7 Interesting Places In Siem Reap: A Useful Guide For Beginners

Siem Reap is a must-visit place if you haven’t been to Cambodia yet. It’s got everything you could want – history, culture, and cool buildings. There are many interesting places in Siem Reap, and these are not just temples. 

We went to Siem Reap and realized it’s not just about the temples and museums. It’s a cool city that blends history, culture, and architecture super coolly. 

But Siem Reap isn’t just about being an ancient wonderland. It’s got an awesome cultural scene, too. Pub Street is a buzzing hub of nightlife and tasty food. You can relax at one of the lively bars and try the local and international cuisines at the night market. It’s the perfect way to get a taste of Cambodia and soak up the city’s lively atmosphere.

Join our small-group sunrise tour to experience the stunning sunrise over Angkor Wat and explore the highlights of the Angkor complex, including the mystical Ta Prohm temple. You will have the opportunity to avoid crowds and capture stunning photographs in the serene early hours of the morning. 

Experience Khmer culinary traditions with a Cambodian cooking class in Siem Reap. Enjoy hotel pickup in a traditional tuk-tuk, explore a local market, and master the art of preparing four traditional dishes. Culminate the class with a delightful four-course meal.

Join us on a Siem Reap Night Market food tour and indulge in an authentic culinary experience. Discover Cambodian street food delights, including spring rolls, rice pancakes, and noodles with green curry soup. Try skewered meat, fried crickets, spiders, tarantulas, grasshoppers, and frogs before returning to your accommodation.

Where is Siem Reap?

Siem Reap, nestled in the northwestern region of Cambodia, is a captivating destination that offers a perfect blend of rich history, awe-inspiring architecture, and a vibrant cultural tapestry. In this blog post, we take you on our journey to explore the 7 interesting places in Siem Reap, through our eyes.

The city’s scenic location on the shores of the Tonlé Sap Lake, Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake, provides breathtaking views and is an essential source of livelihood for the locals, who rely on fishing and agriculture.

Siem Reap’s tropical monsoon climate is characterized by distinct wet and dry seasons. The months from November to March feature cooler and drier weather, making it an ideal time to explore the city’s many treasures.

Why is Siem Reap famous?

Siem Reap is most famous for being the gateway to the majestic Angkor Archaeological Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This sprawling complex is home to the iconic Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument globally and a symbol of Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage. 

Beyond Angkor Wat, visitors can explore the ancient ruins of Angkor Thom, marvel at the intricacies of Bayon Temple’s enigmatic smiling faces, and discover the enchanting Ta Prohm, where massive tree roots intertwine with ancient stones, creating a surreal atmosphere.

Siem Reap has more to offer than just its temples. The vibrant Pub Street, located in the city center is a hub of activity, featuring bustling markets, lively bars, and delectable street food stalls. 

To have an unforgettable experience in Siem Reap, venture beyond the temples, and immerse yourself in the local culture. Savor the city’s dynamic atmosphere and the timeless allure of its historical treasures, and you’ll have a trip that you’ll never forget.

Are you looking for a convenient and hassle-free visa application process? Look no further, get your single-entry Cambodian eVisa confirmation email in a few days. With its seamless process, iVisa is a trusted choice across the globe.

Related posts:

What attracts most people to Siem Reap?

Siem Reap continues to beckon tourists with its primary allure known as the Gateway to Angkor Wat. This destination seamlessly blends history, culture, and breathtaking landscapes. 

Angkor Wat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered the largest Hindu temple in the world, it is no wonder that Angkor Wat is an iconic symbol of Cambodia’s rich heritage and ancient Khmer culture.

This blog is our take on what inspired us to visit Siem Reap. From Angkor Wat to Cambodia’s traditional dance based on the bas-reliefs at Angkor Wat, the Apsara dance. 

Just as Siem Reap continues to beckon us today, the city’s vibrant culture and nightlife were always a relaxing end to the day. With the warm hospitality plus the picturesque paddy fields, the mighty Tonle Sap, and bustling markets, Siem Reap is a must-visit. 

Angkor Wat

This is the reflection of Angkor Wat from one of the ponds. This is our first interesting places in Siem Reap.
The reflection of the temple from one of the reflection ponds

Angkor Wat is our first choice in our list of interesting places in Siem Reap. This stunning 12th-century Buddhist temple complex is the largest religious structure in the world. This magnificent temple is renowned for its intricate Khmer architecture, including intricate carvings, towers, and bas-reliefs depicting various Hindu mythological scenes. 

The central spire rises majestically, symbolizing Mount Meru, the home of the gods in Hindu mythology. Exploring Angkor Wat allows you to immerse yourself in the rich history of the Khmer Empire. 

