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Where to visit in Siem Reap?
Where to visit in Siem Reap?
Siem Reap (ខេត្តសៀមរាប) is a little but fast growing city, located on the north eastern side of the Tonle Sap Lake (បឹងទន្លេរសាប), Cambodia (ប្រទេសកម្ពុជា). The main reason that makes this city growing so fast is, this city is the main access for whoever want to visit Angkor Wat (អង្គរវត្ត). Cambodia is a hot country for travelers nowadays, and Siem Reap is hottest than ever. The center remains quite a bit a rural old town, with french style houses and shops. But what you notice now when you walk 5 minutes in the center is the impressive amounts of hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and bars of every kind, shape and dimension. Some of them are new and cleaned, some others not. These 2 dimensions, these 2 souls of Siem Reap make this city an explosive mix. The area around the old market is crowded with locals and foreigners all day long. A few steps far, and you are in the middle of the bars area, where the fun lasts till the sun shines again.
In the center is located the Tourism Office, but it seems that the best way to get info is to ask to your Hotel or guesthouse. You can make international calls straightforward. You can find many internet coffee with international calling services. The quality of the internet connection is often acceptable (you can view this website) but considerably slower then the western standards. The quality of the voice communication can be a problem, especially for overseas calls. You can find better quality connections simply "renting" a mobile phone on the street. There are a few phone booths around the old market, where they also sell international phone cards.
Money: you can pay everywhere both in US dollars or Cambodian Riel (r). You can exchange your money in dollars or Riel in the markets or in one of the many banks, all locate in the old market area (Psar Chaa), like Mekong Bank, Canadia Bank, Cambodia Asia Bank and others. Expect to pay a commission around 2%. 1$ is about 4000r.
Books and guides about Cambodia, its history and Angkor can be bought everywhere, but it can be nice to buy from one of the many kids selling them on the street. The are many free mini-guides and flyers about Siem Reap, giving information about hotels, restaurants, pubs and events. One of the best is The Siem Reap Angor Visitors Guide, usually coming out quarterly. These publications exist thanks to the advertisers, that are hotels, restaurants and so on. Consider this also when you read them.
It can happen that you get sick, or have an accident, little or big: for these cases, Angkor have 2 main hospitals, one for children and one for adult, but if anybody get seriously sick, it's better to move it to Bangkok, as the medical standards are not properly high, and there is the risk to be more sick.
Cambodian Beggar inside the Angkor area
On the streets there are many beggars. If you know just a little little bit of Cambodian history, you can recognize many of them as victims of land mines. In this country there is no social security network and the government doesn't support them. Be also aware that when you start to give, you will often have many more asking around you. If you want to be generous do it with discretion.
The people in Siem Reap are really warm and friendly: if you smile back it will be greatly appreciated. Be patient while waiting for your food and your drink, it may take a long time. And Khmer food taste delicious, so it fully worth the wait!!!