Siem Reap, which means "Siam defeated," based on a 15th-century battle with Cambodia's neighbors to the west, has emerged as a modern, friendly and elegantly low-key city with highly sophisticated shopping, dining, and nightlife options. After a long day at the temples you'll be happy to spend your evening strolling along the Siem Reap River, and dining at an outdoor table on a back alley in the hip old French quarter or Alley West off the more boisterous Pub Street, which is closed to traffic in the evening.The Old Market area is a big draw and the perfect place to shop for souvenirs; dig through the silk, wood and silver ornaments and accessories and you may find your treasure. Many of the colonial buildings in the area were destroyed during the Khmer Rouge years, but many others have been restored and turned into world-class resorts and restaurants.You could spend an entire afternoon in the Old Market area, wandering from shop to shop, café to café, gallery to gallery. It changes every month, with ever more delights in store. Long gone are the days when high-end souvenirs (the legal kind) came from Thailand. Today numerous shops offer high-quality Cambodian silks, Kampot pepper and other Cambodian spices, and herbal soaps and toiletries made from natural Cambodian products.
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Things You Can't Miss
One of the world's architectural wonders, the sprawling stone temple complex of Angkor Wat holds statues. art, bas-reliefs. The fit climbs to the top.
Founded by a former child fighter for the Khmer Rouge, the Cambodian Landmine Museum displays maiming devices and explains de-mining.
National Geographic Image Collection / Alamy
Take a boat or engage a guide to drive to the Bird Sanctuary at Prek Toal to see ibis, pelicans and various kinds of storks. Tours also are offered.
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Must Reads Before You Go
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