“When will this 14-hour ride end? – what I have been murmuring during my whole trip from Vietnam to Cambodia. That’s probably the longest ride I’ve ever done since I started traveling, plus doing it on a day time made it feel lengthy.
When I was looking for things to do in Cambodia, most of the suggestions was to SEE ANGKOR WAT. Siem Reap is very popular for its ancient temples. Well I wouldn’t lie as they are really fascinating. However, what else can you do aside from going to the temples? I’m pretty sure you’ll want to do something else than maximizing your temples pass during your whole stay.
Here are the 5 things that you can do in Siem Reap aside from the temples:
1.BE BLESSED BY A MONK
I am no Buddhist but sometimes it’s good to try out practices from other religions to understand and respect the differences. So, when I got a chance to meet a monk and be blessed by him, I didn’t think twice. What they actually do is pray you over. He’d shower a water on you while whispering a prayer for good luck and blessings, and then he will end it with tying a red string on your wrist.
Monks are forbidden to touch a woman, they cannot handshake or any form of greeting that requires being touched. For over 2000 years, Buddhist monks and nuns have have to follow hundreds of rules as a part of their practice, and celibacy is just one of them.
They don’t get paid to do this but donations are welcome 🙂
2.BIKE AROUND TOWN
I felt nostalgic biking around Siem Reap since I grew up riding tandem bikes with my grandma. I remember we’d only ride it if I sleep during siesta time, until my grandma taught me. That’s when I started sneaking and skipping siesta to ride bike with my friends.
Cycling is a good way to go around town as it’s easier to move with a smaller vehicle. Some would actually choose to rent a bike instead of renting a tuktuk, it wouldn’t just save you bucks but it’s more enjoyable to view the temple ruins, pass by the trees with a nice view of the lake, or visit the Angkor Wat.
Bike rentals only cost $1 – $3 dollars, which sometimes come with free water and a map.
3.EAT KHMER FOOD
For me traveling isn’t just about the tourists spots but also the food that they locally offer. It’s like tasting their culture with every bite that you take. Food in Cambodia are actually rich in flavor because of the herbs and spices that they use. I love how most of their food has coconut milk. Their delicacies are somewhat similar to Thai cuisines but it isn’t as spicy.
A meal usually cost $4-5, which comes with the dish and rice. Bottled water is not included.
There are also interesting food stalls that sells a wide selection of mangoes, grapes, tamarinds with some dipping sauce that looks spicy. These can be found mostly at the stores or some street vendors.
Cambodia seems to be pretty expensive since they mostly use USD, especially for foreigners. The reason why they are using USD instead of their local currency is because its denomination is too big. Imagine yourself paying for 16,000 riel just for a coffee, overwhelming right? But it’s relatively cheap in Cambodia, it’s just how you spend your money.
Night Market is a place where you can find good cheap gifts to bring home. There are boutiques that sells cute antique stuff, AND.. the very popular elephant pants can also be found here. Would you believe that I scored 3 bags, 2 shirts, 1 pants and a sarong all for $15? YAS I DID! The bags were supposed to be for $4 each but I even got more. How? HAGGLE! You can get more discount if you buy in bulk and don’t forget to negotiate with the price.
Have you ever gone into a bar that is on the street? Well, Siem Reap’s pub street is situated in a long stretch of bars on a main road. During the day, the street is just normal, but when it gets dark, it starts to evolve into a party place. Everyone’s just drinking and dancing. Loud music, wild party, it was crazy!
The Cambodian beer is so cheap, you can even get a jug of beer for $4. Pub street is ideal for night out of bar hopping together with other travelers. Pick the perfect spot, drink and socialize.. OPSS! drink moderately 😉
This humble town has touched me in a different way. It may not be as rich and as grand as like other countries, but its unique beauty is what makes it stand out.