When I was planning our visit to Siem Reap, one thing I was sure of was we definitely didn’t want to rush in and visit the temples on a flying visit (I wouldn’t recommend doing this with kids, you can read all about the temples we visited in this post) – I really wanted to think about our time in Siem Reap carefully. So, I went on the hunt for a temple alternative tour in Siem Reap.
There are couple of different tour companies in Siem Reap offering culture/country tours as an alternative tour to all the temples. After researching we decided on a Combo Tour with Dani from Bees Unlimited – and boy aren’t I glad we did! I can’t recommend Dani enough for this day tour – if you don’t believe me you can have a read of the amazing reviews on Trip Advisor. Dani is a long term resident and is a great source of knowledge.
There are lots of photos in this post which really tell the story of what we experienced.
Bees Unlimited, your temple alternative tour in Siem Reap
It was really simple to book our tour online with Dani and he was more than happy to answer all of my questions about suitability etc for the kids in the lead up to our tour.
The night before our tour, Dani met us at our hotel for a met and greet and to talk though the tour and our likes and dislikes. We talked through some of the Siem Reap points of interest and a brief overview of some of the things we may experience. Dani has a number of activities and sights he loves to showcase on his tours but at the same time he is very flexible and if there is something along the way that interests you he is more than happy to stop and explore. At that stage we were the only ones booked on the tour, which was great.
The next morning, bright and early we met Dani out the front of our hotel. His tours run using his nephews tuk tuk which was spotless and comfortable – it even had a hammock to attach across the middle – little miss Olive enjoyed a little sleep in the middle of the day. I’m sure I would have had a sleep myself if I could fit! Dani said that most kids do fall asleep at some stage during the tour – a combination of food, heat and activities.
The tuk tuk was great for our family of 4 plus Dani, but if you had any more than this or another adult then Dani will arrange another tuk tuk and driver, otherwise it would just be too uncomfortable.
We travelled about 10/15 minutes to the local market for our first stop. This was definitely a locals market and we would not have ventured here on our own. Dani had warned us that we would be doing lots of eating throughout the day and everything he eats is hot and fresh so we shouldn’t be concerned about getting sick. There was only a couple of food items we paid for, the rest was included in the cost of the tour (small notes are necessary but Dani will take you to a great money exchange before the market). The first thing we bought was piping hot corn at the entrance to the market (the fresh bread here smelt and looked amazing also), a few more steps and there was a lovely lady selling what looked like doughnuts – they were in fact doughnuts and we bought a few – delicious!
We then walked a few metres more to our ‘breakfast’ stop. Fresh noodles – about 75 cents per serve. Cambodians don’t really eat at home, that’s why you see so many food stalls around.
We then spent some time walking around the market. Ned was absolutely fascinated – I was trying to hold his hand all the time and Olive was on Ross’s back – it was crazy busy with people and motorbikes and so much to look at.
Dani had warned us that some people find the market very full on but the kids loved it! From the fresh fruit and vegetables, to the pigs heads, fish (jumping out and escaping the tanks and flapping around on the ground – Ned could have stood looking at them for hours!), flies, blood and guts, crabs, and we loved the sugar cane juice!
We also tried boiled peanuts and some lotus seeds.
We headed back to the tuk tuk and out into the country side. We had a number of stops throughout the day and they were all fascinating. Dani has a number of things he wanted to show us but will also stop anywhere if there is something of interest.
We watched fresh rice noodles being made, cooked and packaged up ready for delivery to the local restaurants. A wooden lever is used to push the noodles through a sieve with tiny holes. We ate these off big leaves sitting next to the family making the noodles.
We stopped to try some fruit that Dani was sure we hadn’t tried before (we hadn’t!) – you put the whole thing in your mouth and bite down and the liquid oozes out – very bizarre!
We spent some time visiting a family home and trying fresh sugar cane out of a bucket and we were invited into their home upstairs which the kids found fascinating.
We stopped and watched a 90 year old lady making incense. Unfortunately, we couldn’t buy any as we wouldn’t have been able to bring it back into Australia. We also saw many different herbs drying in the sun.
We had a quick stop at a local primary school and Olive went straight to the swings and a little girl was happily pushing her. The kids were gorgeous.
A local pagoda was next to the school and we had a quick visit inside to lie and look at the painted ceilings.
Lunch on the tour (not that we felt like lunch with all the little snacks) was as at a road side stall and we ate rice noodle wraps. They were absolutely delicious and about 70 cents each. Again, this was just something that we would not have experienced had we not gone on this tour.
Dani normally stops at a local ‘cupping’ house but we passed up on this option. We also drove past a house selling dog meat, and saw it being cooked on the bbq out the front, we didn’t stop for photo’s though.
We also bought about half a kilo of fresh mango leather – awesome! The last food item was sticky banana rice – one of Ross’s favourite things.
We were back at the hotel about 1.30pm. Dani does tailor the trip to your needs and I think being back around 1.30pm was plenty long enough for us – but if you wanted to explore a little longer Dani would have made it happen for you.
I recommend getting in touch with Dani from Bees Unlimited for a tour while you are staying in Siem Reap – you won’t regret it – it’s an amazing temple alternative tour in Siem Reap.
Together with the Combo tour that we took, Dani also offers a couple of different tour options. Including a market tour only, countryside tour only and a village visit tour.
If you have been on any other countryside tours in Siem Reap that you loved, please let me know below!