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Siem Reap Location Profile

Siem Reap Location Profile

Overview

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Known affectionately as Temple Town, Siem Reap is one of the most intriguing places in Southeast Asia and one of the most visited destinations in Cambodia, mainly due to the attraction of the Angkor Wat Archaeological Park. The city is located in Siem Reap Province which is the 10th largest province in Cambodia.

The balance of being home to an iconic wonder of the world and a growing modern city is striking in Siem Reap. Many foreign nationals have chosen to relocate to Siem Reap every year in the north of Cambodia as it is one of the most popular areas in the country to start a business especially for those in the F&B, hospitality and tourism industries. 

This also means a growing expatriate population is settling here while development continues to pour in to cater for the booming tourism industry. There have also been improvements in creating world-class MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibition) facilities to incentivize international business delegations.

In addition to the lure of Angkor Wat, Tonle Sap Lake is an integral ecological hub in Cambodia, and the largest freshwater lake in SEA and the surrounding areas are still vital for agriculture, fishing and ecotourism.

Key Information

In 802 AD, King Jayawaman II unified the Kingdom of Khmer and built the capital on the north bank of Tonle Sap Lake, named "Angkor". A succession of kings of all dynasties constructed palaces and temples, and Angkor gradually became the religious and spiritual centre of the Khmer people.

In 1431, the Thais invaded and the Khmers were forced to leave Angkor and establish a new capital in Phnom Penh. Since then, Angkor was largely forgotten by the world until 1860 when a French botanist Henry Mohart came to Siem Reap to collect plant specimens, and he ‘rediscovered” Angkor Wat. 

The Angkor Wat Archaeological Park’s restoration work and conservation has been ongoing and is supported by many international organisations while new discoveries of the complexity and the size of the area are still being discovered. The area is sacred to the Khmer people and is a UNESCO heritage site.

Visitors to Siem Reap are beginning to see a moderation of sorts with tourist growth stabilizing at 5.4% year-on-year. According to data from the Ministry of Tourism, almost 40% of tourist arrivals in Cambodia are from China while tourists from Western countries are on a steady decline. 

In 2019, 3.9 million passengers used the Siem Reap International Airport and a new international airport is being built, the Siem Reap Angkor International Airport, which is due to be completed by 2023.

In terms of residential space, Siem Reap has its first major condominium developments in the pipeline but most development has been focused on the tourism and hospitality sector as well as improving the city infrastructure. It was only in recent years that developers have taken interest in Siem Reap’s residential development potential, while the competition in the hotel sector mainly serves tourists in the region, this new residential market is not taking shape.

The prime locations are around the Old Market/Pub Street area because of the constant stream of tourists it attracts and its central and easily accessible location. However, the spaces are very limited, and the lease conditions are complex.

Adventure tourism, eco-tourism and golf courses are just a few of the new attractions available in Siem Reap. The city and Angkor Wat have also repeatedly won international travel and destination awards. Despite these feats, hotel options in the city are incredibly affordable for high standards. Some of the notable hotels include Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor (established in 1887) and Viroth’s Hotel, which was awarded the top Global 2020 Travellers Choice Awards for Hotels Overall.

The population of the Siem Reap province is approximately a little over 1,000,000 residents, according to the Cambodian General Population Census 2019, and is growing at a rate of 2.5% per year. The province has an area of 10,299 square kilometers and a population density of about 100 people per square kilometre. 

Among the twelve administrative regions of the province, the most populous is the central Siem Reap province, accounting for 20% of the province's population. Nevertheless, even considering the increase in the number of tourists, the population of Siem Reap has in some areas doubled or even tripled at different times of the year.

Hotels and restaurants are concentrated in a small area, making the city centre easy to navigate and easy to escape. The rest of the province is relatively unaffected by tourists.

Due to the Khmer Rouge, in Cambodia, there are very few “old people” - only 5% of the population in Siem Reap is over 61 years old - and the average life expectancy is only 63 years old. The balance between men and women is almost equal, 51% of Siem Reap Province’s population is female and 49% is male. In general, Cambodian women live longer, and their life expectancy is close to 66 years.

Things To Do in Siem Reap

The increase in tourists and permanent residents, presents a ripe opportunity for retailers planning to enter the Siem Reap marketplace. Shophouses and small scale markets continue to line Siem Reap’s main roads to complement tourism activities. But these traditional retail forms are slowly facing competition from purpose-built malls.

According to Knight Frank, Siem Reap has 22,000 sqm NLA (Net Lettable Area) of retail space, mainly coming from T Galleria, Angkor Duty Free, and The Heritage Walk. The completion of other projects in Siem Reap is set to increase the cumulative retail space to 70,500 sqm NLA.

Angkor Night Market is full of small stalls, and is still a popular local and tourist attraction with a range of goods on sale, from food to arts and crafts. Noon Night Market has a large number of shops selling tourist souvenirs such as t-shirts, handicrafts, crocodile leather products, and accessories, with WiFi and ATM’s.

Lucky Mall is a newer larger local mall with a modern supermarket in Siem Reap.

Siem Reap’s urban area includes the Royal Independence Garden, the King Sihanouk Palace, the old market, as well as many Cambodian specialty jewelry shops and handicraft shops, and local Cambodian products.

Angkor Wat and the Angkor Park contain the ruins of the capital city of the Angkor Dynasty in Cambodia; the preserved buildings and Angkor's monuments are famous for its magnificent architecture. Sunset and sunrise trips are high on most visitors' agendas.

