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www.hotsia.com > Combodai > Siem Reap
 

 

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 towns 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 towns 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.
 

Siem Reap province is 10,299 square kilometres big and definitely one of the most famous ones in Cambodia. Its 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.
 

 

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 (See page 33).


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.

 

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 DAngkor, 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 youre looking for something a bit more conventional, there are a variety of places from which to choose. The piano bar at Grand DAngkor, 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 Malones, 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.
 

 

Where to stay

Siem Reap has an ever-growing number of hotel and guesthouse rooms, and a variety that is wide enough to satisfy all tastes and requirements. Though staying right in the middle of town is a bit more convenient to the Old Market and Sivatha road area, the town is relatively small making any location almost equally convenient as any other.

There are now several four and five-star hotels in town, especially along the airport road. Less expensive mid-range rooms with a/c, cable TV, and hot water are available in a variety of styles and look and begin at about $15 or $20 but average $25 - $60. More expensive usually means newer, more stylish rooms, and more hotel services. Budget guesthouses, usually family-run, cost $2-$10 a night. Dozens of budget places are scattered across town, with a concentration in the Wat Bo and Taphul Village areas. Almost all guesthouses and hotels can arrange anything a tourist might need including tours, transport and information.

For more information or booking, please visit: www.tourismcambodia.com/hotels
 

 

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.
 

What to see

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.

 

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.

BACKGROUND
Bakong was the center of the town of Hariharalaya, a name derived from the god Hari-Hara; a synthesis of Siva and Visnu. It is a temple representing the cosmic Mount Meru.

Four levels leading to the Central Sanctuary correspond to the worlds of mythical beings (Nagas, Garudas, Raksasas and Yaksas).

LAYOUT
The temple of Bakong is built on an artificial mountain and enclosed in a rectangular area by two walls. It has a square base with five tiers. The first, or outside, enclosure (not on the plan) (900 by 700 meters, 2,953 by 2,297 feet) surrounds a moat with an embankment and causeways on four sides, which are bordered by low Naga balustrades. The second and smaller enclosure (1) has an entry tower (2) of sandstone and laterite in the center of each side of the wall. There were originally 22 towers inside the first enclosures. After passing through the entry tower at the east one comes to a long causeway (3) decorated with large seven-headed serpents across a moat. Long halls (4) on each side lie parallel to the eastern wall. They were probably rest houses for visitors. Two square-shaped brick building at the northeast and southeast (5) corners are identified by rows of circular holes and an opening to the west. The vents in the chimneys suggest these buildings served as crematoriums. There was originally a single building of this type at the northwest and southwest corners but today they are completely ruined. On each side of the causeway just beyond the halls there are two square structures with four doors (6). The inscription of the temple was found in the one on the right.

Further along the causeway, there are two long sandstone buildings (7) on each side, which open to the causeway. These may have been storehouses or libraries. To the north and south of the storehouses receptively there is a square brick sanctuary tower (8). There are two more on each side of the central platform, making a total of eight. Decoration on the towers is in brick with a heavy coating of stucco. The towers, with one door opening to the east and three false doors, have a stairway on each side, which is decorated with crouching lions at the base. The two to the east of the central platform have a unique feature, a double sandstone base, The door entrance and the false doors were uniformly cut from a single block of sandstone, The decoration on the false doors is exceptionally fine, especially that on the tower on the right in the front row, the false door of which has remarkable Kala handles. The corners of the towers are decorated with female and male guardians in niches.
Tip: the lintels of the west towers are in the best condition.
A long building with a gallery and a porch opening to the north (9) is situated close to the western wall (on the left); it is mostly demolished.

CENTRAL AREA (BASE AND TOWERS)
The square-shaped base (10) has five tiers with a stairway on each of the four sides and, at the base, a step in the shape of a moonstone. Remains of a small structure can be seen at the base of the stairway fairway flanked by two sandstone blocks, which may have held sculpted figures.

Elephants successively smaller in size stand at the corners of the first three tiers of the base. The fourth tier is identified by twelve small sandstone towers, each of which originally contained a linga. The fifth tier is framed by a molding decorated with a frieze of figures (barely visible) the ones on the south side are in the best condition.

