continuation on our #SEATour2016 ……..
October 24 (Monday) Day 4- Siem Reap Arrival
And so we left Phnom Penh and arrived in Siem Reap around 9 in the evening. We hopped on a tuktuk and went to our Guest House.
Where we stayed:
Happy Guesthouse — Address: Street 20, Wat Bo Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia. We chose this hotel because of the good feedback in Agoda.com. Our room was good for 3. It has 3 individual double sized bed. The room was very spacious though for me it lacks a bit of lighting, but it was okay for us. The guesthouse was like a private house converted in to a haven for backpackers. To think this guesthouse would only cost 700php for the 3 of us, cheap ei.? Although there wifi is only available in there restaurant area, they also offer affordable Khmer meals. Mostly 3$ per serving.
Upon arrival, head straight to the information area in the bus terminal (its just actually a small table inside the terminal). You can ask a tuktuk from them to your guesthouse. It cost 3USD flat rate. The driver of the tuktuk can also be your guide on your Angkor Wat tour the following day. Just talk to the driver and agree with the terms. Be sure to haggle. Ours was 15 USD for a full day drive tour inside Angkor Wat. If you can’t find any tuktuk driver that will take you to the Angkor Wat tour, guesthouses offer this kind of tour. Just inquire in you respective guesthouses about the details and rate. In case, you will be staying in Happy GuestHouse, few travelers are satisfied with there tour, the in house guesthouse driver was named Say. Although I also heard that guesthouse’s offers 20$ for a half day tour. So its really up to your haggling skills. LOL
After we settled our things,I head straight down to the restaurant area for some free wifi and have my dinner. I was very hungry back then so I ordered quite a few. I had a Kmer Meal with a platter of fresh fruits plus a fruit shake for 6$, just to give you how much you will pay when dining at there restaurant. After eating, I went back to the room and slept.
The next day: October 25 (Tuesday) Day 5 — Angkor Wat Tour and Staycation at ANgkor Heart Bungalow
Our initial plan was to have a half day Angkor Wat tour then leave for Bangkok in the Afternoon but made a sudden change of plan because we thought that it might be a good time to take a pause from all our traveling and rest for 1 more night before we resume our travel. Aside from that, we also want to experience a good staycation in Siem Reap since the place is also known for cheaper but better resorts. Any way I’ll talk about more of that later.
Back to the topic,we agreed with our tuktuk driver to take us to an Angkor Wat Tour for 15$ for the 3 of us. Our meeting time was 4 am to have a good sunrise view of the temple. Our driver was prompt, when we went down, he was already waiting for us outside.
We rode the tuktuk and proceeded with our itinerary. Our itinerary as follows:
- Sunrise in Angkor Wat
- Bayon Temple
- late breakfast
- Angkor Thom (the Tomb Raider movie location)
- back to Happy Guesthouse to get luggage
- transfer to Angkor Heart Bungalow
- Pub Street for Dinner
- Book Nattakan Bus Transport online to Bangkok for the next day. Details below.
Note: There are other neighboring temple that you can visit to, however me and my friends were already getting tired from all the photo ops and walking. So we just decided to stop at Angkor Thom. But honestly, we were also excited to see the resort that I booked online and have a good rest and maybe have a nice plunge at the pool! =)
First we went first to the ticketing office for our Angkor Wat entrance ticket. A 1-day full pass to all temples cost 20$. After paying the fee, they will give you your ticket. Be sure not to lose your ticket as you will be needing it every time you enter in each temple.
After getting our tickets, we went straight to Angkor Wat. Our first stop. It was raining that day and was worried that it might spoil our tour, but the driver told us that rains mostly does goes by and will stop within in hour.
And so it actually did, but the sky didn’t clear up until it was around 8am. So we didn’t really witness the marvel of the sunrise scene. However, it was a sight to behold. No wonder Angkor Wat has been dubbed as the Mother of All Temples!
Frankly, I am having difficulty in finding the right adjective to describe the place. Truly an exquisite piece of architecture because of human faith and belief!
A bit about Angkor Wat. The Ancient City of Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world. It was originally constructed as a Hindu temple of god Vishnu for the Khmer Empire, gradually transforming into a Buddhist temple toward the end of the 12th century.
It was built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II. in the early 12th century in Yaśodharapura (present-day Angkor), the capital of the Khmer Empire, as his state temple and eventual mausoleum. Breaking from the Shaiva tradition of previous kings, Angkor Wat was instead dedicated to Vishnu. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious center since its foundation.
The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country’s prime attraction for visitors. Source: Wikipedia
After done mesmerising the place, we went to our next stop, Bayon Temple.
Bayon Temple was the last state temple to be built at Angkor. Its most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and smiling stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak.
Indeed a sight to behold. I was actually thinking how hard it was to carve so many faces during the olden times in absence of modern technology. It must have been made with such labor.
We asked the driver where we can take our breakfast after we explored Bayon Temple. We needed to eat now to recover our energy from all the walking. There are a group of food stalls as well as souvenir stalls near Bayon Temple. Our driver suggested we ate there as the stalls offers authentic Khmer Cuisine that we should try. Meal cost ranges from 4-7$ but the servings are quite generous.
After we had our breakfast, we went to the place where the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was filmed, The Angkor Thom. Those overgrown tree roots that attached to the walls of the ancient building are naturally magnificent!
