If you are planning your trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia, you are in for a treat. You will quickly realize there are about a bazillion tours in Siem Reap to choose from, many of them surrounding the Angkor Wat Archaeological Park so we go over what to do in Siem Reap besides temples.
We fell in love with Siem Reap and ended up spending four months there. And we want to share our experiences with the most amazing tours in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The tour company is Bayon Adventures and they are directly responsible for some of our greatest memories while in Cambodia.
We’ll go over the best day trip from Siem Reap, the most unique tour in Siem Reap, and the overall best Jeep Tour in Siem Reap.
This post is all about what to do in Siem Reap besides temples.
What to Do In Siem Reap Besides Temples:
Bayon Jeep Tours
All the Jeep tours we took were absolutely incredible, but riding around in those Jeeps was also a HUGE highlight for us. You see, the Jeeps are from the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, the Vietnam War pushed its way into Cambodia. When the US Military pulled out of the War in 1970, they left behind many of these Jeeps in the jungles of Cambodia and elsewhere.
Eventually, they were recovered by the Cambodian Military and the Government of Cambodia sold them to interested parties. While the engines are not original, every other aspect of them is. It is a surreal feeling to ride around in these and you definitely catch many interesting looks when driving around in them.
1. Siem Reap Countryside Sunset Tour
When you think of sunsets in Siem Reap, an Angkor Wat sunset comes to mind. This is a great option, but we highly recommend trying a sunset in Siem Reap countryside. It is unique in every way and we promise you won’t regret it. Plus, the tour starts at 3:30 pm and is a perfect follow-up to an early morning temple exploration and nap.
Our guide, and now friend, Mork, picked us up at our hotel. We all hopped into the Jeep and headed deep into the Siem Reap Countryside. We visited a few smaller towns and wandered through the local markets. A much different experience than the markets in the heart of Siem Reap.
Just beyond the villages were picturesque Lotus and Rice farms. The lotus farm was one of our favorite memories. As we stood together eating lotus seeds from the flowers we picked by hand, Mork filled us in on the significance of these farms to everyday life in Cambodia. Beautiful wildlife and views surround you in every direction. We even got to observe a very cute water buffalo from a safe distance.
To conclude the tour, we drove just a bit farther to a rice field and watched one of the most beautiful sunsets we saw in Cambodia. As we watched the sun fall from the beautiful Cambodia sky, we kicked back a couple of cold Cambodia beers and munched on some delicious beer nuts and pumpkin seeds. It was a moment we will never forget.
2. Phnom Kulen National Park Tour
Before we ever traveled to Cambodia, we would have guessed that Angkor Wat would have been the highlight of our trip. But after taking this tour of Phnom Kulen, we have to say it was one of our favorite experiences by far.
Mork, the man, the myth, the legend, picked us up from our hotel at 7:30 am. From there, we purchased our Phnom Kulen National Park passes at a local office in Siem Reap. We then proceeded to Phnom Kulen. Along the way, we passed beautiful rice fields, small villages, and tons of adorable cows, water buffalos, and other wildlife.
Finally, we arrived at the entrance of Phnom Kulen at the bottom of the mountain. The mountain drive was truly breathtaking. So much so that we asked to stop a few times to take pictures.
River of a Thousand Lingas
Our first stop was the River of a Thousand Lingas. As we walked to the River of a Thousand Lingas, Mork informed us that the Hindu Trinity Gods, and Lingas, were carved into the river bed. Hearing it was one thing, but seeing it with our own eyes was amazing. Even though they likely carried out the sculpting of the river bed during the dry season, this could not have been a small feat. The belief was that, as the river water washed over the carvings, it was blessed and became holy. This blessed water supplied all who lived on the mountain as well as the surrounding provinces.
Grand Reclining Buddha
Before we entered the room where the Reclining Buddha lay, we witnessed three Monks praying over the Reclining Buddha. Everybody showed the Monks the highest level of respect. It was a beautiful sight.
Following their prayer, we walked through and took in every tiny detail of Grand Reclining Buddha. After we passed through the front, we were able to view the back of the statue. It was only then that we realized the Reclining Buddha was carved directly into the top of the mountain. This took our breath away. After a small bit of rain, we were back in the Jeep and heading to the almighty Kulen Waterfall. But first, lunch.
We had lunch right along the river in a small open but covered bungalow. The lunch was traditional Khmer and simply delicious.
Kulen Mountain Waterfall
We had seen the waterfall in pictures, but truth be told, it didn’t do it justice. The waterfall was massive, bigger than any we had experienced before. It is two-tiered and the first tier was a great picture spot, where the water only came up to your knees. After snapping some captures, we climbed down the slippery steps to the main waterfall.
We were speechless at first sight and had even fewer words when we jumped into the icy cold plunge pool of the waterfall. We made a point to “touch” the waterfall but quickly retreated as we were getting tossed around a bit. It was an awesome experience and everybody swimming was loving it. Some were even on Intertubes.
This massive overhanging rock is not for the faint of heart. In fact, if you are afraid of heights, you won’t go near this place. But if you dare, it is breathtaking, even though we didn’t get too close to the edge. We let the drone do most of the site seeing for us here. Had it not started to rain, we would have stayed here much, much longer and watched the sunset. But it did rain, so we jumped in the car and headed down the mountain and back to Siem Reap. This was off-roading at its finest and an unexpected, but fun ending to the day.
One Really Special Angkor Temple
As we drove down Kulen Mountain and back to Siem Reap, we had to make a quick pit stop at Banteay Srei Temple. This gorgeous temple is quite far from the rest of the Angkor Wat complex so given this was our best chance to visit.
We only had about 30 minutes to see it, since we took so many pictures and videos that day, but even 30 minutes is worth it. It was a smaller temple, but the detail in this temple was stunning and unlike so many of the other temples we have seen.
3. Angkor Wat Private Jeep Tour
I know this post is about things to do that aren’t temples but seeing the Angkor Temples this way is unlike any other way we saw the temples. Instead of a tuk-tuk between stops we got to ride around in a 1970s Jeep and feel the wind through the open sides, even more so than a tuk-tuk.
The tour is guided and approximately 8 hours long but is far less walking (and sweating) than any other tour option. Our guide, Mork, was incredible. He was so knowledgeable and provided us with great information without overwhelming us (which can sometimes be the case with tours). He took the time to answer any questions that we had throughout the day about the temples or about life in Cambodia.
The best part was that every time we came back to the Jeep, we were offered ice-cold bottled water and a cold towel. This was an amazing touch in the scorching heat. Above all, Mork was genuinely fun to hang out with for the entire day.
We truly can’t think of a better way to experience the Angkor Wat Temples for the first time. You will have the coolest ride there, the best guides, and a wealth of information at hand.