Haley Jacobson from Insight Tours shares 14 reasons to stay longer in Siem Reap in this guest blog with a tour program that will provide visitors with unique, face-to-face cultural, artistic, food and adventure experiences with local Cambodians. 

Second in a series about the many reasons to stay longer in Siem Reap. We will regularly share other cool things to do and see in Siem Reap and elsewhere in Cambodia.

Think three days in Siem Reap is enough? Think again.

The Kingdom of Wonder is best known for the carved sandstone temples of Angkor Wat, and for good reason — the Hindu and Buddhist temples were constructed between the 9th and 16th centuries, when the Khmer Empire stretched across Southeast Asia from sea to sea.

But if you only come for Angkor Wat, you’ll have missed out on the essence of a vibrant, exciting, and obsession-worthy Cambodia.

Don’t believe it?

We’ve crafted a 14 day program, just in Siem Reap. It’s a smorgasbord of culture, history, adventure, art, and food. (If you want an even longer program, just ask – I originally came to Siem Reap for three days and here I am, two years later, still learning and exploring).

So check out the itinerary, and stay longer.

DAYS 1 – 5

Day 1: Intro to Siem Reap and Cambodian Culture. Get a feel for the city with a “Myths & Legends” walking tour, uncovering history hidden in plain sight. Experience the fusion of culture and discipline in a Kun Khmer boxing class.

Day 2: Countryside bike tour to Phnom Krom stilt village. Bike past lotus ponds and rice fields, and eat lunch with a local family on their floating house. In the evening, prepare to be awe-struck by the artists at Phare circus.

Day 3: Handicraft tour with local artisans. Throw your own ceramic pot, weave baskets from grass, and visit workshops for wood and stone carving. Over dinner, take in an Apsara dance performance.

Day 4: War history. Take a guided tour of the war museum, and see APOPO demining rats. Talk with locals about their experiences growing up under the Khmer Rouge.

Day 5: Jungle Temple Biking. Travel the narrow, vine-covered paths only accessible by bike. Get a totally different view of these ancient wonders, and bask in the nature sounds of the forgotten jungle temples.

DAYS 6 – 10

Day 6: Phnom Kulen Waterfall. Visit the 1000 Lingas, receive a water blessing on the mountain summit, and swim in the waterfall. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, do a little trekking and an overnight in a tent or a homestay.

Day 7: Explore the Art Scene. Visit Khmer artists doing everything from watercolor painting to lino block printing. In the evening, try Medha, or the dances of Cambodia Living Arts.

Day 8: Countryside Fishing. Learn to throw the weighted net, take in the scenic view, and cook your catch right there next to the pond.

Day 9: Animism and Magic in Phnom Leap. Meet a traditional medicine healer and a shaman, and explore stories of magic and animism in Cambodia today.

Day 10: Food food food! Streetfood Tour + Cooking Class. No travel experience is complete without tasting all the amazing cuisines! Try curries, sour soups, and noodles galore, or get adventurous with fertilized duck egg, bugs, fish paste, and stuffed frog. Then, meet Chef Bora and whip up your own Cambodian feast.

DAYS 11 – 14

Day 11: Gemology. Learn to identify the different characteristics of gemstones mined in Cambodia — can you tell real from fake?

Day 12: Medicinal plants workshop. Collect plants and record traditional recipes for dealing with infection, pink eye, parasites, and more. Document it all, and go home with a new favorite herbal remedy.

Day 13: Jewelry Design. Transform old bullets into beautiful jewelry. Turn clay into wearable works of art. Try a design class, learning to draw the blueprints for your very own gemstone wedding ring.

Day 14: Prek Toal Floating Village. Feel transported to another world. Learn to weave water hyacinth, take a Khmer language class, cook on the floating house, and enjoy watercolor painting as the sun sets over the water. Try a homestay! It’s a life-changing experience.

Getting FOMO yet?

Come for Angkor Wat, yes, but fall in love with a Cambodia that makes you laugh, cry, wonder, exclaim with joy, make new best friends, and already have you planning your return. Come for Angkor Wat, stay for longer.

Insight Tours is a sustainable, eco-friendly business, investing money and resources back into the community, reducing plastic usage, shopping at small local vendors and working with local families.