Siem Reap: An Introduction
Siem Reap, translated literally as ‘Siam defeated’, commemorates a Khmer victory over the neighbouring Kingdom of Siam - Thailand, as it is known today.
Once a small gateway town to the world famous heritage site, the Angkor temples, Siem Reap has changed beyond all recognition during the past ten years.
The town is now one of Asia’s major tourist hubs, home to some of the region’s finest hotels and restaurants. That said, Siem Reap and its people have stoically conserved much of the town's traditions and culture, despite the huge international influences.
Siem Reap evolved from a cluster of small settlements alongside the Siem Reap River. The villages originally grew around Buddhist pagodas. From Wat Preah En Kau Sei, in Siem Reap itself, to Wat Phnom Krom, where the river flows into the great Tonlé Sap Lake, these lovely temples are strung, evenly spaced, all along the riverbank.
Today, the main town is concentrated around Sivutha Street and the Psar Chas (Old Market area), where you will find great shopping, entertainment and dining.
Apart from the road leading to the airport (the hotels don’t seem to stop), Siem Reap is still a perfectly pleasant town to spend a few days. The large variety of entertainment and dining is ideal when you consider most days are spent exploring one of the Seven Wonders of the World!
It's busy because Angkor Wat is amazing, an experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life. However, Siem Reap is no one-trick pony; be sure to leave time to enjoy the city's many other highlights.