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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Uncovering the treasures of Siem Reap

By Albert Alvarez

COMMON descriptions I have heard about Siem Reap have been, exotic, tranquil, serene and even sublime.

With all these good reviews about Siem Reap in Cambodia, I think it was worth taking a trip to see what the hype was all about.

Siem Reap has become a popular destination, because of the famous Unesco World Heritage site, Angkor Wat. You may have seen this temple in a movie or in documentaries on TV, but seeing the complex up close can be overwhelming. And to my surprise, aside from the Angkor Wat, there was so much more to see and do, in this very exotic and exciting destination.

To date, there are no direct flights from Cebu to Siem Reap, so allow travel agents or your own resourcefulness to check routes with airlines of choice, based on budget and schedules.

Like any trip, I would suggest that you read up on some basic facts about Siem Reap and Cambodia. Try to familiarize yourself with the popular destinations, lay out of the city and even the customs of the country. The question of where to stay is something important to me, based on the area, type of accommodation and price. For more information, try to check out these websites, and

Fortunately, Siem Reap is not as big as I thought it would be. I managed to walk a good portion of the city in a day. A small walking tour could take you to certain interesting points of the city. You could start at the heart of the city, which for me, would be Old Market. There are some interesting good deals to be made here.

Drop by Pub street, during the day and at night, to see what the social life is like in Siem Reap. Nearby, you can check out the Wat Preah Prom Rath, Wat Bo and Wat Damnak temples. Take a stroll along the Siem Reap River and make your way to the Royal Residence, the Royal Independence Gardens and the Angkor National Museums.

Then, when the sun goes down, make your way back to the Old Market via Sivutha Boulevard, passing by the Central Market, Noon Night Market and Angkor Night Market.

If you are not much of a shopper, check out the Khmer restaurants, other bars and cafes, where you can sample all sorts of food. My favorites were the chicken amok and the banana blossom salad.

Finally, the major attraction in Siem Reap is the Angkor Archeological Park. There are different day passes, such as the one-day, three-day or the seven-day pass. You can hire a guide, to give you a better understanding of the area and a vehicle as well, since the park is enormous. Due to the many number of temples,

I would probably suggest to see the Angkor Wat and the Angkor Thom (Bayon) first. If you have more time, check out Preah Khan, Ta Prohm and Phnom Bakheng. There are more temples such as Prasat Kravan, Bantay Srey, Neak Pean, Ta Som and so on. But you can make your own list of which temples you wish to see based on your own interest and schedule.

Like always, I would advise anyone going on a trip, to always note some important facts about your destination, such as telephone numbers and hotlines of the police, hospitals, banks, credit card companies, ports, airport, bus stations and the tourist office.

Siem Reap, for me, is now a destination I would recommend to anyone who wishes to see a bit of adventure as well as have some rest and recreation. The people are extremely friendly, the food is amazing and the places of interest possess a certain charm that is quite endearing.

I wish that you too will experience the treasures I have found in Siem Reap.

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