CENTRAL SANCTUARRY
The Central Sanctuary (11) is visible from each of the five levels because of the unusual width of the tiers. The sanctuary is square with four tiers and a lotus-shaped top. Only the base of the original Central Sanctuary remains. The rest was constructed at a later date, perhaps during the twelfth century.

LOLEI
Location: Lolei is at Roluos, north of Bakong. A modern Buddhist temple is located in the grounds of Lolei near the central towers.
Access: Enter and leave the temple by the stairs at the east.
Tip: Beware of the ants during certain seasons near the top of the entrance steps.
Date: End of the ninth century (893)
Religion: Transitional between Prah Ko and Bakheng

BACKGROUND
Although Lolei is small it is worth a visit for its carvings and inscription. The temple of Lolei originally formed an island in the middle of a Baray (3,800 by 800 meters, 12,467 by 2,625 feet), now dry. According to an inscription found at the temple the water in this pond was for use at the capital of Hariralaya and for irrigating the plains in the area.

LAYOUT
The layout consists of two tiers with laterite enclosing walls and stairway to the upper level in the center of each side. Lions on the landings os the stairways guard the temple. A sandstone channel in the shape of a cross situated in the center of the four towers on the upper terrace is an unusual feature, the channels extend in the cardinal directions from a square pedestal for a linga. It is speculated the holy water poured over the linga flowed in the channels.

CENTRAL SANCTUARIES
Four brick tower with tiered upper portions, arranged in two rows, on the upper terrace make up the Central Sanctuaries. As the two-north towers are aligned on the east-west axis, it is possible the original plan had six towers, which probably shared a common base like that at Prah Ko.

Tip: The northeast tower is the best preserved.
The entrances of the doors to the towers are cut from a single block of stone, as at Bakong. The corners of the towers on the east are decorated with male guardians holding tridents and those of the west with female divinities holding flywhisks. They are sculpted in sandstone with a brick casing. The panels of the false doors have multiple figures. The inscriptions on the doorframes are exceptionally fine. The workmanship on the lintels is skilled and the composition balanced. Some noteworthy depictions are: Indra on an elephant with figures and Makaras spewing serpents (northeast tower); Visnu riding a Garuda with a branch of serpents (south-east tower).

 

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.

Tip: The stairs to the Central Sanctuary are in poor condition but the architecture and decoration of this temple can be viewed by walking around it (in a clockwise direction). Those who persist in climbing to the Central Sanctuary should use the north stairway. It was built in middle of the tenth century (947), perhaps begun by Harshavarman I and completed by Rajendravarman II, dedicated to Siva (Hindu) may have been a funerary temple for the parents of the king with following transitional between Bakheng and Koh ker

BACKGROUND
According to legend, the king fled during an attack on Angkor and was saved from being caught by the enemy when a large bird swooped down and spread its wings to shelter the king. The name of the temple derives from this legend.

Baksei Chamkrong was the first temple-mountain at Angkor built entirely of durable materials brick, laterite and sandstone. Even though it is small the balanced proportions and scale of this monument are noteworthy. Inscriptions on the columns of the door and the arches give the date of the temple and mention a golden image of Siva.

LAYOUT
Baksei Chamkrong is a simple plan with a single tower on top of a square tiered base with four levels of diminishing size (27 meters, 89 feet, a side at the base) built of laterite (1-4). The height from the ground to the top of the Central Sanctuary (7) is 13 meters (43 feet). Three levels of the base are undecorated but the top one has horizontal molding around it and serves as a base for the Central sanctuary. A steep staircase on each side of the base leads to the top. A brick wall (5) with an entry tower (6) and sandstone steps enclosed the temple. Although it has almost all disappeared vestiges are visible on the east side of the temple.

CENTRAL SANCTUARY (7)
The square central tower is built of brick and stands on a sandstone base. It has one door opening to the east with three false doors on the other sides. As is typical of tenth-century Khmer architecture, the columns and lintels are made of sandstone. A vertical panel in the center of each false door contains motifs of foliage on stems. The interior of the tower has a sunken floor and a vault with a corbel arch.

The finely worked decoction on the sandstone columns and horizontal beams above the doors imitates woodcarving. An outline divinity can be seen in the bricks at the corners of the tower. A three-headed elephant on the east lintel is finely carved.

 

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.

