Siem Reap Travel guide Cambodia

Document Sample
Siem Reap Travel guide Cambodia Powered By Docstoc

Siem Reap
Siem Reap province is located in
northwest Cambodia. It is the major
tourist hub in Cambodia, as it is the
closest city to the world famous temples
of Angkor (the Angkor temple complex
is north of the city). The provincial capital is also called Siem
Reap and is located in the South of the province on the
shores of the Tonle Sap Lake, the greatest sweet water
reserve in whole Southeast Asia. The name of the city
literally means “Siamese defeated”, referring to the victory of
the Khmer Empire over the army of the Thai kingdom in the
17th                                             century.
At the turn of the millennium Siem Reap was a Cambodian
provincial town with few facilities, minor surfaced roads and
little in the way of nightlife. Tourism industry catered largely
to hardy backpackers willing to brave the tortuous road from
the Thai border on the tailgate of a local pick-up truck. There
were a couple of large hotels and a handful of budget
guesthouses. Tuk-tuks and taxis were non-existent and the
trusty motodup was the chosen means of touring the temples
of                                                      Angkor.
The proximity of the Angkorian ruins turned Siem Reap into
a boomtown in less than half a decade. Huge, expensive
hotels have sprung up everywhere and budget hotels have
mushroomed. Property values have soared to European
levels and tourism has become a vast, lucrative industry.
The Siem Reap of today is barely recognizable from the
Siem Reap of the year 2000.
Though some of the town‟s previous ramshackle charm may
have been lost the developments of the last few years have
brought livelihoods, if not significant wealth, to a good
number of its citizens. This has been at a cost to the
underprivileged people living within and beyond the town‟s
limits that now pay inflated prices at the central markets and
continue to survive on poorly paid subsistence farming and
fishing. If Cambodia is a country of contrasts Siem Reap is
the embodiment of those contrasts. Despite the massive shift
in its economic fortunes, Siem Reap remains a safe, friendly
and pleasant town. There is an endless choice of places to
stay or dine and a host of possible activities awaiting the
Siem Reap province is 10,299 square
kilometres big and definitely one of the
most famous ones in Cambodia. It‟s
located in the Northwest of the country
bordering to the North with Oddor
Meanchey, to the East with Preah Vihear and Kampong
Thom, to the West with Banteay Meanchey and to the South
with the biggest sweet water reserve in Southeast Asia, the
huge Tonle Sap Lake. The province in general, especially in
the Southern part consists of the typical plain wet area for
Cambodia, covering lots of rice fields and other agricultural
plantations. The northern part is turning into an undulating
area covered with some deeper, green forests. A quite
distinguished mark of Siem Reap Province is the smaller, but
important Siem Reap River. It rises from Phnom Kulen,
meanders through the northern part of Siem Reap Province
and eventually into the Tonle Sap Lake.
The current population in this province is about 903,030
people or 6.3% of the country‟s total population (14,363,519
person in Cambodia, 2007, provincial government data), with
440,395 male and 462,635 female. The population density is
therefore 87,7 people per square kilometre.
The country has a tropical climate - warm and humid. In the
monsoon season, abundant rain allows for the cultivation of
a wide variety of crops. This year-round tropical climate
makes Cambodia ideal for developing tourism. Travellers
need not to fear natural disasters such as erupting volcanoes
or earthquakes, and the country is not directly affected by
tropical storms.
Climate: Cambodia can be visited throughout the year.
However, those plans to travel extensively by road should be
avoided the last two months of the rainy season when some
countryside roads may be impassable. The average
temperature is about 27 degrees Celsius; the minimum
temperature is about 16 degrees. December and January
are the coolest months, whereas the hottest is April.
General information about the provincial climate:
-    Cool    season:      November-    March    (23-29c)
-    Hot     season:      March-    May    (27c    -37c)
- Rainy season: May - October (24-33c, with humidity up to

