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Siem Reap

Siem Reap-Oddar Meanchey
Siem Reap
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About Location

Siem Reap is the capital city of Siem Reap Province in northwestern Cambodia, and is the gateway to Angkor region.Siem Reap has colonial and Chinese-style architecture in the Old French Quarter, and around the Old Market.In the city, there are traditional Apsara dance performances,craft shops, silk farms, rice-paddy countryside, fishing villages and a bird sanctuary near the Tonle Sap Lake.

Siem Reap today, being a popular tourist destination,has a large number of hotels and restaurants. Most smaller establishments are concentrated around the Old Market area,while more expensive hotels are located between Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport and the town along National Road 6.There are a variety of mid-range hotels and restaurants along Sivatha, and mid budget to mid-range hotels in the Phsar Leu area.The name Siem Reap means the 'Defeat of Siam' today’s Thailand and refers to a century-old bloodbath,commemorated in stone in the celebrated bas relief carvings of the monuments.The name has also been translated as 'The Brilliance of Siam', as, for nearly 500 years, before the massacre, it was one of the main border crossings from Ancient Cambodia into Siam.

In 1901 the Ecole Francaise d Extreme Orient (EFEO) began a long association with Angkor by funding an expedition into Siam to the Bayon.In 1907 Angkor,which had been taken from Siam (Thailand) by force, was assigned to Cambodia.The EFEO took responsibility for clearing and restoring the whole site.In the same year, the first tourists arrived in Angkor an unprecedented 200 of them in three months.Angkor had been 'rescued' from the jungle and was assuming its place in the modern world.Siem Reap was little more than a village when the first French explorers re-discovered Angkor in the 19th century. With the acquisition of Angkor by the French, in 1907, Siem Reap began to grow, absorbing the first wave of tourists.The Grand Hotel d'Angkor opened its doors in 1929 and the temples of Angkor remained one of Asia's leading draws until the late 1960s, luring visitors like Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Kennedy.In 1975, the population of Siem Reap, along with that of the rest of the cities and towns in Cambodia, was evacuated by the communist Khmer Rouge and driven into the countryside.

As with the rest of the country, Siem Reap's history (and the memories of its people) is coloured by spectre of the brutal Khmer Rouge Regime, though since Pol Pot's death in 1998, relative stability and a rejuvenated tourist industry have been important steps in an important, if tentative, journey forward to recovery. With the advent of war, Siem Reap entered a long slumber from which it only began to awake in the mid-1990s.Today, Siem Reap is undoubtedly Cambodia's fastest growing city and serves as a small charming gateway town to the world famous heritage site of the Angkor temples.Thanks to those attractions, Siem Reap has transformed itself into a major tourist hub. Siem Reap nowadays is a vibrant town with modern hotels and architectures.Despite international influences, Siem Reap and its people have conserved much of the town's image, culture and traditions.

How to Reach

By Air

Siem Reap International Airport (IATA: REP, ICAO: VDSR) is the airport in Cambodia handling the greatest number of passengers.It is located in Siem Reap, home of Angkor Wat.The full architecture design of the airport was developed by Archetype Group.Official inauguration of Siem Reap Angkor International Airport's new terminal was on August 28, 2006.The Cambodian government has plans to replace the airport with a new one, 60 km from Siem Reap.The airport resides at an elevation of 60 feet (18 m) above mean sea level.It has one runway designated 05/23 with a concrete surface measuring 2,550 by 45 metres.

By Ferries

A more expensive and more time consuming option from Phnom Penh ($35, 6 hours) or Battambang (US$20-25, 5 hr) is to take a Soviet style Hydrofoil across the Tonle Sap lake.These can be fantastic trips giving you the opportunity to view life on the lake, floating houses, working fishermen, and to get a sun-tan if you choose to sit on the roof of the boat. However, the trip can be ruined due to bad weather.Remember to use sunscreen and take a waterproof jacket.You will not be always able to access your luggage during the journey (sometimes the baggage is available, sometimes it is not).If you have the time, it is better to visit the floating villages as day trips from Siem Reap than to see them from the boat.

By Bus

Many companies, including (Phnom Penh Sorya Transport Capitol Tours, and GST Express) operate bus services to/from Siem Reap.Direct buses go to Phnom Penh (US$10), Pakse (US$30), Don Det in the 4,000 Islands region of Laos (US$27), Kampong Cham, Soung, Battambang, and Kor Kong. Advance bookings are advisable, and can also be sorted out by most travel agents and guesthouses for a US$1-2 fee.

Buses generally leave between 7AM-3PM but there is a night bus as well if you want to not spend the daytime travelling which leaves at midnight.From Thailand, the nearest border crossings are at Aranyaprathet/Poipet, 3 hr to the north, and Hat Lek/Koh Kong on the coast.As a result of recent road pavings, the roads from these border crossings to Siem Reap are in excellent condition.From Poipet, you can take a taxi (US$25 minimum, 2-3 hr, max 4 passengers) or an overcrowded bus (US$10, 3 hr, leaves when full, not as comfortable).

Key places to visit
Angkor National Museum, Cambodian Cultural Village, Angkor Wat, Phsar Leu Thom Thmei, Kampong Phluk Floating Village, Landmine Museum, Angkor Archaeological Park, Wat Thmei Temple


Places to Visit

Angkor National Museum

Opened on 12 November 2007, the Angkor National Museum offers visitors a better understanding of the area's archaeological treasures.The Golden Era of the Khmer Kingdom is presented, including the use of state-of-the-art multimedia technology.The museum covers Khmer history, civilization, and cultural heritage in eight galleriesThe museum also shows the history of the Angkor complex as well as Khmer culture and clothing using high tech displays and video screens.The 1,000 Buddhas is as impressive as it sounds.

Cambodian Cultural Village

Opened on September 24, 2003, the Cambodian Culture Village assembles all the miniatures of famous historical buildings and structures of Cambodia.There are 11 unique villages, which represent different culture heritages, local customs and characteristics of 19 multi races.At each village, the tourists will be able to enjoy the excellent wood houses, carving, soft skill in stone, traditional performances in the different dance styles such as: Apsara dancing, performance of ethnic minorities from northeastern Cambodia, traditional wedding ceremony, Circus, Popular games, Peacock dancing, Acrobat, elephants shows, and boxing.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat (Wat temple) is the central feature of the Angkor UNESCO World Heritage Site containing the magnificent remains of the Khmer civilization.Angkor Wat's rising series of five towers culminates in an impressive central tower that symbolizes mythical Mount Meru.Thousands of feet of wall space are covered with intricate carving depicting scenes from Hindu mythology.

Phsar Leu Thom Thmei

This market reconstructed from the wood to the stone structure.The word Phsar means Market, Leu means Upper, Thom mean Large and Thmei means New. Now this market is very popular and crowded.People sell all kind of things.It is located about 2 km from Siem Reap, on the right side of National Road 6 when travelling from west to east.

Kampong Phluk Floating Village

This mangrove forest offers a much more authentic 'floating village experience' than the one close to the Tonle Sap ferry harbour.This fascinating village on stilts can be reached by tuk-tuk from Siem Reap.It takes about 1 hour to reach the village, depending on the road conditions and water level. Depending on where you buy your tour, your haggling techniques and your initiative to book a tuk-tuk and boat ride yourself the price varies between US$7-60/person for a round trip.Beware of scam. When you reach the school in the village, tour guide will give you pack of exercise books and pencils as "a payment to village for visiting them".The queue of pupils will be longer than number of books you have.Immediately you receive next pack but then you will need to pay $9 for the second pack.

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