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Travel Guide to Siem Reap


Welcome to Siem Reap, Cambodia’s main tourist magnet. Siem Reap District (town) is one of the 12 districts in Siem Reap Province, which lies in the northwestern part of the Kingdom of Cambodia. It is well connected by land, air and river with the capital city of the country, Phnom Penh (about 314 kilometers/195 miles away) and a few Cambodian international border towns.

Siem Reap became famous because of its Angkor Wat, the biggest Angkorian temple or pagoda (Wat literarily means pagoda in Khmer language) in Cambodia. Angkor Wat, which is claimed to be the first world heritage site awarded an ISO-14001 certificate, is only a few minutes away (about 7 kilometers/4.4 miles) by Tuk-tuk from downtown Siem Reap. Angkor Wat, estimated at slightly less than 1000 years old, was “officially” made public by a French explorer, naturalist Henri Mouhot in the mid 1800's.

...a town with about 200 ancient temples...

Apart from Angkor Wat, there are many other historical temples within Siem Reap province that tourists usually visit because of their charm.

The story of Angkor town, which later became part of Siem Reap Province, began in the late 8th century when then Khmer King Jayavarman II returned from Java. (He was around 20 years of age when he arrived back in his motherland.) In the early 800's, King Jayavarman II declared independence from Java on a mountain named mount Mahendraparvata or known today as mount (Phnom) Kulen, just a few kilometers northeast of Siem Reap town. Later Jayavarman II settled in an area known as Hariharalya or known today as Rolous.

Jayavarman, which means “protected by triumph”, then started building temples, which were later continued by his successors, who built more and more Angkorian era temples. The famous Angkor Wat was built by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century.

Angkor Wat and other temples were reportedly left behind by the Khmer in the 1400's, because of Siamese (now Thailand) Kingdom invasion. It was the Khmer King Ponhea Yat, who started moving his capital city towards the eastern part of the country before settling down in Phnom Penh.

Less than 2.5 hours* away from: Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore
* approximate direct flying time on a jet plane

In the mid 1700's, King Ponhea Sor started to restore Angkor town, though significant works were added after the French started taking part in the late 1800's.

Today, Siem Reap Province covers an area of about 10,550 or about 2,607,000 acres, with a population of slightly over 1 million, about 180,000 of them living in Siem Reap District.

...floating village, restaurants, shops in Tonle Sap Lake...

Siem Reap town is a relatively small town and easy to navigate, with “four seasons” a year: hot, cold, wet and dry, making it more charming to visit. Apart from temples it has got other places of interest to offer, such as golf courses, cultural performances (such as the Apsara dance), silk farming, and other activities.

More than 90 luxury hotels and more than 170 guest houses are ready to welcome their guests to enjoy Siem Reap Province’s amazing heritage of 200 temples, its food, culture and its other famous attraction Tonle Sap Lake, which is the biggest fresh water lake in Southeast Asia.

Have a wonderful holiday in Siem Reap!

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