Siem Reap: Gateway to the Temples of Angkor

Siem Reap city, also the capital of the province, is located in northwestern Cambodia and a must-visit destination for all visitors to the country, serving as the gateway to the Angkor Wat temple complex renowned all over the world. Siem Reap also contains a vibrant atmosphere with plentiful accommodations ranging from simpler guesthouses to five-star resorts, beautifully-aged colonial buildings, silk farms, markets, and much more.

In the north of Cambodia, Siem Reap is a popular tourist destination with a range of outstanding activities as well as breathtaking landscapes. It's too difficult to get bored in this interesting city. A modern life rhythm comes between the ancient atmosphere covering Siem Reap for a long time. At day, you can discover the old world in Angkor Archeological Park and at night, you also can enjoy Pub Street with dances and eventful parties. In a nutshell,  Siem Reap is a place that you should experience once in life.

Angkor Wat in Siem Reap

Angkor Wat in Siem Reap

The history of Siem Reap

Siem Reap was the capital of Angkor during the Angkorian Empire until 1431 when King Ponhea Yat decided to evacuate to the far southeast (Phnom Penh at the present) after nearly seven months of siege by Siam troops. Occupying Angkor, the Siamese named this former capital was Siam Nakhon (Siam City). By the 7th century, the Khmer empire created a revolution to regain the city from the Ayutthaya King and renamed to Siem Reap as today with an interesting meaning  "Siamese was defeated"

Along Highway 6, on the edge of Tonle Sap Lake, Siem Reap is a province of Cambodia at the present. Covering an area of 10,299 square kilometers with the population makes up approximately 900,000 people. Despite the attraction in tourism, Siem Reap is still one of the poorer provinces in Cambodia and agriculture is the majority. The low living standard, the infrastructure are limited, make most local people struggle a lot in earning their lives. Although there are no opportunities for those growing up, the landscapes, the nature are worthy to explore. With immense rice fields, thick jungle, and hidden ruins, Siem Reap is always a fantastic place to discover and get away from the hustle of city life.

Top recommended attractions in Siem Reap

  • Angkor Archeological Park: Be famous all over the world, the whole Angkor War complex is proud of Siem Reap. With more than 100 stone temples, Angkor Wat Archeological Park is the most important monument of Cambodia, the most outstanding is Angkor Wat being the largest temple with architectural features of the ancient Khmer temple. Visitors will admire the special features with the art of stone carving in corridors, walls, ceilings through the skillful hands of ancient Khmer people. Especially, Angkor Wat is the only temple with an entrance to the sunrise which has created a unique point to attract tourists to Siem Reap. Visiting the temples in the early morning, you will be able to see all the immense and brilliant beauty under the glow of dawn enveloping the towers and charming lotus lakes surrounding.

Tonle Sap Lake

Tonle Sap Lake

  • Tonle Sap Lake: The largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia providing large quantities of fish annually for Cambodia, there is the second favorite destination in Siem Reap after mysterious Angkor Wat. About 30 minutes from Siem Reap city center, Tonle Sap is probably a peaceful natural area compared to the bustling of the city, visitors will contemplate the beauty of a peaceful lake, experience local's life on the floating villages, or admire the new species in nature with the most vibrant ecosystems.
  • Phnom Kulen and Kbal Spean: Far 50 kilometers from the center of Siem Reap, Phnom Kulen, and Kbal Spean is considered an attractive destination with mythological stories. Phnom Kulen, which is a holy land of ancient Khmer people still has many mysterious monuments and Kbal Spean has a legendary river called Thousand Linga is said to be very sacred with many Linga carved under the river. Cambodian people, as well as international visitors, come to this place to pilgrimage, to bless the gods, and to wash away their sins.

Siem Reap transportation

The center is far 7km from Angkor International Airport and can be reached by direct flights from many Asian cities or you can travel by road from Phnom Penh and the border from Thailand, Vietnam. It can also be reached by boat via Tonle Sap lake and buses from Phnom Penh and Battambang.

Weather in Siem Reap

The climate is quite similar to Vietnam but hotter so that the ideal time to spend time in Siem Reap is between November and February. A little bit cool at night will make your trip more comfortable than a sunshine day. In addition, in this period, the rice fields give the rural an amazing iridescent green glow. You should consider traveling from February to May because the heat kicks in and the weather is too dry and harsh. The rainy season begins from June to October and usually causes the flooding but some people said that Siem Reap will be very beautiful in rainy. The forests around are green and lush and the waterfalls in there at their max. Note down that if you plan to travel to Siem Reap in that period.

Culture features

In Siem Reap, there is the Bon Oum Took boating festival and the fascinating Angkor Half Marathon race is worth attending, held yearly. Bon Oum Took Boating festival is held in October or November, attracting thousands of Cambodians to see the great boat racing on the river. Angkor Half Marathon is an annual marathon, held in December with a journey through Angkor Wat. The money raised is donated to some local charities.

Travel tips

Pub Street in Siem Reap

Pub Street

  • Night-life in Siem Reap: Bars and pubs mostly focus on a road called Pub Street included the surrounding lanes. Despite the peace in the day, the street comes alive at night with light and music. Take a few minutes from the Old Market, Pub Street is a place for both tourists and local people starting in bars and pubs and enjoying the vibrant nighttime atmosphere in the ancient city.
  • Shopping in Siem Reap: This city is an ideal place for visitors to look for unique items from cheap to expensive. With 3 night markets and 2 shopping centers open 24/23, visitors will easily choose their favorite items as well as gifts for relatives and friends. Some shopping places should go are Angkor Night Market, Phsar Chas Old Market, Angkor shopping mall, Lucky Mall, etc.
  • Siem Reap's rich culinary: Visitors are able to enjoy plentiful cuisine with Khmer dishes and Vietnamese, Thai, or European dishes aside. Especially, you must try Amok with the full flavor symbol of Cambodia. In addition, tourists can enjoy other interesting local specialties such as Nom Banh Chok, Lap Khmer, Bai sach chrouk, Cha houy Teuk, etc.
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