Siem Reap is the capital city of Siem Reap Province in northwest Cambodia. In Khmer, the name “Seam Reap” means Siamese defeated, referring to the victory of the Khmer Empire over the army of the Thai kingdom in the 17th century. Used to be the colony under the invasion of French, Siem Reap has a beauty of a historic city with a lot of colonial and Chinese-style architectures in the Old French Quarter and around the Old Market. The city is strategically situated near the shores of the Tonle Sap Lake as well as the closest gateway town towards the world-famous Heritage Site – the ruins of ancient Angkor Temples complex dating back from the 12th century in the north of the city, which turned Siem Reap from a peaceful city with few facilities, minor surfaced roads and little in the way of nightlife out to be a boomtown that caters to every travel taste in the 21st century.
As one of the major tourist hubs in Cambodia, Siem Reap today has a wide variety of cuisine, accommodation, shopping, modes of transport, and daily activities, which could keep any travelers occupied from dawn till dusk. In the city, there are museums, traditional Apsara dance performances, a Cambodian cultural village, many souvenir and handicraft shops, silk farms, rice paddies in the countryside, fishing villages and a bird sanctuary near the Tonle Sap Lake, and a vibrant, cosmopolitan drinking and dining scene in the main streets. Tourism has become the main and lucrative industry in Siem Reap, which helped a lot for people’s lives here from world-class luxury hotels to budget guesthouses, from air-conditioned restaurants to simple hawker stalls, and other businesses relating to tourism.
The uttermost highlight, the most favorite tourist activity and also the sought-after thing-to-do in Siem Reap must be an exuberant outing to learn about the thriving history and legends of the lost civilization and discover magnificent architectural masterpieces of Angkor Temples, most of which are just a short trip from the center of town. Besides diving into the mythical world of ancient ruins, taking a quad bike out into the countryside, or bargaining for silks, silver accessories or handicrafts the local markets are also fascinating local experiences should not be missed. There are plenty of reasons to extend a stay after becoming “templed out”. Siem Reap is the beginning and also the last stop of many Mekong River Cruise itineraries. However, there will be two different ways to reach the city of Siem Reap depending on the water level of the Mekong River and Tonle Sap. As the lake can only be accessible in rainy season, for upstream cruises in this season, they will disembark at Tonle Sap then take a local boat to help guests reach the pier on the shore, passing through a vast floating community on the lake before having a short transfer to the drop off point in the city center. While in the low water season, you will join in several hours of on-road driving from Kampong Cham to reach Siem Reap. For downstream cruise programs starting from Siem Reap, you will experience the reverse order of the above itineraries.