Siem Reap, Cambodia: Siem Reap and Angkor Wat
Only ten kilometers north of Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia is Siem Reap, the capital of the province of the same name. The Tonle Sap, as it should be called correctly, because sap means lake, is one of the most fish-rich inland waters in the world. And Siem Reap is a must for every traveler traveling through Cambodia. Because only five kilometers away is the famous oneAngkor Wat temple complexfrom the 12th century. The magical place is on an island, surrounded by a square moat. A bridge leads to a magnificent entrance gate, behind which the main temple is located. The temple itself, built of artfully designed sandstone, is not only a national symbol, but also part of the world cultural heritage.
Huge park with fascinating temples
In addition to Angkor Wat, there are a number of impressive temples. They are all located in a huge park of around 80 hectares. It is believed that there are many more temples hidden there. These cultural treasures have just not yet been recovered. In addition to the Angkor Wat temple complex, which is best known but is only part of a gigantic temple ensemble, other temples are worth seeing: Angkor Thom, Tayon and Ta Phrom, the jungle temple. A visit to Wat Bo, the city’s oldest Buddhist temple, is also worthwhile. On the walls you can admire representations from the life of Buddhas.
Like all of Cambodia, Siem Reap has had an eventful history. For many centuries it belonged to Siam. France colonized the country and made it part of French Indochina. Then the Khmer Rouge came, suppressed and kidnapped the population. The residents of Siem Reap were sent to the fields for forced labor. It was not until 1979, after a victory by Vietnamese troops, that the forced laborers returned and something like normality returned to the battered country. Since then, the country’s political situation has stabilized and Siem Reap has grown into a prosperous city. Since the country opened up to tourism, numerous hotels and restaurants have sprung up. And for many visitors, Siem Reap serves as a base from which to visit the legendary Angkor Wat.
The art came to life
Not to be missed is the Angkor National Museum, which opened its doors in 2008. There you can immerse yourself in the history of Cambodian handicrafts, which mainly include sculpture with stone and wood and the art of weaving. Cambodian dance and shadow theater were also brought to life. Many hotels offer their guests traditional dance performances. Likewise the shadow theater, which has a long tradition in Cambodia. The dolls are artfully handcrafted in Siem Reap.
The floating village
One of the special experiences is a visit to Chong Khneas, the floating village with houses on the water, quasi the port city of Siem Reap. You can take a boat through mangrove forests, take a look around the floating market, admire the floating church, the orphanage and the school.