In this post, we explore the Top 5 Interesting Places in Siem Reap. From the temples in Angkor Archaeological Park to Pub Street, it’s all here!
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Lonely Planet describes Siem Reap as the gateway to the Temples of Angkor. Over the course of time, Siem Reap has repositioned itself as a place to rest and relax. People come to the temples and stay to experience the spa and cook like the locals as highlighted in Klook’s 10 things to do. However, in this list, we explore the top 5 Interesting Places in Siem Reap.
Visit the temples of Angkor Archaeological Park
The first of the Interesting Places in Siem Reap is to visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Angkor Archaeological Park which is about 4 miles from Siem Reap. This park contains the ruins of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to 15th century and consists of three famous temples which are Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Angkor Thom. The map shows the location of each temple.
Visit the off beat temples of Banteay Srei, Koh Ker and Beng Melea
The second in the Top 5 Interesting Places in Siem Reap is to explore the lesser-known temples in the outskirts of Siem Reap. The second of the Top 5 Interesting Places in Siem Reap is to visit the off-beat temples of Banteay Srei, Koh Ker, and Beng Melea. The order of the temple visit would be to start off with Banteay Srei and then to Koh Ker and finally, Beng Melea.
The first temple we visited was Banteay Srei which is located about 15.5 miles from Siem Reap. The elaborate carvings gave Banteay Srei its name as the “Jewel of Khmer Art”. According to Lonely Planet, Banteay Srei means a ‘Citadel of the Women’, and scholars believe that the carvings were too fine to be done by men.
The second off-beat temple we visited was Koh Ker. It is located about 65 miles from Banteay Srei. I loved the fact that this temple was free from tourists. It was just the ancient temple and us.
Koh Ker was a brief capital under the reigns of King Jayavarman IV and Harshvarman II and has some notable structures which are Prasat Bram, Prasat Neang Khmau, Prasat Dhamrei, and Prasat Balang.
Although the main temple and some surrounding temples have been cleared of land mines, it is best to take precautions as this temple is still within an active land mine zone.
Beng Melea is an unrestored temple that dates back to the 12th century. Beng Melea means Lotus Pond. This temple evokes an Indiana Jones spirit of adventure as if one has found a hidden treasure. Fallen gateways and a temple in ruins with mother nature reclaiming her right, this temple brings peace to those visiting. This temple is 48 miles from Siem Reap and a map of the temple shows the actual temple size and the red line shows the pedestrian walkway along with the ruins. For an off-beat experience, why not make a visit to the Jungle Temple.
Kampong Phluk – Siem Reap’s Floating Village
The third on our itinerary and also one of the Top 5 Interesting Places in Siem Reap was a visit to Tonle Sap and its floating village. For this trip, we visited Kampong Phluk. The literal meaning of Tonle Sap is a large river and we can see why.
The wide expanse of this river overwhelmed us and was a pleasant change from our temple runs. Tonle Sap is Cambodia’s Great Lake because it is the largest water body in South East Asia and is the richest fishing ground in the world. Kampong Phluk is a small fishing village located along the tributary towards Tonle Sap.
According to National Geographic, Tonle Sap now faces extinction due to years of overfishing and deforestation which has reduced catch sizes for the fishermen living in the villages.
The classical dance of Cambodia – The Apsara Dance
According to Artisans Angkor, the Apsara is a traditional dance form of Cambodia that dates back to the 7th century. A few surviving dancers passed on this tradition to the younger generations and one of the popular revivalists was Princess Bopha Devi, the daughter of King Norodom Sihanouk.
The Voices of Youth Cambodia mentions that the Apsara dance is the pride and joy of Cambodia as the dance form has stood the test of time.
Pub Street – Siem Reap’s nightlife
The last on this Top 5 Interesting Places in Siem Reap is to explore its nightlife. Siem Reap’s nightlife is Pub Street. Hotels.com provides a list of the 8 cool bars to visit along this stretch. Similarly, an article worth reading before planning a trip to Cambodia would be the Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to Cambodia by Aisha Preece. Angkor Wat may be the only reason people visit Siem Reap, however, there is more to Siem Reap than just temples.