Siem Reap is built around Angkor Wat, one of the great wonders of the world, and this is pretty much the whole reason to go. You can get one-day, three-day or weeklong passes to the ancient temples, which are in clusters on the outskirts of town. Plan your days around sunrise and sunset amidst these wondrous structures and leave a few hours in your afternoons to rest and eat. In addition to seeing Angkor Wat, here are a few must do’s from our Forbes Travel Guide editors, whether you are in Siem Reap for a day or a week:
1. Day tour. Siem Reap is filled with tuk tuk drivers eager to show you around for the day. They drive what might be described as a glorified carriage-like cart with a few benches and shaded top. At the very least they know how to get around the most popular temples. Some drivers will impart their local wisdom; others will just drop you off and pick you up at your own pace. Either way, it’s a great way to see the temples.
2. Angkor Thom. This is a large swath of spectacular temples including the Bayon, a temple with 216 large-scale stone faces. If you still have sunset, spend it at the top of Phnom Bakheng, with it’s expansive views of the Cambodian countryside. The entrance fee to Angkor Wat includes these temples as well.
3. Night Market. Shopping can be a pleasant and rewarding experience in Siem Reap where goods are often high quality and affordable. Pick up one of the local cotton plaid scarves — you’ll find many uses for it from keeping you warm, to wiping sweat to a picnic blanket.
4. Pub Street. This is the main expat stretch through Siem Reap that has only been built up in recent years. It’s the place for live music, a cool drink and most types of food from Vietnamese to Mexican.
5. Floating village. Siem Reap is close to the largest fresh water lake in Southeast Asia, Tonle Lake, home to many living in what’s called a floating village. Make a day trip of it and see an alternative type of living.