Siem Reap province is located in the Northwest of Cambodia. It is the major cultural tourism attraction in Cambodia, as it is the gateway to the world famous temple of Angkor and also the base for exploring the fabulous ancient capital of Khmer Empire. It is located 314 kilometers North-west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia and 15 kilometers north of Tonle Sap Lake, the greatest fresh water lake in Southeast Asia. It comprises 10 299 square kilometers and is bordered between two provinces, Kompong Thom at the east and Banteay Meanchey at the west. The name of the city literally means Siamese defeated, referring to the victory of the Khmer Empire over the army of the Thai kingdom in the 17th century. It is a small French Colonial-style town which situated picturesquely along the polluted Siem Reap River. Traces of French remnants have survived in a small quarter of colonial buildings around the Old Market to-day. It is the town where you will stay during your visit to Angkor Complex. Nowadays, Siem Reap offers a wide range of hotels including several elegant 5-star hotels, dozens of mid-range places and plenty of budget guesthouses - an amazing variety of restaurants, lots of shopping opportunities, and a vibrant nightlife.
At the turn of the millennium, Siem Reap was a town with few facilities, minor surfaced roads and little in the way of nightlife. Tourism industry catered largely to hardy backpackers willing to brave the tortuous road from the Thai border on the tailgate of a local pick-up truck. There were a couple of large hotels and a handful of budget guesthouses. Tuk-Tuks and taxis were non-existent and the trusty motor-bike cab was the chosen means of touring the temples of Angkor. The proximity of the Angkorian ruins turned Siem Reap into a boomtown in less than half a decade. Huge, expensive hotels have sprung up everywhere and budget hotels have mushroomed. Property values have soared to European levels and tourism has become a vast, lucrative industry. The Siem Reap of today is barely recognizable from the Siem Reap of the year 2000. Though some of the town's previous ramshackle charm may have been lost the developments of the last few years have brought livelihoods, if not significant wealth, to a good number of its citizens. This has been at a cost to the underprivileged people living within and beyond the town's limits that now pay inflated prices at the central markets and continue to survive on poorly paid subsistence farming and fishing. If Cambodia is a country of contrasts Siem Reap is the embodiment of those contrasts. Despite the massive shift in its economic fortunes, Siem Reap remains a safe, friendly and pleasant town. There is an endless choice of places to stay or dine and a host of possible activities awaiting the visitor.