“Eat, Pray, Love” has the surprising ability to fill you up with the will to cross oceans and the see the world. Cambodia offers the perfect combination of budget and beauty for the traveler in you. You can relax and learn at the same time. Siem Reap is located in north-western Cambodia and is the capital city of Siem Reap Province. Let’s explore the city on paper so you can make a beeline there for your next holiday.
Siem Reap is a perfect mix of the old and the new. Like, all beautiful cities, Siem Reap is known for its beauty and charm. This kaleidoscopic city is the gateway to the historical city of Angkor Wat. The name “Siem Reap” translates to “Defeat of Siam” (siem in Khmer). It is a reference to an incident in the centuries-old conflict between the Siamese and Khmer kingdoms. As per tradition, King Ang Chan (1516–1566) named the town “Siem Reap” after he defeated the army sent to invade Cambodia by the Thai King Maha Chakkraphat in 1549. There are many contentions regarding the history and history buffs can have a gala time trying to expose the truth!
Thanks to budding tourism, Siem Reap has a large number of hotels, resorts and restaurants. This solves your problem of house hunting. But the peak seasons can make it difficult to find lodgings for an affordable price. You must do the due diligence before your arrival to avoid holes in your pockets.
The city has a vibrant culture buzzing with markets selling a range of items, starting from food, and spices to clothes. It has a touch of Chinese and French architecture. You can shop and visit museums and artisans in the city.
Being a tourist city, language these days is not a problem. But learning the local language Khmer will definitely give you an upper hand. People give you fuller smiles and more vibrant nods if you put some effort in learning a few Khmer phrases. It reflects your respect for the culture. If you are planning to stay longer, make sure that you learn a few survival phrases like “I want food” & “Where is the loo”!!
Siem Reap has a wonderful variety of Mexican, French, Italian, Korean, Japanese, Thai and Indian restaurants. It’s all about exploring. You can rely on travel apps, talk to locals or do your research online. Local cuisine like sugar palm, soup dragon, Cambodian BBQ is also great. Rice is the staple food and is served with almost everything. Rice meals are safer bets and you can avoid any taste accidents. There are plenty of grocery shops and international popular food chains.
Taking a flight to Cambodia is smooth these days. There is no dearth of public transports and you can even hire private vehicles. Many tourists rent bicycles and enjoy the city at their own pace. The local rickshaws are called tuk-tuks. A moto (unmarked motorcycle taxi) with a driver will cost you around US$10 per day. Far away destinations will cost you more. Remember to bargain because the drivers often quote high prices. Also, make sure you get an idea of prices from reliable sources online.
Angkor Wat Temple is the central feature of the Angkor UNESCO World Heritage Site. It contains the magnificent remains of the Khmer civilization.
Angkor Thom is an inner royal city built towards the end of the 12th century. It is renowned for its temples, in particular the Bayon. Other notable sites include Baphuon, Phimeanakas, Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King. The city can be accessed through 5 city gates, one on each cardinal point and the Victory Gate on the eastern wall.
The Cambodian Landmine Museum offers people the chance to see landmines up close and understand how they work. It is located roughly 25 km north of Siem Reap (30 minutes by tuk tuk).
The War Museum Cambodia covers the last three decades of the 20th century when the Khmer Rouge was active in Cambodia. There is a vast array of vehicles, artillery, weaponry, landmines and equipment on display.
Angkor National Museum offers visitors a better understanding of the area’s archaeological treasures. The Golden Era of the Khmer Kingdom is showcased, including the use of state-of-the-art multimedia technology. The museum covers Khmer history, civilization, and cultural heritage in eight galleries.
There are many festivals celebrated in the city. The Apsara dance is a great cultural attraction. Other beautiful destinations you must cover include The Phnom Kulen National Park, three floating villages around Siem Reap and Phnom Dei, a hill near Siem Reap. Visiting Siem Reap is the perfect opportunity to click a lot of pictures. The city life and the cultural proximity of the city offer a sight of the sore eyes. You have a myriad of subjects.
Make sure that you take care of the paper work and health care issues. Though, a very tourist friendly country, one must be careful to avoid any scuffle with the authorities. Be in touch with family and friends. Needless to say, guard the passport with your life.
Even though, I have been assuring you about the safety of the city. It is important to be alert at all times. Be sure to note down the numbers of authorities and keep in touch in your embassy. If you have any health care issues, make sure you know the routes to health care centers and have indispensable medicines stocked at all times. Meet trusted people from your country and don’t venture out alone before you are confident about the land and that will take some time. Never ever be out of the grid. People should be able to contact you, and you them. This means splurging on an internet connection. With all this information under your belt, I would suggest you don’t waste any time in taking the trip of your lifetime.