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Siem Reap Holidays

Overview
Restaurants
Attractions
Events

Siem Reap Travel Guide

Siem Reap is the main access city for the temples of Angkor, and a launching pad for onward travel into Thailand. Although marred by hastily constructed modern buildings, Siem Reap does have beautiful colonial and Chinese-style architecture adorning the streets of the Old French Quarter. The city offers many attractions for visitors, including Apsara dance performances, museums, craft shops and markets.

Siem Reap's most famous feature is the Temple of Angkor Wat, dating from the 9th century. The temple complex is situated just 3 miles (5km) from the city centre. This intriguing and powerful site has been luring visitors for decades; it is acknowledged as one of the wonders of the world, and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within the city, the Angkor National Museum provides useful historical and cultural background for the Angkor Temples and the ancient Khmer civilization. The Aki Ra Landmine Museum is also worth a visit for an understanding of the ongoing war Cambodia is fighting against these weapons.

Siem Reap is becoming increasingly popular as a holiday destination and has numerous hotels and guesthouses, both luxury and budget, as well as Western-style bars and restaurants to enjoy. Many of these venues are located near the Old Market and the nearby popular Pub Street. With so much in the way of amenities and attractions for tourists, the city of Siem Reap is a great base from which to venture into this fascinating province.

In the surrounding countryside there are silk farms, rice-paddies and fishing villages to explore, as well as the bird sanctuary near Tonle Sap Lake, which is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia. The area is home to charming villages on stilts, or floating villages, built to accommodate monsoon flooding.

Getting Around

Many modes of transport can get you to Siem Reap: an airport lands planes from all over South East Asia; a ferry arrives via Tonlé Sap Lake from Phnom Phen; and buses arrive from all over the country (and also from Thailand and Laos). A terrible road leads to Siem Reap from the Thai border, but the six hour stretch from Phnom Phen is easy riding.

There are taxis, rental cars, buses, motorcycle taxis, and tuk-tuks available throughout the city, while renting a bicycle or scooter is also an option. Please note though, that motorcycle accidents involving tourists are so common in Siem Reap that authorities periodically ban rental outlets from loaning to foreigners. The roads in and around Siem Reap are generally in bad condition and Cambodia has one of the highest rates of road traffic accidents in Southeast Asia. Wearing a helmut on motorcycles and scooters is compulsory (there are spot fines) and it is generally recommended to either drive, bus or travel short distances by tuk-tuk, rather than motorcycle. There are also many attractions in the city and surrounds that can easily be reached on foot.

Generally tourists opt to use tuk-tuks for travel within the city. If you choose carefully the drivers of these contraptions can double as very effective and informative guides (many do speak English). It is important to negotiate rates with them before setting off.

Customs

Permission should be sought before taking pictures of people, particularly monks. Avoid touching someone on the head as it is considered the most sacred part of a person's body. Women should wear modest clothing, preferably a long skirt or loose-fitting trousers. When visiting religious sites, shoes should be removed, and shorts avoided. A traditional greeting in Cambodia is a bow, bringing together the hands at chest level (similar to hand position for prayer). With foreigners Cambodians sometimes convert to the handshake. The simple rule is to respond with the same greeting you were given.

Passport/Visa

All visitors must have sufficient funds to cover their stay, documentation for onward travel and a ticket for onward travel. An e-Visa can be applied for online (single entry tourist visas) that allows for stays of up to 30 days. See www.mfaic.gov.kh for more information. Otherwise, a visa can be issued on arrival for 30 days. One passport photo is required along with US$20 for a tourist visa or US$25 for a business visa.

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