The name Siem Reap literally means “Siam Defeated”. These days, however, the only rampaging hordes are the tourists heading to the Angkor Archaeological Park. This once quaint village has become the largest boom town and construction site in Cambodia. It’s quite laid-back and a pleasant place to stay while touring the temples and a nice compromise between observing Cambodian life and enjoying the amenities of modern services and entertainment, thanks to a large expatriate community.
Since Siem Reap is a major tourist destination, prices in many instances are higher than elsewhere in Cambodia. Expect to receive almost constant offers for motodop and tuk-tuk rides, along with everything else which drivers may be able to offer to you.
Be sure to pick up your free Siem Reap Angkor Visitors Guide and the equally free and useful Siem Reap Pocket Guide from your hotel/guesthouse. It contains lots of info on Siem Reap and the Angkor Archaeological Park, including hotel/bar/restaurant/shop info, travel info, and maps. For the eco-sensitive tourist, check out “Stay Another Day: Cambodia,” a detailed guide with local spots that support the environment and community. Another address is the ConCERT tourist office, a local NGO committed to raising the standards of responsible tourism and ecotourism activities and providing information on the causes and effects of poverty in Cambodia, volunteering opportunities and ecotours.
APSARA (the acronym is based on the French for the “Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap” and also the Sanskrit for a female spirit of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist mythology) has a very informative website detailing the history and architecture (in 6 languages) and endorsed by the recently deceased King of Cambodia.