Siem Reap Angkor, Cambodia,Kingdom of Wonder
Siem Reap is a province located in northwestern Cambodia on the shores of the TonleSap lake. The provincial capital is Siem Reap town. The name literally means "Siam Defeated", a reminder of the centuries old conflict between the Siamese and the Khmer. The province came under the control of the Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya and was later returned to Cambodia in 1907 after French gunboat diplomacy pressured Thai concession of the area. This area became part of a disputed territory between France and Siam(now Thailand) which led to the Franco-Thai war in 1941, resulting in victory for Thailand and a return back to Thai control. The province again reverted to Cambodia in 1946, after the end of WW2 and French diplomatic pressure. Today it is best known for the ruined temples of Angkor.
Through out the year tourists throng Cambodia. This country in Asia is famous for its wildlife and temples. Inside Cambodia there are many places that are equally important and fascinating. Siem Reap is one such town in this country. It has a rich historical past. The History of Siem Reap begins from the year 802. This place was inhabited by the Khemer tribe. Today it is the capital of Siem Reap Province. History of Siem Reap also includes the phase when this place was under French rule. As far as the History of Siem Reap goes, most of its temples were built during 11th and 12th century.
The country became a colony of France in the year 1847. Before that this country touched the highest feet in architecture and aestheticism. Its temples are the greatest proof of that time. They inspire awe and surprise even today.
Siem Reap History reached its ultimate height during the construction of the Angkor Tom. This place houses a collection of temples. Among these the most famous is the Angkor Wat. This temple was made by Jayavarman VII. All these temples reflect the superiority and power of the Khemer Kings. All other temples including the Terrace of the Elephant and Terrace of the Leper King were built by Jayavarman VII. All these temples show the sculptural brilliance that the craftsman had. It also shows the appreciation and the sophisticated taste of the Kings of Siem Reap. It was during this period from 802 to 1431 that the border of this country covered a vast area up to the border of Thailand and Burma.
Though Siem Reap later became a colony of the French it was soon taken over by Viet Minh army of Vietnam. This take over took place in the middle of 1950. However, the Pol Pot, an infamous leader took over this country. Later in 1978 Vietnam once again gained the control over Cambodia.
There are dozens of the temple ruins in the Siem Reap area. Your temple itinerary depends largely on how much time you have and your level of interest, though some temples are must sees, any itinerary should included the legendary ruins of the Angkor Wat and the giant face of Bayon. These two temples ruins offer the most spectacular and unique examples of Angkorian art and architecture. On the road trip to Bayon, you will see the South Gate of the Angkor Thom and some other minor ruins. As it is within walking distance of Bayon most itinerary can easily included Central Angkor Thom, with its artistically interesting terraces and massive “temple-mountain’’, Baphoun and Phimeanakas. Due to lighting condition, it is best to visit Angkor Wat in the Afternoon, so most the itinerary begin in the morning with the South Gate of the Angkor Thom and Bayon.
As your schedule allows, build the rest of your itinerary around visit each type of major ruin-temple-mountain such as Pre Rup, Takoa, Bakong and West Mebon, flat, sprawling monastic complexes such as Ta Prom, Preah Khann and Banteay Kdei and unique monument such as Neak Pean and Srah Srang. The Rolous Group, which comprises the monuments of an early Khmer Capital, lies 12 km west of Siem Reap outside the main temple complex. It is a bit out of the way, But offers some fine examples of early Angkorian art and should be included in two or three day itineraries. Of special note is the artistically exquisite but more distant temple, Banteay Srey. If there is any way of squeezing it into your itinerary, it is well worth it.
Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy with His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Baromneat Norodom Sihamoni as its head of state. Population is around 14.5 million, of which 90 per cent is ethnic Khmer and largely Theravada Buddhist. Khmer is the official language.
Cambodia is suitable to visit most of the year round because it lies in a tropical zone. The best time to visit Angkor is during the cooler months between November and March. From late May or June to late October or early November rains can be expected. Seldom, however, is a compete day ruined by constant rain. It makes going around the Angkor temples somewhat difficult because of muddy paths and slippery stones, but the sandstone monuments are truly beautiful after a rain storm. For those not used to heat and humidity, it should be remembered that Cambodia is in the tropics and even during the cooler month it will still feel very hot.
Cambodia Standard Time is seven hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. It is in the same time zone as Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
Lightweight, loose-fitting, cotton clothing is recommended and long-sleeved items should be included for protection from mosquitoes and the sun. It is not appropriate to wear very short shorts, nor for men to take off their shirts. Sturdy shoes with good support are recommended for visiting the temples. Hats are also essential against the sun.
The unit of currency in Cambodia is the Riel, but the US dollar is widely used throughout the country; small change, however, is usually given in riel. It is forbidden to take riels in or out of the country. Gold is also circulated in the markets. In an effort to wean people away from the use of American currency, a new range of notes and coins were introduced in March 1995. New notes in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and 100,000 were added to the existing notes of nominations of 500, 200, 100 and 50.
There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency you can bring in to Cambodia, but any amount over US$10,000 must be declared. The most readily converted currencies are the: US Dollar, Euro, Thai Baht, Japanese Yen and the British Pound. The value fluctuates, but as of June 2011, the rate was: 4000 Riels = US$1.
Payment for domestic air tickets and many hotels and restaurants must be paid for in cash, however the larger hotels now accept major credit cards. Most banks will give a cash advance with a credit card. Travelers cheques are not widely accepted, but they can be exchanged in most banks for a 2% service charge.