Some of the most famous and popular temples within the Angkor Park complex include:

Angkor Thom: The inner royal city built by Jayavarman VII, in the 12th century. It is renowned for its temples, in particular, Bayon Temple: with a total of 54 giant Erawan Buddha statues, symbolizing 54 provinces of the Angkor Dynasty. The corners of these Buddha statues are slightly raised, and they are called "Khmer Smiles".

Ta Prohm: Built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries, it is located approximately one kilometre east of Angkor Thom. It is particularly iconic with tourists for having huge tree roots embedded in the ancient structures. 

There are dozens of sites within the Angkor Archaeological Park and most temples can be visited one of two circuits- the grand circuit or the small circuit routes. The temples include Ta Prohm, Preah Khan, Banteay Kdei, Phnom Bakheng, Ta Keo, Ta Som, East Mebon, Drukhsh, Pre Rup. and Neak Pean.

Siem Reap may not be the biggest city in Cambodia but it has one of the largest varieties of food and excellent dining options. Since the tourist industry is so huge there are plenty of restaurants that cater for all budgets from the very affordable to the luxurious and from a range of cuisines to cater for the local and international palettes.

Siem Reap has cuisine from nearly every culture on the planet. There are Indian restaurants, Western, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and, of course, Khmer. Popular bug snacks and modern Khmer fusion eateries are popular too and coffee shops have become abundant with great quality roasted beans available.

Cooking classes have also become a popular activity with half-day sessions taking visitors on a culinary tour of popular Cambodian dishes.

There are also a few supermarkets like Lucky or Thai Huot and local markets where you can find fresh produce and dry goods at affordable prices. Even grocery delivery apps and food delivery apps have entered the Siem Reap market.

Siem Reap also banned dog meat in July 2020, which was seen as a progressive step for the city and the Kingdom.

The expat and tourist community is very social in Siem Reap, which often means meeting up in the evenings for drinks, cocktails, or live music with Pub Street the focal point of the city’s nightlife.

Miss Wongs is great for an evening cocktail but there is also a growing craft beer scene in Siem Reap, you can visit the BrewPub for local crafts on tap.

Long's Bar is another popular Western-style bar serving great cocktails, located in one of the many laneways which are home to countless bars and eateries. Soul Train Reggae Bar is also popular and offers music and affordable drinks and a mixed crowd.

Pub Street caters for everyone with a wide selection of venus, affordable local drinks and it is a fun place to visit every once in a while if you are living in Siem Reap and a must-do if you are visiting only once. 

There are also some late-night venues and clubs in the area central to Siem Reap such as Temple Club and X-Bar.

Local cultural shows are plentiful, often including catering and drinks for large tour groups. The Phare Cambodian Circus is very popular and comes highly recommended.

There are many companies in Cambodia operating long-distance bus services between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh or to other destinations in the Kingdom. Operating companies include: Giant Iibs, Capitol Transport, Neak Krohorm, Sorya Transport, Mekong Express, Paramount Angkor Express. 

The waterways can be navigated between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap by boats, the general voyage is about 5 or 6 hours. However, this is dependent on the season (rainy season would be better) and the boats are sometimes forced to alter their timetable based on the levels of the rivers. 

Within Siem Reap, tuk-tuks are the most popular forms of transport and ride-hailing apps are now popular  (such as Grab or PassApp). In Siem Reap, foreigners are not meant to be allowed to rent motorcycles and bicycles are becoming more and more popular and can be rented from hotels and shops in the city at a price of $ 1-2 a day. Electric bikes have also become another option.

Taxis are available and can be rented for inner city travel or to explore the temples as well as more comfortable trips between cities, such as to Phnom Penh. Prices should be negotiated and the times can be more flexible.

With many hotel accommodation options, transportation will be provided to and from the airport or for day trips.

The province’s Angkor Wat temple complex has turned Siem Reap into a world-renowned travel destination, and it received 2.2 million foreign tourists in 2019. 

International education in Siem Reap lags behind the capital’s (Phnom Penh) offerings, although an increasing number of international schools have opened. 

The city is home to the Royal Angkor International Hospital, which is affiliated with Bangkok Hospital Medical Center and provides ambulance and medevac services

The Siem Reap International Airport is currently the second biggest airport in the Kingdom and 3.9 million passengers used the Siem Reap International Airport in 2019. 

The site for the new airport is 51km southeast of downtown Siem Reap and 40km from Angkor Archaeological Park. It is due to be completed by 2023 and once finished, the airport will have a maximum handling capacity of 10 million passengers per annum.

Explore the Area

Siem Reap is located about 314 kilometres northwest of Phnom Penh, connected by National Road 6. The city is divided into 11 districts with one central town and 13 Sangkats, including 87 communes and 921 villages. 

The province is home to the Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and the vast waterway was deemed the first Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1997. This area is also home to many Vietnamese and Cham communities living in floating villages around the lake.

Phnom Kulen National Park is also located in the province, approximately 48 kilometres from the Siem Reap city centre. It attracts visitors to its two waterfalls and the two sites most popular are the Thousand Lingas at Kbal Spean, and Preah Ang Thom pagoda with its giant reclining Buddha. 

Given its cultural heritage and ecological features, Siem Reap is a key contributor to Cambodia’s tourism industry, a key pillar of the Cambodian economy.


Real Estate in Siem Reap


Khans in Siem Reap

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