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The Visit Banteay Srei campaign has a wealth of unusual activities for visitors | ©  Annabella Betts/ Visit Banteay Srei
The Visit Banteay Srei campaign has a wealth of unusual activities for visitors | © Annabella Betts/ Visit Banteay Srei

Awesome Non-Touristy Things to Do in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Picture of Marissa Carruthers
Updated: 2 January 2018
Take a Food Tour

Eat like a local and learn more about Cambodian cuisine with Siem Reap Food Tours. As the brainchild of expats Steve and Lina – a chef and food writer – the morning and evening tours showcase the weird and wonderful world of street food, from savoury noodles and fresh seafood through to tempting sweet treats. The tours take guests through the streets of Siem Reap and delve into the food that fuels Cambodians. There are plenty of opportunities to sample dishes along the way.

Live Like a Local

Banteay Srei area of Siem Reap province is stunning to visit | © Annabella Betts

The Banteay Srei area of Siem Reap province offers stunning views to visitors | © Annabella Betts/ Visit Banteay Srei

The Visit Banteay Srei campaign was launched in October with the aim of showcasing the part of Siem Reap province that’s just a few kilometres away from the town centre. Home to the ancient Banteay Srei temple, which forms part of Angkor Archaeological Park, this eco-tourism campaign highlights what visitors to the area can do aside from visiting the temples. Locals have opened up their doors, offering guests the chance to stay in their homes and get a real insight into rural life. Businesses are also welcoming visitors to explore their fruit and vegetable farms. 

Get Fighting

If you want to pick up some self-defence tips while learning Muay Thai boxing, then head to Angkor Fight Club to the west of the city. Offering classes in Muay Thai, mixed martial arts and Crossfit, the club is a great place to let off some steam and get rid of some of those holiday calories while finding out more about the region’s ancient martial arts.

Road 60

Every evening at about 5pm, the straight one-kilometre stretch of Road 60 on the outskirts of Siem Reap town becomes a hive of activity as locals gather for the evening. Stalls line each side of the road, selling everything from deep-fried tarantulas and crickets to frogs legs and a rainbow of tropical fruits. Many locals will buy their food and a can of Angkor beer before picking out a place on the many mats laid out and enjoying their dinner, picnic style.

Cool off at Kulen

Kulen Mountain is popular with locals (c) Pagnarith Sao/ Flickr

The waterfalls on Kulen Mountain provide welcome relief from the heat | © Pagnarith Sao/ Flickr

Regarded as the most sacred mountain in Cambodia, Phnom Kulen is a popular place of pilgrimage at weekends and during festivals. This national park area is a sprawling rainforest and tropical jungle, with several waterfalls that provide a welcome reprieve from Siem Reap’s simmering heat. The park is also home to a range of religious sites.

Kyung Yu Fun Fair

Kyung Yu, at the top end of Road 60, remains one of Temple Town’s best-kept secrets. It’s packed with  Khmer families in search of some evening entertainment. With funfair rides, food stalls, night markets selling traditional clothes and dazzling neon lights, this is definitely an alternative way to spend the evening.

Get in the Festive Spirit

The Cambodian calendar is packed with  public holiday. Khmer New Year, which falls in April, sees festivals taking place across the town. The Water Festival in October or November brings a colourful array of boat races to Siem Reap River over three days, while Pchum Ben in September or October sees the town’s temples overrun with offerings as Cambodians remember their dead.

Learn About Landmines

Cambodia Landmine Museum / © Marissa Carruthers

The Museum is helping to rid the country of landmines | © Marissa Carruthers

DIY de-miner Aki Ra opened the  Cambodia Landmine Museum as a way of raising funds to help rid Cambodia of the millions of landmines left behind after the war. The museum contains a collection of landmines, weapons and tanks from the Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese occupation.

Cambodia Cultural Village

The Cambodian Cultural Village contains everything you could want to know about traditional Cambodian arts. Made up of artificial villages that each have their own themes, events and culture, guests can spend the day wandering around, watching shows, including traditional wedding ceremonies and the Umbrella Dance. A final evening show rounds off a visit.

West Boray Lake

Angkor Wat couldn’t be any closer if it tried, but escaping the packs of tourists isn’t as difficult as you’d think. The West Boray Lake is about 25 minutes from Siem Reap centre and offers a welcome reprieve from the well-trodden tourist trail. Surrounded by nature, the expanse of water welcomes few foreign guests but is popular with locals, who like to rent a hammock in the shade, take a cooling dip and spend the afternoon relaxing over board games.