Siem Reap, in the northwestern corner of Cambodia, is the home of the ancient kingdom of Angkor, which dominated the region from the 9th to 13th century AD.
It combines two things I love – Asia and history – making it one of my favorite places anywhere.
This ancient Khmer kingdom has some interesting facts attached to it:
At its peak, it had an agricultural and aqueduct system which feed an incredible one million people.
The temple ruins of Angkor are spread out over a huge stretch of land, each temple outdoing the other in grandeur and scope until you come upon the most famous of them all – Angkor Wat.
This Khmer kingdom was Hindu in influence, not Buddhist. Hinduism was also one of its downfalls as more egalitarian religions came upon the scene supplanting it.
The ruins of Angkor had largely been forgotten to the world until a French explorer, Henri Mouhot, stumbbled upon it during an expedition in the 1860s. What a grand discovery it must have been – walking through the forsaken jungle to suddenly come across some of the most majestic ruins in the world.
A day touring the ruins (see pictures below) is completely exhilarating and awe-inspiring. I even found the modern day town of Siem Reap to be quite charming with wonderful cafes and restaurants and an easy relaxing atmosphere to kick back and enjoy.
It’s a place I want to return to. It’s a place I highly recommend to anyone on this side of the world. It truly is a must see. That’s why it is #3 on my Asia list.
Let’s review the countdown:
10. Malacca, Malaysia
9. Chiang Mai, Thailand
7. Hong Kong
6. southern Vietnam
5. Sabah, West Malaysia
4. Beijing, China
3. Siem Reap, Cambodia