The temples of Angkor, built by the Khmer civilization between 802 and 1220 AD, represent one of humankind's most astonishing and enduring architectural achievements. From Angkor the Khmer kings ruled over a vast domain that reached from Vietnam to China to the Bay of Bengal. The structures one sees at Angkor today, more than 100 stone temples in all, are the surviving remains of a grand religious, social and administrative metropolis whose other buildings - palaces, public buildings, and houses - were built of wood and have long since decayed and disappeared.
The main reason for tourists to visit Siem Reap of course are the world famous Temples of Angkor. And yes, they are a truly 'must see' in Cambodia.
But they're not only a top tourist attraction, they're a sacred, religious site. So, you should know how to behave. Here are a few simple rules (that you would obey in your home country).
The Angkor Wat Bike Race & Ride is an annual cycling event that takes place in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
The Bike Event is now in its 6th year and is held on Saturday 3rd December 2011, in partnership with the Angkor Wat Half-Marathon. The weekend is full of festivities and draws over 400 bikers and 3,500 runners from over 45 different countries.
Participants can choose to take part in any of the three different routes offered: 100km, 30km or 17km. The event attracts both keen cyclists and families from all over the globe.
Nestling in the southern extension of the Dangrek Mountains in the Svay Leu District, 48 kilometres away from Siem Reap rests the Phnom Kulen National Park. One of the most scenic and historically significant locations in the area, the park falls along the journey to Prasat Banteay Srei, making a beautiful natural complement to the intricate manmade wonders of the ancient citadel.
Unfortunately, the waterfalls in the park are ‘owned’ by a businessman from Siem Reap with ‘high’ connections, who charges an outrageous $20 to see this natural resource.
But read on to discover how to avoid this scam.
Each year, the weeklong Angkor Photo Festival hosts exhibitions and outdoor slideshows, many at The FCC Angkor, by celebrated international and emerging Asian photographers in Siem Reap.
The temples of Angkor become a hub for photographers to gather in a spirit of creativity and sharing.
The strong educational goal of the Angkor Photo Festival sets it apart from other photography events.
Angkor Half Marathon in Siem Reap is held in December every year. The route of this race is stretched around the temples. There is no age limit of the participants, eight to eighty, everybody can run. Winning or losing does not matter at all here, as the objective is not only fun but also to collect money for the physically challenged.
Apart from the Half Marathon and a 10 kilometre Run for Men and Women, there is a 21 kilometre Wheelchair Race, and a 3 km Fun Run.
Night markets are not a natural thing in Siem Reap or even to Cambodia.
In 2007, the Angkor Night Market was set up, a few years later a second market opened, the Noon Night Market.
Both are entirely geared towards tourists and as a result, almost all stalls are souvenir shops.
What is missing are local food stalls - something of which gives night markets a local feel.
Once little more than a humble shack, Aki Ra's Land Mine Museum has been reincarnated into the Cambodia Land Mine Museum & Relief Facility.
It is a registered Canadian-based organisation and opened in April 2007 with the aim of building and developing the original museum's vision.
The new centre includes an expanded museum, a dormitory residence for up to 30 amputee children and a school.
The new museum has an admission fee of US$1.
A nice educational supplement to the history of Angkor if you visit the park without a tour guide, although don't confuse this with the National Musuem in Phnom Penh.
The Angkor National Museum in Siem Reap is composed of eight separate galleries, all connected by a vaulted corridor with a series of fountains and lined with what seems like all the Angkorian limestone lion and demon heads missing from statues at the temples.
After an explanatory film screening called Story behind the legend, you're pointed toward the galleries.
Siem Reap (meaning ‘Victory over Siam’) in northwest Cambodia is primarily the gateway to the famous Temples of Angkor.
The town has changed dramatically over the past twenty years. Not too long ago a sleepy backwater, Siem Reap now has large five-star hotels and resorts, fine-dining options aplenty, and the kind of good services, shops, galleries, and spas, that make the little city a new oasis of luxury.
The town has grown exponentially, but Siem Reap retains some of its charm, especially around Psar Chas (Old Market) and in the French Quarter.