Things To Do In Siem Reap
The mystic charm of Siem Reap begins when the first rays of the sun fall on the faces of the Bayon. When the morning light washes over the ancient sanctuaries and the preserved ruins of the Angkor Wat Temple, a sunrise in Siem Reap turns into a majestic spectacle. To see the bas-reliefs in detail and the many Buddha-faces are just one of the many reasons why the Bayon Temple is special and a must see when in the capital city of Cambodia. Visit the jungle atmosphere of the Ta Prohm Temple, the setting of the movie Tomb Raider. Learn the art of haggling at the busy Angkor Night Market; it’s a nice change after all the temple visits during the day. There are occasionally some very nice souvenirs, but you have to act very stubborn (but still smiling) to buy the item that you want at a reasonable price.
When To Go:
The month of May is the most humid time in Siem Reap. The climate is hot and sticky. For the individuals who love the high temperature, it is an ideal time to visit. Just be mindful that the dampness makes the storm mists, and after lunch it is normal to have rain showers and a cold breeze even if it’s summer.
The most prominent time to visit this city is in December when it is cool yet it is annoyingly jam packed with tourists exploring the sanctuary sights. The huge crowd proceeds up to the last week of May and however decreases. Despite the fact that it rains a considerable measure from July till October, it is still great (particularly August) to visit as it is less dusty and vegetation is more lush, the sanctuary canals are filled, and the water in the Tonle Sap is more sparkling creating a pretty sight. Also, you don't need to head out so far to get on the boats at the lake since the expanded water level means you can get to the edge of the lake much faster.
While the stormy season from mid-May to October could be foggy, the thundershowers have a tendency to chill things. High temperature develops, it rains rigid and after that rapidly clears with a new washed, and cooler temperature. The most astounding highs are in March, April and May - however the variety is not incredible. The coldest mornings are certainly December to February.
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These are the things to do and places to see when in the city of Siem Reap.
The Bayon Temple is a stunning marvel of engineering and one of the three best temples that must not be missed when in Siem Reap. Each temple tower - 4 Faces of Buddha looks in the 4 corners of the world. The surrounding buildings affect its grandeur and majesty. The place looks surreal and brings up questions like; how could people without special construction equipment create such huge temples and perfectly carved faces? With different levels, the temple offers a magnificent view of its 52 towers.
History and reality are intertwined here and the ideal place to understand Cambodia’s colorful past. The Khmer culture and architecture are reflected in the bas-reliefs and drawings on the walls of the temple. Certainly, war and other factors did not spare this monument, but it is still well preserved and protected. The downside of this attraction is the sellers and beggars that roam and annoy the tourists with their souvenir stuff, nonetheless, it is still mandatory to see and admire this place.
Be sure to visit this wonderful temple with the aid of a tour guide for without it you will not understand this place. It is necessary to climb the tower of the Angkor Wat and see the beautiful view of the city. It is also advisable to do a little research before going to this area because the walls of the temple have so many interesting stories. For women it is necessary to have clothes below the knee, or wrap yourself with a scarf or shawl that can hide the curves of your body. Please observe proper dress code, especially on the third level part of the complex.
You cannot visit Cambodia and not see the Angkor Wat. To enjoy this place and see everything inside its huge complex, spend three days and plan your route or itinerary for each day. The Ancient temple complex is both beautiful at dawn and dusk. Angkor Wat is simply amazing in its scale and you will not believe that the ancient people built this manually and without any modern equipment. In addition, the bas reliefs you can find here are made so skillfully. Climb the sloped stairs and have a bird's-eye view and once again marvel at the scale of buildings that encompass this great temple.
The Ta Prohm is located a few kilometers from the Angkor Wat. It is a smaller temple, which is currently in restoration, but still impressive and well worth visiting. The overgrown trees make this temple special because it cuts through and about the buildings, then grow and thereby assume very distinct shapes on stones that are covered with a thick layer of moss. It is big and you can wander around its complex for hours.
Most tourists find this as one of the most beautiful temples of Angkor. During the day, it is not as busy like the Angkor and you could stroll down in this almost fantasy world.
Take the time to look at everything and delight at this rare experience. The atmosphere created by the "fusion" of trees and roots growing on the ruins to protect them in some cases and the jungle surroundings have made it one of the most special and popular temples of Angkor. The trees that grow above the ruins (Ficus stranglers and other species called the Tetrameles nudiflora) are the distinctive feature of this attraction. It is no wonder that it is chosen several times as a film location for its mysterious atmosphere and its wondrous beauty.
