First up on my list of the best things to do in Siem Reap is check out the temples in this town. And I’m not talking about Angkor Wat here! While this massive complex lies a little outside the city (you’ve really got to get a tuk-tuk there), there’s also some lovely temples within Siem Reap itself to explore… albeit ones that are a bit smaller!
Giving you a fascinating insight into important parts of Cambodian culture, especially if you’re new to the whole scene, the 2 temples I recommend checking out within the centre of Siem Reap are Wat Preah Prom Rath and Wat Bo. Both free to enter and delightful to stroll round, this is a great morning activity to enjoy on a day when you’re not planning on heading to Angkor Wat until the afternoon / for sunset.
Conversely, if you’re heading to Angkor Wat for sunrise one day (which you definitely should, learn why here), then you’ll likely be exhausted by afternoon and heading back to Siem Reap for a siesta. After you’re feeling refreshed however, you’ve then found the perfect time to explore Siem Reap itself. Like many Southeast Asian cities, Siem Reap really kicks into life after dark, when the horrendous humidity of the day dies down. And centre of the action at this time is the night market. Head here to grab some delicious and cheap food for dinner, or just to soak in the atmosphere of this bustling spectacle – it really is the heart of the city.
However, if you prefer to be up and about in the day (and probably looking for a way to escape the heat a little without being stuck in aircon) then one of the best things to do in Siem Reap is to stroll along the riverside that lies at the geographical centre of this town. This has actually been done in a lovely way, with walkways lining both sides of the river and pedestrian lanes on the bridges crossing it too. As you stroll you’ll discover snippets of local life and experience this city in a way you never can from the back of a tuk-tuk.
And if the riverside stroll has got you in the mood for relaxing, then why not take it one step further with an amazing massage, which is definitely one of the best things to enjoy in Siem Reap. There’s tons of people offering all sorts of treatments throughout the Night Market and streets of Siem Reap (including the fish that eat the dead skin off your feet!), otherwise many of the hotels offer more upmarket services in spa-like settings too.
If you opt for a traditional Cambodian massage, which in my opinion you should, do be warned that these are similar to Thai massages i.e. strong and like a form of semi-torture! That said, they are amazing however for sorting out your aches and creaks and, in my opinion, the pain is well worth it! Cambodian massage techniques don’t use oil and pressure is applied above clothes, so wearing something loose-fitting is best.