The moment I landed in Phnom Penh, I hopped onto a bike that cost only USD 3 to go downtown, before I took another 7 hours bus-ride to Siem Reap. Traveling with a local transport-rider is a much easier way to dodge the congested traffic. Well, most of the riders here do not usually have extra helmet for the passenger. So, I could only hold tight onto his shoulders and pray for blessing.
Many flocked to Cambodia with the intention to visit the majestic Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. I was one of them! Siem Reap is a small city surrounded by all the activities centered in the busy district of the Old Market. It’s excellent for a solo trip of 4 days 3 nights. Despite the local traditional activities taking place along the small shophouses next to the river, a strong French influence is apparent. In my opinion, Siem Reap has reinvented itself into a fast-growing tourism industry with its upscale guesthouses, luxury spa and world-class dining experience.
The night market around the “Pub Street” is something that I will remember for a long time. I can easily brand it as one of the best in Asia. Spending 3 hours seem too short to end the night with my considerably long to-do-list in Siem Reap
There are lots of temples to explore in Siem Reap. There are 3 temples I would recommend as must-visit if you have time. But honestly, all the temples look the same after a while. For some, the excitement might die down by the end of the excursion. To avoid that, it is essential to read the history to appreciate the hidden beauty behind each temple.
1. Angkor Wat
Like what they say, this is the mother of all temples in Siem Reap. I couldn’t agree more. It can be beautifully captured during sunset or sunrise, and the sculptures on the wall seem to have many stories to tell. Keep your camera well charged before Angkor Wat to avoid disappointment.
A 3-level temple with 216 smiling Avalokiteshvara makes this site a class of its own. Far different architecture style from Angkor Wat, I can easily spend 2 hours photographing along the small alleys and steep staircases.
3. Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm appeal has invited Angelina Jolie to Cambodia for the filming of Lara Croft. This temple is literally swallowed by the forest with big roots surrounding the ruins. It makes Ta Prohm one of the most exotic temples in Siem Reap! Watch out for the iconic Tomb Raider tree in the middle of the temple!
Below are the guidelines to help you plan your Siem Reap trip:
1 liter of water: USD 05 – USD 1.5
1 night in a guesthouse: USD 4 – USD 20
1 day of “Tuk Tuk” (local three wheeler) ride: USD 12 – USD 15
1 day of taxi ride: ESD 20 – USD 25
1 day of bicycle: USD 1 – USD 3
1 decent lunch/dinner: USD 4 – USD 15
1 bus ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap (app 6 to 7 hours): USD 7 – USD 13
1 hour foot massage: USD 1
1 hour fish spa: USD 1
I was in Siem Reap on April and the heat was just brutal. Bring lots of water and a bottle of sun block; you will be so thankful that these items have been invented. American dollars is widely used in Cambodia, it’s best to keep some small notes in your pocket. Lastly, travel safe and have fun!