Although Angkor Wat is magnificent I will be honest and tell you, this lists contains quite a few things to do in Cambodia that I liked more than Angkor Wat. When planning your trip make sure you plan more Siem Reap tours and daytrips than just Angkor Wat! Making your own crossbow, iron pencil sketching and having an unforgettable day in the countryside are usually not on your regular “things to do in Siem Reap” lists but they are some of my favorite activities here. If you like to do activities in Cambodia that are off the beaten path, you have come to the right place!
1. Crossbow Making with a Local Hunter
The ethnic hill tribes in Cambodia used to be hunter-gatherers and the crossbow is an integral weapon in their culture as the main tool used for hunting. Armed with self-crafted bamboo arrows, the hunters were able to shoot further than the eye can see!
Now you can enjoy Crossbow Making with a Local Hunter and craft your own personal crossbow! Made from 1 single block of wood and 1 piece of smoked bamboo then strung together by thick twine, your crossbow can even be disassembled for easy transportation back home.
2. The Unseen Cambodia: An unforgettable day in the countryside
This experience is one of my favorite things to do in Cambodia! You go rice husking, crabbing and fishing. Depending on the season you might even go rice farming. After you come back you get to taste the food that you worked so hard for! And we can tell you, this lunch is a feast! After lunch you will weave a basket together with some village women and even though you don’t speak the same language you feel really connected!
This connectedness which you experience throughout the day is what makes the Unseen Cambodia: An unforgettable day in the countryside! I think experiences like these should be as high up on your list as visiting Angkor Wat.
3. Iron Pencil Sketching: One Man’s Legendary Pursuit
This man is a legend! Roeum Bunhak (the host) actually invented this artform himself! Since he started he has made art pieces for very famous Cambodians, including the Royal Cambodian Family!!
And he is willing to teach you this special artform! This art starts with a canvas made entirely out of palm leaves. An outline of what you want to sketch is drawn on the leaves after which you fire up what Bunhak calls ‘his iron pencil’ to literally burn the sketch onto the leaf! Trying your hand at Iron Pencil Sketching you will have a great experience and leave (no pun intended) with a unique self made souvenir to bring back home! This is definitely one of the Siem Reap tours and daytrips that you do not want to miss!
3. Cambodian Spice Cocktails
Going to Cambodian Spice Cocktails in Siem Reap you get to learn about the amazing taste of local cambodian spices while preparing your own beautiful drinks. This place has the best cocktails and afters this night you will be able to recreate them when you get back home (providing you can find the ingredients haha).
Next to the fabulous cocktails there is another big plus about this place. The atmosphere! Located in this old wooden house, the decor is beautiful! They have really comfortable swing seats (almost beds) with cushions made from old rice and cement bags. You can easily sit down and spend the whole evening here, sipping away at your (self made) favorite cocktails!
5. Personalized Cement Bags with a Local Seamstress
It’s time to have a creative day activity in Siem Reap! With Backstreet Academy, you can custom make your own laptop sleeve or bag with a seasoned seamstress in a vibrant workshop that’s all about recycled goodness!
You can choose what your item will be made of! Will it be the classic cement elephant brand, or used fish feed bags or fertilizers bag or a little bit of everything? Under the guidance of the seamstress, you cut the recycled material, and sew together pieces of the template to achieve your final laptop sleeve. Get crazy and enjoy making your own personalized Cement Bag with a local seamstress!
6. Classical Apsara Dancing: A Glimpse into Cambodian Grace and Elegance
If you are looking for Siem Reap tours and daytrips, this is something you should definitely try!
In the Angkor empire, apsara dancing was performed frequently for the royalty many years ago. It is classified by UNESCO as one of the great intangible cultural assets of the world. The art was almost wiped out during the Khmer Rouge regime as the leaders sought to destroy all forms of art and culture. This is why few people know the true original techniques of Apsara dancing today. However, we have found more than capable teachers for you to learn from. In Siem Reap you can take “Classical Apsara Dancing: A Glimpse into Cambodian Grace and Elegance”. You will have a lot of fun and definitely gain a newfound appreciation for this high art form!
7. Horse Riding through Siem Reap’s Countryside and Surrounds
Horseback Riding is probably not the first thing you thought of when thinking of Siem Reap tours and daytrips! But why wouldn’t you?! It is only 2 km from Siem Reap and you get to ride the horse around the various beautiful landscapes, including the farms and even temples! It is simply beautiful, and what better way to spend your afternoon than Horse Riding through Siem Reap’s Countryside.
8. Unexplored evening market and streetfood tour
If you want to see the real Cambodia, you have to do this street food tour! This place is a mostly local affair that you do not want to miss out on!
Every evening after 5 pm local residents gather at Road 60 for an evening festivity like no other. Under the rows of street lamps that line the highway is a one kilometer stretch of local market, usually accompanied by a spectacular sunset. The food stalls offer a variety of local bbq and snacking options, the night market sells everything from phone chargers to leather jackets and there is even a fun fair with classic games like shooting balloons and a mini Ferris Wheel.
This Unexplored evening market and street food tour is truly one of Siem Reap’s best kept secrets!
9. Tyre Bags: From Scrap to Fashion Accessories
Be creative, shop and minimize your impact on the environment at the same time! Who doesn’t want that?!
As you will see when traveling through Cambodia, trash is a big problem. Although it is also a big problem in all western countries, in places like Cambodia that is extremely visible. Not only is it unattractive to look at, it is actually hurting the environment! That’s why it is very important to recycle as much as we can.
During the experience Tyre Bags: From Scrap to Fashion Accessories you actually get to make your own bag out of old vehicle tyres! So become a fashion designer for a day and create your own custom bag!
10. Canopy Zipline: Angkor Zipline
You do not want to miss this thrilling, once in a lifetime adventure activity in Siem Reap!
Angkor Zipline operates the only zipline eco-adventure canopy tour in Cambodia. And it is located inside Angkor Archeological Park, which makes it even more special. The course features 21 stations all nestled deep in the jungle featuring towering trees, exotic flowers, beautiful fauna and native wildlife. This Canopy Zipline experience is simply a great thing to do in Siem Reap when you do not feel like going to a temple but you do want to be outside in nature.
If you are also going to other cities in Cambodia make sure to check out our article; Things to do in Cambodia