Siem Reap is a province located in northwest Cambodia. It is dotted with ruins and religious temples, some of which dated back to the ninth century. It is one of the most popular attractions in Southeast Asia and considered as one of the world's most spectacular and important historic areas. In fact, Siem Reap receive over a million of tourists a year.
Staying for 4 months in Siem Reap, the province's capital, I learned that it was little more than a village when French explorers first stumbled across Angkor. Since then, Siem Reap has grown to become a small town and a major tourist destination, being the gateway to Angkor archaeological park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
When visiting Siem Reap, it is highly recommended to stay here for a week to be able to explore most of its interesting places. Accommodations abound in this bustling province and it is very easy to search for cheap hotels. Most of these hotels also offer traditional dishes such as amok, curry base usually served in a banana leaf and lol lak, stir fried beef with lettuce, tomatoes and fried egg.
Although many visitors may come to Siem Reap solely to visit the temples around Angkor complex, there's more to do here.
Here are some of the places that you can include in your tour itinerary:
After the Central Market and Old Market closed for the day, there are several Night Markets in Siem Reap. All of these offer visitors a pleasant venue for shopping. You can find so many stalls selling Cambodian handicrafts, souvenirs and other unique local products.
Angkor National Museum
The Angkor National Museum is a great place to have an insight into the history of the Khmer civilization. It houses thousands of artifacts recovered from Angkor Wat.
Artisans 'd Angkor was created in 1999 and provide an insight to the amazing skilled craftsmanship of Cambodian traditional handicrafts. It help the new generation to practice their crafts while providing them with a vocation. Their purpose is to revive and introduce the traditional craft skills like stone carving, wood carving, silk processing, gilding and lacquering to the young generation of Cambodia.
Chong Kneas is a small village residing on Tonle Sap Lake. It has become a home to many Khmer, living in self contained floating village. Depend on the season the lake itself expands and shrinks by four times its size.
Kompong Khleang is also a village residing on Tonle Sap lake. In terms of population, It's significantly larger than Chong Kneas, making it the largest community on the lake. During dry season, visitors will be greeted by the forest of stilted houses rising up to 10 meters in the air. In wet season, the water rises up to 3 to 5 meters of the houses.