Introduction to Siem Reap
Right up until the late 60s you’d find the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Kennedy spending time in the charming city of Siem Reap. And today, the tourism industry is stronger than ever, thanks to the renewed architecture, facilities, hotels, spas and a hip nightlife – quite a change from the Siem Reap backpackers would known if they visited in 2000 or earlier.
In 2000, Siem Reap was a provincial town with very little nightlife, few facilities, a handful of cheap and cheerful guesthouses and limited transport – you wouldn’t have even find tuk-tuks or taxis there then. But then something happened. Boom town hit this little ramshackle town with expensive hotels popping up and property prices soaring. Fortunately though, much of the charm of the town has been retained and the Khmer culture is just as rich as ever.
Situated in North West Cambodia, Siem Reap is most famous for being the gateway to the Angkor Temples – a UNESCO World Heritage site. The town itself is a cluster of villages on the banks of the Siem Reap River. The main part of town, Sivatha Street and the Phsar Chas is a mix of colonial buildings and shopping; Wat Bo is packed with guesthouses and restaurants, and you’ll find handicraft shops selling rubies and wood-carvings in Psar Leu.
While the temples are a big draw-card for many visitors, others fall in love with the people of Cambodia – beautiful, welcoming and resilient. In addition to new found friends and culture, Siem Reap also promises a holiday where time stops, relaxation is easily found and a slower-pace is incredibly appealing.