8 Things to do in Siem Reap (Part 2)

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4. Eat bugs at the Old Market

At Phsar Chas, the Old Market, you can get a feel for a real Cambodian market. Baskets of spices, multicolored arrays of fresh produce, crispy fried tarantulas and meats from octopus to chicken feet create a bizarre foodie circus.

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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.

Old Market Area; 5 a.m.–6 p.m. for most vendors, between Street 9, Street 11, 2 Thmou St. and Pokombor Avenue

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.

Fish massage in Siem Reap via YouTube

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

Pub Street is Siem Reap’s party hub, so grab a drink (or a scoop of Siem Reap’s best ice cream at Blue Pumpkin) and soak it all up. Start your evening at Red Piano, on the corner. The French cuisine is good, but it’s best known as Angelina Jolie’s haunt while filming “Tomb Raider.” Try her favorite cocktail — Cointreau, lime and tonic — now named for the movie, and if you’re the lucky 10th buyer, it’s on the house.

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.

If you’re not quite digging the backpacker vibe, duck down a small side street in search of Miss Wong, a classy cocktail bar that will transport you back to 1930s Shanghai and a good refuge from the madness one street over.

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 via Jing Daily

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.

Angkor Village Hotel’s Apsara Theater offers a more reasonable dinner show every day at 8 p.m., but it’s relatively pricey with average sights and tastes.

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

If you’re hooked on Cambodia’s delicious curries, take a traditional cooking class and you’ll be able to satisfy your cravings after leaving Siem Reap.

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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