I bet we all want to visit this place after knowing that Tomb Raider was filmed at one of the Wat (temple) in Siem Riep. If you spent your childhood reading adventure novels, this is for you!
“Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world, with the site measuring 162.6 hectares (1,626,000 m2; 402 acres)” – Wikipedia.
Like in ChiangMai, things are pretty affordable in this city (1 USD = 3998 Cambodian Riel), $2-3 should get you a meal. As with any other touristy places, prices can be marked up really high – like iced coffee can be sold $1.5, wait how come it’s almost the same price as food right?! Anyway here you go, my itinerary..
Day 1: Angkor Wat and then Pub Street
We did not find anything to disagree about seeing the temple first. Taking tuk-tuk seemed safe, it seemed like the main mode of transport for tourists so we did just taht. With $20 we purchased a 1-day pass, funny that we even had our photographs taken for the pass. The temple was huge and we did not have enough time to explore all parts for the 3 hours. That same night we visited Pub Street- the only road famous for cafe/bars/pubs and street food! Walk on and you’ll find the night market which is still really traditional-looking with shops offering $1 massage. Please remember to use your haggling skills here.
Day 2: Up to Ta Prohm before the sun rises!
I still remember it was a chilly morning when we woke at 5am and forced ourselves to dress up because I nagged about wanting to experience this #YOLO. The tuk-tuk ride was really wind; the cold air added to my hunger pang (note: wear thick sweater!). Luckily the B&B place allowed us to pack breakfast. It was so dark that I was not aware of this mesmerizing scene around me before the sunrise.
We explored a few nearby temples and took the most pictures that day, so pack up your batteries guys – you don’t find this kind of setting anywhere else in the world! You will notice sellers offering you souvenir, the most persistent ones being kids selling post cards. When I say persistent I really mean it, they followed me quite some time and actually walked with me for over 20 mins chanting the same line- I figured they had to memorize a script. Stay on your ground and the kids will get tired (and annoyed) at one point. After all the wats, I still could not resist Angkor Wat one last time before going uphill to see the sunset with hundreds of other tourists (I can’t remember but I suspect we almost climbed to Phnom Bakheng).
We spent our evening looking for yummy Khmer dinner and watching the local circus, which is advertised as a social enterprise meant to build the local community. I did not research further but here is the entrance photo in case you’d like to seek the truth.
Day 3: Chillax, cafe hopping and then home-bound!
I always make it a goal to stroll mindlessly and eat all things new to my taste-bud, except the bugs though I probably can eat them if the shape does not tell away they are bugs. Anyway, we did have our fair share of food and decided to go for some Khmer dessert to end the trip – it’s tapioca flour with brown sugar which is not a strange recipe in Asia actually.
Maybe my trip was too short but I get the impression the city is more toned down compared to other top tourist destinations such as Chiang Mai or Bali- life seemed slower and the town more ancient.
- Wear masks and sunnies if you are particular about soil/sand flying to your face
- Bring sweater if you are taking tuk-tuk before sunrise
- Wear comfortable shoes – you need to walk quite a lot
- Night market is a good place to shop, bring smaller cash
Expenses: I spent about USD300 for 3D2N inclusive flight and accommodation (shared room for 3).
Hope this gives some idea for a laid-back weekend getaway infused with culture!