A roundup of the top sights and activities in Siem Reap and around
Phare performed its first circus show in Siem Reap in 2013 and has since become one of the city’s top attractions, with nightly indoor performances underneath an iconic red big top. The shows combine dance, theatre, original live music and thrilling circus performances to explore traditional and contemporary Cambodian narratives. As if the jaw-dropping acrobatics weren’t enough, Phare is also a social enterprise, with all performers graduates of Phare Ponleu Selpak, an NGO school and arts training centre that works with children from difficult backgrounds.
Tel: +855 (0)15 499 480 Website: pharecircus.org
Flight of the Gibbon
Positioned a short distance from the legendary Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom temples, Flight of the Gibbon offers the chance to swing through the trees on ten jungle ziplines. The thrill of whooshing through the canopy is almost matched, however, by the opportunity to get up close and personal with the Angkor Archaeological Park’s natural wonders – visitors also get to go on an introductory hike to learn about local flora and fauna and, possibly, see some actual gibbons.
Tel: +855 (0)96 999 9101 Website: treetopasia.com/cambodia-holiday/angkor
Hot air balloons
There are two hot air balloon companies operating in the Siem Reap area, one of which offers a balloon ride that remains tethered to a rope, ascending and descending more or less vertically. At $20 for a ten-minute session, this is an affordable way to get unforgettable views of Angkor Wat and the surrounding countryside. Alternatively, 30-minute free-floating trips are also available but cost in excess of $100. Included in the price is hotel pick up, an English-speaking guide, exquisite views and, of course, an experienced pilot. The flight season runs approximately December-March, although the operation is weather-dependent.
Tel: +855 (0)69 558 888 Website: angkorballooning.com
Aki Ra spent much of his early life as a Khmer Rouge child soldier. After the toppling of the regime in 1979, he devoted his life to removing landmines and caring for young landmine victims in Cambodia. He claims to have personally destroyed as many as 50,000 mines since 1992 and is the founder of the landmine museum about 25km from Siem Reap town. The museum aims to educate visitors about the importance of clearing mines in Cambodia, with ticket purchases and donations allowing the museum to pay fair wages, care for vulnerable children and help clear the country’s remaining five million landmines.
Tel: +855 (0)15 674 163 Website: cambodialandminemuseum.org
This organisation has been pursuing a noble mission since 1998 – to revive ancient Khmer arts and crafts while improving the lives of thousands of people living in rural areas. Visitors can stop by their town centre workshop to watch local artisans demonstrate their craft or, for a more authentic experience, take part in tours to the countryside organised by Artisans Angkor that give an even deeper look into the life and art of these highly skilled individuals. The pieces produced make wonderful gifts, and the organisation has a number of outlets in both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
Tel: +855 (0)63 964 097 Website: artisansdangkor.com