Siem Reap is probably the most important city in Cambodia and is rightly placed on the World heritage list. It is the gateway to Angkor Wat the most famous monument of Cambodia. It was a small village until the 19th century when French discovered the Angkor temples. Siem Reap means “the defeat of Siam (Thailand” and refers to the age-old conflict of Siamese & Khmer people. Angkor Wat has an international airport making it easy to be on your travel bucket list. Siem Reap has a smaller killing field reminding the rule of brutal Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot who died in 1998. Large numbers of people( 1.7 to 2.5 million) were killed during his regime from 1975 to 1979. In 1979 communist Vietnam invaded & toppled the Khmer Rouge regime.
As the temples became famous & tourists grew, Siem Reap has become a fairly modern city catering to international tourists. It is the gateway to the world heritage of Angkor Temples.
Beginner’s Guide to Siem Reap
The town is a cluster of small villages along the Siem Reap River. The river meets the great Tonle Sap Lake in the south & is a major tourist attraction due to a spectacular sunset. The floating villages along the river are also very interesting.
You will miss the aura and splendor of rising sun kissing the overgrown temples and ruins of Angkor Wat if you do not get up early and be witness to the phenomena. Tourist footfall is maximum for these ancient ruins enclosed within one of the largest religious complexes in the world. For those who plan to visit South East Asia for the first time, find it very daunting to mark Siem Reap on their travel itinerary. But once you land, the city is pretty safe to find your grooves and economical for every sort of traveler.
If you are looking for souvenir shopping at the Angkor Night Market, do get some bargaining lessons. Though most of the items are inexpensive but haggling is needed. The old market area has many nice souvenir shops, pubs & eating joints. Though Siem Reap is certainly not a mecca for shopping but if you have some spare time on hand, you can find unique items like one-of-a-kind artisanal designs sold in specialty boutiques. Local lovely stores like Graines de Cambodge have all possible local products available under one roof.
For party lovers, the nightlife is a paradise with a bonanza of shopping stalls, food vendors, and bars. For foodies, Siem Reap street food is heavenly serving a range of dishes from traditionally-cooked “Khmer” dishes to you name any international flavor, from French to Italian to Korean. Siem Reap has an abundance of different styled bars for an awesome night out. As much fun as partying on Pub Street is, there are multiple bars off the famous street that are well worth visiting.
Commuting within the bylanes is easy with tuk-tuks (moto taxis) around. You can also avail rent-a-bicycle option to explore the culture and cover the city at your own pace. Siem Reap, an easy place to be outdoors, has something to offer for all generations.