5 things to do in Siem Reap once you’ve explored Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is the most visited tourist attraction in Cambodia and the splendour of these ancient temple ruins is hard to deny, or be impressed by, despite the burgeoning crowds. You could spend weeks, if not years, exploring Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples which span out over a huge 400 square kilometres but most visitors choose to base themselves in the nearby town of Siem Reap and head to the Angkor Archeological Park for a few days to explore.

During that time you can appreciate the wonder of the ancient Khmer kingdom, taking in all the major temples and developing a good understanding of Cambodian history and culture as well as the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside.

Angkor Wat Sunrise

But your luxury trip doesn’t have to end once you’ve ticked Angkor Wat off your bucket list; Siem Reap itself has a lot to offer to the millions of people who visit every year with new restaurants, activities, hotels and resorts opening every season; so why not stay in town for a few extra days and check out our tips of things to do in Siem Reap once you’ve explored Angkor Wat.

1. Take a trip to the circus

There are few people that spend the evening at Phare Circus and are not blown away by this energetic group of Cambodian performers who will balance, twist, bend, jump, juggle and dance their way into your heart before the evening is over. Shows rotate regularly so you may be lucky enough to get the chance to see more than one of their performances.

Phare Circus 2

Phare Circus 3

The circus provides employment to Cambodian young people from difficult social and economic backgrounds who have trained at Phare Ponleu Selpak. This school offers arts education to children and young people and is sustained by the money made from the circus, so your fabulous night out also does some social good too.

Don’t forget to arrive early and enjoy excellent pre-show food at Phare Cafe before taking your seats in the Big Top to be inspired and entertained. It’s a great place to sample good quality Cambodian food and they cater excellently for vegetarians and vegans as well.

2. Dine at one of the best restaurants in Asia

The first and only restaurant in Cambodia to earn a place on the San Pellegrino ‘Top 50 Restaurants in Asia’ list for 2015, Cuisine Wat Damnak offers you a chance to experience Khmer fine dining during your stay in Siem Reap.

Enjoy a 5 or 6 course tasting menu which will introduce you to new flavours and ingredients which have been skilfully crafted into delicious examples of Khmer cuisine by chef Joannès Rivière. Enjoy seasonal produce, which has often been locally sourced, to experience the true flavours of Cambodia during this top class dining experience.

Cuisine Wat Damnak 1

Cuisine Wat Damnak 2

The ambience is relaxed, the service efficient but not intrusive and the food is well presented and imaginative. Their menu can be adapted for vegetarians and vegans as well, meaning that all diners can come and sample this award winning haven for foodies.

3. Experience a luxury cooking class

Once you’re hooked on the flavours of Khmer food, a cuisine that often seems to be overlooked by the culinary world, you might want to try your hand at making it yourself. Chef Chanrith and his excellent team at Shinta Mani Club (one of Siem Reap’s coolest, laid back, luxury hotels) are on hand to teach you what they know and love.

Shinta Mani Cooking 1

Shinta Mani Cooking 3

Spend a few hours with them as they talk through the ingredients and techniques used to prepare delicious Khmer food in the training kitchen, and then get creative under their expert tuition before sitting down to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Expect to be chopping, pounding, slicing, and rolling all sorts of new things as you cook a 3 course meal to remember, and pick up some skills to impress your friends and family at home when they next come for dinner.

4. Indulge in some traditional Khmer spa treatments

Rejuvenate after a day of temple exploring and head to one of the many day spas in town; choose the bright and inviting Kaya Spa where you can cleanse your skin from the infamous Siem Reap dust, and learn a bit about traditional Khmer culture all in one indulgent and relaxing setting.

Kaya Spa

Kaya Spa 2

You can steam your way into blissful well-being by spending 15 minutes or so having a ‘spoong’, a traditional Khmer herbal steam; you’ll be zipped into a giant canvas pod where the herbal steam will work it’s magic, leaving you feeling refreshed and revitalised.

Then step through to the treatment room for a massage to rid you of the aches gained from clambering over temples and exploring the markets of Siem Reap.

5. Enjoy a round of golf on an award winning golf course

Just 10 minutes from the centre of town is the Angkor Golf Resort designed Sir Nick Faldo and considered by many to be the finest golf course in Cambodia; in fact at the 2014 Asian Pacific Golf Summit the course was crowned ‘Best Course in Cambodia’ and ‘Best Maintained Course in Asia Pacific’.

From the modern clubhouse and locker rooms to the beautifully manicured fairways and greens, Angkor Golf Resort is a ‘must visit’ option for any golfer passing through Siem Reap. Offering ‘pay to play’ facilities and for those who are travelling light, a great selection of Taylor Made hire clubs, what better way is there to spend a day or two enjoying 18 holes of golf on one of the best courses in Asia?

Angkor Golf Resort

Angkor Golf Resort

Why not include expert tuition from the PGA head pro, Alan Martin, who oversees the Angkor Golf Resort Academy, offering everything from a simple but helpful pre-round swing check to a full day golf school using state of the art video analysis systems; you’ll be sure to enjoy your round even more if you learn from a pro!

A round of golf at Angkor Golf Resort not only provides a great day out, but is an enjoyable way to escape to the surrounding countryside after the hustle and bustle of Siem Reap and days of crowded temple sightseeing at Angkor Wat.

So when you book your trip to see the magical temple ruins of Angkor Wat, why not stay in town for a week instead of just 2 or 3 days and enjoy everything that Siem Reap has to offer? Once you’ve explored the temples you can move on to explore the rest of town and you might just be surprised at the range of things to do, see and eat during your stay in this famous part of Cambodia.

Paul Eyers is Founder of Vegan Food Quest.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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