“What is your hobby?” is a question we always ask people who are planning to volunteer in Cambodia. We ask this question because we want to encourage long-term volunteers to identify an activity they’re passionate about that would be available for them in Cambodia, so that they could dedicate their spare time to it during weekends or after hours.
Finding a hobby is one of the best ways to learn about Cambodia, make new friends with interests similar to yours, and to keep yourself balanced via your favourite pastimes. This could help during times when you may be feeling down or homesick, particularly if you’ve been volunteering for a few weeks away from home already.
Alternatively, taking up a new activity is a chance to dabble in something you’ve never done before which may end up being your new favourite pastime!
Siem Reap and the surrounding countryside has a variety of different activities (in addition to the obligatory visit to Angkor Wat) for you to partake in. Here are some activities in Siem Reap you may be interested in.
Take yoga lessons
Check into a local yoga course or a short-term retreat. There are plenty of organisations that offer affordable, secluded and spiritually gratifying yoga experiences in Siem Reap. Wake up to the sound of gongs, chant your heart out, and truly relax and experience real yoga. You can stay anywhere from a few hours to a few days, and yogis of all levels can find the right retreat or lesson for their needs.
Join cooking classes
When it comes to doing a fun and educational activity in Siem Reap, taking a cooking class is a must. Even self-proclaimed terrible cooks can learn to make something tasty, and end up having some of the most scrumptious foods they’ve ever tasted from a cooking class. A cooking class in Siem Reap is certainly no exception, especially since Khmer food is delicious.
Participate in pottery classes
If you are looking for a fun and memorable creative experience, you can take a pottery class to learn about Khmer style clay pottery and ways to produce your own artistic Cambodian bowl. Visit the pottery training centres, marvel at beautiful ceramic pieces inspired by Cambodian culture, or even try your hand at making your own!
Cycle around town
Most hotels and guesthouses offer daily bike rental, and there’s no better way to explore Siem Reap than to bike around town without a plan or map. Follow the river that cuts through the centre of the city and explore the many side streets off it. Enjoy the freedom to explore the countryside at your leisure.
Get a massage
Yes, you read that right. Masseurs dot the busy streets after the sun goes down, offering sit-down 30-minute massages for as little as $3. If you want more homely comforts, you can pay around $20 for an hour at a top-notch salon, which is likely still a bargain compared to massage parlours back home. These quick massages are a perfect end to your day if you’re all ‘templed out’ or simply wish to reinvigorate yourself before heading out to dinner.
Most of the year, Siem Reap is hot, dry and dusty. When you’re not exploring the temples or markets, you will want to cool down. Almost all four- and five-star hotels have swimming pools, and most are open to the public if patrons buy something off their menu or pay a small fee.
Take a photography tour
The scenery of Siem Reap is unique and your trip to Angkor Wat is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so it makes sense to get good photos for your memories. Taking a photography tour is a great idea as the guides know the best temples, the best angles and the best spots to avoid the crowds.
Horse riding in the countryside
Another unusual thing to do in Siem Reap that is lots of fun—horse riding! Available for various durations, these rides take you through scenic villages, rice fields, and temple ruins that are free from the usual crowds of tourists. If you prefer to not ride a horse, there are also horse-drawn cart rides available.
You can either take conventional language classes or take the time to talk to your waiter, driver or the other local Cambodians you encounter in your activities. Hear about the country from their perspective, and you just might pick some up some Khmer phrases in your conversations!
Work out at a Khmer gym
Spread throughout town are plenty of so-called Khmer gyms, which are actually more like sheds or warehouses with fans and basic infrastructures. For as little as $1 per entry, you’re able to use their machines and weights to your heart’s content.
Take Khmer kickboxing lessons
Kickboxing is Cambodia’s national sport and is very much broadcasted on national TV. If you’d like to learn the basics, you can find gyms in town where classes are offered that allow you to learn this very traditional art.
Go to the cinema
Siem Reap has two brand new cinemas with air conditioning and all the comforts of a western movie theatre. The outdoor cinemas are more basic, showing either Asian films (Cambodian are particularly keen on horror and scary movies) and western action films with English subtitles.
The Royal Archery Club welcomes everyone to the world of archery, newcomers and experts alike, with various lessons and programs. The staff is skilled and helpful, and will create a welcoming environment for you to get started shooting in no time. They even offer the use of the traditional Khmer bow, which was used in the times of the Angkor Empire.
Play golf and mini golf
Should you be able to afford it, Siem Reap has five golf clubs where you could play or take lessons. For a fun and more economical afternoon, there is also a miniature golf course which offers a free cold beer for any hole-in-ones!
Unwind at sports bars
If you like watching football, basketball, or rugby while eating a burger and sipping a cold beer, there are plenty of sports bars in Siem Reap that screen sporting events. Don’t forget about the infamous Pub Street of Siem Reap!
Help the community
Even if you are already volunteering, there are still things you can do to help the community.
Where to find more information?
Since addresses of organisations in Siem Reap tend to change quite often, we advise you to browse the internet – 100 Best Thing to Do In Cambodia by Jen Reviews has quite a few tips and suggestions – or Facebook groups to find the latest addresses and contact information.