The pagodas of Siem Reap may not be as old as Angkor, just a few hundred years... but the everyday Buddhist rites are eternal. Superb carpentry, masonry and woodwork, intricate painted frescoes mix with serene stupas to create a leisurely self guided walking tour.
Sambor Prei Kuk, also known as Isanapura was the capital of Chenla in the 7th century. Most buildings were built under the reign of king Isanavarman I. The road from Kompong Thom to Sambor Prei Kuk is about 30 km, and starts 5 or 6 km North of Kompong Thom. At the fork in the road, go right (left on National Road 6 heads back to Siem Reap). There is a lot less traffic, the unpaved road is in fairly good condition after the rains and the countryside is peaceful.
Let's have a look a what the local 21st century supermarkets have to offer in Siem Reap. Lucky, Angkor Markets, Thai Huot and Chao Ang Hok are conveniently located in the centre of town and should provide enough grocey supplies for most travellers.
Traffic in Phnom Penh is seriously bad. You cannot go anywhere fast, not even in a motorcade. Public transport includes cyclo, moto, remorque and taxi.
Let us introduce you to some alcoholic beverages that are popular in Cambodia so that you can taste local drinks when you are visiting Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Angkor: Cambodian beer, Cambodian palm wine and Cambodian rice wine!
Wat Athvea is believed to have been built under the reign of King Suryavarman II in the late 11th or early 12th century, about the same time as Angkor Wat. Wat Athvea always makes a pleasant stop. There usually are children playing around, and few visitors to Angkor actually make it here.
Krol Romeas, the Elephant Circle, remains a mystery today. It seems to be one of the only non-religious structures in Angkor to have been built in stone (and that has therefore survived Cambodia's tropical climate for hundreds of years).
The Giant Puppet Parade has been taking place in Siem Reap since 2007. It is a community project that involves children from orphanages, schools and NGOs in the creation of the giant puppets.
Most visitors to Siem Reap come to visit the temples of Angkor. For those who stay a bit longer or who get templed-out after a few days, but still hunger for cultural visits, a tour of Siem Reap’s wats (or modern pagodas) can be a perfect outing.
Kralan, a typically Cambodian savoury snack, which consists of sticky rice cooked in coconut milk black eyed peas or bean stuffed in bamboo. The cooking is a lengthy and fuel consuming process. The eating is fast and easy.