BACKGROUND
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.

LAYOUT
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 (5), a surrounding gallery (6) 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 (1) 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 (2)

The entry tower of the second enclosure (3) is in the shape of a cross with three passages; the two on either end are connected to the literate wall of the enclosure (4) 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 (6) 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 (7) 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 Samre from the east.
Date: middle of the 12th century
King: Suryavarman II (reigned 1113-1150)
Religion: Hindu (dedicated to vishnu)
Art Style: Angkor Wat

BACKGROUND
Banteay Samre 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 Samre 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 o f 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.
Tip: Access to the summit is difficult as much of the temple has collapsed and it is overgrown but for those stalwarts who want to go to the top, use the way with columns at the east and the temple of Phimeanakas on the left. Visitors should walk down the causeway, climb the steps to the first tier, turn left and walk around the temple, always keeping it on their right. It was built in middle of the 11th century (1060) by king Udayadityavarman II, dedicated to Siva (Hindu) with following Prasat Baphuon.

BACKGROUND
The grandeur of Baphuon as described above by Zhou Daguan is unrecognizable today because of the poor condition of the temple. The French were in the process of restoring this temple when they were forced leave Angkor in 1972 because of war. Baphuon is situated inside the royal city of Angkor Thom but dates from the eleventh century and was built before the city was established. An interesting feature of Baphuon are the bas-reliefs which are scenes carved in small squares.
Unfortunately few of these are visible because of the poor state of the temple. The narrative themes are realistic depictions of daily life and forest scenes.

LAYOUT
Baphuon is a single sanctuary temple-mountain situated on a high base. It is a symbolical representation of Mount Meru. A rectangular sandstone wall measuring 425 by 125 metres (1394 by 410 feet) encloses the temple (1). A long sandstone elevated approach (200 metres, 656 feet) at the east entrance (3) forms a bridge to the main temple. It is supported by three rows of short columns.
Tip: Before walking down the approach turn left at the east entry tower (2) and walk to the end of the gallery for a superb view of a four-faced tower of the Bayuon framed by a doorway of Baphuon. The approach is intercepted by a pavilion in the shape of a cross (4) with terraces on the left and right sides. Turn left and walk to the opening the approach. Continue to the view of the arrangement of the imposing pillars under the approach. Continue to the end of the gallery to see a rectangular paved pool (5).

The temple stands on a rectangular sandstone base with five levels that are approximately the same size, rather than the more common form of successively smaller levels. The first, second and third levels are surrounded by sandstone galleries. Baphuon is the first structure in which stone galleries with a central tower appear. Two libraries (6) in the shape of a cross with four porches stand in the courtyard. They were originally connected by an elevated walkway supported by columns.
The gallery of the enclosure collapsed and, at a later date , the stones from it were modeled into the shape of a reclining Buddha (7) that spans the length of the west wall ( the head is on the left, facing the temple) . It is an abstract form and the outline of this Buddha is difficult to distinguish. A stairway (8) leading to the summit begins in the middle of the Buddha.

The top level is in poor condition due to several collapses. Originally there was a Central Sanctuary with two wings. Each side of the entrance to the Central Sanctuary is carved with fine animated figures. If you look carefully you can see these from the ground on the west side.

Tip: The view from the top with Phnom Bakheng in the south and Phimeanakas in the north is magnificent.
 

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. Thats 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 Cambodias civil war and the long struggle against the Khmer Rouge that followed. Its 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.

 

Crocodile Farm
There is a crocodile farm on the south end of Siem Reap and they have about 300 crocodiles of various sizes and dispositions.

They charge US$ 1 admission for foreigners and 1,000 riel for Cambodians. You can buy stuffed crocs on the premises. Just head south on Sivutha Street, cross the bridge and its down another km from there.

 

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.
 

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 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

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. at the base of the stairway to re-hydrate after the trip.

River & Park Area
The Siem Reap River parkways and the big park in front of the Hotel Grand d'Angkor are nice for a jog, stroll and people watching, especially in the early evening hours when the locals are out in numbers. The river area is pleasant and the park is nicely landscaped. There are plenty of drink and snack vendors around. The kings Siem Reap residence is just across from the park.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 
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ͧѡ mr.Hotsia ç ç ѷ Brian Flatt