We wandered through the expansive courtyards, climbed steep staircases, and marveled at the detailed artwork that tells tales of ancient battles and religious beliefs.

Why We Think Angkor Wat Is Interesting

Angkor Wat is an awe-inspiring temple complex in the Cambodian jungle’s heart. Visitors who step inside are greeted with an architectural masterpiece that is nothing short of breathtaking. 

The temple boasts intricate carvings, stunning bas-reliefs, and towering spires that reflect the grandeur of the Khmer Empire. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, Angkor Wat is a historical treasure trove. 

Built in the 12th century, it started as a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu but later transformed into a Buddhist sanctuary, signifying the cultural shifts of the region over centuries.

The scale of Angkor Wat is astonishing. Covering an area of over 400 acres, it’s the largest religious monument globally, showcasing the engineering prowess of its time. Exploring its labyrinthine corridors and ascending its steep staircases provides a profound sense of the scale of this ancient marvel.

The surrounding landscape adds to the allure. A massive moat encircles the temple, creating a reflective pool that beautifully mirrors Angkor Wat, especially during sunrise and sunset. The lush greenery and serene atmosphere make the entire experience enchanting.

To fully appreciate the temple, take your time to examine the intricate details on the temple walls. The walls depict epic tales from Hindu mythology. And, climb to the upper levels for panoramic views of the surrounding jungles. This is where you can see the temple’s grandeur from a different perspective.


One of the many stone faces at Bayon which was the second of our interesting places in Siem Reap.

The magnificent Bayon Temple is our second choice of the most interesting places in Siem Reap. This temple is renowned for its awe-inspiring multitude of serene and smiling faces, each one as impressive as the last. 

It is believed that this architectural marvel was adorned with over 216 gigantic faces, which many believe to be King Jayavarman VII himself or Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. As you step into the temple complex, you will be transported to a time long gone. 

The various levels, towers, and galleries showcase intricate bas-reliefs that depict historical events, daily life scenes, and mythological stories that will leave you in awe. The labyrinthine passages will take you on a journey through the rich history and cultural significance of this ancient site, leaving you with a newfound appreciation for the marvels of the past.

However, the real treat lies in catching the sunrise or sunset at Bayon. The changing hues of the sky against the backdrop of the ancient stone faces create an ethereal experience that will leave you spellbound. 

The ambiance created by the ancient stone faces and the natural beauty of the sky is truly magical, an experience that you will cherish for a lifetime. Take advantage of this breathtaking moment!

Why We Think Bayon Temple Is Interesting

Bayon Temple is interesting for several reasons. First, its bas reliefs depict important events and pictures of everyday life in the 12th and 13th centuries in Cambodia. Second, the temple is the first and only Buddhist temple constructed by the Khmer Empire.

Third, the temple provides a unique evolution of Khmer architecture and design. After exploring this temple, we appreciated the rich and cultural heritage of Cambodia. Another interesting feature is that Bayon is at the center of Angkor Thom which is a massive walled city and is the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer Empire. 

Beng Melea

This is Beng Melea temple on the outskirts of Siem Reap.
The Indiana Jones Temple of Cambodia with its overgrown jungle growth among its ruins

Our third choice for our 13 interesting places in Siem Reap was Beng Melea. This Angkorian gem is about 42 miles from Siem Reap. Unlike Angkor Wat, Beng Melea remains unrestored with its sandstone structure embraced by nature.

It was this unique blend of ancient architecture and untamed wilderness that made us fall in love with this temple even more. As we walked through the wooden pathway, we felt like explorers stepping into an ancient forgotten world. 

Why We Think Beng Melea Is Interesting

The air of mystery and adventure is what made our visit to this temple special. This is coupled with the fact that Beng Melea shares a similar layout and style to Angkor Wat. A visit to this temple is an adventure in itself as we clambered over fallen blocks through overgrown passageways.

Interestingly, nothing much is known about Beng Melea. No one knows why the temple was built, or who it was dedicated to. This adds to its enigmatic allure of the temple’s charm. 

The best time to visit the temple is during the dry season from November to April. During these months, the weather is most comfortable. 

At Beng Melea, you are the guest in the jungle. Hence, always remember to stick to the designated pathways, avoid climbing on fragile structures, and most importantly, leave no trace of your visit.

After all, we take only memories and leave our footprints. So, pack your sense of wonder, lace up your shoes, and be prepared to be amazed by the magic of Beng Melea.

Koh Ker

Koh Ker is the only stepped pyramid temple in South East Asia.
This was how close we came to Koh Ker

Koh Ker was our fourth choice and one of our favorite temples on our list of interesting places in Siem Reap. This hidden gem is about 75 miles from Siem Reap and is tucked away in the lush jungles of Cambodia.