Generally spoken Siem        Reap Province is all in all
economically focusing on the foreign tourism due to the
famous Angkor Temples. Since of the year 2000 the
economical growth rate is gaining double-digits. It‟s all sub-
sectors such as hotels, restaurants, bars, entertainment
places and transportation to profit from the annual influx of
tourists, which was in 2007 more than 1,000,000 people.
Except the tourism sector the provincial economy was and
still is growing due to the enforced fishery. Thousands of
tons are annually exported to other provinces within the
country or outside Cambodia. Farming and fruit cropping has
probably become a minor profitable sector, but is still done
by the vast poor rural population, who are the underdogs
regarding the annual provincial revenue.
How                to                get           there
General                                          Information:
The majority of visitors to Siem Reap arrive by air from
Phnom Penh and Bangkok. There are also regular flights
from Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City and Vientiane. See the
airline list below. Visas are available on arrival at the Siem
Reap and Phnom Penh airports. From Phnom Penh, there
are also daily boats and buses going to Siem Reap. Some
visitors make their way to Siem Reap overland from Thailand
via the Aranyaprathet/Poipet border crossing.
Siem        Reap:        Arrival       and          Departure
Airport Departure and       Arrival   Tax:   Domestic:   US$6.
International: US$25
Siem                    Reap                  Airport:
The airport sits 6km from town, close to the temples,
occasionally affording spectacular views of Angkor Wat
during landings and take offs. Outside the terminal is a ticket
booth for registered taxis into town. Independent taxis and
motorcycles wait just outside the airport. The price is the
same for both: motorcycles are $1 and cars are $4-5 into
town. Most hotels offer free transportation from the airport
but you must notify them in advance of your arrival.
Siem              Reap              Ferry                Dock:
The ferry to Siem Reap arrives at Chong Khneas near
Phnom Krom, 12km south of Siem Reap. There is always
transportation waiting at the dock. Mototaxis charge about
$1.50-$2 and cars $4-$5 for the 20-30 minute ride into town.
Siem Reap Airways offer several daily flights to/from Phnom;           another       cheap
opportunity is;
River                                                 Ferry:
Daily ferries ply the Tonle Sap river and lake between
Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. The end of the trip is marked
by a hill, Phnom Krom, near the ferry dock at Chong Khneas
12 km south of Siem Reap. During the dry season, the ferry
stops short of the dock and passengers transfer to smaller
boats to traverse the final few hundred meters.
Ferries depart 7am daily from the Phnom Penh Port on
Sisowath Quay. Ferries depart Siem Reap daily at 7am from
the dock at Chong Khneas. Passage is around $18-$25 and
should be purchased a day in advance (251km, 4-6 hours).
Drinks are sometimes available. Tickets can be purchased
through hotels and travel agencies cheaper than at the ferry
offices. Though generally safe, these ferries are „local
transport‟ and have experienced breakdowns, groundings
and other difficulties. Travel is best during the wet season
(June-November). Dry season low waters can mean smaller,
less comfortable boats and occasional groundings.
Compagnie Fluevial Du Mekong offers very leisurely paced
boat trips between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap on a
traditionally crafted wooden riverboat with deluxe facilities. 3-
day excursions. Tel: 023-216070;
Several guesthouses, travel agencies and bus companies
offer daily bus transport between Phnom Penh and Siem
Reap. It is a smooth 314 km, 5-7 hour trip. The bus makes
usually two stops along the way (at Skun and Kampong
Thom). All charge the same, $3.50 (14,000R) one-way. The
earliest buses depart starting at 6:30am and the last buses
between noon and 1pm.
Neak Krorhorm Travel: Phnom Penh office at the corner of
Street 110 and Sisowath Quay. Siem Reap office opposite
the Old Market.
GST: Phnom Penh bus station near the southwest corner of
Phsar Thmey (Central Market).
Phnom Penh Public Transport Co.: Phnom Penh bus station
near the southwest corner of Phsar Thmey (Central Market).

Share                                                 Taxis:
Local share taxi depart from southwest corner of Central
Market in Phnom Penh for 25,000 riel per person (5-8
hours). A private taxi costs you US$38-$45 for the whole car.
5-6 hours. (Due to rising fuel costs, prices are in flux.)

