An isolated jungle village until the discovery by French explorer Henri Mouhot of the magnificent ruins representing the height of the Khmer civilisation in the 12th century, Siem Reap is now a mix of traditional Cambodian life and 21st century modernity.
The town itself, originally a cluster of small villages in northwest Cambodia, nestles on the banks of the Siem Reap River, north of Tonle Sap Lake. Its Angkor Archaeological Park, containing the Angkor Wat complex, is now the largest construction site in Cambodia, with new hotels, restaurants and facilities providing modern amenities to hordes of visitors.
Even so, Siem Reap is a pleasant, laid-back and inexpensive place in which to base an exploration of this important historical area.
Central Siem Reap is around Sivatha Street, the town's main north-south road. Shopping and commercial districts, and the quaintly but accurately-named Pub Street and its alleyways are all in the town center. Many of the bars, clubs and restaurants are owned by Westerners.
Angkor Archaeological Park
A large number of new hotels and resorts, from upscale luxury to well-known international chains, are located on the road to Angkor Wat, providing all modern comforts and amenities as well as traditional Cambodian massage, culture shows, spas, and golf and honeymoon packages.
Old French Quarter
Wide boulevards, traditional restaurants, galleries, boutiques and elegant colonial buildings characterize Siem Reap's French Quarter, set among lush greenery on the banks of the Siem Reap River. The Old Market (Psah Chas), at the south end of the French Quarter, is full of stalls selling food, silks and local products.