As we walked towards the towering structure that rose amidst the emerald canopy, our peace and serenity were interrupted by the sounds of nature with birds chirping. This created a harmonious blend of being in nature while admiring the past in the present moment.

Koh Ker was a brief capital with the structures within this complex pre-dating Angkor Wat. The site is on the slopes of the Kulen and Dangrek mountains. The ancient city of Koh Ker was built along a strategic route of the Khmer Empire that leads to Prasat Preah Vihear.

Why We Think Koh Ker Is Interesting

Our journey to Siem Reap was truly remarkable, and the highlight of our trip had to be our visit to the ancient city of Koh Ker. This hidden gem is nestled deep within the Cambodian jungle and is a must-see for anyone interested in ancient history and architecture. 

Unlike the popular Angkor Wat, Koh Ker remains relatively undiscovered by the masses, which provided us with a unique and quiet opportunity to explore the ancient wonders without the usual crowds of tourists.

As we made our way through, the ancient ruins began to appear before us. The sense of isolation and tranquility was palpable, adding to the allure of this archaeological site. We were fascinated by the intricate details of the ruins, which were adorned with beautiful carvings and sculptures depicting ancient Cambodian life. 

The temple pyramids, which are some of the tallest in Cambodia, were awe-inspiring, and we were able to climb to the top and marvel at the breathtaking views of the surrounding jungle.

Koh Ker is also a photographer’s paradise, with the ancient ruins set against the backdrop of lush greenery and wildlife. We were able to capture the play of light and shadow on the weathered stones and the mystical atmosphere that enveloped the site. 

The sounds of nature, combined with the ruins’ unique beauty, created an otherworldly ambiance that is truly enchanting. Overall, our visit to Koh Ker was an unforgettable experience, and we highly recommend it to anyone traveling to Siem Reap.

Banteay Srei

Banteay Srei was another beautiful temple we visited.
The beautiful ruins of Banteay Srei viewed from the back

Our fifth choice in our list of interesting places in Siem Reap was Banteay Srei. This temple is about 16 miles from the main temples of Angkor Thom and the medieval capital of Yasodhapura.

Banteay Srei is a true gem of ancient Khmer architecture. Known as the “Citadel of Women” or “Pink Temple,” this petite marvel stands out not only for its diminutive size but also for its exquisite beauty and intricate carvings.

Imagine stepping into a fairy tale as you approach this 10th-century masterpiece. The rosy hue of its sandstone walls glows warmly in the sunlight, casting a magical aura over the entire site. Every inch of Banteay Srei is adorned with intricate carvings that were so delicate and precise that they seem to defy the passage of time.

As we wandered through the temple complex, we were mesmerized by the details of the carvings. Delicate lotus blossoms, celestial dancers, and intricate mythological scenes come to life before your eyes. Each tells a story from ancient Khmer mythology. It’s as if the stone itself has been imbued with the tales of gods and heroes, whispering secrets from centuries past.

Banteay Srei is smaller than other temples in the Angkor complex, but its diminutive size belies its significance. This temple is a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the Khmer artisans who built it. Hence, it remains a cherished treasure of Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage.

Why We Think Banteay Srei Is Interesting

There are five reasons we think Banteay Srei is interesting. First, the intricate carvings of the temple are considered one of the finer examples of Khmer art. Second, the unique architecture of Banteay Srei is that it was built by a Brahmin counselor and not by a king.

Third, Banteay Srei is one of the few temples built in the 10th century which makes it one of the oldest temples within the Angkor region. Fourth, was its remote location which allowed us to be close to the ancient monument. 

Banteay Srei is made from large red sandstone which gives it a pinkish hue. This hue adds to the charm of this small temple. While walking throughout the temple, we felt a sense of wonder for the artisans who created the beautiful masterpieces that have stood the test of time. 

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm is
One of the many beautiful ruins with roots among the temples at Ta Prohm

One of the many beautiful ruins with roots among the temples at Ta Prohm

Our sixth choice in our list of interesting places in Siem Reap was Ta Prohm. Now, for Ta Prohm, picture this: towering trees with their roots winding like serpents around ancient temples. 

As we walked around Ta Prohm, it was as if we were transported into some action-adventure movie. Then again, Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft was filmed at Ta Prohm. The combination of crumbling walls and moss-covered stones is a reminder of nature’s relentless embrace.

We wandered through the labyrinthine corridors and were greeted with stunning bas-reliefs depicting scenes from Buddhist mythology. The most famous being Buddha’s “Great Departure” from his father’s palace.

