If you want to visit the Angkor temple ruins, Siem Reap is your base. It is less than 20km away from the Angkor Wat and other magnificent temples to the north.
I spent nearly two weeks in Cambodia, spending the first week in Siem Reap in the north before visiting Phnom Penh via Battambang in the west. Yes, it was a big detour but it was worth it.
Siem Reap is a cute little town, close to the former capital of the Khmer empire, which is now in ruins. And yes, it is 312km away from Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.
Siem Reap itself means “Siam defeated.” The Khmer capital was captured by Siam in the 15th century. That caused the Khmers to move its capital to Phnom Penh. In the 16th century, the Khmers liberated Siem Reap from Siam in a complete fashion. Hence the name.
Unfortunately for the Khmers, the Siamese were eventually victorious over the Khmer empire. Cambodia remained under Siamese rule until the French came in the 19th century.