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SIEM REAP PROVINCE

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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.
 
Though some of the town's previous ramshackle charm may have been lost the developments of the last few years have brought livelihoods, if not significant wealth, to a good number of its citizens. This has been at a cost to the underprivileged people living within and beyond the town's limits that now pay inflated prices at the central markets and continue to survive on poorly paid subsistence farming and fishing. If Cambodia is a country of contrasts Siem Reap is the embodiment of those contrasts. Despite the massive shift in its economic fortunes, Siem Reap remains a safe, friendly and pleasant town. There is an endless choice of places to stay or dine and a host of possible activities awaiting the visitor.
GEOGRAPHY & CLIMATE
Siem Reap province is 10,299 square kilometres big and definitely one of the most famous ones in Cambodia. It's located in the Northwest of the country bordering to the North with Oddor Meanchey, to the East with Preah Vihear and Kampong Thom, to the West with Banteay Meanchey and to the South with the biggest sweet water reserve in Southeast Asia, the huge Tonle Sap Lake.
 
The province in general, especially in the Southern part consists of the typical plain wet area for Cambodia, covering lots of rice fields and other agricultural plantations. The northern part is turning into an undulating area covered with some deeper, green forests. A quite distinguished mark of Siem Reap Province is the smaller, but important Siem Reap River. It rises from Phnom Kulen, meanders through the northern part of Siem Reap Province and eventually into the Tonle Sap Lake.

The country has a tropical climate - warm and humid. In the monsoon season, abundant rain allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of crops. This year-round tropical climate makes Cambodia ideal for developing tourism. Travellers need not to fear natural disasters such as erupting volcanoes or earthquakes, and the country is not directly affected by tropical storms.

Climate: Cambodia can be visited throughout the year. However, those plans to travel extensively by road should be avoided the last two months of the rainy season when some countryside roads may be impassable. The average temperature is about 27 degrees Celsius; the minimum temperature is about 16 degrees. December and January are the coolest months, whereas the hottest is April. General information about the provincial climate:
- Cool season: November- March (23-29c)
- Hot season: March- May (27c -37c)
- Rainy season: May - October (24-33c, with humidity up to 90%.)
HOW TO GET THERE ?
The majority of visitors to Siem Reap arrive by air from Phnom Penh and Bangkok. There are also regular flights from Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City and Vientiane. See the airline list below. Visas are available on arrival at the Siem Reap and Phnom Penh airports. From Phnom Penh, there are also daily boats and buses going to Siem Reap. Some visitors make their way to Siem Reap overland from Thailand via the Aranyaprathet/Poipet border crossing.
 
Siem Reap: Arrival and Departure Airport Departure and Arrival Tax: Domestic: US$6. International: US$25 Siem Reap Airport: The airport sits 6km from town, close to the temples, occasionally affording spectacular views of Angkor Wat during landings and take offs. Outside the terminal is a ticket booth for registered taxis into town. Independent taxis and motorcycles wait just outside the airport. The price is the same for both: motorcycles are $2 and cars are $6-7 into town. Most hotels offer free transportation from the airport but you must notify them in advance of your arrival.
 
Siem Reap Ferry Dock: The ferry to Siem Reap arrives at Chong Khneas near Phnom Krom, 12km south of Siem Reap. There is always transportation waiting at the dock. Mototaxis charge about $2-$3 and cars $6-$7 for the 20-30 minute ride into town.
 
Air:
Siem Reap Airways offer several daily flights to/from Phnom Penh. http://www.siemreapairways.com/; another cheap opportunity is http://www.airasia.com/; or www.laoairlines.com/. You can make your flight booking throught http://www.tourismcambodia.com/flights/.
 
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.

Compagnie Fluevial Du Mekong offers very leisurely paced boat trips between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap on a traditionally crafted wooden riverboat with deluxe facilities 3-day excursions. Tel: 023-216070;
http://www.cfmekong.com.
 
Buses: 
Several guesthouses, travel agencies and bus companies offer daily bus transport between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. It is a smooth 314 km, 5-7 hour trip. The bus makes usually two stops along the way (at Skun and Kampong Thom). All charge the same, $3.50 (14,000R) one-way. The earliest buses depart starting at 6:30am and the last buses between noon and 1pm.
 
Neak Krorhorm Travel: Phnom Penh office at the corner of Street 110 and Sisowath Quay. Siem Reap office opposite the Old Market.GST: Phnom Penh bus station near the southwest corner of Phsar Thmey (Central Market). Phnom Penh Public Transport Co.: Phnom Penh bus station near the southwest corner of Phsar Thmey (Central Market).
 
Share Taxis:
Local share taxi depart from southwest corner of Central Market in Phnom Penh for 25,000 riel per person (5-8 hours). A private taxi costs you US$38-$45 for the whole car. 5-6 hours. (Due to rising fuel costs, prices are in flux.).
 
Motorbike Info to Siem Reap: The road to Siem Reap is in good condition, but driving in Cambodia is still challenging in the extreme, and should be attempted only by experienced riders. Speeding taxis, slow cows, and oblivious children are the norm. The trip calls for a dirt or road bike, no smaller than 250cc. It can be made in a day, but two days with a layover in Kampong Thom is a more relaxed alternative and allows time to visit the pre-Angkorian ruins of Sambor Prei Kuk.
 
