So it’s your third day of gazing at apsara dancers, traipsing up ancient stairs and pondering four-faced Buddha heads, when you think, ‘Maybe I’ll do something different tomorrow.’ Don’t get us wrong, we think the temples of Angkor Wat are unlike-anything-else-on-earth astonishing, but even the best of us get temple-tired sometimes.
Contrary to what you may think, Siem Reap is actually a fantastic choice for a relaxing getaway – even if you’ve already seen the temples. A crop of well-priced small hotels, strong arts and cultural activities, plus a laid-back, faintly colonial atmosphere come together to make the perfect weekend destination. Here are 10 top activities to check out next time you’re in town.
You know how to drink them, now learn how to make them! Impress your friends back home by learning to create three creative cocktails using exotic Cambodian ingredients. The class is held in the garden house of Asana Bar, and costs $15 per person.
First-rate Pool Day
This may sound like just sitting by the pool, but there’s actually a fine art to the pool day. If your hotel’s pool doesn’t make the cut, shell out a little to spread out on the loungers at the Raffles Hotel or at Victoria Hotel (better yet, just book there!). From you new privileged perch, you can order endless pineapple shakes, use the gym or sauna, and of course, do some long, lazy laps under the blue Cambodian sky.
It’s not Siem Reap if it’s not afternoon tea at the Raffles. Of course, you can also go to any one of the less posh hotels in town for your tea fix, but history and hotel lovers should not miss the chance to enjoy a cuppa in the Conversatory at the Raffles Hotel – complete with a three-tiered tray loaded with classic goodies and a lovely view of the palms and swimming pool.
Save one evening on your trip to watch the fantastic PHARE Cambodian Circus, performed by talented young Khmer talents in an open-air setting. The shows change regularly and you never know what you’re getting next, but we promise you’ll enjoy every moment.
The ‘Flight of the Gibbon’ does actually (maybe) involve sightings of real gibbons. Ten ziplines set above the forest canopy just outside the city make for a totally different treetop adventure. A family of gibbons lives in the jungle and if you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of them. If not, you’ll at least catch some great photos and a delicious lunch in the trees.
Khmer Cooking Class
Don’t write this one off just because you haven’t learned to boil water. In Siem Reap, under the eyes of a patient chef, you can learn to whip up mango salad, boil amok fish curry, and make coconut desserts. Cooking classes often include lots of information about local produce and even visits to the market — plus, you’ll get to eat everything after!
Give the tuk-tuk drivers a break and set out on your own two wheels. Siem Reap’s tree-lined boulevards and bridges are perfect for cycling. Within town you’ll find serene temples, colorful markets and landscaped parks, and just outside the city are silk farms, yoga studios and what else – more temples!
Cambodia’s red earth can do more than just get in your eyes! Make yourself a new soup bowl, a vase or even a set of rice wine shot glasses in one morning with a pottery lesson at Khmer Ceramics. You have full creative license and your piece will be fired and sent to your hotel within 24 hours.
You can’t really go wrong with an extended spa session in Siem Reap. The Cambodian massage is an interesting series of squeezes and rubs that totally relaxes the muscles and restores circulation in the body. We love the packages at Lemongrass Spa on Sivutha Road.
Street Food Tour
Hop on the back of a Vespa and get up close with the world of Cambodian cuisine. The After Dark Foodie Tour gives a well-rounded picture of Khmer culinary culture, including bites from the night market vendors and sips of potent rice wine. Indulge now, walk it off in the temples later!
Thinking of taking another look at Siem Reap? Score the best last-minute hotel deals on the HotelQuickly app, and make your spontaneous Siem Reap getaway a reality.
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