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Nestled between rice paddies and stretched along the Siem Reap River, the small provincial town of Siem Reap serves as the gateway to the ancient temple ruins of the Khmer Empire. With a distinct colonial and Chinese style of architecture this town emanated from a cluster of old villages, but today is alive with culture, restaurants and pubs. There is a vast array of delicious cuisine on offer in the many restaurants and don't forget to enjoy a local performance of Apsara dancing!
Excursions are available to the surrounding paddy countryside and boat trips on the great Tonle Sap Lake to fishing villages and bird sanctuaries. Siem Reap is the hub for the Angkor Archaeological Park, Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, which encompasses dozens of temple ruins including the legendary Angkor Wat whose archaeological significance and visual impact sets it amongst other wonders of the world, such as the Pyramids, Machu Picchu and the Taj Mahal.
Temples of Angkor
The main attraction to Siem Reap is undoubtedly the temples of Angkor. Spread throughout a large area from the main town there are individual circuits that our guides will take you to with a flexibility to ensure you avoid the regular tourist track. The central circuit includes the centrepiece of Angkor Wat, one of the largest religious monuments in the world, often seen at sunrise or sunset, the Bayon Temple, located at the centre of the magnificent Angkor Thom compound, with the majestic character created from over 200 faces carved on the towers, the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King, and Ta Phrom temple, where the luxuriant tropical vegetation has enveloped the temple.
For those wanting to explore further afield, whilst the journey can be long, you are rewarded with less visited temples but no less impressive. Banteay Srei, the only temple not to be built by a King, is covered with some of the most beautiful deep and intricate carvings of any Angkorian temple. The Rolous Group of temples are among the earliest temples built and marked the beginning of the classic period Khmer art. Beng Mealea is similar to Angkor Wat in size but its current state is dominated by the jungle; trees have grown out of towers and vines entangle columns, making for some fantastic photographs. Koh Ker is another temple complex which represents the remnants of the capital of the Khmer Empire from 928 AD - 944 AD, away from the tourist masses the premier ruin of the complex is Prasat Thom, an imposing seven tiered pyramids. Banteay Chhmar, being brought back to its former glory through local work, is well known for its intricate carvings and long walls of bas-relief. Vast and ruinous, it is one of the few temples to feature the enigmatic Bayon-style giant faces with their mysterious smiles.
Best time to travel
The best time to travel would be during the dry season of October to March, avoiding the monsoon season of June to September. Temperatures remain fairly constant year round.
Phnom Penh or Siem Reap via Bangkok
12 hours and 30 minutes
GMT + 7 hours
Issued on arrival
Yellow Fever certificate if arriving from an endemic area
Our experts can tailor-make the perfect holiday to suit your individual requirements, however, if you need inspiration or a starting point, below are some of our suggested trips and experiences:
Nights: 12 | from £5,765pp
Images of Indochina & Angkor Wat, visiting Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An, Danang, Ho Chi Minh City, Angkor Wat And Bangkok. Find out more
Holiday type: Group departure
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Below are some of our suggested places to stay:
Annie, Brandon, Debbie, Margaret, Vicky Hamlin, Vicky Smith and Rachel - are experts in designing travel experiences across the region to suit your personal needs, interests and budget. Their intimate knowledge of every hotel and resort featured in our Orient, India, Australasia and Indian Ocean portfolio, together with our own network of offices throughout these areas, allows us to offer unique in-depth knowledge, unparalleled insider access and the VIP service for which Abercrombie & Kent is renowned.
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