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Siem Reap Tour Guide – 5 Must-See Attractions in Siem Reap

by Steven Brown
Siem Reap Tours

Siem Reap has grown from a sleepy little town with a few hotels into a bustling city packed with shops, restaurants and 5 star resorts in just 15 years.

It’s a place that caters to every taste. Whether you want to explore Angkor Wat or visit the floating villages on Tonle Sap, there’s something for everyone here.

Angkor Wat

The UNESCO-protected temple complex of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap is a must-see for visitors. It’s the largest religious structure in the world, and was originally built as a Hindu temple in half of the 12th century by the Khmer emperor Suryavarman II.

This sandstone temple complex is a wonder of nature, and the ruins are incredibly atmospheric, especially at sunset. Despite the crumbling sandstone, the carvings are still incredibly detailed and will leave you in awe of this majestic site.

Ideally, visit Angkor Wat in the morning when it’s cooler and less crowded. This will give you a great chance to soak up the sights, and you can also opt for the sunrise Siem Reap Tours.

Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom is the longest-lasting capital of the Khmer Empire and a must-see when visiting Siem Reap. The ancient city was built by Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century.

The city is home to the main temples of Angkor, including Bayon and Ta Prohm, as well as the impressive 12th-century Spean Praptos Bridge.

This stunning stone arch bridge is guarded at each end by a pair of nine-headed, hooded nagas. They are believed to depict the churning of the ocean of milk, a cosmogonic Hindu myth.

Aside from visiting the major temples, there are plenty of other things to do in Angkor Thom. For example, you can go on a 5-mile hill trek to the spectacular Bou Sra waterfall or visit Pulung village to meet the Phnong tribal community.

Banteay Srei

Banteay Srei, also known as the “lady temple”, is regarded as one of the finest examples of Angkorian art. This 10th century temple is cut from a pinkish sandstone and features intricate carvings.

It was commissioned by a royal physician named Yajnavaraha, who served as counselor of king Rajendravarman II. It is a unique example of a private temple built away from the control of court officials.

After a century of restoration, the carved sculptures remain in nearly perfect condition and it has been described as the “jewel of Khmer art”. The sandstone used in the carvings is extremely hard and has retained sharpness even after a millennium of exposure to sun, wind, rain and wildlife.

Phnom Kulen

Phnom Kulen, also known as the Mountain of Lychees, is a popular day-trip destination that lies about 48km north of Siem Reap. It’s a place to explore waterfalls and take in some stunning views.

The most important feature of the park is its numerous waterfalls that are at their fullest during the rainy season (May-November). It’s also a great spot to soak up some sun and relax with a cold drink.

As well as the waterfalls, Phnom Kulen is home to a number of archaeological sites including a reclining Buddha statue. It also boasts a sculpted riverbed and the Valley of a Thousand Lingas.

Kompong Khleang

Located on Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, Kompong Khleang is one of the most unique and off-the-beaten-track Siem Reap attractions. This large community is not visited as often as other floating villages, so it tends to be less touristic and offers a more authentic perspective of Cambodian life.

The village features stilted houses that appear to be floating, as water laps at their verandas in the wet season, but towering stilts are revealed during the dry. These stilt houses are a major source of livelihood for the residents, and they have the added benefit of providing homes above the flooded lake, where they can survive on a rainy day.

The village’s location also allows it to attract local fishermen who bring home a wide variety of fish, including prawns and shrimp. These catches are sold to the market in Damdek, the largest city next to Siem Reap.

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