Motorbike       Info       to       Siem           Reap:
The road to Siem Reap is in good condition, but driving in
Cambodia is still challenging in the extreme, and should be
attempted only by experienced riders. Speeding taxis, slow
cows, and oblivious children are the norm. The trip calls for a
dirt or road bike, no smaller than 250cc. It can be made in a
day, but two days with a layover in Kampong Thom is a more
relaxed alternative and allows time to visit the pre-Angkorian
ruins  of  Sambor   Prei   Kuk   (See    page   33).
Leave Phnom Penh via the „Japanese Bridge‟ and follow
National Highway No 6 north 75km to the Skun intersection.
(Skun is known for its exotic foods - check out the fried
spiders, turtle eggs and more at the roadside stands.) Bear
left and follow the NH No 6 to Kampong Thom - about 2-3
hours. In Kampong Thom, the Arunras Hotel (062-961294),
Stung Sen Royal Hotel (012-309495) and Mittapheap Hotel
are all decent mid-range places. Arunras Guesthouses and
Restaurant next to the hotel is the place to eat cheaply. From
Kampong Thom to Siem Reap the trip takes another 2-3
Where                          to                         eat
General                                     Information:
There is no shortage of restaurants in Siem Reap. They
have been opening steadily over the past couple of years.
Siem Reap offers an excellent variety of restaurants. Shinta
Mani and Hotel Grand D'Angkor lead the fine dining category
though there are several places offering excellent cuisine in
a stylish, refined atmosphere. There are also plenty of
moderately priced Cambodian and international restaurants.
Almost every restaurant offers Cambodian food. For the
budget minded, check out the inexpensive Chinese places at
the south end of Sivatha Blvd. or the local food stalls and
noodle cookshops next to Phsar Char (Old Market).
Dinner                                            Theater:
Attending a traditional dance performance is a must when
visiting Cambodia. Several restaurants offer dinner
performances. Nightly performances: Grand Hotel D‟Angkor,
Apsara Theater, Angkor Mondial, Chao Pra Ya, Tonle
Mekong, and Tonle Sap. Some restaurants, such as the
Dead Fish Tower, offer traditional music during the dinner
hour. Shadow puppetry can be seen at Bayon 1 and La
Noria Hotel.
Pubs,            Bars         &          After          Dark:
A traditional dance performance at one of the dinner theatres
is a perfect place to begin the evening. If you‟re looking for
something a bit more conventional, there are a variety of
places from which to choose. The piano bar at Grand
D‟Angkor, and the live traditional music at Dead Fish Tower
make for pleasant venues to begin the evening. Buddha
Lounge, Ivy Bar, The Red Piano, Temple Bar, Linga Bar,
Molly Malone‟s, Angkor What and not to forget the bars of
the „Pub Street‟ where you can find popular early evening
pubs, drawing tourists and expats alike, and getting more
crowded as the evening progresses. „Pub Street‟ in the Old
Market area is the happening place to be in the evening
these days offering several bars and restaurants, not only on
„Pub Street‟, but on nearby streets and allies. Things get
going in the late afternoon and some places stay open quite
For            detailed            information             on
Where                       to                      stay
General                               Information:
Siem Reap has an ever-growing number of hotel and
guesthouse rooms, and a variety that is wide enough to
satisfy all tastes and requirements. Though staying right in
the middle of town is a bit more convenient to the Old Market
and Sivatha road area, the town is relatively small making
any location almost equally convenient as any other.
There are now several four and five-star hotels in town,
especially along the airport road. Less expensive mid-range
rooms with a/c, cable TV, and hot water are available in a
variety of styles and look and begin at about $15 or $20 but
average $25 - $60. More expensive usually means newer,
more stylish rooms, and more hotel services. Budget
guesthouses, usually family-run, cost $2-$10 a night. Dozens
of budget places are scattered across town, with a
concentration in the Wat Bo and Taphul Village areas.
Almost all guesthouses and hotels can arrange anything a
tourist might need including tours, transport and information.
For            more             information,            please
Siem Reap is an excellent place to buy Cambodian
souvenirs, handicrafts, textiles and art. Only Phnom Penh
offers a comparable selection, but much of what is available
in Siem Reap is unique to Siem Reap. Until recently, the Old
Market (Phsar Chas) and vendors at the temples were the
only places to buy souvenirs. Over the last few of years there
has been a small boom of new shops, galleries and
boutiques, offering a more varied selection of quality
handicrafts and silks as well as original artistic creations -
paintings, prints, carvings and such.
The Old Market still has the widest variety of souvenirs, as
well as the best selection of items such as baskets, silver
work and musical instruments. It also offers an interesting
local ambiance, but the boutiques, galleries and specialty
shops offer generally higher quality items and a more
sophisticated selection of Cambodian products. Of particular
interest are the traditional craft workshops and silk farms
where you can see crafts in the making as well as buy the
final product.
When purchasing local crafts, be selective in your purchase
as there might also be some fakes. Most of the crafts,
particularly the carvings, silk products and silverwork are
hand-made, making each piece a unique work. Masters as
well as students produce much of what is available, so some
pieces      are   significantly    better     than    others.
Phnom              Krom             Hilltop           Temple
Phnom                Krom           Hilltop            Temple.
This is the big hill that you see near the landing if you head
to Siem Reap by bullet boat. The hilltop area provides
magnificent                                 panoram

