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The JT Insider Guide: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap, home to the renowned Angkor Wat, is a destination for your bucket list. Not only was this province of Cambodia the heart of the ancient Khmer Empire, it also has many other cultural and rural attractions, aside from the temples that often get overlooked. Read on to find out what Jacada can offer in Siem Reap…

Siem Reap

The city: Siem Reap is steeped in history with many influences from its French colonial past, like the cobbled streets and historic architecture. Kick back with a Cambodian coffee at one of the pavement cafés and watch the world go by, before taking a leisurely stroll along the river bank.

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Crafts & Shopping

Night market: Siem Reap’s night market is definitely something not to miss. A wide selection of handicrafts is on offer, such as stone and wood carvings, paintings, and of course beautiful Cambodian silk: perfect for souvenirs.

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Silk weaving: Silk weaving in Cambodia dates back to the first century and is still a prominent craft to this day, experiencing a major revival. Watch this complex and artistic skill unfold in centres across the Siem Reap province.

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‘Artisans Angkor’: Experience the diversity of Cambodian crafts at the ‘Artisans Angkor’ workshop where a whole range of local, traditional and cultural crafts is showcased. 

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Culture & Entertainment

The circus: For an entertaining night out, see Phare, the Cambodian circus. The performers provide a spectacle of culture and history, as they enchant the audience with impressive acrobatics, music, dance and athleticism. This choreographed story-telling is now one of the most popular attractions in the city, with nightly indoor performances.

Aspara dance: When in Siem Reap, you have to watch an authentic Aspara dance – one of Cambodia’s oldest traditions. The dancers wear stunning headdresses and ornate costumes as they replicate the ancient, symbolic Aspara movements that you can see carved in the walls of the Angkor temples.

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Food

Home-hosted lunch: Sai Prany, a renowned chef from Siem Reap is now opening her doors for others to share her culinary expertise. Savour all that the Khmer cuisine has to offer with her home-hosted lunch in a relaxed environment.

Cooking class: You can further experience the delicious, unique Cambodian cuisine by attending a cooking class. Learn about typical spices, flavours, and textures that Cambodian food is famous for.

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Activities around Siem Reap

Horseback riding: Explore the Cambodian countryside on horseback. Ride past paddy fields, hidden pagodas and small rural villages to feel as though you’ve really immersed yourself in the fascinating Cambodian culture. For those who would prefer it, enjoy a charming horse and cart ride as an alternative. 

Quad biking: Quad biking is another great way to tour around the Siem Reap province. Drive by local, pastoral communities on small dirt roads and bask in the beautiful scenery. 

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Tonle Sap lake: Discover South East Asia’s largest freshwater lake. Tonle Sap lake is a protected UNESCO biosphere site and is definitely worth visiting for a genuine insight into the traditional Cambodian lifestyle.

See fish farms, submerged forests, floating markets, and local inhabitants of the lake.  

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Stung Kbal Spean river: For a refreshing alternative to temple trekking, head to Kbal Spean, located along the stretch of the Stung Kbal Spean river, 25 kilometres away from the main Angkor temples.

This ‘off-the-beaten-track’ destination is one that doesn’t receive as many tourists as the main contenders in Angkor, but it is one that should be visited for its stunning carved riverbeds. The series of stone carvings interestingly depict Hindu mythological scenes and symbols. 

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Where to Stay & When to Go

When: Siem Reap is considered to be a year-round destination (for those who love the heat!), but it is typically driest from November – March.

Where: For a seamless trip to Siem Reap, stay in the heart of the action in one of our hand-picked, luxurious hotels to dodge earlier than necessary wake-up calls before a jam-packed day.

Contact us for more details about wellness escapes to Siem Reap, too, for exclusive, never-done-before yoga and spiritual training amongst the ancient temples. 

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For more information on the Temples of Angkor, check out our JT Insider Guide