought to see while you're there. Redza & I were so fascinated with the architecture that we were constantly in awe. Travelling to the Angkor Archaeological Park that houses the ruins of the Khmer Empire does not cost much unless you sign up for a tour. As we were on a budget, we decided to just book a remork that cost about USD25 in total for the journey there and back to our hotel. We disregarded any tours because we knew we could just rely on Google for information while we were on site. The only other thing we paid for was the one day entrance pass to enter the park.
There a 3 types of passes for the park:
- 1 day at USD37
- 3 days at USD62
- 7 days at USD72
Note: The main ticket sales office is at the Angkor Conservation Area on Charles de Gaulle road. All Angkor passes are available there.
4. Shop For Local Crafts At The Made In Cambodia Market
For those who love local handmade crafts, the Made in Cambodia Market is the place to be. An outdoor flea market with everything from decor to accessories. Not to mention, there are a few cafes around the area for a break from the shopping. Redza & I went during mid day and we cannot stress how bad an idea it was. Cambodia in general is scorching hot so if you plan to visit the market, the best time would be at night when the weather drops and the lights are all brightly lit up.
5. Shop Like A Local In The Old Market
The Old Market is where the locals shop for their fresh veg and meat at dawn. The market is located indoors and it's huge. Aside from fresh produce, they also have clothes, accessories, decor, arts & crafts, a salon and even a nail parlour inside. With a wide range of variety and an affordable price, this is the place to nab some souvenirs from Cambodia for tourists.
Tip: Never buy from the first store, scout around the market and enquire about the price along the way before making a decision. You never know but you might just get your goodies for a cheaper price! Also, make your grandma proud by bargaining all the way! Make sure you're paying a fair price for the goods you're getting.
6. Have Local Cuisine For Only USD1!
This is no false alarm! Food is cheap in Cambodia if you know where to eat. Eat where the locals eat, right outside the Old Market when night falls. A whole row of food stalls on remorks will be selling local cuisine for a minimum of USD1 only! I'm not kidding when I say you actually get a full meal at that price. Local cuisines to look out for is definitely the Fish Amok and Lok Lak.
7. Drink And Party At Pub Street
Pub Street is where all the party goers come together at night for cheap drinks, loud music and strobing lights. The streets consists of restaurants, bars, clubs and stalls selling snacks. Our favourite bar/club would have to be Temple, a three story high bar/club that consists of a different ambiance on each floor. The first being a club, second a restaurant & bar and third being a bar with live music, beanbags and artificial grass to sit on and relax. After dark, at around 1am, just at the junction of Pub Street you'll find a row of neon lit remorks that are actually makeshift bars on-the-go! Serving up some real cheap cocktails and playing music off their laptops, they practically made their very own mini version of Pub Street right outside of it. Aside from that, among the neon lit row of bars on wheels lie a few stalls that sell fried bugs (YESSSSS, FRIED BUGS!). If you're up for it, give it a go! Redza & I tried a fried scorpion and snake while we were tipsy. No regrets there, the fried scorpion tasted like soft shell crab and the snake tasted like a really boney fish.
Watch my travel vlog to Siem Reap here: