SIEM REAP

SIEM REAP

No one knows for certain how long people have lived in what is now Cambodia, as studies of its prehistory are undeveloped. A carbon-l4 dating from a cave in northwestern Cambodia suggests that people using stone tools lived in the cave as early as 4000 bc, and rice has been grown on Cambodian soil since well before the 1st century ad. The first Cambodians likely arrived long before either of these dates. They probably migrated from the north, although nothing is known about their language or their way of life.



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.

BY AIR

Cambodia Angkor Airways offer several daily flights to/from Phnom Penh, another cheap opportunity is Bassaca Air or Bayon Airlines. Vietnam Airline also offer daily flight to/from Ho Chi Minh city and Hanoi, Singapore Airlines to/from Singapore and Loas Airlines to/from Luang Prabang.



BY 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.



BY ROAD

There are many Bus companies like Giant Ibis, Mekong Express, PSD Xpress, Sorya Bus, Neak Krohorm, Thero Express (15-seat), Larryta, KSO, Virak Buntham, Kampot Express, Cambodia Post VIP Van offering bus/van services to Siem Reap town using modern air-conditioned buses/vans. Buses/vans depart every 15 minutes to one hour, daily from 6am-12pm mid night. The prices are reasonable.

Tourist Attractions

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.The Angkor Zoo, Siem Reap is one of the most visited and popular tourist attractions in the town. Tourists coming to the town make it a point to visit this zoo in their pass time. There are various things to do in Siem Reap and a visit to the Angkor Zoo, Siem Reap is one among that. The Angkor Zoo, Siem Reap is located off a dirt road on the way to Angkor. It is located just past the ticket gates off of Charles De Gaulle Blvd. This is a fairly small zoo that houses a great variety of birds and reptiles. There are over 100 species of animals and birds in this zoo. One of the main highlights of this zoo are the bears and the cheetahs.

Baphuon

This temple built by Udayadityarvarman II was the most poorly constructed of all the temples in Angkor. From the remaining ruins, it is possible to see how imposing it was. This temple hill was dedicated to Shiva, but in its reliefs many motives from the Vishnu epic can be seen. Restoration work continues to be carried out on the Baphuon. North o f the Golden Tower [Bayon]. rises the Tower of Branze [Baphuon] higher even than the Golden Tower : a truly astonishing spectacle , with more than ten chambers at its base. Prasat Baphuon is located 200 metres (656 feet) northwest of the Bayon and south of Phimeanakas. A enter and leave at the east.

Beng Mealea

Beng Mealea was built in middle of the 12th century, with later additions in the reing of the SuryavarmanII with the style of Agnkor Wat and dedicated to Hinduism. 40 km due east from Angkor Wat. Take the road to Banteay Srie, but at the fork 2 km before Banteay Srei (31 km from the Grand Hotel, Siem Reap and 17.5 km from the village of Phum Pradak) take the right fork. Continue for 8 km and at the crossroads turn right. After anther 26 km you reach a T-junction; turn left hear and after 11 km you reach the south gate of the temple. Enquire about the condition of the road before setting out; it may be impassable in the wet season and certain makeshift bridges may be unsafe. A total of 77 km from Siem Reap.

Srok Yeung or Our Ecotourism Site

Srok Yeung or Our Ecotourism Site is a community-based recreational area located at the foot of Phnom Krom mountain near the Tonle Sap Lake, the largest lake in Southeast Asia and also home to theworld's most productive inland fishery. Situated on the northwest Cambodian floodplain, the 100-hectare rural property is owned by the Empress Angkor Hotel, one of the leading hotels in Siem Reap, and is only 20 minutes from the town's airport and the historic Angkor temples. Visitors are offered a unique chance to experience nature and traditional rural lifestyles with the charm, elegance and comfort of an international-standard hotel while helping to diversify local livelihoods and reduce poverty. The site has been developed by hotel management in partnership with local residents in Phum Krorsang Roleung village, a small rural settlement near the lake.

Kompong Khleang

Kampong Khleang is located on the northern lake-edge about 55 km east of Siem Reap town, more remote and less tourist than Kampong Pluk. Visitors to Kampong Khleang during the dry season are universally awestruck by the forest of stilted houses rising up to 10 meters in the air. In wet season the waters rise up to one or two meters of the buildings. Like Kompong Pluk, Kompong Khleang is a permanent community within the flood plain of the Lake, with an economy based in fishing and surrounded by flooded forest. But Kompong Khleang is significantly larger with nearly 10 times the population of Kompong Pluk, making it the largest community on the Lake.

Kbal Spean

Kbal Spean is an ancient Angkor ruin that is a 90-minute bumpy ride from Siem Reap, on the same route to Banteay Srei. The tarred road ends at Banteay Srei, after which the roads become either very muddy or very dusty, depending on the time of the year. Upon your arrival at the foothills, get ready for another 45 minutes of moderately easy uphill climb. All this for the sake of viewing the carvings of lingas on the riverbed of the Siem Reap River, making it a "river of 1000 lingas". The belief is that the lingas "fertilize" the water that feed the East Baray and irrigates the rice fields.

Bird Sanctuary at Prek Toal

Boat trip to Prek Toal takes about two hours from Chong Kneas boat dock, upon arrival meet Prek Toal Environmental Research Station for guiding tour to birds sanctuary. The Research Station has information on the area's flora and fauna. There are also basic overnight accommodations at the Research Station if you want to stay the night to take full advantage of the sunset and early morning viewing hours. The entrance free for birds watching for two persons cost 25$ each, 3 pax up cost 20$ per person including boat guided tour to birds sanctuary. Your entrance fee expense use to help promote responsible tourism in Cambodia, and contributes to the conservation of the area especially educate children, villagers about the importance of the birds and the unique flooded forest environment, all your expenses go through to local communities The 'bird sanctuary' at the Prek Toal core area of the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve has been called "the single most important breeding ground in Southeast Asia for globally threatened large water birds.

Preah Khan Temple

Preah Khan temple is located 2 kilometers north-east of Angkor Thorn on the Grand Circuit. The temple was built in the second half of the 12th century in AD 1191 by King Jaya-varman VII, dedicating to his father Dharanindravarman. The Buddhist complex covers 56 hectares served as the nucleus of a group that includes Neak Pean and Ta Som, located 4 kilometers long Jayatataka Baray—the last of the great re¬servoirs to be built in Angkor. The inscription indicates that Preah Khan was built on the battle site where King Jaya-varman VII finally defeated the Chams. In those days it was known as Nagarajayacri which mean the city of Preah Khan.