4. Eat bugs at the Old Market
If you’re looking for something a little tamer, there are hawkers selling fried banana kebabs, roasted corn on the cob, or banana-chocolate pancakes (the vendor at the corner closest to Warehouse has a loyal following). If you’re too busy temple-touring during the day, you can still get the market experience at the Angkor Night Market.
5. Get a fishy foot massage
After a long day of temple-trekking, give your worn-out feet a little TLC to prepare for the next day’s adventures. Spas offering reflexology, massages and more can be found at any hotel, but the independent Frangipani also gets consistently high marks and Spa Indochine’s traditional treatments are freshly prepared with local ingredients each day.
If you’re not looking to splurge, the area around Pub Street is lined with dozens of shops. A half-hour reflexology treatment runs about $5, or try a “fish massage” — tiny fish will nibble dead skin from your toes. The going rate is $1 for 15 minutes or $3 for 20 minutes and a can of Angkor.
6. People-watch on Pub Street
Continue down the road to find a spot for dinner. All the restaurants offer reasonably priced Western and local food, but Soup Dragon’s eponymous fare always brings a crowd, and just two doors down is Angkor What? bar. Inscriptions on the walls and tables attest to this old favorite’s popularity, and it’s always one of the last to close.
7. Watch a traditional Apsara dance
If your taste in nightlife is a little more highbrow than Pub Street’s manic antics, get a look at more traditional Cambodian culture with a Khmer dance show named for the “heavenly dancers” adorning the Angkor temples. Most tourists opt for a dinner and performance combo offered at any of a number of local hotels and restaurants, but get a recommendation as cost and quality vary widely.
Apsara Terrace at the Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor is known for its impressive classical dance and martial arts performances and delectable barbecue buffet on Monday, Wednesday and Friday but be prepared for fine dining prices.
If you want the culture without blowing your budget, Temple Balcony offers a free Apsara performance. You’ll have to buy a mediocre dinner, but sometimes you get what you pay for.
8. Take a Khmer cooking class
Khmer chef instructors will guide you through local markets and identify all the mysterious ingredients you’ll need to create your culinary masterpiece. Then don your apron and chef’s hat and prepare two dishes of your choice at Le Tigre de Papier. The fish amok, Camboia’s national dish, is a must try, as are the green mango salad and fresh spring rolls — plus a sticky rice dessert. You can buy a cookbook whose proceeds support a local NGO.
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