Siem Reap Overview
This magnificent region in the north west of Cambodia marks the gateway to the world-famous Angkor ruins - the seat of the Khmer kingdom between the 9th and 15th centuries. The province and the main town in the province share the same name - Siem Reap. The name literally translates to mean ‘Siam Defeated’ and comes from a centuries-old conflict between the Siamese and the Khmer.
The province is known for its verdant forests in the north and rice paddies in the south. The Siem Reap River meanders all the way through from Phnom Kulen in the north to the Tonle Sap Lake - part of the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve - in the south. However, the most famous part of this province is Siem Reap - the sixth largest city in Cambodia. Located on the shore of the Tonle Sap Lake, Siem Reap was only a village until the 19th century, when French explorers rediscovered the ruins at Angkor. When the ruins were gradually restored and more tourists were attracted to the region, Siem Reap became the vibrant, buzzing city it is today.
Angkor - a UNESCO World Heritage Site is said to be one of the most important archaeological sites in South East Asia, so that most people visit Siem Reap is to go to Angkor. Angkor was a former megacity stretching over 400km2 and it’s been described as the largest pre-industrial city in the world. The former capital city of the Khmer Empire, Angkor was thriving with life for 600 years between the 9th and 15th centuries. Needless to say, it’s a fascinating place to explore nowadays.