- Location: in northwestern Cambodia
Status: the gateway to Angkor region.
Religions: Theravada Buddhism
The popular tourist destination in Cambodia
Many forms of varied entertainment
In the Northwest of Cambodia, at the middle of green paddy fields, on the banks of the Siem Reap River, there exists a lovely city sharing the same name with the river. This place is a major tourist hub of Cambodia because it is the nearest gateway to the famous temple Angkor Wat which is recognized by UNESCO as one of the seven ancient wonders of the world.
The name of this city literally means “defeated Siamese” reminding listeners the victory of the Khmer Empire over Thai Kingdom’s army in the 17th century. In its very first days, Siem Reap was a Cambodian provincial town with narrow roads and few facilities. At that time, Siem Reap, a minor group of ancient villages surrounding some temples and pagodas, might be known as it located on the shores of the Tonle Sap Lake, the greatest fresh water reserve in whole Southeast Asia. However, from the beginning of the latest century, in the French colony, it was built as a provincial capital and become more popular. Recently, blooming tourism industry has been bringing dramatic growth and changing Siem Reap’s appearance very much.
The most outstanding tourist site of this city undoubtedly is the legendary temple of Angkor Wat. This massive and ancient complex covers miles and miles of the Cambodian forest dating back between 800-1100 AD. It includes the dozens of antique and unique temples like the Bayon, Banteay Srey, Ta Prohm, especially the magnificent and mystical Angkor Wat. Most of its temples collapsed into ruins or were overwhelmed by the jungle after the abandonment of the city in 1200s. From the second haft of the 20th century, much attempt has been paid to restore the former glorious looks of this massive work. Thanks to this process, tourists can admire the majestic pieces of work art and perfect architecture of the Angkor Wat. The temple of Angkor is considered of the same rank with the Great Pyramid, The Machu Pichu and Taj Mahal. Though the Angkor is crowded by hundred visitors every day, you are still able to find the peaceful place to enjoy the scenic views and refresh your mind. Do not miss a sunrise there, to catch the magical scene as the huge construction is woken and lighten by the morning sunlight. With the structure of five major towers symbolizing the Meru mountain of India, the spectacular image of this ancient of Khmer Empire on the sky of early morning is unforgettable. The Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, Preah Khan and Banteay Srei are interesting places which should not be skipped.
Besides the gorgeous Angkor complex, let take a walk to enjoy colonial architecture buildings in the centre of the town or nearby the Old Market. You can do some shopping in the shopping malls or hang out in local restaurants, bar and store in Siem Reap. Drop by several handicraft workshops for souvenirs made of wood and stone, enjoy the little water waves of Tonle Sap lake, enter nursery garden to taste all kinds of fruits. And it is essential to make time to see a traditional Apsara devoted by young beautiful dancer.
The cuisine of Siem Reap is diversifying and unique, including famous Khmer foods as well as Thai and Eastern dishes. With a small amount of money (USD 2-5), you can try delicious dishes here. Amok, a sweet dish made of coconut and Palmyra sugar, is recommended for any tourist coming there.
If you look for a holiday to explore breathtaking temples and friendly people at a great price, Siem Reap is an ideal choice for you.