Leave Phnom Penh via the Japanese Bridge and follow National Highway No 6 north 75km to the Skun intersection. (Skun is known for its exotic foods - check out the fried spiders, turtle eggs and more at the roadside stands.) Bear left and follow the NH No 6 to Kampong Thom - about 2-3 hours. In Kampong Thom, the Arunras Hotel (062-961294), Stung Sen Royal Hotel (012-309495) and Mittapheap Hotel are all decent mid-range places. Arunras Guesthouses and Restaurant next to the hotel is the place to eat cheaply. From Kampong Thom to Siem Reap the trip takes another 2-3 hours.
WHAT TO SEE ?
Angkor National Museum 
Visiting the Angkor National Museum was an eerie, surreal experience. For the first 45 minutes of our trip through the mammoth, 20,000-square-metre building, we didn't spot another visitor. The museum opened in November 2007, and its freshly painted, shopping mall-like feel contrasts with the thousands-year-old artefacts contained within it. A visit is a comfortable, air-con alternative to visiting the temples themselves, and a nice educational supplement to the history of Angkor if you visit the park without a tour guide. It's composed of eight separate galleries, all connected by a vaulted corridor with a series of fountains and lined with what seems like all the Angkorian limestone lion and demon heads missing from statues at the temples. After an explanatory film screening called Story behind the legend, you're pointed toward the galleries:
 
Gallery 1: 1,000 Buddha Images
This is the only gallery that's just one large room, rather than a series of maze-like alcoves, and the sight of all these Buddhas at once is striking. Hundreds of small and miniature Buddha figurines, made of metals, jewels and wood, all individually illuminated, line the walls here, identified according to the period they were made during and where they were discovered. In the centre, life-size and larger Buddha characters are displayed. The display includes Buddhas from Banteay Kdei, Bayon, Angkor Wat and Preah Vihear.
 
Gallery 2: Pre-Angkor Period: Khmer Civilisation
This gallery and all the subsequent ones combine mural-size explanations and short films through maze-like rooms explaining Angkorian history. The styles of figurines precede the trademark Angkor style, and there's a large collection of lingas, lintels and colonnettes.
 
Gallery 3: Religion and Beliefs
This room explains several of the most significant Hindu and Buddhist religious stories and folk tales depicted on Angkorian temples, including the most memorable Churning of the Sea of Milk carved into the rear wall at Angkor Wat. Carvings of Buddhist and Hindu religious figures are concentrated here as well.
 
Gallery 4: The Great Khmer Kings
The gallery focuses on King Jayavarman II, Yasovarman I, Soryavarman II and Jayavarman VII, those most responsible for Angkor's greatest constructions. Figures of the kings and relics from the temples they commissioned abound.
 
Gallery 5: Angkor Wat
There's a large film gallery inside this section of the museum. It features beautiful, panoramic images of the temple and explanations of how it was constructed. There are also many restored figures from the temple itself as well as post-Angkorian wooden statues used for worship at the temple until several hundred years ago.
 
Gallery 6: Angkor Thom
In addition to recovered artefacts from Angkor Thom, this gallery includes a history of and artefacts from the vast irrigation projects commissioned by the king who built Angkor Thom with his smiling face looking out from every tower: Jayavarman VII.
 
Gallery 7: Story From Stones
This room is one of the most interesting. It's a collection of stone pallets with ancient Khmer and Sanskrit inscriptions. The writing on each slate is explained on placards below. The writing on them includes the declaration of the construction of a new hospital, lists of slave names, mediations of land disputes and adulations of kings and gods.
 
Gallery 8: Ancient Costume
From Apsaras and kings to princesses and warriors, this room contains the busts and statues of distinct fashions and styles as they evolved throughout Angkor time. There's also a collection of ancient jewellery and headdresses. It's a clever segue to the final room the gift shop where upscale imitations of these fashions abound.

It's $12 to enter the museum, plus another $3 if you want to bring in your camera and another $3 for an educational headset. Sadly, like ticketing and management of the Angkor park, the museum is owned and run by a private company, so little of your admission money goes to Cambodia or to temple restoration (though what the company paid for the concession might). Still, it's perhaps better than these artefacts remaining in the hands of private collectors. A connected mall is still under construction but has a few open stores, including a Blue Pumpkin satellite, several souvenir shops and the sure sign of apocalypse.
 
Angkor Wat
There are few places anywhere on earth to match the splendour of Angkor Wat. The temple is one of the largest monuments to religion ever built and is truly one the wonders of the world. Believed to have been constructed as a temple and mausoleum for King Suryavarman II at the peak of the Khmer empire in the first half of the 12th century, Angkor Wat is probably the best-preserved of the Angkorean temples. As with other Angkorean temples and walled cities such as Angkor Thom, the central theme of Khmer architecture revolved around the idea of the temple-mountain.
 
By the time building on Angkor Wat was begun early in the 12th century, this had been elaborated to a central tower surrounded by four smaller towers. The central monument represents the mythical Mount Meru, the holy mountain at the centre of the universe, which was home to the Hindu god Vishnu. The five towers symbolise Mount Meru's five peaks. It is difficult to express in words the enormous scale of Angkor Wat, but it can be explained in part by a look at the dimensions of the complex. The temple is surrounded by a moat which makes the one around the Tower of London, built at roughly the same time, look like nothing more than a garden trench.
 
At 190 metres wide and forming a rectangle measuring 1.5 km by 1.3 km, it is hard to imagine any attacking force overwhelming the defences. But the moat was more than just a defensive bulwark, in line with the temple's Hindu origins it represented the oceans of the world. A rectangular wall measuring 1025 metres by 800 metres borders the inner edge of the moat. There is a gate in each side of the wall, but unusually for the mainly Hindu-influenced Angkorian temples, the main entrance faces west. This entrance is a richly decorated portico, 235 m wide with three gates. However, the temple's greatest sculptural treasure is its 2 km-long bas-reliefs around the walls of the outer gallery and the hundred figures of devatas and apsaras. This intricately carved gallery tells stories of the god Vishnu and of Suryavarman II's successes on the battlefield. The whole complex covers 81 hectares.
 
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.
 
