Growing beyond its legacy as the gateway to Angkor, Siem Reap has come into its own as a city of cultural wonders. Get to know the city itself and explore more of the northwestern province where you’ll uncover hidden temples, immersive homestays, handicraft, markets and museums.
The Angkor National Museum is a perfect first stop to understand Khmer art and culture dating as far back as the 9th century. A gallery of a thousand Buddhas, along with other relics, artifacts and multimedia presentations, celebrate the golden era of the Khmer Kingdom.
After admiring ancient art, learn firsthand about Khmer ceramics at the Angkor Pottery Center. Led by a celebrated local artist, hands-on classes take place in an indoor-outdoor workshop where you can use a traditional kick wheel and learn to carve and glaze a work of art to bring home.
Should you heed the call of Angkor, be sure to explore more remote sections of the complex. Banteay Srei stands out as an impressive 10th-century Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva with intricate depictions carved into dusty red sandstone.
Just minutes from here, learn about more modern history at the Cambodia Landmine Museum. Created by a former child soldier, the museum educates visitors about the devastating landmines in rural areas of the country and proceeds help support at-risk children from area villages.
On a road from Siem Reap via Sisophon stands Banteay Chhmar, an Angkorian archaeological complex that rivals the ruins of Angkor Wat. Not only can you explore the temple without the crowds, but homestays and luxury tent camps also invite you to get to know villagers while ensuring that your support is flowing directly towards locals.
Between Siem Reap and the remote archaeological site of Koh Ker is the mysterious 12th-century temple of Beng Melea. Practically intertwined with the surrounding jungle, this weathered temple is believed to have been built around the same time — and in a similar style of — Angkor Wat.
In a region full of wonders such as these, it’s easy to step apart from the crowds of Angkor Wat and experience Cambodia in a truly authentic and rewarding way.