Nestled between rice paddies and stretched along the Siem Reap River, the small provincial capital of Siem Reap Town serves as the gateway to the millennium-old temple ruins of the Khmer Empire. Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the Angkor Archaeological Park encompasses dozens of temple ruins including Bayon, Banteay Srey and the legendary Angkor Wat whose artistic and archaeological significance and visual impact put it in a class with the Pyramids, Machu Pichu and the Taj Mahal. Unlike many other world class monuments, the ruins of Angkor are as yet unspoiled by over-development. This will not be true in a couple of years. Though the major temples are relatively well touristed these days, it is still possible get away from the crowds, to explore the area and discover Angkor.
Siem Reap Town is where you will stay during your visit to Angkor. The area has been receiving foreign visitors to the temples for over 100 years. The town is actually a cluster of old villages, which originally developed around individual pagodas, and later overlaid with an French colonial-era center. Note the colonial and Chinese style architecture in the town center and around the Old Market. Nowadays, Siem Reap offers a wide range of hotels, restaurants, pubs and shops including several upscale hotels and dozens of budget guesthouses. Often missed are the many opportunities to experience traditional Cambodia: ‘Apsara’ dance performances, craft shops and silk farms, road tours through rice-paddy countryside, boat trips on the great Tonle Sap Lake to fishing villages and bird sanctuary, and much more.