The Angkor Zoo is situated 5 km from Provincial Town and takes around 10 minutes to reach to the location. It is located on the turn off just past the admission entrance to the temples on the right hand side about 1 kilometer down the road. If you do not wish to walk to the Zoo, you can take tuk-tuk to reach this place. Unfortunately the zoo has gone pretty much to ruins and is not very well maintained. If you wish, you can donate some money for the maintenance of the zoo.Porcupines to some extent always present a problem. They are expert excavators and cages often need solid cement floors to prevent their escape. We have already built many very large enclosures for other species and had the option of placing them in these. Both groups of porcupines from Angkor are now in our two spacious, forested serow enclosures, one group in each. 

One pair traveled down with their two very tiny babies perfect miniature replicas of the adults. All arrived safely and are now enjoying their new natural environment. Despite their years of captivity in their hot, dusty cages at Angkor Zoo, they have reverted to a nocturnal way of life and we seldom see them. We now have porcupines at PTWRC sharing cages with the following animals: serow, peafowl, gibbons, muntjac, and civets. We do this out of necessity as we do not have the money to provide individual cages for each species and have to use resources wisely. We believe that this is also an appropriate and ecologically responsible way to allow animals to interact as they would in the wild, as long as there is no chance of them harming one another.
 
Bakong Temple 
Bakong is located at Roluos south of Preah Ko. Enter and leave the temple at the east. A modern Buddhist temple is situated to the right of the east entrance to Bakong. It was build in late ninth century (881) by king Indravarman I dedicated to Siva (Hindu) followed Prah Ko art style.
 
Baksei Chamkrong
The bird that shelters under its wings. This little temple with its four square tiers of laterite, crowned by a brick sanctuary, might serve for a model in miniature of some of its giant neighbors, and is almost as perfect as perfect as the day it was built…
 
Prasat Baksei Chamkrong is located 150 meters (492 feel) north of Phnom Bakheng and 80 meters (262 feet) from the road leading to the south gate of Angkor Thom. A visit to Baksei Chamkrong can be combined with a stop at the south gate of Angkor Thom. Enter and leave the temple from the east entrance.
 
Banteay Kdei
The citadel of the cells . In the ruin and confusion of Banteay Kdei the carvings take one's interest. They are piquant, exquisite, not too frequent… they seem meant.. to make adorable a human habitation.
 
Banteay Kdei is located south of Ta Prohm. A enter the monument from the west and leave at the west or vice versa, either way, also visit Srah Srang.
 
It was built in middle of the 12th century to the beginning of the 13th century by king Jayavarman II in Mahaya Buddhism with following at least two different art periods Angkor Wat and Bayon -are discernible at Banteay Kdei.
 
Banteay Kdei has not been restored and allows the visitor to experience what it may have looked like originally. Changes and additions account for is unbalanced layout. Banteay Kdei was built of soft sandstone and many of the galleries and porches have collapsed. The wall enclosing the temple was built of reused stones.

The temple is built on the ground level use as a Buddhist monastery. The elements of the original design of Banteay Kdei seem to have been a Central Sanctuary, a surrounding gallery and a passageway connected to another gallery. A moat enclosed the original features of the temple. Another enclosure and two libraries were among the additions in the Bayon period. The outer enclosure (700 by 500 meters 2,297 by 1,640feet) is made of laterite and has four entry towers.
 
A rectangular courtyard to the east is known as 'the hall of the dancing girls', a name derived from the decoration which includes dancers. The entry tower of the second enclosure is in the shape of a cross with three passages; the two on either end are connected to the literate wall of the enclosure 320 by 200 scrolls of figures and large female divinities in niches. In the interior court there is a frieze of Buddha.
 
A causeway of a later date, bordered with serpents, leads to the entry tower of the third enclosure. It comprises a laetrile wall includes a gallery with a double row of sandstone pillars that open onto a courtyard. Tip Parts of this area have been walled in and passage is limited. Vestiges of the wooden ceiling can still be seen in the central Sanctuary. The galleries and halls, which join it in a cross to the four entry towers, are probably additions. Two libraries open to the west in the courtyards on the left and right of the causeway.
 
Banteay Sam Re
Banteay Sam Re located at Preah Dak commune, Bon Tiey Srey District by Charles De Gaulle Road via Angkor Wat in 16-kilometer distance from the provincial town of Siem Reap.
 
This temple is somewhat islocated, and you should be vigiland of your possessions and travel with a local guide. The temple is worth the extra effort to experience the elaborate architecture, and fine carvings, although theft has mutilated many of the temple's treasures.
 
Location: 400 meters (1,312 miles) east of the East Baray Access: enter and leave Banteay Sam Re from the east.
Date: middle of the 12th century
King: Suryavarman II (reigned 1113-1150)
Religion: Hindu (dedicated to vishnu)
Art Style: Angkor Wat
 
Banteay Sam Re is one of the most complete complexes at Angkor due to restoration using the method of anastylosis. Unfortunately, the absence of maintenance over the past 20 years is evident. The name Samre refers to an ethnic group of mountain people, who inhabited the regions at the base of Phnom Kulen and were probably related to the Khmers. No inscription has been found for this temple, but the style of most of the architecture is of the classic art of the middle period similar to Angkor Wat. The monument most likely dates from the same period, or, perhaps, slightly later, although there are additions attributed to the Bayon style. The proportions of Banteay Sam Re are plended. A unique feature is an interior moat with laterite paving, which when filled with water must have given an ethereal atmosphere to the temple. All of the buildings around the moat are on a raised base with horizontal mouldings, decoreated in some areas with figures framed by lotus buds.
 
Banteay Srey Temple 
Location: 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) north-east of East Mebon
Access: enter and leave the temple by the east entrance
Date: second half of the 10th century (967)
King: Rajendravarman II (reigned 944-968) and Jayavarman V (reigned 968-1001)
Religion: Hindu (dedicated to Shiva)
Art style: Banteay Srei

The tenth century temple of Banteay Srei is renowned for its intricate decoration carved in pinkish sandstone that covers the walls like tapestry. This site warrants as much time as your schedule allows. The roads have been recently repaired and it takes about 30 minutes from Siem Reap to get to the temple.
 
