Siem Reap is known as the gateway to the ancient temples of Angkor Wat and the remains of the Khmer Empire’s former capital.
Siem Reap Province and the Angkor region in north-western Cambodia is dotted with religious buildings, some of which date back to the ninth century.
Angkor is rightly considered to be one of the world’s most spectacular and important historic areas, and is featured on Unesco’s World Heritage List. Some 400 sq km of land is included in the region, from forested areas to the Angkor Archaeological Park, where the temple of Angkor Wat and the Bayon Temple can be found.
Perhaps surprisingly, parts of the park are still inhabited to this day, with the descendants of the Angkor period scattered throughout the local villages.
The province’s capital, Siem Reap, was little more than a village when French explorers first stumbled across Angkor. Since then, it has grown to become a small town and a major tourist hub, serving as the gateway to the archaeological park.
However, there’s more to do in Siem Reap than simply explore the temples. The area is becoming increasingly popular with foodies eager to sample traditional dishes such as fish amok, a type of curry usually served in a banana leaf, and lol lak – stir-fried marinated beef served on a bed of lettuce and tomatoes with a fried egg.
Siem Reap also boasts several vibrant night markets, where souvenirs like silk scarves and wood carvings can be purchased.