5 things to do in Siem Reap besides temple

Sunset in Siem Reap countryside with a horse - photo ops gold

It is undeniable that Siem Reap is most famous for its temples. People flock all over the world to visit Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom and admittedly, those are THE highlight of this city. Before we went on the trip, I searched high and low for some alternative things to do in Siem Reap. While there were options besides temples, some of them are underwhelming or lackluster, but below are the 5 alternative things to do in Siem Reap that I actually enjoyed!

> See here for our full itinerary to Siem Reap!

Horse riding with Happy Ranch

White Horse riding, Siem Reap, Happy Ranch, Cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
Riding on my white horse Olly

Probably the most expensive trip on the list (unless you are taking a private tour), horse riding with the Happy Ranch turned out to be an amazing experience. We chose the 2-hour ride, for the sake of budget as well as our lack of skills.

Buddhist Pagoda in Siem Reap Countryside, Cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
The pagoda was surprisingly beautiful – I didn’t expect it at all!

We had to option to start at 16:30 and were able to visit a local Buddhist Pagoda on our ride, where a huge celebration of Song Kra was happening. Then we rode past rice paddies and stopped at a field to admire the sunset and take more photos!

Song Kra celebration in Buddhist Pagoda, Siem Reap Countryside, Cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
We were in Siem Reap during Song Kra and they celebrate it widely!

The staff at Happy Ranch was warm, personable and made us laughed and felt welcome. They were very accommodating as well, preparing a white horse specifically for our friend Kelly.

Happy Ranch sunset riding, Siem Reap, Cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
Riding in the golden hour is perfect in terms of temperature too

To sum up it all up, here’s a photo of me, on a horse, during sunset:

Sunset in Siem Reap Countryside with Happy Ranch, Siem Reap, Cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
Sunset in Siem Reap countryside with a horse – photo ops gold

Verdict: I’d definitely recommend it if you want to do something different in Siem Reap

Cost: 48 USD for 2 hours, more details here

Address: Group 4, Svay Dangkum, Siem Reap Angkor, Kingdom of Cambodia
Tel: (+855) 12 920 002/ 016 920 002/ 0977 920 002
[email protected] – www.thehappyranch.com

 Siem Reap Floating Village Kampong Phluk and Tonle Sap Lake

Low season Kampong Phluk floating village, Siem Reap, Cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
Enjoying the river ride in low season – look at how tall the houses actually are!

Only half an hour or so south of Siem Reap is the largest lake in Cambodia: the Tonle Sap Lake. It’s worth noting that the prime season to visit is October and November, however, we visited during the dry season and still enjoyed it.

Children at Kampong Pluk floating village, Siem Reap, Cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
A family commonly has 5-10 children – so we saw a lot of them around town.

The village of Kampong Phluk is home to three thousand people and surreal to see from the river. Since we went during dry season, the houses were all impossibly tall on wooden beams and pillars. Simply constructed bridge spans across the river, connecting both side and people cross them carefully if not perilously.

Kompong Pluk floating village single road, Siem Reap, Cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
The single street between the houses

We walked down their single street on one side and was greeted by friendly but shy children. Most people went about their daily business and it was clear that tourism doesn’t play a huge part here, yet. Afterward, we rode to a floating restaurant in Tonle Sap Lake – which was muddy but still serene.

Tonle Lake floating restaurant, Cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
We spent less than half an hour at the floating restaurant

We had booked the tour with Viator for 38USD and honestly, it was overpriced. They didn’t even give us the fruit salad until I’d asked, with the reply of “oh there isn’t much fruit so we hadn’t prepared any because it’s Song Kra”.

Verdict: overpriced for a tour that can be found anywhere, but the guide’s English was good and he was informative. But the lack of light lunch of fruits until asked was disappointing.

Cost: 38 USD per person

 We booked via Viator

A cheaper alternative on Klook (18 USD) but no lake tour

Asana cocktail class Siem Reap

Asana cocktail class, Siem Reap, Cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
Drinking the fruit of our labour! (sorry for the bad quality – I didn’t bring my phone out)

Asana is one of the best cocktail bars in Siem Reap, hidden in the alleyways near Pub Street. Arriving at night, I was charmed by its beach vibe decor with a raised wooden shack, comfy seating and hanging hammock beds.