To reach Banteay Srei, follow the main road north out of Siem Reap, turn right at Angkor Wat and follow the road to Srah Srang where you turn right past Preah Rup. At the East Mebon there is a check post where you need to obtain clearnce. Turn right again at the road before the East Mebon; pass through the village of Phoum Pradak, where there is a junctions (if you continue straight, after about 5 minutes, you will reach Banteay Samre). At this point, you come to a fork; take the road on the left and follow it to Batneay Srei which you will reach shortly after crossing two rivers - on your left hand side.
 
Banteay Srei is an exquisite miniature; a fairy palace in the heart of an immense and mysterious forest; the very thing that Grimm delighted to imagine, and that every child's heart has yearned after, but which mature years has sadly proved too lovely to be true. And here it is, in the Cambodian forest at Banteay Srei, carved not out of the stuff that dreams are made of, but of solid sandstone.
 
The enchanting temple of Banteay Srei is nearly everyone's favorite site. The special charm of this temple lies in its remarkable state of preservation, small size and excellence of decoration.
 
The unanimous opinion amongst French archaeologists who worked at Angkor is that Banteay Srei is a 'precious gem' and a 'jewel in Khmer art'. Banteay Srei, as it is known by locals, was originally called Isvarapura, according to inscriptions. It was by a Brahmin of royal descent who was spiritual teacher to Jayavarman V. Some describe it a s being closer in architecture and decoration to Indian models than any other temple at Angkor. A special feature of the exquisite decoration was the use of a hard pink sandstone (quartz arenite) where enabled the 'technique of sandalwood carving with even an Indian scent to it'.
 
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 of 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.
 
Though unrestored, and in a fairly ruinous state, the large temple of Beng Mealea ('Lotus Pond') some 40 km due east of Angkor on the ancient royal way to the 'great Preah Khan' of Kompong Svay (another 60 km further on), is one of the major monuments of the classical period, in the style of Angkor Wat and roughly contemporary with it. Whoever built it must have been a figure of some importance, but he remains unknown, as no inscriptions have been found here, and no other that mentions it.
Its position was strategic, where the royal way to Koh Kerin the NE forks from the road E to the 'great Preah Khan', and also at the head of a canal that leads directly to the Great Lake, down which sandstone blocks from the nearby quarries could have been floated on their way to Angkor.
 
Its chaotic state, with collapsed galleries and towers (the central sanctuary is virtually a pit, with no superstructure whatsoever) may be due to a variety of causes. The most important is simply the wear and tear of eight and a half centuries in a tropical climate, with the spread of vegetation, including the silk-cotton tree and strangler fig, going to work on some ambitious vaulting which was being tried out here and at Angkor Wat for the first time. It is not known whether there was any iconoclasm, a possibility whenever there is evidence of different faiths practised, as here. Happily, there is no evidence of recent looting. There is a considerable disorder, but very romantic for all that.
 
Many of the early French scholars thought highly of this temple for both its architecture and its decoration. Coedes made a special study of its carving, and Groslier considered it to be a prototype, with a "harmony, powerful and sober". Its history is completely unknown, and it can be dated only by its style, which is of the mid-12th century. Beng Mealea was built of blue sandstone from local quarries, and while there are no narrative bas-relief panels as at Angkor Wat, there is a fair amount of decoration on walls and pilasters, all of a high standard, as well as apmras, lintels and few pediments. The religious history is also unknown, with carvings showing legends of Vishnu, Shiva and the Buddha.
 
The temple marked the centre of a town, surrounded by a moat 1025m by 875m, and 45m wide. Four paved avenues lead via cruciform terraces to the entrances at the cardinal points, and it is oriented to the E. Directly to the E of the complex is a large baray, with a small island containing a shrine in its centre, as usual. In plan, Beng Mealea reminds one of of Angkor Wat, though all at ground level with no temple mountain. There are three concentric enclosures, each one set back slightly to the west, with the central shrine at the intersection of the axes (and so the intersection of the town's avenues as well). These enclosures are tied together with 'cruciform cloisters', just as at Angkor Wat, and in the NE and SE corners of the enclosures are shrines of the kind known wrongly as 'libraries'. Also as at Angkor Wat, Beng Mealea has some impressive stone vaulting, and half-vaults that work as a kind of buttressing.
 
Without the ample space that there is at Angkor Wat, all these interconnecting galleries would be confusing enough, even if the temple were in a restored condition. In addition, however, there have been additions, such as the raised causeways and probably the cruciform terraces, possibly also the two large galleried structures that fill the space between the second and outer enclosures on the south side. In its present state this last is a warren of stone and vegetation.
 
Unlike Ta Prohm's controlled 'wild' state where the undergrowth is cut back, Beng Mealea is genuinely uncleared - the real thing for would-be explorers. You will need the services of a local guide, which is to say one of the villagers, and by the end of the visit you will be happy to pay for being taken around the tortuous route. This involves clambering through small spaces and along roof tops, although in time this may become restricted as access comes under the control of the Angkor authorities.
 
The state of the temple means that access is not by the obvious routes, and there are several ways of visiting. The route given here has been worked out by local guides, and shows most of what is interesting. Begin at the S gate of the outer enclosure, a short walk or drive from the road. Walk east along the outside of the wall to the SE corner pavilion. Here is excellent decorative carving on the walls, and a group of devatas, very clearly in the style of Angkor Wat, with stylised large folds of the sarong flying out left and right from above the belt. The expressions of these girls is particularly serene, and one is, unusually, cupping her bare breast (the guides never fail to point this out).
 
