After spending three weeks in Siem reap we have made up this list of the best budget (and free!) activities in Siem Reap- No temples included.
Volunteer at Smiling Hearts School (FREE)
After doing A LOT of research online I came across Smiling Hearts School. Unfortunately in a lot of Asian countries there is a lot of ‘Orphan tourist trade’ this is where parents are offered money to send their children off to perform for tourists at schools and orphanages, this happens as a lot of tourists pay to ‘volunteer’.
Smiling Hearts is far from this, firstly the headteacher, Ali, used to be a very poor child and so she set up the school after wanting the children in her village to have a different upbringing, during our meeting with her she cried out of desperation for help. Her school helps over 300 poor and orphaned children. Ali works at least 6 days and even nights of the week. This is when I knew I had made the right decision and had to help. Ali doesn’t charge a fee to volunteer at her school and she will welcome anyone that can help. We did take lots of donations with us of pens, paper, books etc. Just to show what an amazing lady she is, we were told not all the donations will be staying at her school but she will be sharing it out with even poorer schools in the country side- she is the most selfless lady we have ever met! If you don’t have time to collect items we know she will gratefully accept any money and whilst we were there she was searching for $50 so she had enough ink to print out the end of year tests for the students. If your budget restricts you from giving money or things this we urge you to go and donate some time. I gave up two weeks to help her and it was the most amazing feeling. I had a grade 5 class that before I arrived were having to be mixed in with grade 4 just purely as there wasn’t enough teachers. This meant they were repeating classes they had already taken and it was restricting their learning. Don’t worry if you don’t have teaching experience they have lessons for you to follow, just being fluent in English will help these kids more than you know!
If you want to get involved please email Ali and let her know we sent you: email@example.com
If you’re not in Siem Reap but would like to donate please click here.
This was actually the most expensive activity we did in Siem Reap and we usually wouldn’t put it in our budget blog post but in all honestly is was SO worth the money so we’re glad we fitted it into our budget! (Plus it was Matt’s birthday treat!)
Phare is different to any other circus we have ever been to, they use their skills to tell a story, along side traditional live music. The performance will leave you sitting on the edge of your seat! As well as this the profits from the tickets you buy go into supporting the free education they provide to children in Battambang.
We enjoyed ourselves so much we didn’t even take any photos!
The tickets cost us $18 each. We suggest buying online or in a travel agent here.
1 in 300 people in Cambodia are landmine victims.
The Landmine museum was set up by Aki Ra, an ex child soldier, to inform and educate people of the dangers of landmines. After years of fighting he returned to villages in which he had planted the landmines and began removing them by hand and defusing them with handmade tools. The money made from the museum goes to a relief centre that is to the back of the museum, the relief centre was originally for children that had suffered from injuries from the landmine but now cares for children with a range of different difficulties.
The Tickets cost us $5 each it included an audio tour.
Angkor Watt Putt
This was a bit of a random find for us but it needs more recognition as not only is the mini golf so much fun but it is also just outside the centre meaning it is in a stunning location. We couldn’t believe our luck when we realised we had the whole place to ourselves.
It cost us $5 each for one round with 14 holes. If you get a hole in one you get a free drink, make it on to their leader board and you win a t-shirt!
Obviously this had to be in here somewhere as it’s possibly the most popular activity after Angkor Wat. We actually didn’t spend a lot of time here. We are not massive drinkers, if you are, you’re in for a treat with $0.50 beers and $1.50 cocktails. We spent an evening just having a walk around dipping in and out of shops and people watching which made the activity a free one for us!
Visit the ‘Made in Cambodia’ market (FREE)
The apartment we stayed in was actually right above this market so we spent a lot of time there. It’s a small market with lots of handmade items most of which are at set prices.
The market is surrounded by lots of small shops and restaurants. If you’re looking for some budget friendly yummy food we recommend Brothers, it offers a range of western and local food.
We recommend going on a weekend when they have free performances between 6-7pm.
This activity is free if you can resist buying anything.
Fairtrade Village (FREE)
This is pretty similar to the Made in Cambodia market bet definitely still worth a visit. This ‘village’ is a handicraft centre dedicated to genuine Cambodian arts, crafts and traditional techniques.
The items are set prices that are a little higher than other markets. This is because they are trying to provide everyone with a fair wage.
This activity is free if you can resist buying something or taking a pottery class ($20).
We actually found this on one of our last days in Siem Reap and we so wish we had found it before! Haven is a social enterprise and training restaurant for vulnerable young adults from orphanages and under privileged young adults from rural areas. Haven helps by providing work skills, life skills, housing, meals, medical care, English lessons and a monthly training allowance.
By eating at the restaurant or buying their merchandise you are supporting their training programmes and securing good and well paid jobs for the trainees, teachers and employees. It’s easy to eat there as the food is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G and the price is reasonable too! We had x2 drinks, x2 main meals and a pudding, it came to $20 with the tip we left.
You can also donate by clicking here.
That concludes our list of budget activities to do in Siem Reap. Let us know if you have any more you’d add to the list! If you want to check out the best budget activities in Phnom Penh you can click here. If you’d like to see how we saved for our trip you can click here.
Some of the links in the above post contain referral links. They cost you nothing extra to use but it does mean we gain a small profit from you using it. You are in no way obligated to use the links but we would appreciate it a lot if you did as it will help us to continue with our travels. We will only ever recommend products and services we use and love.