Aerial view of Siem Reap on a picture-perfect day from an airliner en route to Ho Chi Minh City. Capital of Cambodia's northwestern Siem Reap Province, this laid back town is the gateway to the world-famous Angkor Archaeological Park. Its name means, "Siam Defeated", which refers to the rout of an invading Thai army by King Ang Chan I (1516-1566), after he refused to pay tribute to King Maha Chakkraphat of Ayutthaya.
Although little more than a village when the French acquired Angkor on March 23, 1907, Siem Reap grew as the popularization of Angkor spurred tourism. This continued until 1975, when the Khmer Rouge forced the evacuation of all of Cambodia's towns and cities. It is only since Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot's death in 1998, that Siem Reap started on the road to recovery. Now, it is Cambodia's fastest growing city, undergoing a rapid transformation into a modern tourist hub for the nearby UNESCO World Heritage site. In 2011, Cambodia had 2.3 million visitors; half visited Angkor Wat. (Brian K. Smith photo | View slideshow)
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When people think of Cambodia, the two top things that come to mind are Angkor and the Killing Fields. However, the country is developing rapidly with more areas opening up for tourism, such as its beaches and offshore islands. To learn more about Cambodia, read our articles and see our photos. Have any questions or comments? Become an Adventurocity community member and share them on our spam-free message boards.