Continue around the outside 'of the E side, to the cruciform terrace, raised on circular columns, with the remains of naga balustrades. The rearing five-headed nagas are magnificent and elaborately decorated, each with a proboscis and all tied together with a large, arrow-like halo. The route continues past the NE corner pavilion and round to the north side, where several metres beyond it is easy to clamber over. Here you face one of the raised 'libraries'. Walk left around this to the end of the small raised causeway that connects it to the' cruciform cloister'. For once, it is possible to use a doorway; once through, turn right and head W into the second enclosure, following the ledge on the inside of the gallery.
 
Enter the gallery of the inner enclosure a few steps S of the corner. On your left is the barely recognisable shrine and its vestibule, with a fallen lintel showing the Churning of the Sea of Milk. It is possible to walk around the upper part of the shrine, as the tower has completely collapsed. From here it is necessary to clamber southwards and up onto the roof of the N-S axial gallery. On either side as you walk there are views of the additional southern complexes. Descend to the left and enter a dark but impressive long vaulted gallery, running W-E along one side of one of these structures, exiting opposite the 'library' of the SE corner. Turn right and you can climb out over the outer gallery. At this point, there is an unusual pediment over the door to your right, showing a god riding a rhinoceros. This is Agni, the god of fire, guardian of the SE, which accounts for his position in this part of the temple.
 
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.
 
The Biosphere covers 31,282 hectares at the northwest tip of the Tonle Sap Lake and plays host to species including Greater and Lesser Adjuncts, Black-headed Ibis, Painted Stork, Milky Stork, Spot-billed Pelican, Grey-Headed Fish Eagle and many more species. Of the three Biosphere core areas on the Tonle Sap Lake, Prek Toal is the most popular with birdwatchers. The best time to explore is the dry season between December to May when flocks of migratory birds congregate at Prek Toal. While the dry season progresses and the water recedes, the number of birds increase, but the tour to some of the more important viewing areas becomes more difficult. That's why requires to rent a small motorboat drives a long the stream for one hour to birds tower.
 
Civil War Museum
The guy that runs this small and very new place was forced to join the Khmer Rouge as a boy and trained to make as lay landmines, something they were all too good at. The Vietnamese-installed government rescued him in 1985-so his story goes-and thereafter he helped the government in clearing areas where landmines have been laid. His name is Akira and he is a friendly guy that speaks English and Japanese ad is happy to visit with people that come by.
 
He has a lot of the weaponry on hand that has been used over these past few decades, during Cambodia?s civil war and the long struggle against the Khmer Rouge that followed. It?s worth a look. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. To get there, go past the Hotel Grande de Angkor (on the road to the Angkor ticket checkpoint) about 1 km to a small sign on the right for the Civil War Museum. Turn right, and follow this road to a four-way intersection and turn left. There is a sign for the place here. Go about 1 km and you will see it on the right.
 
Civil War Museum, Siem Reap is one of the popular tourist attractions in Siem Reap. Whenever you come to Siem Reap, visit this sightseeing spot to get a better insight into the history of the region. The Civil War Museum, Siem Reap is run by a guy who was forced to join the Khmer Rouge as a boy and trained to make as lay landmines, something they were all too good at. After the Vietnamese-installed government rescued him in the year 1985, he helped the government in clearing areas where landmines have been laid. The name of this boy is Akira and he is a friendly guy. He speaks English and Japanese and feels very happy to meet the people who come to visit this place.
 
The guy who runs the Civil War Museum, Siem Reap has a lot of the weaponry on hand that have been used over these past few decades, during Cambodia’s civil war and the long struggle against the Khmer Rouge that followed. The collection in this Civil War Museum in Siem Reap is definitely worth a look for one and all who are intrigued by the turbulent past of this place.
 
The admission to the Civil War Museum, Siem Reap is free, but donations are appreciated. If you want to get to the museum then go past the Hotel Grande de Angkor on the road to the Angkor ticket checkpoint about 1 kilometer to a small sign on the right for the Civil War Museum. Then turn right, and follow this road to a four-way intersection and turn left. You will find a sign for the place here. Drive for more 1 kilometer and you will reach the Civil War Museum.
 
East Mebon 
East Mebon How to go: Location: Description: Also built in the 10th Century by Rajendravarman, this temple was situated on a small island in the middle of the Oriental, or Eastern, Baray. It has all the characteristics of the mountain temple but was accessible by boat only. From the inscriptions found close to it, we know that Rajendravarman dedicated it to his parents.
 
East Mebon is a large temple-mountain-like ruin, rising three levels and crowned by five towers. Jayavarman IV, a usurper to the throne, moved the capital from Angkor to Koh Ker in 928AD. Sixteen years later Rajendravarman II returned the capital to Angkor and shortly thereafter constructed East Mebon on an island in the middle of the now dry Eastern Baray. The temple is dedicated to Shiva in honor of the king’s parents. Inscriptions indicate that it was also built to help reestablish the continuity of kingship at Angkor in light of the interruption that occurred when the seat of power had been moved to Koh Ker. There seems to be some scholarly debate as to whether East Mebon should be categorized as a temple-mountain. Inscriptions record activity at the temple as early as 947AD, but East Mebon was not consecrated until 952AD.

You need to use quite a bit of imagination when visiting the East Mebon temple. It's not that the temple is badly ruined. The imagination is needed to think of the temple as it originally existed, as an island in the middle of a large artificial lake, the Eastern Baray.
 
When it was built, around 952, the East Mebon must have been quite impressive. The pyramidal structure consists of three concentric tiers crowned by five towers. It is a typical motif of many Angkor temples, which seek to represent Mount Meru, the location of the Hindu "heaven". It must have been highly symbolic, rowing a boat across the lake to one of the temple's four landings, then climbing up the tiers to pray at the shrines.

