The most convenient gateway to the much coveted Angkor Archaeological Park is Siem Reap in Northern Cambodia. Siem Reap, literally meaning ‘defeated dragon’, is the capital city of the synonymous district. This ancient site has been the bone of contention for numerous power hungry ruling sides. It has been captured and ruled by many rulers, ranging from Cambodians to Thais, and from Vietnamese to the French.Siem Reap was little more than a village when French explorers "re-discovered" Angkor in the 19th century. With the acquisition of Angkor by the French in 1907 following a Franco-Siamese treaty, Siem Reap began to grow.
The city is generally hot throughout the course of the year, with average maximum temperature never taking a dip below 30°C.
WHAT TO SEE
WHAT TO SEE
Angkor Wat, one of the largest religious complex of the world, is the main attraction when it comes to site seeing around Siem Reap. A 12th century architecture, Angkor Wat was constructed as a Hindu temple devoted to the worship of Vishnu, over an estimated construction time of 30 years by King Suryavarman II. This Khmer temple gradually transformed into a site of Buddhist worship with the increasing influence of Buddhism in the Khmer region. Angkor Wat, like most other ancient Cambodian temples, has undergone considerable deterioration. Angkor Wat, the largest monument of the Angkor group and the best preserved, is an architectural masterpiece. Its perfection in composition, balance, proportions, relief's and sculpture make it one of the finest monuments in the world.It is generally accepted that Angkor Wat was meant to be a funerary temple for King Suryavarman II owing to its orientation towards the west to conform to the symbolism between the setting sun and death. The bas-reliefs, designed to be viewed from left to right in the order of Hindu funerary ritual, support this function.
Ta Prohm, draped in lush wilderness, is another temple, situated at a distance of 13 Km from Siem Reap. It enlightens visitors with a glimpse of the situation that most temples of the Angkor Wat cluster were found in when the European explorers ‘re-discovered’ them in the 19th century.Built from 1186 and originally known as Rajavihara (Monastery of the King), Ta Prohm was a Buddhist temple. It is one of the few temples in the Angkor region where an inscription provides information about the temple’s dependents and inhabitants. Almost 80,000 people were required to maintain or attend at the temple. The labyrinthine corridors interspaced by thick tree roots, offers a unique experience to the visitors.
Bayon, the late 12th and early 13th century temple, boasts of distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and smiling stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak. The temple has two sets of bas-reliefs, which present a combination of mythological, historical, and mundane scenes. It was built as the state temple of Mhayana Buddhist king Jayavarman VII.
Banteay Kdei, literally "A Citadel of Chambers", is a Buddhist Temple in Angkor. Built during the reign of Jayavarman VII in the 13th century AD, the typical Bayon architectural style exudes to the temple the magnificence of ancient times. It has resemblances to Sprawled across the Angkor archeological area of 400 sq.km, the compound walls enclosing the temple are made of laterite stones. The complex showcases a variety of architectural nuances and sculptors which date back to the old Buddhist traditions.
Nean Peak at Angkor is an artificial island with a Buddhist temple. The pools in which the snakes are present is believed to contain pure water from the Himalayas that cures illness. As per the Hindu beliefs, the pools represent the four elements of water, earth, fire and wind. The temple at the centre is dedicated to one of the of the bodhisattva (incarnation of Buddha) - Avalokiteshvara.
The Angkor Silk Farm showcases the end to end process of sericulture through workshops on silk farming. Visitors are introduced to new processes like mulberry cultivation, cocoon formation, application of natural dyes to silk and all the process of silk cultivation. They also demonstrate the ancient weaving technology of Ikat weaving.
Set up over 42,000 hectares, the Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary is located in the Battambang Province. The sanctuary is the abode of rare species of water birds that migrate here from various parts of the world. The sanctuary is located within the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve. Some of the birds that can be spot here are Black headed Ibis, Painted Storks, Milky Storks, Spot-billed pelicans, Fish Eagle, Greater Adjuncts, and Lesser Adjuncts.
WHAT TO BUY
This quaint temple town does not disappoint its shopaholic visitors. Siem Reap’s retail offerings mostly comprise Cambodian craftsmanship such as stone carvings, silverware, lacquer figurines, ceramics, and silks. Meanwhile, trendy fashion boutiques, art galleries, and fair-trade centres are conveniently set within central Siem Reap, where one can shop for authentic and value-for-money handicrafts, jewellery, and apparel.
WHAT TO EAT
Visitors can seep in the local Siem Reap experience by paying a visit to Siem Reap’s numerous outdoor markets in the early morning, where they can shop for fresh produce and enjoy authentic Cambodian delicacies such as lok-lak, amok, and bai sach chrouk (pork with broken rice). Other local delicacies include prahok (processed dried fish), amok fish, green mango salad, chilli fried insects, bamboo sticky rice, nom banh chok (Khmer noodles),Khmer cakes, and stir fried ants with beef.
HOW TO REACH
The Siem Reap International Airport is the busiest in Cambodia with respect to passenger traffic. The airport is connected to various international and domestic destinations by a plethora of airlines.
Siem Reap is easily accessible by bus. But beware of direct bus services from Bangkok to Siem Reap.
Sisophon Railway Station is the nearest station to Siem Reap, and there is also a railway line running from Phnom Penh to Poipet. However, as of now, trains do not operate in Cambodia. From Bangkok,