The Best Cultural Activities in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Apsara dancers form a strong part of Khmer culture
Apsara dancers form a strong part of Khmer culture | © Uthai Joomthong / Shutterstock

Nestled in the heart of Cambodia, Siem Reap is a captivating city that draws travellers from around the world with its ancient temples and rich cultural heritage. While the iconic Angkor Wat steals the spotlight, Siem Reap offers a myriad of cultural activities that allow visitors to delve deeper into the soul of this enchanting destination. Embark on a journey as we unveil the best cultural activities in Siem Reap, inviting you to explore the vibrant traditions and captivating stories that make this city truly remarkable.

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Angkor Wat Archaeological Park

Angkor Wat

As Cambodia’s top destination, the iconic Angkor Wat Archeological Park attracts millions of visitors annually. The UNESCO heritage site stretches across more than 400 km and contains hundreds of temples and structures dating back to the Khmer Empire era. The most popular are Angkor Wat, Bayon and its multiple faces and root-riddled Ta Prohm, which was the location for parts of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, starring Angelina Jolie.

Tropical waterfall Phnom Kulen

Phnom Kulen, or Kulen Mountain, offers a great day trip away from Angkor. The sacred site doubles up as a national park and is especially popular with Khmers during religious holidays, when offerings are left at the hilltop temple. The area is also home to two waterfalls for swimming, picnic areas, and Kbal Spean, an archaeological spot where The River of a Thousand Lingas is located.

Phare, the Cambodian Circus

Dubbed Cambodia’s alternative to Cirque du Soleil, jaw-dropping performances blend theatrics, music, dance, acrobatics, and modern circus art to retell Khmer folktales with a modern take. With each of the performers trained by Phare Ponleu Selapak, which offers free arts training to underprivileged youth, Phare’s daily performances take place in the award-winning troupe’s big top tent in Siem Reap.

Artisans Angkor

Explore Cambodia’s silk weaving heritage at Artisans Angkor

Artisans Angkor is a Siem Reap-based organisation that has spent the last few decades training the country’s artisans in producing high-quality Cambodian crafts using traditional methods. These range from ceramics, silk and wood and stone carvings, to jewellery, silver plating and lacquerware. Visitors can take a free tour of the workshops in Siem Reap to see the skill that goes into each craft. Two free daily buses take visitors to silk farms on the outskirts of Siem Reap.

Cambodia Landmine Museum

Cambodia Landmine Museum

Cambodia Landmine Museum is the result of tireless work from landmine victim Aki Ra, who has contributed towards the huge operations to rid the country of explosives left over from the war. The museum houses a collection of mines, mortars, and other weapons, as well as telling the stories of some of the country’s countless victims.

Kampong Phluk Floating Village

The expansive Tonle Sap Lake is home to a series of floating villages that can be visited by tourists. Kampong Phluk is one of the more popular and is even home to a handful of homestays. Various tour companies organise day trips to the site from Siem Reap centre, where visitors can explore the flooded forests, sail past floating shops (depending on the time of the year), community halls and houses and meet the people who call Kampong Phluk home.

Wat Damnak

The grounds of Wat Damnak

Situated close to Siem Reap’s Old Market, or Phsar Chas, Wat Damnak is a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city. The colourful manicured gardens boast a bounty of shrines, statues and carvings, with the collection of intricate buildings that sit inside the pagoda all well maintained. The temple itself can be visited and the site is also home to a library crammed full of more books than any of the country’s public libraries.

Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity

A Pangolin hunting for ants

Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) provides a place for rescued wildlife to rehabilitate before being released back into their natural habitat. Their spacious outdoor centre in Banteay Srei offers daily tours to guests, who can learn about their work and the species they have rescued, often from the clutches of the illegal wildlife trade. Animals include pleated gibbons, slow loris, silvered langur and pangolins.

Apsara Theatre Restaurant

Enjoy an apsara show

Enjoy dinner while watching a traditional a show that takes in the graceful classical Cambodian dance of apsara at Apsara Theatre Restaurant. Set in a grand wooden pavilion styled to resemble a temple, dancers, singers and musicians bring to life ancient Cambodian tales while guests feast on a Khmer banquet. This tends to be a popular option with larger tour groups and can get full.

Angkor National Museum

Angkor National Museum

Situated on the way to Angkor Wat, Angkor National Museum is home to a swathe of artefacts that pay testament to Khmer civilisation and the Angkor Empire. Exhibits include the Funan and Chenla eras – which pre-dated Angkor – Angkor Wat, Khmer kings and Angkor Thom. Displays are also categorised by era, religion and royalty.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

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