While most people come to Siem Reap specifically to visit the Temples of Angkor, it is worth spending a couple of extra days around the town of Siem Reap as well. We found a couple of really cool activities that we can recommend you to do while in town: ziplining and going to the circus! 🙂 After our day discovering Angkor we signed up for a day of fun at the ‘Flight of the Gibbon‘ zipline experience. The Flight of the Gibbon is well known amongst travellers in Asia. The company has a presence in a few popular South East Asian cities. Currently they run ziplining days in Chiang Mai in Thailand, In Bangkok and in Pattaya in Thailand and of course in Seam Reap in Cambodia.
The Flight of the Gibbon experience
While in Chiang Mai we were considering doing the Flight of the Gibbon there, however our few days there had already filled up with activities, so we decided there and then that we will sign up for this in Siem Reap. Another reason was of course that the zipline course in Seam Reap is located inside Angkor Park, the same location as the amazing temples in the middle of the jungle! This for us just added to the experience.
When we arrived in Siem Reap we asked our kind hosts to book us a day here and they very kindly did this for us. This is a very popular activity to do in the area, so it’s worth booking ahead online. If you want to do this as a last minute plan, you will have to book on the phone. Of course by now we never quite knew where we will be on which days on our travels, so even though we knew for a long time that we will want to do this we still didn’t book it until the last minute.
The Flight of the Gibbon experience currently costs $109. The day itself actually only costs $89, but because the course is located within Angkor Park, this means that an additional $20 has to be paid for the daily park entry pass. If you bought a 3-day pass or a weekly pass originally and you want to make this a part of your visit to Angkor, then of course you only have to pay $89.
By South East Asian standards and prices, the $109 still seems like a lot of money for a few hours of fun. However when you arrive to the site you immediately understand where the money goes. The Flight of the Gibbon is the Top rated ziplining and canopy experience in South East Asia and they achieved this by having stringent safety standards and an amazing group of guides who take groups around the treetops safely every day. They are also the only company that got the green light for operating within amongst the majestic temples In Angkor Archaeological Park.
Our day started at 8am, when we got a pickup by a shuttle service. In total there was 8 of us in the group, so the shuttle collected everyone from around Siem Reap. Once we were all aboard our driver proceeded to the entrance of the park where we received our new daily park passes. It then took another 20 minutes to get to the site of the zipline course.
We received our safety gear, our harnesses, helmets, were strapped in and we were ready to go. We got our safety talk and signed a form of consent to confirm that we understood the dangers of what we were about to undertake. Our group had 2 young guys as our guides (or ‘Sky Rangers’ as per their official titles), who started off by demonstrating on a low zip near the ground how to fly across, how to land, how to always keep on of the two safety harnesses attached to the cable when moving along and how to never ever touch the cable while flying (!!!) as this can result in the loss of a few fingers :-S
By now I was getting really nervous, so was keen to get going and get the first flight out of the way.
There are in total 10 ziplines and 4 hanging bridges on this course. It takes a total of 3 hours to go around it all. The construction is amazing! There are 21 platforms hugging the gigantic trees, none of which are secured to the trees by bolts, etc. only by tension – just tight wiring! The longest wire is 300 metres long and 60 metres high. While this isn’t the longest by far you can do nowadays, what with mile long wires now in existence, still, the experience of flying amongst the jungle, in one of the most amazing archaeological park in the whole world is hard to beat.
Anyway, I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking 🙂
Once we finished the course we were lowered down the treetops on our safety cables. We made our way back from the last platform to the office area by walking through the jungle paths.Our sky rangers stopped our group every now and then to point out certain plants and trees and tell us a little bit about them. They were really excellent guides, their English was fantastic and it was clear they absolutely loved their job! We did also spot some gibbons in the trees, which was an added bonus! 🙂
When we finished with ziplining our group was taken to a lovely restaurant for a spot of lunch where we chatted about our experiences flying above the treetops and got to know each other a bit more. Afterwards all of us were returned to our respective accommodations in Siem Reap.
When signing up for this fun day, you get the following included in your $109:
- 10 ziplines crossing over the jungle canopy
- 4 hanging bridges spanning hundreds of metres
- A 50 metre rappel descent
- 21 platform stations – 2 hours on the course
- Education about wildlife, flowers and fauna along the course
- Two sky ranger guides for every group of up to 9
- Detailed safety briefing & personal equipment fitting
- State of the art safety equipment
- Cambodian meal with bottled water included
- R/T shuttle from anywhere in Siem Reap and surrounds
- A chance to see gibbons into the jungle eco-system
- Zero-impact Electric shuttle to course once inside the Park
For more information, please visit the Flight of the Gibbon website: https://www.treetopasia.com/cambodia-holiday/angkor
Phare, The Cambodian Circus
In the evening we went out for a nice dinner in Siem Reap. There are lots of nice restaurants in town and the Cambodians are beautifully gracious hosts. The food was gorgeous too. We then went to see a circus production called Phare, The Cambodian Circus. If you are in Siem Reap I urge you to go see this group of talented young people, they are fantastic! I had never seen a circus quite like this one. What I loved about this most is how the Cambodian culture was incorporated in an otherwise really modern production. The show included traditional circus elements, but it was mixed with theatre, contemporary dance and gymnastics all framed by a story. The actors spoke in Cambodian, but two big screens hanging from the ceiling showed subtitles in English, French, German and Chinese.
Admirably the circus school has made its mission to ‘provide gainful employment to Cambodian youth from difficult social and economic backgrounds’ and to ‘contribute to the rebirth of Cambodian modern art’.
The show itself was about an hour long, and it was one of the most fun thing we saw during our travels in Asia 🙂 The show we saw was called Eclipse (there are 8 different stories played on rotation) and tickets cost $20/person. Find out more about this circus here: http://www.pharecambodiancircus.org/circus/
Apparently the troop will be touring Europe soon, which would be fantastic, I would love to see them again and see them succeed away from home, internationally!