The Great Lake Tonle Sap & Floating Fishing
The Great Lake Tonle Sap & Floating Fishing Village.
Continuing about ten minutes beyond the hilltop temple, on
the same road that you took from Siem Reap,

Phnom         Koulen      (or      Koolen)National       Park
Phnom    Koulen      (or    Koolen)     National    Park
Phnom Koulen sits on a southerly extension of the Dangrek
Mountains. The hill, combined with those around it, served
as                                                 quarr

Civil                     War                        Museum
Civil                    War                      Museum
The guy that runs this small and very new place was forced
to join the Khmer Rouge as a boy and trained to make as lay
landmines,                 something                   they

Crocodile                                               Farm
Crocodile                                               Farm
There is a crocodile farm on the south end of Siem Reap and
they have about 300 crocodiles of various sizes and

River                 &                Park             Area
River                &                 Park            Area
The Siem Reap River parkways and the big park in front of
the Hotel Grande de Angkor are nice for a jog, stroll and
people                    watching,              especially

Khmer                      Classical               Dancing
Khmer                      Classical               Dancing
The Hotel Grande de Angkor has a restaurant and stage
near the river that features nightly performances of the
apsara-style                                      dancers.

Angkor                                               Borie
Angkor Borie How to go: Location: Description: Angkor Borie
is a town in the area of several ruins and archaeological
digs.      The       area        contains      artifacts

Angkor                 Handicraft              1
Angkor Handicraft 1 How to go: 1.5 km (5mn) From
Provincial Town. Location: Description: Location : Stoeng
Thmey        Village,Sway    Dongkom          Commune,

Angkor                           Handicraft                        2
Angkor Handicraft 2 How to go: 7 km (15mn) From Provincial
Town. Location: Description: Location: Angkor Compound.

Angkor                                                        Wat
Angkor wat How to go: Location: Description: There are few
places anywhere on earth to match the splendour of Angkor
Wat. The temple is one of the largest
Angkor                                              Zoo
Angkor Zoo How to go: 5 km (10mn) From Provincial Town.
Location:     Description: Nature Wildlife and Preserves,
Location:     Mondol Chon Pika, Angkor Compound.

Bakorng                                                     Temple
Bakorng Temple How to go: Location: Description: Located
at Au Luok village, Ba Korng Commune, Pra Sat Ba Korng
District      in      15-kilometer     distance      from    the

Baksei                                    Chamkrong
Baksei Chamkrong How to go: Location: Description: Mid
10th Hindu Harshavarman I. Baksei Chamkrong is a 12-
meter      tall    brick   and   laterite     pyramid.   Combine

Banteay                                               Kdei
Banteay Kdei How to go: Location: Description: This temple
was constructed by Jayavarman VII during the 12th and 13th
Centuries.    It    systems     of      galleries    and

Banteay            Sam                  Re         Temple
Banteay Sam Re Temple How to go: Location: Description:
Located at Preah Dak commune, Bon Tiey Srey District by
Charles   De    Gaulle   Road     via    Angkor   Wat   in

Banteay                    Srey                     Rochna
Banteay Srey Rochna How to go: 1 km (4mn) From
Provincial Town. Location: Description: Location: Trang
Village, Svay Dongkom Commune, Siem Reap District.

Banteay                Srey                 Temple
Banteay Srey Temple How to go: Location: Description:
Located at Banteay Srey village, Banteay Srey commune,
Banteay Srey District in 32-kilometer distance
Baphuon How to go: Location: Description: This temple built
by Udayadityarvarman II was the most poorly constructed of
all       the        temples          in        Angkor.

East                                              Mebon
East Mebon How to go: Location: Description: Also built in
the 10th Century by Rajendravarman, this temple was
situated on a small island in the middle of th