On arriving at the temple, one of the first things you'll notice is are the large elephants standing at each corner of the lowest tier. The elephants are carved from a single block of stone. Gateways in the center of each side lead up to the second and third platforms.

It was realised during the reign of Yasovarman towards the end of the 9th century and supplied by waters from the Siem Reap river. This vast reservoir served to regulate the flow of the river and to irrigate the surrounding plain, is today given over to rice fields. To judge by the laterite steps that surround the small island of the Mebon, the original depth of water contained was approximately three metres and its volume must have been some 40 million cubic metres.

The Mebon has all the characteristics of a 'temple-mountain' symbolising Mount Meru - here there is a three-metre high central platform carrying the quincunx of towers. Originally the Mebon temple stood on an island surrounded entirely by the waters of the Eastern Baray - accessible only by boat. The centre of the baray was marked by this small island of 120 metres across on which the temple stands. The main entry pavilion of the Royal Palace and the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom were subsequently aligned along this axis.

Several inscriptions found in the vicinity as well as the foundation stele - dated 952 (only nine years prior to Pre- Rup) describe the placing in the various sanctuaries of the linga Sri Rajendresvara, of several gods - notably Shiva and Parvati "in the likeness of the mother and the father" of King Rajendravarman in addition to Vishnu with Brahma. Eight linga of the god in eight forms were also placed in the eight small towers of the surrounding court. The Mebon belongs to a group of temples consecrated to the memory of deified parents.

According to an inscription, the walls were originally covered externally with a lime-based plaster coating (as evident at Pre Rup temple) with the pitted hammer marks in the brickwork to adhere the stucco onto the towers, the only remaining evidence. Most lintels remain in place on this monument and are of excellent craftsmanship. On the central tower to the east, Indra on a three-headed elephant with flights of figures disgorged by makara, under a small frieze of figures in meditation; to the west, Skanda the god of war on his peacock with a line of figures holding lotus flowers; and to the south, Shiva on the sacred bull Nandin. 
East Mebon, a 10th century Hindu temple, erected by Rajendravarman II, would have been on an islet in the centre of the Eastern Baray, but is now very much on dry land. This temple is like a smaller version of Pre Rup, which was built 15 to 20 years later and lies to the south. The temple-mountain form is topped off by the now familiar quincuncial arrangement of towers. The elaborate brick shrines are dotted with neatly arranged holes, which attached the original plasterwork. The base of the temple is guarded at its corners by perfectly carved stone figures of harnessed elephants, many of which are still in a very good state of preservation.
 
The East Mebon was built dedicated to the Hindu god of Shiva and honours the parents of the king. Its location reflects Khmer architects? concern with orientation and cardinal directions. It was built on a north-south axis with Rajendravarman’s state temple, Pre Rup, located about 1,200 meters to the south just outside the baray. The East Mebon also lies on an east-west axis with the palace temple Phimeanakas, another creation of Rajendravarman’s reign, located about 6,800 meters due west.
 
It has two enclosing walls and three tiers. It includes the full array of durable Khmer construction materials: sandstone, brick, laterite and stucco. At the top is a central tower on a square platform, surrounded by four smaller towers at the platform’s corners. The towers are of brick; holes that formerly anchored stucco are visible.
 
The sculpture at the East Mebon is varied and exceptional, including two-meter-high free-standing stone elephants at corners of the first and second tiers. Religious scenes include the god Indra atop his three-headed elephant Airavata, and Shiva on his mount, the sacred bull Nandi. Carving on lintels is particularly elegant.

East Mebon is a small temple built in the reign of king Rajendravarman, who named the temple 'Yashodharatataka' (the reservoir of Yashodhara). King Rajendravarman greatly admired King Yashovarman I, who ruled from 889-900 AD and built the East Baray (reservoir). Out of respect, King Rajendravarman built East Mebon at the center of the baray. Its main god was Rajendreshvara, a linga of the present king.

The lovely temple of Mebon, a pyramid of receding terraces on which are placed many detached edifices, the most effective being the five towers which crown the top Could any conception be lovelier, a vast expanse of sky-tinted water as wetting for a perfectly ordered temple. The East Mebon is 500metre (1,640feet) north of Pre Rup. A enter and leave the temple from the east entrance. It was built in the second half of the tenth century (952) by king Rajendravarman II, dedicated to Siva (Hindu), an ancestor temple in memory of the parents of the king with following the Pre Rup style art.
 
The Mebon stands on a small island in the middle of the Eastern Baray, which was a large body of water by 7 kilometres, 1.2by4.3miles) fed by the Siem Reap River. The temple was accessible only by boat. Today the baray, once a source of water for irrigation, is a plain of rice fields and the visitor is left to imagine the original majesty of this temple in the middle of a large lake.

The East Mebon is a temple with five towers arranged like the numbers on a die atop a base with three tiers. The whole is surrounded by three enclosures. The towers represent the five peaks of the mythical Mount Meru.

The stairways of the tiered base are flanked by lions. Beautiful monolithic elephants stand majestically at the corners of the first and second tiers. They are depicted naturalistically with fine detail such as harnessing. Tip: The elephant in the best condition, and the most complete, is in the southwest corner.

The large inner courtyard contains eight small brick towers two on each side opening to the East. Each one has octagonal columns and finely worked lintels with figures amongst leaf decorations. On the East Side of the courtyard there are three rectangular laterite buildings without windows opening to the west. The two on the left of the entrance are decorated with either scenes of the stories of the nine planets or the seven ascetics. Vestiges of bricks above the cornices suggest they were vaulted. There are two more buildings (without windows) of similar form at the northwest and southwest comers of the courtyard.
 
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.
 
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.
 