Asana cocktail making class, Siem Reap, Cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
Busy making cocktails

The equipment for the cocktail class has already been laid out before us. We were to make three cocktails and started with tasting all the ingredients we’d use. We made a Mojito, a Tamarind Sauce and an Angkor Sunrise at our own pace.

Mojito, Asana Cocktail Class, Siem Reap, Cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
First cocktail – Mojito!

Though our teacher was in and out with the class throughout the evening, we loved the flexibility of the class and the affordability of it – it’s only 15 USD.

Asana cocktail class, Siem Reap, Cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
A group shot by our instructor – a lovely setting

Verdict: a great alternative to just ordering and drinking cocktail and fun with friends

Book your Cambodian Cocktail experience here

Cost: 15 USD
Address: Street 7 | The Lane, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Number: +855 92 987 801
(Their website is down as of March 2017, it’s best to call and book – they speak english)

Cooking Class Siem Reap

siem reap countryside cooking class, Siem Reap, Cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
Cooking class that starts from scratch!

I’m going to be completely honest and say that aside from Fish Amok, I’m not overly in love with Khmer food. They also bear a striking resemblance to Vietnamese food, which I do prefer over them. However, Fish Amok and Chicken Amok are super delicious and by taking a countryside cooking class, you can also visit the local market and learn some dishes, too.

Rice paper spring rolls, siem reap countryside cooking class, cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
First course: rice paper spring rolls

We made some rice paper spring rolls with turmeric dip, chicken amok and a pumpkin duck egg custard and they were all great!

Dessert pumpkin duck egg custard, Siem Reap countryside cooking class, cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
Dessert: Pumpkin duck egg custard!

It’s worth noting that cooking was a group effort – so you were really doing it all yourself but between four to five people for this class.

Chicken Amok, siem reap countryside cooking class, Cambodia | Laugh Travel EAt
Main: Chicken Amok ready to be steamed!

The food that we didn’t finish would go to the orphans and villagers in need, which I thoroughly appreciated. However, our guide and instructor was a tad annoying and condescending, refusing to let us differentiate between our Chicken Amok and generally was a bit mean.

Wood fire cooking at siem reap cooking class, Cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
We cooked everything with wood fire!

I did find that we weren’t really hands on enough save for the prepping of basic ingredients, but it was overall a good experience.

Verdict: Not hands on enough and I didn’t expect it to be a group cooking effort – do do a cooking class but not necessarily this one

Cost: 28 USD per person
Address: 6 National Road, Siem Reap 17259, Cambodia
Phone Number: +855 99 266 008
http://www.countrysidecookingclass.com/

A cheaper Alternative on Klook (20 USD)

Songkran Cambodia

Song Kran is well known as the Thai New Year, but Cambodians celebrate it, too. Having not expected it at all, we arrived the night before Song Kra at Pub Street and was immediately subjected to water fights and baby powder smearing. Out of the six days we were there, four of those were bang on with Song Kra and it was manic with people attacking you with water on tuk tuk and the streets.

Hello getting spray by water~

 
It was a fun occasion if you were prepared, but we weren’t. Without water protective cases or bags, it was a hazard to our electronics. The “free face massages” by strangers with baby powder also ended with my eyes blazing red and irritated. Many don’t know when to stop and it can be dangerous if you slip or inhaled a copious amount of baby powder.

Song Kra baby powder victims, Siem Reap, Cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
What it feels like to inhale them baby powders – by my twin

That said, I enjoyed the festivities and the vibes but that also left me with a few dry items of clothing.

FREE!

Not there for Song Kra? You can still get a water blessing!

 

Psst: Since then I’ve discovered some amazing tours by local on Backstreet Academy, see here for 69+ things to do!

Siem Reap has plenty of things to do besides temples, but not all of them are good. Here are top 5 that I'd recommend:
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Written by Nam Cheah

Hi, my name is Nam. I am 24 and spent half my life in Hong Kong and the other half in UK. I believe there's endless experience and beauty in the world and this is me chronicling how to experience the best at the best price.

5 Comments

  1. I have been to Siem Reap twice but never knew about these things, such a shame!
    I would have loved to do a cambodian cooking course or a cocktail course.
    Written it down in case I go back to Siem Reap 🙂
    Thanks for the tips!
    x

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