Siem Reap is a typical tourist city. With its world-famous Angkor Wat, Siem Reap has become a popular tourist destination around the world. Angkor Wat, full of historical and vicissitudes, is a world cultural heritage, and its appeal comes from the mystery of history, the grandeur of the buildings, the refinement of carvings, the magnificent magic of myths and legends. These hundreds or even thousands of years ago, the buildings, revealed to us a once brilliant civilization.
Many people come to this country just to see the ruins of these once glorious temples, and they may think that only this place is worth a walk and a look. In fact, Angkor Wat is just a window into Cambodia, where there are many places worth seeing besides the temples, and in Siem Reap, if you are looking for more to do, then you have come to the right place.
Artisans Angkor, Arts & Crafts Center in Siem Reap
Arts & Crafts Center, this place is often the first attraction introduced to you by a local guide. The center specializes in teaching poor young people the skills of wood and stone carving, traditional silk painting, lacquer crafts, etc. Arts & Crafts Center is located not far from the Old Market, with signs on Sivatha St Street. The center is said to be committed to reviving the fine crafts of the Khmer tradition, revitalizing traditional Cambodian culture destroyed by years of war, and gradually improving the poverty and backwardness of rural Cambodia. However, I think this is actually a shopping place, only a few rooms, a dozen artisans in the unhurried work, but the last craft store is very luxurious, there is air conditioning, the price of goods inside is very high.
At this place, you can see the crafts production process. The artisans are mostly young people, face many tourists every day, and are used to being watched by others.
The beautiful statues here are basically a manifestation of Angkor culture, the price isn’t cheap, if you like, you can buy here, this is also a kind of support for public welfare. In addition, there is a branch store at the airport and you still have a chance to buy them when you leave Siem Reap.
Visit the Angkor National Museum
Angkor National Museum showcases artworks on Khmer culture and Angkor monuments, and for those who don’t have any previous knowledge of the ancient Khmer Empire, visiting the museum will be a pleasant tour with an overview of the history, culture and architectural art of the Khmer Kingdom.
At the entrance there’s audio guide are available in English and other languages, you have to pull out another 5 dollars for the audio equipment. In addition, in the exhibition hall there are LCD screen playing some commentary, you can choose different languages to watch, but because of the large number of people, you may have to wait in line.
Besides, there is a small cafe where you can pause for refreshment during your visit, and a gift shop with a nice selection of crafts, silks, books, and postcards.
Angkor National Museum is near Siem Reap’s long-distance bus station, and you can also walk from the Old Market, about 10 minutes away, and if you take a taxi it will cost about $1-2.
Museum tickets: From $132 per adult
Location: Vithei Charles de Gaulle Road
Pro tips: There is no place to eat near the museum; The exhibits in the museum are not allowed to take photographs, outside the exhibition hall can take pictures; Knees must be covered for both men and women.
Wander Old Market
Just South of the “Old French Quarter”, between “Pub Street” and the Siem Reap River, you will find “Psar Chaa – Old Market“. Here you will find textiles (including fine silk items), typical Khmer handicrafts, jewelry, paintings and other typical tourist items. Half of the old market is a vegetable market, and you’ll find plenty of stalls selling a variety of foods, vegetables, fruits, meats, fish pastes, rice, dried fruits, dried meats and other sundries. You can also buy local specialty seasonings such as curry, pepper and so on. Here there is something for everyone, as expected, souvenirs, something you do not need and something your friends don’t want. However, if your are careful, there are some good locally made items that are well worth the price.
There are plenty of juice-making drink stalls around the old market, and for one dollar, have a glass of freshly squeezed juice to relieve the day’s fatigue.
There will be plenty of fish massage shops on the streets of the Old Market at night, $3 for a half hour, $5 for an hour. It is a pleasant thing for visitors to enjoy the street view while receiving a massage.
Rent a Bike to Get Around the Downtown
On my first day in Siem Reap, I saw many tourists cycling along the Siem Reap River, with fruit and milk in their baskets, as if they had lived here for a long time. I’ve always thought cycling was one of the best ways to get around and you can always rent a bike from some local suppliers and enjoy the fresh place by yourself. Cycling is not as slow and laborious as hiking, and bicycles are an eco-friendly type of transport that provide you with more unique travel experiences, and you can discover some interesting places that other visitors can’t find.
Note that, even if you ride a bike in hot and sunny Siem Reap, you must strictly follow the dress code in Angkor area: shoulders and knees must be covered.
Shop at the Art Centre Night Market
Siem Reap Art Centre Night Market is held just south-east of the Old Market, across the Siem Reap River, and if you’re on Pub Street, you only need to cross the bridge at the entrance. The market opened in 2011 and is basically an extension of the Old Market.
The goods sold in the stalls are very similar to what we saw in the old market on the other side of the river, such as souvenirs, silk shawls, art deco, clothes, etc. But the price here are much better, the crowds are smaller and the service is better. Remember to haggle, the price can be reduced by at least a third, if the seller refused, you can always walk away and look for other merchants with similar items who can sell a cheaper price and stubbornly take action to get the price you like. As always, when you bargain, don’t forget that the difference in the price of $1 isn’t significant for us, but for locals, it can mean one day food for a whole family.
Visit the Made in Cambodia Market for Localized Handmade Cambodian Products
This is a small but charming market in the heart of the city. If you want to get authentic unique souvenirs from the artists who make them, rather than bulk orders and mass markets, this is the place to go. The stalls here are run by local artisans, the goods aren’t cheap though, but you’re supporting the local handicraft industry. Besides, some of the products found here are unique, not available in other markets.
All vendors love to explain how their wares are made, and maybe you’ll be willing to take time to talk to the delightful and unpushy stall holders. The main philosophy behind the Made in Cambodia Market is to help create jobs in the Khmer and enable locals to become self-sufficient.
The market is small, probably only two rows of stalls, and there are very few staff. Here, you’ll find a lot of localized products such as pepper, cloth items, and hats made from recycled newspapers.
If shopping sounds bad, there are other options here. Blue Pumpkin Cafe is located right in the centre of the market — a very popular cafe brand in Siem Reap.
How to get there: Just tell your tuk-tuk driver to drop you off at Hard Rock Cafe or Blue Pumpkin Cafe.