This little Cambodian city of 200,000 is subdued and a little shy but very practised at making tourists feel welcome—mostly by leaving them alone.
Overview: The buzz of the motorbike tuk-tuks, the smell of wood smoke and jasmine in the air, the lush landscape—Siem Reap has a fascinating and exotic ambience.
Crowd: Expect visitors to the ancient temple ruins of Angkor Wat, university kids backpacking their way through the torture of post-adolescence, plus intrepid couples of all ages.
Agenda: Spend a day or two doing the temples, which you can reach by hiring a tuk-tuk for the day. Spend the rest of the time lounging poolside, popping into the numerous spas or drinking beer with the kids on Pub Street. The Old Market side of town is full of pedestrian markets, design stores and craft stalls, and café laneways that draw the crowds at sunset.
Essential: The Kampot Pepper Martini at Rambutan Hotel and Resort.
Timing: The green season begins in June, followed by the dry season in November. Avoid April and May, when temperatures can hit 40° C.