I took this trip back in the beginning of August, but between just sheer laziness (surprise surprise) and starting a new job (yep!) I’ve only written this now, 3.5 months later in the middle of November. This is only because I just came back from a big trip to Africa, which I can’t wait to blog about next!
With that said, my reluctance to blog had nothing to do with Siem Reap itself. The trip was AMAZING! I was happy I finally got to check Angkor Wat off my to-visit list.
Day 1 – Getting to Siem Reap
We flew with Silk Air thanks to a pretty cheap deal from Deal.com.sg and stayed at Royal Empire Hotel, which was only some 10-minutes drive from the airport. We flew in late that day so we spent the day settling into the hotel and headed out to Pub street for dinner as well as booking a tour for the temples the next day.
This Tuk tuk was our mode of transportation throughout the trip. Super cheap and gets you there fast enough! We paid US$2 for a one way trip to the night market area.
Pub street is a very short street at down town Siem Reap that is alive with tourists at night. It’s only a short walk from the night market too!
We decided on a restaurant on Pub Street (honestly they all look the same, so we just picked at random) and tried some Cambodian delicacies that night.
Amok Curry – One of the famous dish from Cambodia. We opted to order with chicken but it can also be ordered with fish. This dish was delicious but wasn’t too memorable to me – I guess I’ve had one too many curries!
Beef Lok Kak – Another distinctly Cambodian dish. This was simply AMAZING with the tenderness of the beef and peppery lemon dip on the side! I’m a sucker for anything with black pepper and lemon so this dish gets two thumbs up from me.
I had heard sunrise from Angkor Wat is amazing, so we booked for a guide to pick us up in a tuk tuk at 5am the next day.. soo early, I know, but I was determined to experience Angkor Wat in all its glory!
Day 2 – Angkor Wat
We woke up not-so-bright (was still dark outside) and early at 4:45am, and headed down to the hotel lobby by 5:00am. Our guide and the tuk tuk was already punctually waiting there.
We paid US$40 for the private tour guide and tuk tuk ride to take us around the temples. It was so worth ever penny, and I highly suggest hiring a tour guide considering he: 1) figured out a good way around the temple for us, as well as timing, so we don’t get stuck behind big tour groups, 2) told us plenty of history of the temples we would otherwise have never bothered to look up. Furthermore, like most adult Cambodians our guide is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge era so it was interesting to hear the first hand account of it. If you ever go to Siem Reap do call him up:
Mr. Phoun Nak
His Yahoo email is tours_nak
So we set out of the lobby at 5:00AM. It took us about 15 minutes to reach the gate to buy our pass for Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples for US$20 per person. We had our pictures taken and printed to the pass on the spot, because the pass are strictly non-transferable.
We then drove to the front of Angkor Wat and our guide showed us a great spot to take pictures, which is right across the water from the actual temple itself. We waited for about 15-20 more minutes more before the sun finally rose up.
It was such a breathtaking scene, witnessing the majestic Angkor Wat slowly bathed in golden sun ray…
Our hotel came with breakfast buffet, and since we set out so early we didn’t have time to have breakfast so we requested to be dropped back off at our hotel for a quick breakfast before continuing on to our tour. After that it was pretty much temples after temples. I’m not going to bother writing about everything since I feel like it’s something you have to experience yourself, but here are some highlight shots from the temple trek
The trip included some serious climbing, both up and down.
And it was very steep!
My favorite temple has got to be Ta Prohm, which they also used as the location set for Tomb Raider movie. I played the game when I was young and loved Lara Croft!
We finally finished touring the temples at around 3:00pm. I was completely knackered after waking up so early, coupled with all the walking and climbing, that I just passed out cold in the hotel till dinner time, and even that I had to practically be peeled off the bed and dragged out of the hotel.
For dinner we settled on Tangram Garden, which is not exactly uniquely Cambodian but was a real lovely place for dinner. Getting there was a bit of an adventure though, as it was lightly drizzling and our tuk tuk driver couldn’t figure out where to drop us off. In the end we recognized some signs and ended up walking there in the middle of dark alleys for a few minutes.
I had their pork ribs with mash and was pleasantly satisfied with my dish!
Day 3 – Chillin’ at Siem Reap town
I was still so tired from yesterday’s early day, and quite frankly we were all templed-out so we decided to skip all the touristy things and just chill in town. I’m a massage junkie so we checked out one of the massage parlours that got a great review on Trip Advisor and opted for a two-hour massage. The place is called Lotus Dream Spa near Old market.
I’ve gotten plenty of massages in Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia and this one was by far the best one I’ve had by far! Although, I guess it was also relatively expensive for a South East asian massage. I paid US$16 for it (including tip) whereas I usually pay ~US$10 in Thailand.
After that we had a chill lunch nearby before heading down to the airport to catch our flight back to Singapore…