Siem Reap

Angkor Wat at night
New bulding in Siem Reap town
The Town of Siem Reap has been the Gateway to Angkor since the French Colonial Days. The Town developed during the early 1900s with most of the attractive shop houses and some French style villas still remaining today.
Up to the late 1960s the town had a slowly developing tourism industry; however the few visitors from Europe or USA to come here were relatively wealthy the only hotel of any quality was the Grand Hotel D Angkor which is still set in an  imposing position with adjoining gardens. along the Siem Reap River.
The Khmer Rouge era and civil War left Siem Reap with poor infrastructure; but it did remain intact.  When Tourism returned in the 1990s there was a big expansion to the town with many new hotels and guest houses being built. Even post 2000 the infrastructure was poor with The old dusty town only slowly improving.

Siem Reap; old town new atmosphere

Pub Street alley
The Tourism boom from 2004 resulted in a huge expansion of Siem Reap into a major tourism centre with hundreds of hotels and a a lot more things to do here. The French colonial  Psah Chas (Old Market) area became 'gentrified' with boutique tourist shops; new hotels and guest houses.
 With the opening up of the back alleys as attractive pedestrian walkways in the European style. There is a cosmopolitan feel to this area with a fantastic range of shopping, restaurants and night markets and bars. Its a busy place and  in the evenings 
Bar Street. it is transformed into  lively tourist pedestrian street. its not the real Cambodia; but a fun place to be none the less.

Here are just a few things to do away from the temples.
  • Enjoy the old French Colonial atmosphere in and around the Psar Chas Market.
  • Wander along the riverfront and absorb atmosphere to the east of the river.
  • Take a look at many of the Siem reap Buddhist Wats.
  • Visit the Silk farm and enjoy the unspoiled countryside on the way.
  • See Angkor from the Air from the Angkor Balloon
  • Cruise on the Tonle sap and see the fascinating life on the lake.
  • Take in an Apsara Dance Show.
  • Take a short stroll to see Angkor In Miniature
  • Plan your trip to take in one of the many festivals in Siem Reap

Arts and Crafts

Up market souvenir shop
There are more than enough crafts to buy in the markets and around town. Stone and wood sculptures are a specialty, many local artists produce nice work  which can be easily taken home. Rattan is light and easy to carry and silk items are very popular.
Artisans De Angkor is a great place to see crafts from painting to Sculpture being made. no one minds photography so its a good place to shoot craftsmen at work.

National Museum
Apsara Dance model at the Bayon

Apsara dance shows

Sugar Palm Dance
Siem reap has many places to see traditional music and dance. My personal favourite is the Angkor Mondial; a purpose built dance theater on the river. the food Buffet is very good and the dancers very professional

There are occasional dance shows at the temples during the peak season December to February and at special festivals.

Other Festivals
Siem Reap his becoming a regional centre for arts and sporting events:

Water Festival in Siem Reap - Bonn Om Touk
The annual Cambodian Water Festival is a spectacular event that marks the reversal flow of the Tonle Sap River. Cultural displays and traditional boat races make up a fantastic weekend of celebration and fun not to be missed.

Angkor Photography Festival 
Siem Reaps  annual Photo Festival is a celebration of the photographic arts with various free shows and exhibitions around town.
Renowned photographers tutor emerging Asian photographers in the free Angkor Photo Workshops. The festival operates its own outreach program, the Anjali Children’s Photo Workshops.

Angkor Wat Bike Race and Rally 2011  
Angkor Archaeological Park - in front of Angkor Wat  The  annual Angkor Wat Bike Race and Rally follows a route around the temples and villages.

Angkor Wat International Half Marathon 2011 
Angkor Archaeological Park - in front of Angkor Wat
Running  For the benefit of Land Mine Survivors and for HIV AIDS

Christmas and New Year's Eve in Siem Reap
24 Dec - 31 Dec 2010
Whilst Christmas is not widely celebrated in Cambodia, you will find a range of special events and dinners for Christmas and New Year's Eve in various Siem Reap hotels and restaurants during the holiday season.

Chinese New Year 2011 - Year of the Rabbit 3 Feb 2011
Chinese New Year and Vietnamese New Year (Tet) are widely celebrated in Cambodia with parties  fireworks and crackers.   Hotels and guesthouses tend to fill up, so booking accommodation well in advance is highly recommended.

This set of pictures gives a glimpse of the old french colonial part of Siem Reap Town. Its a pleasant place to wander during the day and relativley safe at night.