Angkor Wat is truly one of the wonders of the world, it really goes with out saying! However many a visitor to these ancient ruins has trekked the stone paths only to be “templed out” after a day or two in the Cambodian heat. The best way to approach a visit to the temples is to see them early morning and late afternoon. This will mean you miss the heat of the day and also get the best light for your photography.
In the middle day, Siem Reap has plenty of other attraction to keep you busy. Listed below are just few things to see in Siem Reap, and there’s not a temple insight!
Cambodia Land Mine Relief Fund
For anyone visiting Cambodia, you should make the effort to check out the Land Mine Museum. Founded in 1997 by Aki Ra, a former soldier and UN Mine Clearance Worker. The museum shows in graphic details the devastation and danger caused by mines. Danger that still lingers today in much of the Cambodian countryside. Along with the museum Aki Ra continues to help locals by clearing mines found around the country.
Displays include the many mines, bombs and other ordnance that he has cleared himself. There are detailed charts showing how mines work and painting by mine victims hanging on the walls. It is a real eye opener for anyone who visits.
Entrance to the museum is a $2 donation. Check out the website for details on how to there. www.cambodialandminemuseum.org
If your a shopper at heart, the Old Markets located in central Siem Reap are for you! Rub shoulders with the locals as you stroll through the food section, searching for bargain!
The Old Market is a great spot for hunting down a bargain with goodies including silk, silver, gold, Cambodian history books, statues, carvings and many more items that make great souvenirs. In and around the market there are plenty of cafes, banks and internet cafes making it a handy location! The Old Market is located in the middle of Siem Reap near the river.
Tonle Sap Lake
Located just 30 minutes from Siem Reap Town, the Tonle Sap Lake, often called The Great Lake, is quite simply massive! One of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, the Tonle Sap grows from an average 2,500sq km up to a whopping 12,000sq km in the wet season. Travelers can hit the waters of the Great Lake and check out the small fishing village that dot the shore line of the lake.
Boats can hired by the hour through travel agents, hotels, guides or at the lake itself (Chong Khneas). Along with the fishing villages other great spot to visit including:
- The Gecko Enviroment Center that is dedicated to the enviroment, people and culture of the Tonle Sap.
- Fish Farms of which many have been geared up purely for tourism, however you still the idea and concept of the Khmer fishing styles.
- Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary which is the Prek Toal area and is home to some 120 species of birds. Breeding season runs from January until June.
- Extended boat tours – check out the travel agents in Siem Reap for info on new boats tours that can run for upwards of 3 day or more.
Motor Bike/Bicycle Tour
If you’re keen to bust a move and get out of town, a great way to get a feel for the country is to hit the roads on motor bike or bicycle. The beauty of traveling on two wheels is you can really soak up the Khmer culture and visit more off the beaten track destinations.
Try and find local villages outside Siem Reap to get a taste of Khmer hospitality, to see tradition Khmer housing and to witness amazing sunsets over the rice paddies. Bicycle/Motor Tours can be arranged in Siem Reap very easily, it’s also becoming a very popular place to cycle independently. So grab a map and large bottle of water and away you go!
Dr Beat Concert
Beat is a well know name around the streets of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh! Every Friday and Saturday at 7.15pm, Dr Beat Richner plays Bach on his cello and also speaks about the latest happenings at his children’s hospitals located in both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. If you’re keen to kick up the heels with Dr Beat, you can see him at the Jayavarman VII Hospital which is located on the road to Angkor Wat.
The hospital provides free medical for local kids from Siem Reap and also the surrounding area. If you like what see, the hospital always appreciates monetary and blood donations. www.beatocello.com
If a peaceful setting and some hard earned relaxation is what you are after, do yourself a favor and hunt down the Butterfly Garden and Restaurant. Set a beautiful and tranquil garden setting, you can either sit or wonder the paths and walk pass fish ponds while admiring the 1000’s of butterflies flying around. The Garden has over 50 different species living at the site and is really a fabulous spot to rest your weary legs!
The restaurant offers a full menu with dishes including both Khmer and western dishes. The Butterfly Garden is also open for breakfast. www.butterfliesofangkor.com
After dark Pub Street is the most popular place in town. With plenty of eating and drinking choice, you really don’t have to move to far to enjoy a full and entertaining night out. Expect loud music as bars compete in the nightly Decibel Competition along with plenty of punters looking for cheap eats or cold drinks, but that said, it’s a great place to unwind after a long day of touring!
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