The Angkor Thom is a succession of emotions, temple after temple, filled with relics and ruins that cannot be found from any other temple complex in Siem Reap. The shocking thing is that wherever you stroll, or wherever you sit or everywhere you turn around, there are bas-reliefs of scenes of war, of maidens, warriors, fishing, deities, and every interesting artifact that makes it truly deserving as one of the wonders of the world.
At the entrance of the mystical temple Angkor Thom you will immediately be greeted by a wonderful façade or door with beautiful statues and bas-reliefs depicting the "sea of milk" one of the tenets of the Hindu religion.
If Angkor Wat is the gigantic sacred area of Siem reap (Wat means "temple"), Angkor Thom is the "metropolis", which is the part used for civil and urban purposes. It is estimated that in its heyday the "city" could accommodate more than 1 million people. In fact, this area consists of numerous buildings and facilities, starting with the structures dedicated to the noble classes and the sovereign king. The heart of this area is another enigmatic temple, the Bayon.
The Banteay Srei is a jewel in its uniqueness despite its sheer size. Its name means "Fortress of women" and is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The temple is built entirely of red sandstone. The columns and walls are an incredible number of very accurate and dense decoration with bas-reliefs, the most beautiful jewel of Khmer art. Small but beautiful this temple is oftentimes defined as "a precious jewel in the heart of Siem Reap".
The tour begins with a long journey from the foot of the mountain of cardamom, which is also a good opportunity for a wonderful trip in the countryside because you must pass by the rice paddies and lotus farms of Cambodia. Although it is a bit far from other famous temples, tourists enjoy the hike all the way through the mountain and make so much effort to adore its beauty. In 1992, this temple got its biggest recognition by being declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Preah Khan or the temple of the sacred sword, was for many years the site of a Buddhist monastery. In 1191, it was consecrated as a temple for the interfaith worshipers of Buddha, Shiva and Vishnu and other 282 gods of Buddhism. The temple is surrounded by a jungle and even though the complex is partially in ruins, the place is lovely. There are beautiful sculptures that adorn the walls of the main buildings of the temple and niches with statues of Apsaras (dancers). In the central shrine is a stupa-shaped dome.
This temple is a must see and to enter this area of Angkor, you must have a ticket that can also be shown at the entrance of several temples in the complex. Unlike the other major temples of the area the property is very spacious and has not yet been completely rebuilt, making this temple one of the most authentic and well preserved temple in the Angkor Archaeological Complex. The temple is impressive, fascinating, and full of interesting corners to make a good photograph. In addition, you will be in awe of the imposing and huge tree that has imprisoned a wall and with its mighty roots crushing a part of the eastern gate.
The Pre Rup is located just outside the city of Siem Reap, not huge, but noticeable for its towers that rise up into the sky (there are long flights of steps on the original which you can climb) and the beautiful warm color of the building (which appears when illuminated from the sun). This temple, according to local traditions was the place where the cremation ceremonies took place. It became more prominent as the temple of the funeral ceremonies. Built by the Khmer king Rajendravaman, it is a temple of the mountain that has a square shape with steep stairs to reach the top of the three towers.
The Banteay Samre is more famous as the small replica of the Angkor Wat. It is also well preserved and constantly renovated. This temple consists of a central 4 wings and 2 libraries, the whole courtyard is surrounded by two concentric ramparts and a moat outside.
You can admire a beautiful terrace guarded by lions and the beautiful columns with carved lintels. It is a bit far from Siem Reap and not frequented by huge crowds of tourists. If you need to find peace and be relaxed while inside a temple this place is worth the long trip.
Cambodia Landmine Museum
The museum itself is very basic, but it tells the story of a Cambodia that is ruined by a man made monster - mines. In addition to raising awareness about the problem, all the money spent in the museum helps the association that investigates on who is responsible for the integration of young children maimed by landmines in Cambodian society.
Located in Angkor, this museum provides an overview of the recent history of Cambodia and the complicated war that its people suffered from.
At the Cambodia Landmine Museum, it is not the exposure of war machines (tanks, artillery, helicopter, and guns) that impress every visitor, but the pictures of mutilated people and injured due to landmines. The two people who work there have been mutilated and they tell every guest their touching stories. A visit here is a must and for a good cause, do not miss it.
Angkor National Museum
The Angkor National Museum is interesting, well presented, and essential to completely understand the history of the Khmer civilization. The explanations are clear and well structured on the history of Angkor, its religions, architecture, traditions, and even modes of national costumes at different times. The rooms are well organized and most note-worthy is the exhibit about the 1000 Buddha’s.
There is also an introductory course in Buddhism and Hinduism with magnificent sculptures highlighted. If you are not too familiar with the history and art of Cambodia, it is strongly recommended to visit the museum before you schedule a tour to the temples in Siem Reap.