The area can be reached by charter boat from the Chong Khneas dock takes about two and a half hours or by a combination of road to Domdek on Route 6 takes one and a half hour reach to dock and then meet a boatman drive another one hour to the village, the best method depending on the time of year. During the dry season, boats cannot get all of the way to the main villages. Consult with our tour operator about current conditions. Many travel agencies have very little experience in this area, our Tour operator is specialized in this area.
 
Kompong Pluk
Kampong Pluk is about 20 Km locates on the Southeast of Siem Reap Town. Two ways are accessible to Kompong Pluk, a charter boat ride from Chong Kneas takes one and a half hour and the other by overland just one hour by car, upon arrival at dock meet a boatman drives a long a small stream to the village. In dry period we can drive motorbike or car all the way to the village because the road is clear.
 
Over 3000 inhabitants are real Khmers, their households made of wood and bamboo built on stilts of about 6m to 7m high. During dry season when the lake is low and lack of water those buildings look like the skyscrapers. At this time of the year many of villagers move out onto the lake and build a provisional stilted houses. In wet season while the water level rises up again, the dwellers move back to their permanent houses on the flood plain, the stilts now hidden under the water. People made a living by catching fishes produce as well as smelly fish paste, fermented fish, smoked fish, dried fish, dried prawn etc.
 
Upon arrival this village we will explore the above activities and we can have a chat with children at private English class, then stop at Buddhist Island to see Buddha paintings. The last fascinating spot, we take a mini boat row to see flooded mangrove forest surrounds the area and it is home to a variety of wildlife including crabs, snakes, rats etc.
 
Phnom Bakheng
Phnom Bakheng is a temple built on a hill of the same name, where the first city at Angkor was established. This gives its state temple on Phnom Bakheng special significance. It was to here that Yasovarman I moved his capital from Roluos. His capital city, called Yasodharapura, was larger than Angkor Thom, which came later, and was centred around the hill of Phnom Bakheng.
 
The design of the temple of Bakheng borrowed elements from the Bakong which was built 20 years earlier. Both are step pyramids of ascending square terraces. We do know that work on the temple began at the end of the 9th century. The lingga in the central sanctuary was dedicated around 907AD, while construction work continued. The temple was called Yasodharesvara, after its patron deity, which means Lord who Bears Glory. In 928 the temple was abandoned, only to be briefly rehabilitated in 968 by Jayavarman V.
 
Phnom Krom Hilltop Temple 
This is the big hill that you see near the landing if you head to Siem Reap by bullet boat. The hilltop area provides magnificent panoramic views of the Great Lake Tonle Sap, the surrounding countryside and Siem Reap town. The commanding view of the lake was used for a more practical, albeit more deadly, purpose in the fairly recent past as evidenced by a big gun mounted on the side of the hill and pointing toward the landing part of the Great Lake.
 
A modern-era active temple shares the hilltop with the temple ruins of Phnom Krom. Thee are seven crumbling towers among the ruins in two lines, with four towers east and three towers a bit higher up nearby and west. The 11th century ruins are definitely in need of a facelift and it looks like they may get one at s0om e point as a sign in front states that a project is underway. Unfortunately, the same sign has made the same announcement with no results apparent since a year ago when I last visited the site.
 
To get here, just follow Sivutha Street south out of Siem Reap. The road follows the river for much of the way and road is in good shape for most of the short journey. You will arrive at the base of the hill after just fifteen minutes and there is an archway and stairway that you take up about halfway, which leads to the spot near the big gun. From there you follow a small road to the temple area. You can actually ride all the way up by going past the stairway, beyond the house and tree area, where you will see a long out-building off on the right side. Follow the small road that runs along side of the building and stay on this winding road to the temple area. There are drink and food stands at the base of the stairway to re-hydrate after the trip.
 
Phnom Kulen National Park 
Kunlen mount is situated at north east of Angkor Complex about 50 Km, it takes approximately 2 hours drive up to the hill top with 487 meters height and plateau stretches 30 km long, it is opened for tourists in 1999 by private owned and charged for $20 toll per foreign visitors. The company developed road up to the peak. It is only possible to go up before 11 Am and only possible to come down after midday, to avoid vehicles meeting on the narrow road.
 
Kulen is considered by Khmers to be the most sacred mountain in Cambodia and it is a popular place for domestic visitors during weekends and festivals. The hill is used as the ancient capital city II in AD 802 to declared himself as god king and announced independence from Java, then giving birth to present day Cambodia.

On the hilltop there are 56 Angkorian temples made of bricks and volcanic stones, but most of them are badly in poor condition, today name Hahendrapura, founded in the reign of King Jayavarman temple base only is remain intact.
 
The visible sites in modern day are Prasat krau Romeas, Rong Chen (the first mountain temple), Sra Damrei (Elephant pond), Thousands of phallic symbols carved a long liver bed and divided in three ports for the Hindu trinity gods. These three ports used for baptistery. At the summit of the hill you can see Buddhist pagoda and a large reclining Buddha statue 8 meters length carved into a sandstone bock in 16th century.
 
The last attractive spot is a waterfall, it splits in two spots the first waterfall is four or five meters heights and 20 to 25 diameters in dry and raining seasons. The second waterfall is 15 to 20 meters heights and 10 to 15 diameters in dry and raining seasons.
 
The water is considered holy and Khmers like to bottle it to take home with them. The source of water eventually flows in to Tonle Sap Lake and is thought to bless the water ways of Cambodia.
 
Prek Toal and Bird Santuary
Not far from the ancient temples of Angkor, in the heart of Cambodia, lies the huge Tonle Sap lake, the largest in Southeast Asia. The Tonle Sap is connected to the Mekong by a short river also called Tonle Sap. During the rainy season, from May to October, the river reverses its flow into the lake causing it to expand to more than six or seven times its normal size of approximately 2,600 square kilometers. It becomes a vast inland sea.
 
