The last day of this circuit is dedicated to Siem Reap for those who have not had time to discover the city while visiting temples, or for those who want to spend a whole day there…Siem Reap can be seen as an appendix of Angkor. Indeed, besides being the host city for visitors, it is a fundamental center for those interested in Khmer art, Buddhist culture and monuments, and manifestation of local traditions.
We suggest starting the visit with the old market. It has colonial style architecture but at the same time a very traditional layout.
Have a walk in between the shops and stalls to appreciate the variety of products offered such as silk, fabrics, silver, wooden and wicker objects, pottery, silk weaving and weave baskets … as well as fruits, vegetables, spices, fish, cooked dishes but also everything you may find in a local market, expected and even unexpected! Take your time to discover the neighborhood and have lunch in one of the small restaurants. You can also chose to visit the workshops of Artisans d´Angkor and Silk Farm. You will be offered a remarkable exhibition where you will be able to understand and see the popular Khmer handicraft products inspired by the history of Angkor (woodwork, sandstone carvings, lacquer…) as well as the silk production. Numerous and varied craft and silks are for sale.
For the afternoon, you can go and enjoy a visit of the Pagodas along the Siem Reap River. Buddhist beliefs, practices, and traditions continue to heavily influence daily life in the Kingdom, and not just because you can see monks wearing vivid saffron robes everywhere you go! So respect and proper dress are required when visiting. Please kindly take out hat and sunglasses while entering the monastery and shoes in the hall of prayer, called vihara, and switch off your phone. Do not distract believers during ceremonies, monks at lunchtime and kindly ask permission before taking photos.
There are 12 pagodas that are still active but we propose to visit the main ones.
Start the visit with Wat Preah Aun Ko Sai, a small monastery built in the middle of the 19th century. Do not miss the Khmer temple, also known as Prasat Einkosei, built in the second half of the 10th century, located to the east of the vihara of this small monastery; and in particular, the lintel over the southern door, carved with one of the oldest depictions of the scene of the Churning of the Ocean of Milk.
Continue the visit with Wat Bo, also known as Rajabo (Royal Pagoda). It is the largest and most interesting monastery and also among the oldest of the whole province. It has a number of well-preserved wall paintings from the 19th century depicting popular traditions and also a large collection of Buddha statues that you will find behind the main Buddha.
Proceed with Wat Damnak, one of the principal monasteries of the old Siem Reap. It is famous for its old beautiful carved wooden doors and windows shutters, lacquered and gilded, depicting Khmer Ramayana events and characters. It hosts the library of the Centre of Khmer Studies that is the richest one of the city.
And finish with Wat Preah Prohm Rath (meaning the jeweled Lord Brahma). It is believed that it is the oldest one of Siem Reap founded by King Ang Chan at the end of the 18th century. It is an important centre for Buddhism and sermons are given by renowned monks. The front gate presents Bayon style carvings that are similar to the ones found in Angkor Wat. The temple grounds are huge, hosting several buildings including the main hall (Preah Vihear Holly Sanctuary), a university building, and decorated towers scattered throughout the site.
At the end of the afternoon, cross the bridge and go and have a drink at King´s Road Angkor. It is an authentic modern vision of a traditional Khmer wooden village in the heart of the city that offers a large choice of coffees and restaurants. You will also enjoy a Made in Cambodia’ community market of craft stalls and even traditional dance and music performances!
For more information about Artisans d’Angkor, please visit http://www.artisansdangkor.com/