Siem Reap, which means "Siam defeated," based on a 15th-century battle with Cambodia's neighbors to the west, has emerged as a modern, friendly, and elegantly low-key city with highly sophisticated shopping, dining, and nightlife options. After a long day at the Angkor Temple Complex, you'll be happy to spend your evening strolling along the Siem Reap River, and dining at an outdoor table on a back alley in the hip old French quarter or Alley West off the more boisterous Pub Street, which is closed to traffic in the evening.
The Old Market area is a big draw and the perfect place to shop for souvenirs; dig through the silk, wood, and silver ornaments and accessories and you may find your treasure. Many of the colonial buildings in the area were destroyed during the Khmer Rouge years, but many others have been restored and turned into world-class resorts and restaurants.
You could spend an entire afternoon in the Old Market area, wandering from shop to shop, café to café, gallery to gallery. It changes every month, with ever more delights in store. Long gone are the days when high-end souvenirs (the legal kind) came from Thailand. Today numerous shops offer high-quality Cambodian silks, Kampot pepper and other Cambodian spices, and herbal soaps and toiletries made from natural Cambodian products.