Each year, millions of fish come to spawn in the seasonally flooded forest surrounding the lake, attracting myriad waterbirds. Villages along the shores live with the rhythm of the season and the floods. Prek Toal is one of the most attractive floating fishing villages on the Tonle Sap lake, with a school, hospital, restaurants, shop and even a pagoda. Just behind the Prek Toal village are flooded forests with bird sanctuaries. Every year, between December and March, thousands of birds come to fish and to breed here.
 
The Great Lake Tonle Sap & Floating Village
Five provinces circled the area of Tonle Sap Lake, more than three million of population inhabited around the bank of the Lake and 90% of them earn a living by catching fish and making agricultures. As you can see on the map of Cambodia It stretches across the northwest section of the country.
 
The Lake is the largest fresh water in South East Asia. Its dimension changes depending on the monsoon and dry season. During raining season from June to October, the lake is filled by water flowing from the Mekong with 14 meters in depth and expands the surface of 10,000 square Kilometers. In dry season from November to May its size 3,000 square kilometers with two meters in depth and water flows out from the Lake to the Mekong, in and out flowing is the natural phenomenon occurrences. The flooded forest surrounding the edge of the lake is the best shelter and also very important for all kinds of fishes spawned and breeding babies. This lake providing many of biodiversities, over 300 species of fresh water fishes, as well as snakes, crocodiles, tortoises, turtles and otters. More than 100 varieties water birds including storks, pelicans, etc.
 
The Lake is also an important commercial resource, providing more than half of the fish consumed in Cambodia. In harmony with the specialized ecosystems, the human occupations at the edges of the lake is similarly distinctive - floating villages, towering stilted houses, huge fish traps, and an economy and way of life deeply intertwined with the lake, the fish, the wildlife and the cycles of rising and falling waters.
 
The lake located about 15 km south of Siem Reap town; you can make your journey from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh by express boat crossing the lake and dock at the village of Chong Khneas. Its takes only six hours, but this trip we may recommend you during Monsoon season. In dry season the boat sometimes stuck in mud because the water is low. There are several ways to see the culture and wildlife of the lake area depending on the amount of time you have and your interest.
 
Chong Khneas is the name of famous floating village at the edge of the lake. It locates at Southern part of Siem Reap town about 15 Km, and takes only 30 minutes by vehicles to the boat dock where there are always boats waiting for visitors. The boat trip through the floating village takes approximately two hours. You will explore the different of Khmer, Muslim and Vietnamese floating households and the floating markets, fisheries, clinics, schools, basketball course, pigsty and other boatloads of tourists.
 
Chong Khneas, was before very interesting, but now region is owned by private firm they did increasing prices and the area looks more commercial. The boat trip usually includes two stops: one at a touristy floating 'fish and bird exhibition' with a souvenir and snack shop, and the other at the very highly recommended Gecko Environment Centre, which offers displays and information introducing the ecology and biodiversity of the lake area.
WHERE TO EAT ?
There is no shortage of restaurants in Siem Reap. They have been opening steadily over the past couple of years. Siem Reap offers an excellent variety of restaurants. Shinta Mani and Hotel Grand D'Angkor lead the fine dining category though there are several places offering excellent cuisine in a stylish, refined atmosphere. There are also plenty of moderately priced Cambodian and international restaurants. Almost every restaurant offers Cambodian food. For the budget minded, check out the inexpensive Chinese places at the south end of Sivatha Blvd. or the local food stalls and noodle cookshops next to Phsar Char (Old Market).

Dinner Theater:
Attending a traditional dance performance is a must when visiting Cambodia. Several restaurants offer dinner performances. Nightly performances: Grand Hotel D?Angkor, Apsara Theater, Kulen II, Angkor Mondial, Chao Pra Ya, Tonle Mekong, and Tonle Sap. Some restaurants, such as the Dead Fish Tower, offer traditional music during the dinner hour. Shadow puppetry can be seen at Bayon 1 and La Noria Hotel.
 
Pubs, Bars & After Dark:
A traditional dance performance at one of the dinner theatres is a perfect place to begin the evening. If you're looking for something a bit more conventional, there are a variety of places from which to choose. The piano bar at Grand D'Angkor, and the live traditional music at Dead Fish Tower make for pleasant venues to begin the evening. Buddha Lounge, Ivy Bar, The Red Piano, Temple Bar, Linga Bar, Molly Malone's, Angkor What and not to forget the bars of the Pub Street where you can find popular early evening pubs, drawing tourists and expats alike, and getting more crowded as the evening progresses. Pub Street in the Old Market area is the happening place to be in the evening these days offering several bars and restaurants, not only on Pub Street, but on nearby streets and allies. Things get going in the late afternoon and some places stay open quite late.
SHOPPING
Siem Reap is an excellent place to buy Cambodian souvenirs, handicrafts, textiles and art. Only Phnom Penh offers a comparable selection, but much of what is available in Siem Reap is unique to Siem Reap. Until recently, the Old Market (Phsar Chas) and vendors at the temples were the only places to buy souvenirs. Over the last few of years there has been a small boom of new shops, galleries and boutiques, offering a more varied selection of quality handicrafts and silks as well as original artistic creations - paintings, prints, carvings and such.
 
The Old Market still has the widest variety of souvenirs, as well as the best selection of items such as baskets, silver work and musical instruments. It also offers an interesting local ambiance, but the boutiques, galleries and specialty shops offer generally higher quality items and a more sophisticated selection of Cambodian products. Of particular interest are the traditional craft workshops and silk farms where you can see crafts in the making as well as buy the final product.
 
When purchasing local crafts, be selective in your purchase as there might also be some fakes. Most of the crafts, particularly the carvings, silk products and silverwork are hand-made, making each piece a unique work. Masters as well as students produce much of what is available, so some pieces are significantly better than others.
 

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