Siem Reap, is a province located in northwestern Cambodia, on the shores of the Tonle Sap lake .
The provincial capital is also called Siem Reap.
It is the closest city to the ancient temples of Angkor which date back to the ancient Khmer empire.
Siem Reap has grown explosively over the last few years as a result of tourism.
From just a few guesthouses the city has expanded to include hundreds of hotels, restaurants and shops, catering to both international and Cambodian tourists.
The city center has a garden with one of the royal residences.
Many budget guesthouses and the market are located to the South of the city center.
The Angkor temple complex is North of the city.
Siem Reap is located in northwestern Cambodia, Siem Reap is today the tourism capital of Cambodia.
In large reason because it is a stone's throw away from the famed Angkor Wat -- a once-powerful empire founded around the Ninth century CE by King Jayavarman II.
This city, whose remants still impress visitors in large numbers, reached its peak glory in the 12th century under Kings Suryavarman II and Jayavarman VII.
Angkor Wat is the most beautiful and most famous monument of the city.
It lies roughly a kilometer south of the royal town of Angkor Thom which was founded by Jayavarman VII.
It was visited by Western explorers and missionaries before the 19th century, but it was Henri Mouhot who is seen as having "discovered" Angkor Wat in 1860.
Angkor, facing repeated invasions from the Thais, ceased being capital after a seven-month siege in 1431.
The capital was moved to Phnom Penh in 1432, and then to Lovek and Oudong, before moving back to Phnom Penh in 1866.
Siem Reap is nestled between rice paddies and lies along the Siem Reap River.
This small provincipal capital town is mainly the gateway to the millennium-old temple ruins of the Angkorian-era Khmer Empire.
Local tourist guides call this town a "cluster of old villages, which originally developed around individual pagodas, and was then overlaid with a French colonial-era centre".
Siem Reap has colonial and Chinese-style architecture in the Old French Quarter, and around the Old Market.
Currently, it has a number of hotels, including some elaborate and luxurious ones in what is essentially a country with a large number of poor.
In the town, there are Apsara dance performances, craft shops, silk farms, road tours through rice-paddy countrysides, and boat trips to fishing villages and the bird sanctuary via the Tonle Sap Lake.
Getting to Siam Reap
From Phnom Penh you can go by flight (via Siem Reap Airways or President Airlines, each flies twice a day and travel time is 45 minutes).
Boat involves a ride via bullet ferry or deluxe/luxury ferries.
These services run daily, and require 4-6 hours of travel time.
In the rainy season, large boats ply, with smaller ones in the dry season (meaning a longer travel time).
Bangkok is linked to Siam Reap via flight (Bangkok Airways, five flights daily, one hour duration -- don't miss the small sticker-badge you'll be required to stick on your chest, as an identification as a passenger of this "boutique airlines"). A self-crafted road journey takes nine to 11 hours by bus or train.
You need to reach the Cambodian border (by bus or train), then make it to Siem Reap by bus or truck.
This road is rough along the way.
Singapore connects to Siem Reap via Silk Air daily flights, that take 70 minutes.
Ho Chi Minh City has a twice-daily Vietnam Airlines flight, with a travel time of 75 minutes.
Lao Airlines links Vientiane thrice weekly.
The flight is via Pakse in Laos and takes 2 hours 35 minutes.
Malaysia Airlines flies in from Kuala Lumpur thrice weekly.
There is a small ferry or motorboat from Battambang -- but those in the know warn that safety conditions are below standard.
Presidential Airlines has a flight from Ratanakiri four days a week, via Phnom Penh, taking 95 minutes.
One-month visas to enter Cambodia are available at the international airport in Siem Reap, and a cost of US$20 (for a tourist visa) and US$25 (business visa).
You can also get a visa on the border crossings with Thailand and Vietnam, but not on the Laos border.
One 4x6 photo is required for the visa.
Your passport needs to be valid for at least four months.
Tourist visas can be extended once only for an additional month.
Business visas can be renewed indefinitely.
Motorcycle taxis charge US$1 (the US dollar is widely used in Cambodia), and car taxis cost US$5.
By ferry, you arrive at Chong Khneas near Phnom Krom, which is about 12 km south of Siem Reap, and the costs of a motorcycle taxi is about US$1-2 while a car costs US$4-5 for the fifteen minute ride.
Hotels are mainly concentrated around the Old Market area (mostly smaller hotels and restaurants), between the airport and town long Route 6 (mainly large upscale hotels).
There are a variety of mid-range hotels and restaurants along Sivatha, and budget to mid-range hotels in the Phsar Leu area.
Areas of concern
Cambodia continues to be a society of extreme gaps of poverty and wealth.
Local insights suggest some of the plush new hotels in Siem Reap are owned by politicians and/or the military.
Sex-tourism continues to be a major concern, mainly involving migrant female works (from Vietnam and elsewhere) and rural women facing extreme poverty and landlessness.
Underage sexworkers have raised particular concerns about child-sex abuse, which surface in the more candid tourist accounts too.
Apart from this is the significant HIV/AIDS problems.
Like in other tourist destinations, the few locals who can try desperately to earn from the visitors' higher purchasing power.
Tourists sometimes regard the local hawkers as a nuisance; yet, the reality is that local economy is one most find difficult to survive in.
Both dollar and local currency (Riel) transactions work in parallel.
Currency exchange rates is approx US$1=4000 Riel, reflecting the steady devaluation of the local currency, particularly between the mid-'sixties and mid-'seventies.
Tourists embark on a small craft, after a holiday at this town, better known as a tourism destination.
An advert from the UNICEF and Cambodian National Police Ministry of Interior displayed in tourist books warns prominently that "sex with children is a crime".
It says: "If you have any information on the sexual exploitation or abuse of children, call (023) 720-555.
Offenders face up to 20 years in prison in Cambodia as well as criminal prosecution in their own countries.
More than 940 offenders have been arrested and prosecuted."
The province is subdivided into 12 districts.
This page was retrieved and condensed from
In September 2005 Hui Chin's Mother passed away in Singapore.
With our family's help we rushed over to Ah Kam' funeral, missing it by a few hours, due to our distances and airline booking opportunities, or lack of thereof.
To reward our presence, we were shouted a few days to Angkor Wat or Cambodia, to be exact.
We spent a few days at Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, Lake Tonle Sap and Phnom Penh.
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these photos for an enlargement.
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