Saturday, August 25, 2012

Visiting Siem Reap, Cambodia - The Gateway to Angkor

Through a vacation to Thailand in 2007, a buddy and I crossed the border into Cambodia and stayed in the expanding riverside sector city of Siem Reap for five nights.

We flew with Bangkok Airways, and the flight from Bangkok took around a person hour. Arriving at Siem Reap Angkor International Airport, I was somewhat amazed by how modern-day and clear the tiny arrivals area was. It took a whilst to get by way of customs, as we all experienced to pay US$twenty for a one month Cambodian Visa. It was not a specially helpful welcome at this stage, as all the officials appeared quite stern exploring, but which is frequently the situation in most nations anyway.

Translated, Siem Reap indicates 'Siam (Thailand) defeated', and the understanding of this in fact experienced me a minor anxious at first, primarily as I was entering the city on a flight from Thailand. Was there nevertheless any remaining animosity? Are the Khmer (Cambodian) people today as helpful as I experienced been led to think?

My original fears had been soon overlooked after by way of customs. As we remaining the creating the warmth and dust strike us, but we had been welcomed by helpful smiles and various polite provides of a taxi experience into city, on quite a lot of modes of transportation ranging from rusty aged motorcycles to battered cars and trucks with lacking amount plates. We by now experienced a driver arranged though, and he soon came ahead by way of the crowd. He drove a quite aged saloon car or truck (a Honda of some type), and however it experienced no air-con. He informed us that most of the cars and trucks you shouldn't have amount plates as there is no have to have to register cars and trucks in Cambodia, and that most of them are stolen from Thailand! In any case, the push to our to begin with hotel took no greater than twenty minutes, and our driver was quite helpful and chatty, telling interesting tales about a several of the sights we handed on the way. We had been produced to sense quite welcome.


We experienced a three night time continue to be at the Day Inn (which has because been re-referred to as the Royal Bay Inn). You'll find it a splendid minor hotel tucked away from the centre to the north of the city, and was quite reasonably priced (whilst the place prices look to have shot up because it has been refurbished). It was great to see some of the greater genuine back again streets on our push to the hotel.

The hotel by itself was a quite great mid-spectrum lodging, with clear rooms, helpful employees, and all the typical luxuries you would anticipate from greater steeply-priced hotels, like as cable Television, air conditioning, mini-bar and so on. in all of the rooms. It experienced a quite small pool in the centre of a courtyard, surrounded by the 4 essential properties. The a person factor that sticks in my brain about this put though is the amount of geckos that also known as it residence! On most vacations, you oftentimes come back again to your place in the evening and uncover the odd a person sitting near to your patio gentle, but right here I counted between 14 and twenty roughly our patio doorways every single night time, as clearly as a couple on the curtains and a person in the shower. I obtained put to use to them shortly after the to begin with night time though. We experienced by now pre-booked a 2nd hotel for the ultimate two nights of our continue to be in Siem Reap, but I would have been greater than completely satisfied to continue to be right here for the duration.

The to begin with couple of times had been spent at the temples of Angkor, which are only a small push away, though very far to wander (six-eight km). There are tons of drivers prepared to acquire you to the temples, and you can achieve a move to generate entry to the Angkor sophisticated when you get there. We produced certain we carried supplementary passport pics with us, and this produced it faster to achieve our passes for Angkor park. Or else, you will have to wait to have your photograph taken at the toll booth. You can get a one-day move for US$twenty, a three-day move for $40 or a 7-day move for $sixty.

Nearest guides know the best suited days to drop by every single of the ruins, and our driver in fact persuaded us to get up quite early on the 2nd morning to depart at roughly four.30am in buy to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat. He promised that we would not be unhappy, and we weren't. It was a definitely striking sight. We experienced to abandon the car or truck and wander a honest distance to get to a person of the library ruins where we would sit and see the sunlight rise, and it was nevertheless pitch black. All I experienced was the small gentle on my cellular telephone, which was just about satisfactory to reduce any accidents, but far from ideal. I would strongly endorse using a small torch if you are scheduling to see the temples at possibly sunrise or sunset.

Hotel no.two

Our 2nd base was the Victoria Angkor Resort and Spa, which is definitely a person of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed in. In French colonial model, it is a vacation back again in time, and even has its personal three classic Citroen cars and trucks parked at the entrance, which are available for employ. This is the prettier conclusion of city, and our place overlooked the Royal Gardens. It is quite quiet, whilst there is no real escape from the sound of motorbikes, as they are just everywhere you go.

We spent 50 percent a day at Chong Kneas floating village on lakeTonle Sap. This is the major freshwater lake in South East Asia, and this Western aspect near Siem Reap is residence to a colossal fishing local community, most of which are originally Vietnamese and have emigrated right here over the final one hundred many years. Despite the fact that this has apparently generated some friction with the locals, it is primarily accepted due to the point that it has turned out to be like a giant vacationer attraction in the location in new many years. We took a boat vacation out onto the lake, and handed floating faculties and households, a wide selection of fruit sellers and helpful faces, and of course we ended up at the compulsory souvenir shop. It was also an alligator farm though, which produced it greater desirable (we had been ill of souvenirs by this stage).

We spent the relaxation of our time soothing and exploring the city.

