Siem Reap is a cheerful city that embraces travelers like old friends. This region was the site of successive capitals of the Khmer Empire from the ninth to the 15th centuries. The ruins, collectively known as the Angkor Archaeological Park, are located about four miles north of the city center. The 150-square-mile complex, which includes the famous Angkor Wat Temple, is Siem Reap’s biggest tourist draw. But in recent years, this ancient yet dynamic destination has been attracting travelers to stay longer and explore its other facets. A few days in this Cambodian city shows that Siem Reap straddles the best of both worlds—a glorious past and a vivid present. The best way to get to know it is to explore it slowly, one story at a time.