SIEM REAP (pronounced See-um Ree-up) manages to be simultaneously both a somnolent town and tourist honey-pot. By day, with most tourists at the temples, the town is a peaceful place; come dusk, the roads bustle with returning tuk-tuks packed with temple-weary sightseers, who descend on the restaurants and bars in the colonial area around Psar Chas. By mid-evening a party atmosphere pervades.
You’re unlikely to want for anything in Siem Reap, and plenty of folk hang around much longer than they intended. The town offers the best selection of accommodation in the country, as well as an abundance of restaurants specializing in all manner of cuisine, including exceptional Cambodian food; at a handful of places you can also watch a fascinating Khmer cultural performance while you dine. There are plenty of opportunities to shop in numerous quality galleries, craft shops and souvenir stalls. Car and tuk-tuk hire for the temples is straightforward, and if you don’t feel like arranging it yourself, one of any number of tour companies (or your hotel or guesthouse) will do it for you, picking you up from your door at sunrise and returning you after sunset.
Temples aside, Siem Reap has plenty more to occupy you, be it a boat trip out on the massive Tonle Sap lake, where communities live on the water in floating villages, quad biking or horseriding through the paddy fields. You can also take to the sky by fixed balloon, microlight or helicopter for an awe-inspiring aerial view of the temples. Tours of the area can be arranged with specialist companies in town, although they don’t come cheap.
Saigon, Cat Tien National Park, Dalat – Lak Lake, Buon Ma Thuot, Pleiku, Kon Tum, Hoi An via My Son Sanctuary, Hue – Da Nang – Hoi An, DMZ & Khe Sanh, Phong Nha Caves, Tan Ky, Cuc Phuong National Park, Mai Chau, Hanoi