There’s a lot more than temples in Siem Reap
I often get the question from people about all the other things there are to do in Siem Reap when one wants a break from the temples or when people have enough time and the desire to really experience Cambodia and it’s wonderful people and the challenges the country and it’s people face. So here is my list of things to do that are entertaining and fulfilling in other ways:
Some non-temple ideas:
* Tonle Sap
There is of course Tonle Sap which offers several things to do (see Canby Publications; Tara Boat; Sam Veasna Center – scroll down to “Prek Toal Core Bird Reserve”). One can also do a tour of the floating villages at Chong Khneas and the stilted villages of Kompong Phluck independently versus on an organized tour.
* Give and you shall receive
One can spend a half day (or more) making a difference and visiting some small and innovative NGOs (my favorites: The Ponheary Ly Foundation; Journeys Within Our Community; Shinta Mani Community Support Projects; Sangkheum Center for Children; or see the alternative tours run by The Villa Siem Reap – “Day in the Life,” “Art for Life” and “Treak Village Walk & Talk”).
Please be advised: when visiting an NGO project it is a very nice thing to do to make at least a small contribution. You may find, as I have, that you will want to become a regular supporter of an organization after seeing first-hand the great work they are doing. The ones I have listed here are all ones you can feel comfortable making a donation to as they are all honest and doing very good work. With the tours from The Villa Siem Reap a good portion of the fee goes to the organizations involved.
You may also want to visit Artisans d’Angkor silk farm and artisans workshop and training center. The silk farm and silk workshop are 12 km out of town and they also have an artisans workshop, training facility and boutique right in town. At both locations they have a 30 – 40 minute free guided tour.
* ‘Stay Another Day’
Check out the Siem Reap section of ‘Stay Another Day‘ for many interesting suggestions of activities and shops that in one way or another are socially active and socially responsible.
* Cambodian village
Many of our guests also spend some time visiting Savuth’s village and sharing a meal and/or visiting his childrens’ rural primary school. Many drivers and guides are often willing to give you a glimpse into how they and their families live.
* Gitty up horsie (or oxen)
* Your inner self
Those who may like to give some attentionto the inner self can check out the yoga, meditation, pilates or a chat with a Buddhist monk all offered at the Singing Tree Cafe. And depending on your hotel or guesthouse, no vacation is complete without some relaxed downtime at the pool or enjoying one of the many fine spas the city has to offer.
* And the wheel goes round and round
You might also enjoy a visit or participating in one of the various hands-on workshops offered by the Khmer Ceramics Center. You can try your hand on the potter’s wheel taking home your fired creation. The center offers workshops for adults and for children so this may be a great family activity if you are traveling with your children.
There are three companies I know of that offer off-road ‘adventure’ activities: Hidden Cambodia, Dancing Roads and Quad Adventure Cambodia. One of our past guests enjoyed his experience with Dancing Roads. Beyond that I have no personal experience with these companies nor the degree to which the off-road adventures are envrionmentally responsible (Quad Adventures is a member of “Heritage Friendly Business” and supports a local orphanage).
* Soar like an eagle
Feel like flying more than what the tethered ballon near Angkor Wat can offer? There is the commercial helicopter tours or you can see if Australian Eddie Smith is available for some low and slow aerial observation in his ultralight Trike. Smith has apparently become quite renowned in the area since piloting his ultralight Trike as part of the Sydney University led Greater Angkor Project Ultralight Survey project a few years ago. One of Eddie’s mates and participant in the ultralight survey project has posted some details about how to get in touch with Eddie in Siem Reap.
(Thinking of visiting the temples of Angkor Wat? Don’t forget to check out my friend Savuth’s tuk tuk services!)