Escape to the countryside

Venture beyond the temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap to lesser-known heritage sites and cultural activities for a deeper insight into the Cambodian way of life

14 May 2019 / 11:27 H.

SIEM REAP in Cambodia is a lively town with many culturally-rich activities in and outside the city. Centred around the temples of Angkor Wat, the city has a strong history from ancient and modern times.

But there is more to Siem Reap than meets the eye.

Get more out of your trip by going to its lesser-known heritage sites and experiencing its cultural activities.

You will find yourself exploring spots beyond the popular temples of Angkor Wat, especially if you venture out to Siem Reap’s countryside, and learn more about its local communities and history along the way.

Sign up for one of its sustainable tourism tours where you can spend a full day with the rural Knapor Community in the Chansor Village and witness firsthand their way of life from the local crafts they sell at the market to school improvement projects.

You can also share a Khmer-style meal with the Knapor Community, which is created from local produce and spiced to delight the senses.

Next, travel by ox-cart from the Knapor Community to a hidden jungle temple taken over by nature but not forgotten by its people. Explore the ancient Khmer ruins away from the crowds of Angkor Wat and learn about the history of the Khmer civilisation.

Along the way, participate in a traditional Khmer monk blessing ceremony in a local Buddhist temple and observe the sacred rituals that are still practised today.

Moving from land to water, continue your discovery of Siem Reap’s countryside by travelling to the banks of Cambodia’s picturesque Tonlé Sap Lake, a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, to meet the communities living on the water such as the Kompong Phluk or Chong Kneas folk.

Comprising ethnic Vietnamese, Khmer, and Cham people who had been stripped of their Cambodian identity under the Khmer Rouge regime, these communities have since settled on the lake and made fishing their livelihood.

Living in stilt houses that sit at least six metres above the water, visitors get to explore the communities’ ecosystem with its connecting platforms where villagers grow their own vegetables, run markets, and travel by boat between houses.

Glide on the lake in a wooden canoe beneath the lush green canopies surrounded by the sounds of birds and other wildlife and get a glimpse of how living on the water has changed the lives of these locals.

Back in Siem Reap town, check out the bars, restaurants, and live music at Pub Street after a day of adventure in the countryside.

All these and more can be experienced with the new The Aviary Escape Package, available until Oct 31.

The package includes a three-night stay for two at The Aviary Hotel, a quiet retreat with 25 eco-friendly rooms featuring designs inspired by the myriad of local birds, which comes with WiFi access, daily breakfast, and roundtrip airport transfers.

For more, visit The Aviary Hotel website at https://theaviaryhotel.com/the-aviary-escape/.

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