Having roughly

The city is quite walkable, remaining somewhat small, whilst pavements do have a tendency to all of the sudden disappear and you uncover all by yourself in the highway. We had been based mostly in the north of the city on both of those functions and found it a cozy wander to the Aged Advertise at the southern conclusion of city, which took us roughly 30 minutes. We opted to get a Tuk-Tuk (or a bike with a small trailer connected they are not the same as the Bangkok model) back again to the hotel a couple of days at the conclusion of a vacation, predominantly due to the dust and warmth. This only bills roughly $two-four for a vacation from a person conclusion of city to the other, and though rather noisy and smelly, it is a person of many details you have to do at minimum after, just for the practical experience. As commonly, it is a fantastic understanding to agree the charge with your driver to begin with, and also ensure that it is for the trip rather than for every person .


As far as I can don't forget, there had been two essential markets: the Central Advertise and the Aged Advertise, with the latter remaining the greater standard and favoured by locals and vacationers alike. There is apparently also a new night time sector that has opened because I was there.

There are a several small supermarkets in Siem Reap, so any necessities can be found readily.

Souvenirs can be found everywhere you go, with most of the sector stalls all offering similar products. Significantly more specific items can be found in the various boutiques and galleries located in the Aged Advertise location, clearly at a better charge. I specially liked the a wide selection of paintings on will offer you, all by regional artists, and I bought quite a lot of from unique shops/stalls. As the canvas could quickly be rolled up after purchased, it was quite gentle and simple and easy to carry, using up quite minor place in my baggage. Temple rubbings are an alternate famous gentle weight souvenir, available from most shops or stalls, whilst they are in fact reproductions rather than remaining truly taken from the temples. You will also see a amount of roving booksellers in the Aged Advertise location, oftentimes land mine amputees.

There are tons of destinations delivering word wide web access for roughly $one for every hour, typically located roughly the Aged Advertise, and most financial institutions/ATMs are located right here also.

The essential currency put to use in Siem Reap is US pounds, whilst I believe that I don't forget a wide selection of destinations also accepting Thai Baht. The regional currency is the Riel, but you only incredibly get to see this in quite small transform, as there are currently around 6240 riels to 1GBP (4155 riels = 1US greenback). We had been informed ahead of we arrived to make certain we took NEW greenback expenditures to Cambodia, which is some thing to bear in brain as tatty kinds will oftentimes get refused.

Food items & Consume

There are tons of great bars and dining establishments in Siem Reap, with most located on 'Pub Street' near the Aged Advertise. We dined at the Red Piano a couple of days, and experienced a several snacks at the Blue Pumpkin. The Red Piano appeared quite famous with backpackers, and has in fact turned out to be popular predominantly due to the point that it was put to use by Angelina Jolie and the relaxation of the crew in the course of the filming of Tomb Raider. It is located on the corner of Pub Road, open up from 7am - midnight, and provides balcony, indoor, or pavement seating, with an extraordinary watch of all the Pub Road action. You incredibly sense as though you are at the soul of the action right here, yet it has a laid back again sense to it, along with extraordinary support and quite cozy cane chairs. An alternate quite famous bar is Angkor What?, which was the to begin with bar to open up on Pub avenue back again in 1998. This appeared to be forever heaving tho ugh, so we chose to keep away from it.

Health and Safety

Do not drink the h2o! We produced certain we only bought sealed bottles of h2o (available quite quite a bit everywhere you go you go), and refused ice in any of our beverages. We had been recommended that it may want to be Ok to brush our tooth applying the faucet h2o, but I can only blame this for the dodgy tummy I ended up with on the final couple of times!

As two women traveling on your own, we did not at any time sense threatened or in any danger. Everyday feeling informed us not to split up, primarily at night time, but the city incredibly was entire of quite helpful locals, and Siem Reap (and Cambodia by itself) relies heavily on tourism, so there tends to be somewhat a robust experiencing of mutual respect.

Keep in mind your insect repellent if venturing out of city to the encompassing locations. Despite the fact that the hazard of malaria is apparently quite affordable in Siem Reap by itself, we did make certain we took our antimalarial drugs ahead of and in the course of our continue to be.

Land mines have been fully cleared from the Angkor park, so there is no have to have to feel concerned at all, except if you are scheduling to enterprise further more afield to greater remote locations. The common advice granted is to adhere to clearly worn paths.

You will encounter poverty quite on a regular basis in Siem Reap and the encompassing locations. A couple of incidents upset me relatively although going for walks by way of the city, involving kids begging for food items. You see a lot of kids offering souvenirs at the temples, and I did decide to purchase a several packets of postcards from these young ones, but our regional tutorial informed us that it is easiest not to, as the profit quite oftentimes goes towards supporting their parents' alcohol routines. These kids, of all ages, are also quite clearly rehearsed in their tales, telling you they have been to school that morning, or are likely later on that afternoon, but a wide selection of you shouldn't in fact go at all.

When to go

December to February are the most famous months, as they are the coolest and driest. We had been there from 16th - twentieth January, and though it was very hot it was not at all not comfortable. I experienced check out that the temples would be heaving with vacationers in the course of these months, but we did not in fact uncover this to be the situation. Possibly our tutorial just took us to every single of the ruins at the quietest days. April is the most popular month, and July to Oct is the rainy time. Some say that this is the easiest time to drop by in some methods, as it is considerably less dusty and greater eco-friendly, but the rain can be so major that flooding brings about transportation obstacles


If you want to see historical Angkor, Siem Reap is the ideal base, but it also occurs to be greater than just that. With its French colonial and Chinese-model architecture and tree-lined streets, it is a enjoyable city to continue to be in, with just about adequate to see and do in the course of a week- extensive continue to be. For me, it was a refreshing break from the bustling streets of Bangkok, yet lively adequate to reduce boredom, and in the long run anywhere that I would leap at the probability of checking out yet again.

(Also revealed on other web pages underneath the username RunnyHunnyBee)

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