Okay so first thing, a bit of Angkor Thom’s History.
Angkor Thom (literally: “Great City”), located in present-day Cambodia, was the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire. It was established in the late twelfth century by King Jayavarman VII. It covers an area of 9 km², within which are located several monuments from earlier eras as well as those established by Jayavarman and his successors. At the centre of the city is Jayavarman’s state temple, the Bayon, with the other major sites clustered around the Victory Square immediately to the north.
However, the Ayutthaya Kingdom, led by King Borommarachathirat II, sacked Angkor Thom, forcing the Khmers under Ponhea Yat to relocate their capital southeast.
Angkor Thom was abandoned some time prior to 1609, when an early western visitor wrote of an uninhabited city, “as fantastic as the Atlantis of Plato”. It is believed to have sustained a population of 80,000–150,000 people.
We soaked in all the beauty we saw that morning. Seeing the pictures until now still amazes me.
After the Angkor Thom, we told our driver to go back to the guesthouse to take our luggage. We will be transferring to the resort I booked online. We were excited!
Our tour with our driver ended up in our resort. We thought that the 15$ was worth enough already considering we are 3 in it.
We checked in at Angkor Heart Bungalow. Now, this place deserves its own blog entry. Read more about Angkor Heart Bungalow here.
After checking in. We rested throughout the day and went to Pub Street by the evening. We contracted the driver that toured us to fetch us at the resort for Pub Street in the evening. He agreed for 3$ per way.
Pub Street is the place where tourists, travelers, expats and the like dine, drink, meet other travelers and have fun. We stroll along the street when we arrived looking for a cheap but delicious place to eat. We found one near the corner, though I do apologize that I forgot the name,yet there are many restaurants along the streets that offers wide variety of Khmer dishes that you can try, so you don’t have to worry.
After we had our dinner,I read that there’s this one pub that is quite famous, The Angkor Wat?. We were lucky that it was still off peak hours when we visited the place and had a 50% off on our drinks. We chilled for a bit then went back to the resort.
It was a fun-historical day. During that night, we tried to look online for a bus that will get us directly to Bangkok. I’ve heard many scams that happened in the border between Cambodia and Thailand. And in order to avoid that, one can take a bus that goes directly to Bangkok. The bus personnel will guide you through the immigration process and someone will meet you at the other side of the border. Although this bus might be more expensive, but hey, sometimes you get to pay a bit more for less hassle right?
We saw Nattakan Bus Transport online and book a ticket as well directly to there website. You can book your tickets here. It cost 28$ with a travel time of 9 hours. Thank God,we opted to rest first before having this back breaking ride to Bangkok. After booking it, we chilled down at the pool then rested. End of day 5.
Day 6: October 26 (Wednesday) – Travel to Bangkok
We woke up around 6 am and had breakfast at 7am.
The bus going to Bangkok will leave at 8am. You may ask the reception to give you a ride to the terminal where Nattakan Bus is located. In our case, we just showed to them the address. Since the resort we booked has a one way free pick up at the airport, we just told them that we just wanted them to transfer us instead to the terminal for free, they agreed.
We left at the resort around 7:30am and arrived at the terminal just in time before the bus left.
Good luck in our 9 hour bus ride. It was a smooth travel going to Bangkok but I can’t help but be a bit worried for any complication that might happen in the border. But thankfully nothing bad happened.
We arrived in Bangkok around 8:30pm, late than the usual time because of traffic. Stay tuned for the continuation of my travel diaries in Thailand.
Siem Reap for 2 nights:
terminal to Guesthouse – 3 USD/ 3pax = 1$ each
Guesthouse – 6 USD
Angkor Heart Bungalow – 19 USD
Breakfast at the Resort on the 2 day – FREE
Dinner at Guesthouse – 5 USD
Driver Rental to ANgkor Wat – 15 USD divided by 3 -= 5 USD each
ANgkor Wat Entrance Fee – 20 USD each (1 day unlimtied pass to all temples)
Brunch – 8 USD each
roundtrip tuktuk from resort to Pubstreet – 3$/3 pax = 2$ each
Dinner in Pubstreet -6$
Angkor Wat? booze – 2$
Bus fare from Siem Reap to Bangkok – 28$ each
Miscellaneous for Souvenir – 9 USD
Total: 111.00$ for 2 nights with a stay in a resort. Not Bad. THough you can still lower this if you want. We went an all out dinner in Pub Street, but mostly a meal in Pub Street will only cost you 3$.
What a foodie should try while in Cambodia:
-Bai sach chrouk: Pork and rice- served during morning… thinly sliced pork
-Fish amok- Fish amok is a fish mousse with fresh coconut milk and kroeung, a type of Khmer curry paste made from lemongrass, turmeric root, garlic, shallots, galangal and fingerroot, or Chinese ginger.
-Red tree ants with beef and holy basil -Ants of various sizes, some barely visible and others almost an inch long are stir-fried with ginger, lemongrass, garlic, shallots and thinly sliced beef.
-Khmer red curry
-Cha houy teuk — jelly dessert – it’s halo2 in the Philippines.. found on the streets of phnom penh for 1,000 riel or .25$
-Nom Banh Chok (Khmer Noodles)
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to comment here or message at Chinitowander Facebook Page.
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Have a Happy-memorable travel ahead! Cheers!