With its comprehensive tourism masterplan for the province, Cambodia guarantees there will always be something more waiting in Siem Reap, whether for tourists, locals, or the expat community.
A total of 17 strategies and 37 implementation activities are outlined in the masterplan, giving close attention to the Angkor Archeological Park, Phnom Kulen National Park, the Banteay Srei Protected Area, the Tonle Sap Lake area, the Siem Reap town proper, and the Siem Reap Thmey Tourism area.
Siem Reap Thmey, also known as “Grand Siem Reap”,
—will comprise a 7000-hectare site at the base of Koulen Mountain National Park, only 8km from the new international airport in Sotr Nikum District.
An $880-M project scheduled to open in 2023, the new airport will target a capacity of 50 million passengers by 2050, with the new city positioned perfectly and connected to the airport through a 60m-wide road and sky train. Additionally, the government will build an Expressway, connecting the Koulen area to the existing Siem Reap city, reducing the travelling distance between the 2 cities to just 30km.
Grand Siem Reap aims to widen the scope of Siem Reap attractions and increase tourist numbers in the province, even surpassing pre-Covid figures.
Supporting infrastructure ensures that the new city will not detract or replace the existing tourism base, but enhance the province as an ever-evolving, dynamic destination. They also complement the new city’s close proximity to several sites, from ancient temples to newer developments on the pipeline, e.g.
- Angkor Wildlife & Aquarium, a project headed by International Concept Management (ICM) to educate visitors and promote wildlife conservation through a 100-hectare zoo and aquarium compound. It is scheduled to open this October, the $70-M investment showcasing several enclosures and outdoor exhibits of mostly native and several imported wildlife.
- Banteay Srei Temple, a square-layout Hindu temple 32km northeast of the Siem Reap town proper. Its name means, “Citadel of Women, and it is known for some of the most elaborate and finest stone carvings featuring Angkorian art despite being one of the smallest sites in Angkor.
- Phnom Kulen National Park, a popular pilgrimage site among locals and the known “birthplace” of the Khmer empire. It is 15km from Banteay Srei and features a 12km ascent from the entrance to the top plateau. Moreover, cable cars will be available within Grand Siem Reap, taking visitors directly to the top of the mountain. This park features picnic spots, as many as 20 minor temples, an impressive waterfall, riverbed carvings, life-sized replicas of certain mountain wildlife, and a giant reclining Buddha carved onto a sandstone boulder.
- Song Saa Reserve, the first ethically led integrated resort project. It is a 233-hectare nature and wellness mixed-use development 18km from Grand Siem Reap, similarly combining aspects of cultural heritage and high-end design as the master plan includes a heritage hub, biodiversity area, a hospitality training school, several hotels, an environmental education zone, and a solar farm, as well as residential compounds and other nature-centric destinations.
Moreover, Grand Siem Reap will be a smart city implementing elements of Khmer architecture, sustaining the province’s “green living” reputation and paying homage to the local heritage. In-depth urban planning has also been put into this project, dividing it into three (3) main zones:
- Tourism Zone on the north, close to the aforementioned Banteay Srei, Phnom Kulen, and Song Saa Reserve so as to keep major attractions as accessible to one another as possible.
- Residential Zone on the west, edging towards the main road that will connect the new city to the existing town proper so that anyone coming in from that direction can restfully enter Grand Siem Reap through the quiet neighborhood paths. This is also the corner of the city closest to the Angkor Wildlife & Aquarium, which will be more than a zoo with exhibition halls, a botanical garden, and recreation area among its planned inclusions which will be perfect for complementing a quaint, countryside-oriented lifestyle for future residents.
- Commercial Zone on the east, facing the New Siem Reap International Airport across National Road 64 so that incoming travelers can enjoy a direct route to the city’s very own bustling business district.
As this tremendous project envisions great accessibility to not just tourist destinations and commercial spots, but also to the wider Cambodian landscape, there is also a planned 30m-wide highway to encircle the base of Koulen Mountain.
This will connect Grand Siem Reap to other lands around the mountainside, offering an opportunity to build and settle down even along the outskirts of the new city as well as opening potentials for other developments with the same concept location at the base of Koulen.
From the 38-Road Project which cost approximately $150-M, to the other investments in road construction, unique tourist attractions, and the Grand City itself, it’s loud and clear that the Cambodian government is all-in with utilizing its resources and partnering with the private sector for a new, even more flourishing era for Siem Reap development.