The most awe-inspiring feature of Ta Prohm is its iconic trees. Giant silk-cotton and strangler fig trees take root among the ruins. Their massive branches entwined with the temple walls in a breathtaking display of nature’s power.

It’s as if the jungle itself has reclaimed this sacred space, blurring the lines between architectural marvels and the natural world.

Why We Think Ta Prohm Is Interesting 

While Ta Prohm is on the usual tourist trail in Siem Reap, these are our five reasons why we think it is interesting and worth the visit.

The first would be for its history. Ta Prohm was built in the 12th century in honor of his family the main image being modeled after his mother. The temple was a Buddhist monastery and library which housed almost 80,000 people at its peak. 

The second reason would be Ta Prohm’s spiritual significance. The temple was dedicated to Prajnaparamita who was the personification of wisdom. There are many carvings related to Hinduism and Buddhism which are about the religious and cultural beliefs at that time.

Our third reason is the architectural marvel of the temple. With its grand and multiple towering structures, beautiful bas-reliefs combined with creeping plants add to the mystical ambiance of the temple.

Unlike other temples within the Angkor Archaeological Complex, Ta Prohm is unique because it is surrounded by lush vegetation, towering trees, and wild vegetation. Hence, its nickname, the “Jungle Temple”. 

We loved the massive silk-cotton and fig tree roots that intertwined with the temple structures making it part of the existing ruins. Ta Prohm is a captivating and mesmerizing temple that combines history, spirituality, architecture, and the power of nature. 

Roluos Group of Temples

The ruins of Bakong temple which was the first official state temple of the ancient Hariharalaya Kingdom

Siem Reap, Cambodia is home to many interesting places, and the Roluos temples are no exception. These ancient Khmer temples are 9 miles east of Siem Reap. These temples are a must-visit for anyone interested in the rich cultural heritage and history of Cambodia. 

Dating back to the late 9th and early 10th centuries, the Roluos Temples are considered the beginning of the Khmer Empire’s architectural development. They are known for serving as prototypes for the more famous temples of Angkor. Among the Roluos group, the three main temples are Bakong, Preah Ko, and Lolei.

Bakong, Preah Ko and Lolei Temples

Bakong is the largest and most impressive temple of the group. This is because it is a pyramid temple mountain dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Its five-tiered structure symbolizes Mount Meru, the mythical home of the gods in Hindu cosmology. The intricate carvings and well-preserved architecture of Bakong offer a glimpse into the early Khmer architectural style.

Preah Ko, meaning “Sacred Bull,” is a temple dedicated to Shiva and the ancestors of King Indravarman I. It consists of six brick towers, each housing a statue of the king’s forefathers. The intricate carvings on the lintels and doorposts depict various Hindu deities and mythological scenes.

Lolei, located on an island in a now-dry baray (reservoir) is known for its four towers. However, only one remains standing today. Originally dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, Lolei is unique for its intricate carvings and decorative motifs. These motifs offer an insight into the early Khmer architectural style.

Visiting the Roluos Temples is a fascinating way to explore the origins of Khmer architecture and religious practices. This is an opportunity to appreciate the rich history and cultural heritage of Cambodia. And, to marvel at the impressive architectural feats of the ancient Khmer people.

Why We Think The Roluos Temples Is Interesting

The Roluos Temples stand as a testament to the early architectural and religious achievements of the Khmer Empire. Which makes them a fascinating destination for history enthusiasts and travelers alike. 

These temples, dating back to the late 9th and early 10th centuries, serve as important precursors to the grandiose structures of the later Angkor period. Their simple elegance offers valuable insights into the evolution of Khmer architecture.

One of the most compelling aspects of the Roluos Temples is their historical significance. As the first major temples constructed by the Khmer rulers, they represent a pivotal moment in Cambodia’s history. Bakong, Preah Ko, and Lolei served as important religious and ceremonial centers, reflecting the early Khmer society’s devotion to Hinduism. 

Exploring these temples allows visitors to trace the origins of Khmer architectural styles and religious practices, offering a deeper understanding of the cultural roots that shaped Cambodia’s identity.

Furthermore, the Roluos Temples offer a captivating glimpse into the craftsmanship and artistic mastery of the Khmer artisans. From the intricate carvings adorning the temple facades to the imposing pyramid-like structures, these temples showcase the Khmer Empire’s architectural prowess and creative ingenuity. 

Each temple tells a story through its architectural elements and decorative motifs, inviting us to unravel the mysteries of ancient Khmer civilization. The Roluos Temples are not only historical monuments but also a living testament to the Khmer people’s enduring legacy of art and architecture.