The restoration of 10 kilometres of the waterway will begin this year and should be completed within three years.
The Siem Reap river will soon have a $40 million make-over thanks to a Korean loan.
A US$40 million loan from South Korea will fund a major project to restore 10 kilometres of the Siem Reap River, provincial Governor Sou Phirin told the Post.
The project would serve to improve the appearance of Siem Reap and likely attract more visitors to the tourism hub, the governor said.
"We will start restoring the river by the middle of this year, and expect to complete the project in three years," he said, adding that the Cambodian government would contribute $4 million.
The restoration will begin at the Naga Bridge, near the city's Jayavarman VII Hospital, and will run from there to the Tonle Sap Lake. The river will be dredged to a depth of four metres, and the banks will be planted with grass.
"By improving the city and the river, we will make Siem Reap the most attractive Khmer-culture city in the country," Sou Phirin said.
The Siem Reap River begins in the Kulen mountains and runs through the city before emptying into Tonle Sap Lake. But the disruption caused by the civil war has allowed the river to silt up over the past four decades.
Reclaiming the river
Bun Narith, director general of the Apsara Authority, the government body tasked with managing the Angkor Wat complex, said the authorities needed to ensure that the river's original nature wasn't lost. He predicted the project would bring economic benefits to the area.
"I am very keen on the restoration because improving the charm of the river can to some extent help to attract tourists," he said. "Once the river has been restored, I believe tourists will spend time at the riverside, and thereby extend their stay in the city for an extra day on top of their tours to Angkor Wat."
The South Korean embassy in Phnom Penh confirmed the loan but declined to provide further details.