After many hours of researching the different countries and landmarks throughout South East Asia, I decided on Angkor Wat being one of my many stops. I had never put a lot of thought into visiting Cambodia, so I had my work cut out for me.
Where do we stay? What is there to do?
You will need a travelers visa to enter “The Kingdom of Cambodia”, which you will obtain at the airport when you arrive. To make your life a whole lot easier, you should think ahead and bring 2 passport photos with you from home- this will attach to the visa application. Check online for the sizes you will need to bring. This will save time and money when you arrive. It cost us each $20 American for the visa, which got stapled inside of our passport.
We flew into Siem Reap via Bangkok Airways and once got all sorted out at the airport, we got in a car, organized for us by our hotel- The Privilege floor @ The Lotus Blanc. (Hotels are quite inexpensive in Cambodia, so this may be your time to splurge on that 5 star you have been dreaming of!) Once we got the hotel, we were greeted by the friendly hotel staff. They showed us to our room, we got settled, and without wasting anytime, we headed out to explore what the land had to offer.
DAY ONE-EXPLORE SIEM REAP
Our hotel had tuk-tuk drivers waiting outside for any guests wanting a lift around town. For $2 American each way, “Mr. Chia” our driver took us downtown Siem Reap and gave us his phone number for us to call him when we wanted to be picked up. Our hotel had provided us a phone to use while we were in town. If your hotel does not have that option, there appeared to be literally hundreds of other tuk-tuk drivers waiting for passengers, so you will never go without a ride.
There were many shops, places to eat and take photos within walking distance from where we were dropped off. I’ll admit, it was quite the culture shock, being from Canada- It took me a bit of time to adjust to the way of life here. Clearly, being blonde-I did not look like I belonged. I had to get used to people coming up to me constantly, trying to sell me goods and tuk-tuk rides. Be aware of scams- I read a few online before I went, and my innocent husband almost fell victim to a few of them.
The best part about this area is the night market- once it got dark, the streets lit up with colorful signs and music blasted from the local bars and restaurants. If you are interested in tasting scorpion, taking shots from a lit up vehicle that resembles a pimped out ice cream truck, buying shirts for $5 or getting an hour long full body massage for $8- you won’t want to miss out on this place. Your money goes a long way here- Did somebody say $1 beers???
If you don't know where to go, ask the tuk-tuk driver to take you to "Pub Street" and you will know where to go. Just follow the lights and the music!
We spent about 2 hours downtown during the day, went back to the hotel to enjoy the HOT Cambodian sun poolside and then returned for dinner to enjoy the nightlife. We didn’t want to be out too late- we had a 4am wakeup call the next day for our Angkor Wat adventure!
DAY TWO- ANGKOR WAT
ngkor what? You may ask. Don’t worry, before I did my research I also did not know about this place. Angkor Wat is a massive compound of religious monuments that spread over 400 acres in Cambodia’s capital. Hundreds of thousands of people come here every year to watch the sunrise over the ancient temple and then explore the many other monuments in the surrounding area.
Bright and early we woke up, our driver Mr. Chia was there to pick us up and take us to the place where you get the tickets to get into Angkor Wat- which is actually not that close to the actual monument, so keep that in mind when deciding when to leave. It took us about 25 minutes to get our tickets- believe it or not, at 5am there were already hundreds of people in line already.
Once you get the tickets, you will get whisked over to the main event.
- You will get your photo taken which will get placed on the ticket- therefore you cannot hang out and grab a coffee and send someone else to do your dirty work. Everyone needs to wait in line- you will need to plan some extra time for that java fix!
-Look into what time the sunrise is at- you will want to give yourself enough time to get the tickets and get to Angkor Wat beforehand.
-Be sure to get to Angkor Wat in time to get a good spot for photos. I tried to get a spot across the lake that would reflect the shadow of Angkor Wat perfectly symmetrically.
-Hire a personal tuk-tuk driver for the day to take you around to all the monuments. We paid $25 and didn’t have to worry about how we will get from one to the other. They are all quite far away in distance, so you cannot walk. Your driver will chill with the other drivers and wait for you while you explore!
-Plan your day accordingly. You will want to visit the biggest and most popular sites at the beginning of the day, to avoid the large crowds. Generally the further monuments will have less people, so those are safer to visit towards the end of the day.
-Watch out for scammers- there are “friendly people” that appear to want to give you what seems like a free tour, and will hang out at the temples and wait for people to walk by. They will want you to pay them, so if you really couldn’t care less about the knowledge and just want to walk around and take selfies- you have been warned!
STOP ONE: ANGKOR WAT, THE MAIN EVENT!
STOP TWO: Back to our hotel we went to get showered, eat breakfast and then we returned back to Angkor Wat. I finished my sunrise photo shoot and toured the main Angkor Wat temple by 7am, so we wanted to refuel for the remainder of the day!
This is the order we visited the remainder of the monuments:
STOP THREE: BAYON
STOP FOUR: ANGKOR THOM
STOP FIVE: PREAH KHAN
STOP SIX: TA PROHM AKA: The Tomb Raider temple.
If you are not pooped after all of these temples, there are others you can choose from, however they are a lot further. If you have time, you may be able to fit them in.
After our jam packed day, we head back to the hotel, freshened up and did one last visit to the night market. The next morning we were off to Vietnam! So long, Cambodia!