If Siem Reap, Cambodia is not on your list of places to visit in the future, it should be. Every since I was in high school I’ve had a picture of the Jungle Temple hanging on my wall and I didn’t know until recently, where it was in the world. I picked the photo off a wall in a gallery, because something told me to and I’ve loved it ever since. I was finally able to visit that temple in person and it was magnificent. Here is our 4 days in Cambodia:
We arrive into Siem Reap a little after 2:00 PM in the afternoon. The airport is a small, open air facility where you walk across the tarmac once you’ve deplaned. Because it is such small airport, Immigration and customs was a breeze. You can do one of two things concerning a Cambodian visa. You can get one on arrival or get it online before hand. We chose the online option, however it seems both lines took about the same time.
* Currency Tip – we exchanged our American dollars for Riehl only to find out they use american dollars and prefer them.
*Taxi Tip – Once you get through immigration and pick up your baggage you will see a sign that says Taxi. They charge $7 for a car or $10 for a van. You can also go outside and get a tuk tuk for about $7.
After we arrived at our hotel, we grabbed lunch in their beautiful dining area, before heading out to explore the area.
We chose to stay at a small boutique hotel on Alley West, which is just around the block from the night market and pub street! We found that this was the perfect spot and we absolutely LOVED our hotel. If you go to Siem Reap, I suggest staying at The Purple Mangosteen. The owner of the hotel was incredibly sweet and helpful. She also spoke excellent English.
We began our three day temple tour. There are a few different ways you can go about doing this, but we chose the least stressful approach and hired a car/tour guide for three days at the recommendation of our friend. Our tour guide was amazing from the moment he picked us up! We started the day by visiting Prasat Kravan, Ta Prohm, and Takeo. We broke for a nice lunch at a Cambodian Food Restaurant near the temples.
The temples cost $20 for one day or $40 for a three day pass.
After lunch, we visited Angkor Thom through the North gate. Walked over Elephants Terrace, Leper Kings Terrace, Baphoun and finishing at Bayon. Bayon is almost as popular as Angkor Wat and this is where the monkeys come out to play. BUT do no touch the monkeys. They carry disease, and they attack when they’re hungry. It reminded me a little bit of Jumanji!
The day started bright and early with the sunrise at 5:00 AM. Groggy and still asleep, our tour guide dragged us through the thousands of people also there to watch the sunrise over the beautiful temple.
The next few hours were spent wandering around the largest temple ever built. The spiritual feelings were overwhelming.
Our guide dropped us off at our hotel for a mid afternoon nap and picked us back up again at 3:00 PM to see East Mebon and sunset at Prerup. Instead of taking a nap I indulged in a little massage time. It was so cheap, I couldn’t resist! I got a 90 minute full body aromatherapy massage and pedicure for $22! Foot massages are $5 for 30 minutes. I would get one everyday if I stayed longer.
The morning began at the gorgeous pink sandstone temple, Banteay Srei. This was a temple built for a goddess!
From there we drove for a bit to then get in a boat to visit the most amazing Stilt Villages in Kampong Phluk. The boat ride cost $16 per person.
The stilt villages were one of my favorites parts of the entire trip. We came in the dry season, which means the stilts were fully visible, however it the wet season the water rises more than halfway up and the houses are only accessible by boat. Most of the boat tours don’t stop in the village, but our guide had us stop so we could take a walk through. Because tourists don’t usually exit the boat, we were the only ones walking through the community.
Our trip to Cambodia was one we will never forget. It had us dreaming of spending more time there, perhaps months even. One thing is for sure, we will be back.
If you would like to use the tour guide we used, please feel free to message me and I will happily pass his information along. His rates were $55 per day and more than worth it.
Other ways to see the temples would be by negotiating a rate with a tuk tuk for the day and mapping out the journey on your own.
We ate every dinner on pub street, not disappointed once! Cambodian BBQ is the new Korean BBQ! We tried Crocodile and Ostrich for the first time, but also had goat, beef and bacon to keep it somewhat normal. You can’t go wrong with Cambodian food.
**There is a scam where a little kid walks up to you and says “I don’t want money, I just want milk.” He does want your money and takes you somewhere to get robbed. Its hard to deprive a child of milk, but stand strong and don’t fall prey to this scam.
Cambodia is a very safe place and I never once felt endangered or feared the people. The local people are incredibly nice and love the tourism. Always remember to respect the culture, your environment and theirs.