I'll be stopping in Siem Reap for a few days next month. Besides Angkor Wat, what are the main attractions? Can you recommend a hotel to stay in, as well as a couple of local tour companies that organise day trips to places of interest around the city? Hotel De La Paix (www.hoteldelapaixangkor.com; 00 855 63 966 000) is one of Siem Reap's most well-known luxury hotels. It is within walking distance of the markets and a 10-minute drive from Angkor Wat. Double rooms cost from US$218 (Dh800), including taxes and complimentary Wi-Fi access.
Angkor Village Resort and Spa (www.angkorvillage.com; 00 855 63 963 561), with its palace-style wooden facade and cosy "cottage rooms", offers a more traditional atmosphere. Located close to Angkor Archaeological Park, the resort has a meandering, river-like pool and is popular for the dinner shows that is holds every evening in its own theatre (8pm to 9.30pm). Doubles cost from $159 (Dh584) per night, including breakfast and taxes.
In Siem Reap, spend an afternoon browsing around the Angkor National Museum (www.angkornationalmuseum.com; 00 855 63 966 601), which comprises eight galleries offering a detailed insight into everything from ancient Khmer history to the area's archaeological finds. Nearby is Psar Chaa, an old flea market that is the place to go for a taste of Cambodian cuisine and a spot of inexpensive shopping.
Some of the must-see attractions around Siem Reap include Kbal Spean, or the Valley of a Thousand Lingas. About 50 kilometres north-east of Siem Reap town, it is famous for its waterfalls, jungle trails and a centuries-old stone mural of the Hindu deity Vishnu. Make the time to visit Koh Ker (entrance Dh18), a temple complex that once used to be the Khmer capital. It is about a three-hour car ride from Siem Reap. Prasat Balang, the main temple, is a magnificent seven-tier pyramid that sits in the midst of several well-preserved ruins.
Spend a day exploring Tonle Sap, Cambodia's most important freshwater lake and river system. Designated as an Unesco biosphere in 1997, it still remains home to several floating village communities. Terre Cambodge (www.terrecambodge.com), a local tour company, organises day trips to Kampong Phluk, a floating village on Tonle Sap. Terre Cambodge's Great Lake cruise aboard the Jaraï, a traditional wooden sampan, goes upriver through a settlement of stilt houses along the causeways and canals, and into the dense jungle to wooden dugouts where visitors can stop for a swim and try their hand at the local fishing techniques. Prices start at $60 (Dh220) per person and include all transportation, meals and the services of an English-speaking guide.
Osmose Ecotours (osmosetonlesap.net) is the tourism branch of Osmose, a local organisation dedicated to protecting the environment. It offers tailor-made, guided community-based trips to Prek Toal, a bird sanctuary on Tonle Sap (don't forget to bring binoculars), and to the village of Pech Kantiel. The trip also includes a hike to the Environmental Research station at the top of the village and a tour of the surrounding forests. From $55 (Dh200) per person (depends on the itinerary and number of people visiting), including transportation (road and river), all meals and ecotourism fees.
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