I came to Siem Reap in September 2022 without any expectations or a plan. It was simply time to move on from the busy capital, Phnom Penh, and venture out to explore Cambodia and have an adventure.
When I arrived in town after the 6-hour bus ride from Phnom Penh, I took a Tuk Tuk to my hotel. The drive along the riverside surprised and astonished me.
“Where am I?” I said to myself.
Am I still in Cambodia in South East Asia or back in Europe?
The town was so clean, the roads and river lined with well-maintained ancient trees and green areas—the architecture also took me aback.
The city center boasts beautiful, stylish colonial buildings with many small guest houses, restaurants, and cafes.
After spending 8 months in the hustling and bustling modern skyscraper-filled city of Phnom Penh, this posed a small culture class in my mind.
How can Siem Reap be so different from Phnom Penh and the south of Cambodia, Kep, and Kampot – both sleepy fishing villages?
I soon figured out the answer – Angkor Wat!
The magnificent Angkor Wat and its many surrounding temples are among the greatest wonders of Cambodia
The grounds are enormous, and the details of each temple are mindblowing!
“Angkor Wat is the biggest religious complex on the planet.
The complex’s main temple, Angkor Wat, puts Vatican City to shame – it’s four times the size! Plus, the entire city of Angkor used more stone than all the Egyptian pyramids combined and took over an area larger than modern-day Paris.” Blog.topdeck.travel
Siem Reap was built to emulate the beauty of Angkor Wat
No building in Siem Reap can stand taller than the Angkor Wat temple, which is 213 ft / 65 m.
Along with the height restriction of buildings, the village became a city built mainly by the French when they discovered Angkor Wat in the 19th century.
“Siem Reap was little more than a village when French explorers discovered Angkor in the 19th century. With the return of Angkor to Cambodian, or should that be French, control in 1907, Siem Reap began to grow, absorbing the first wave of tourists.
The Grand Hotel D’ Angkor opened its doors in 1929, and the temples of Angkor remained one of Asia’s leading draws until the late 1960s, luring visitors, including Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Kennedy.
With the advent of war and the Khmer Rouge, Siem Reap entered a long slumber from which it only began to awake in the mid-1990s.”Angkorfocus.com
Please also read my story:
Visiting and living in Siem Reap
As mentioned – there’s something magical about Siem Reap. It grounds you, makes you relax, sit back, and take life more slowly.
That, however, doesn’t make you lazy. On the contrary, the serenity and easy-going lifestyle inspire and make you far more productive.
Not only that – I’ve found that living in Siem Reap has calmed my mind and made me live healthier and happier than in any other place I’ve visited.
That says a lot – I have lived in 7 countries and 3 continents during the past 45 years, plus I’ve traveled the world for pleasure and work multiple times.
I soon fell l in love with Siem Reap and Cambodia, which is why I currently lay my hat here. I don’t see that changing any time soon.
If Siem Reap and Cambodia are not on your travel agenda, I urge you to move it to the top spot, hop on a plane and check out the Kingdom of Wonders – Cambodia.
You will not be disappointed.