Best known as the gateway to the magnificent ancient temple complex of Angkor Wat, Siem Reap is a pleasant town with lovely French colonial and Chinese architecture, and a laid-back ambience.
The main attraction here is of course the Angkor complex. Covering an area larger than Paris, it encompasses scores of exquisite temple structures featuring intricately carved detail – dancing ladies and lotus flowers embellish the walls, five-headed naga (serpent deities) fan out from chunks of rock.
Abandoned for unknown reasons thousands of years ago, it was rediscovered in 1860 by a French explorer, Henri Mahout, and has been Cambodia’s crowning glory ever since.
Other attractions in and around Siem Reap include an array of arts and crafts shops, a cultural village that allows a glimpse into traditional local life, and a bird sanctuary on the outskirts of town.