Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Temple Run at Siem Reap Cambodia's Angkor City


When people talk about Cambodia, the first thing that comes to mind would be the magnificent Angkor Wat. It wasn't till I actually explored Siem Reap when I found out that Angkor Wat is just one temple inside Angkor City, and is considered to be the most popular and most grandeur. 


EXCHANGING MONEY




If you have dollars with you, I would highly recommend not exchanging it to Cambodia's local currency, Riel. The value would be really low and towards the end you will be left with small amounts that might not be enough to convert back to dollars or any other currency. Most shops would also price their goods and services in dollars. Shops and vendors accept dollars as payment, and some even accept other currencies such as Philippine Peso, Thai Baht, etc


WHERE TO STAY




c/o Empress Angkor Website

We stayed at Empress Angkor Resort and Spa which didn't have a bad deal since we booked early. There are a lot of 4-5 star hotels in Siem Reap that are reasonably priced especially if you book early.


Empress Angkor Resort and Spa

NR6, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
http://www.empressangkor.com/
Superior Room - about 3600 PHP


GETTING AROUND SIEM REAP



When you arrive at the airport, you will be offered a Tourist Transport Service via a private car. I am highly recommending this especially if you are traveling in a group. This service can take you to your hotel and as well as help you get around the city. Our driver Sophean was very helpful as he was able to give us a historical background of each tour. Another way you can get around is via the Tuktuk which is basically like a tricycle, but bigger.


Tuktuk Ride 

starting price is at 2 USD 


Private Car Tour

Driver: Chhouk Sophean
www.siemreap-airporttaxi.com
+855 78 223 844
+855 63 963 572
srairporttaxi@gmail.com


ANGKOR CITY TOUR


Angkor Wat
There are many ways you can tour Angkor City - either through a tuktuk, bike, or private car. Angkor city is really big, so walking might not be the best option. You can either choose the "big circuit" or the "small circuit", but if you want to personalize your trip, you may make arrangements with your driver. You may also choose from the 1,3, or 7 day pass. We opted to take the private car day tour for convenience since we wanted to maximize our time there and also so that we can personalize our tour. It would be best to make a research on what you can see on the different tours and what temples you can't find in the big or small tour. 

Bayon Temple


If you're wearing shorts or sleeveless, be sure to bring something as a cover up  such as a scarf or sarong since most of the temples would require you to cover your shoulders and knees. If you want to avoid the hassle, you may opt to just wear pants, or skirt below the knees, and any top with sleeves.



Bayon Temple
Bayon Temple
The Bayon temple was probably my favourite among all the other temples we visited. It is known for the faces carved in stone. 




Ta Prohm
One of the other popular temples was the Ta Prohm which is also known as the "Tomb Raider" Temple since it was included as the setting for the movie. It is know for the big tree that grew over the temple.




Angkor Wat at Sunrise

Another thing that you could do is ride the elephant up to some hill to enjoy a view of Angkor City. I would also recommend going to Angkor Wat early to watch the beaming rays of the sun during sunrise and the reflection of the temple on the water. I would warn you about the number of people fighting over "the best" spot for a photo though.




I couldn't remember all the names of the temples that we went to, but you can google it or ask the concierge at your hotel or driver for top tips and recommendations.




You will be amazed by how meticulously crafted each temple is. Each also had a different story to tell.




When we toured Angkor City in 2016, there were still a lot of on-going improvements. The ticket since then has now doubled due to these improvements and as well as the issue on nude photography at the Unesco-listed attraction which caused outrage across Cambodia. Remember that you are visiting sacred temples and you would need to comply with the implemented dress code to respect its sanctity. I've also learned from our guide that the Angkor Wat is not owned by the government, but privately owned due to issues with the goverment many years ago.  

Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Visiting the"Pink Temple" or the Banteay Srei would also be one of my recommendations. This temple had shorter foundations. I found out later that it was initially built as a play area for the children many years ago. It took us about 45 mins to get here from the Angkor Wat temple proper.




You will also find lots of restaurants around Angkor City. It's the perfect place to enjoy a traditional Khmer (Cambodian) Meal. We tried the Amok, which was a type of soup based on curry and coconut milk.
Civil War Museum
Civil War Museum
Civil War Museum
If you want to learn more about the history of Cambodia during the Civil War, I would highly recommend visiting the Civil War Museum which is also near the Pink Temple. Here, you will get to see the different weapons, ammunitions, and as well as the state of living during those times.




Our tour guide recommended that we go to Phnom Bakheng for sunset to get the full Angkor City Experience. Be sure to go an hour early though as this area has limited capacity. The guards will be handing out passes only to the first 150 people, if Im not mistaken. Here, you will also able to see Angkor Wat from afar.







Each spot at the Angkor City is perfect for a photo op. I was astounded by the craftsmanship in all the temples. Going on a 1-day temple run was enough for me since it consumed literally the entire day from sunrise to sunset! By the end of the tour, I was knocked out it the car.


Angkor City

1 day pass - 37 USD
2 day pass - 62 USD
7 day pass - 72 USD
Private Car Tour (based on our personalized tour) - starting at 80 USD good for 4 pax
Civil War Museum - 5 USD


SHOPPING AND PARTY



If you're looking to buy souvenirs and a few knick knacks, you can also hit the Night Market. Be sure to work on your bargaining skills though as most stores would start off with a really high price and will eventually be able to cut it down by 50%.






You can also party the night away at Pub Street. Here you will find different bars and clubs, the perfect area to go bar hopping by foot. They usually hold street parties wherein people literally organize dance-offs in the middle of the street. There were also a lot of restaurants in this area, but we specifically went to a place called "The Triangle" which offered more varieties in terms of food.


LEARNING MORE ABOUT ANGKOR CITY






If you want to learn more about Angkor City, I would highly recommend going to the Angkor National Museum first. Here you will get to see a lot of statues, carvings, artifacts and as well as learn about the different stories and symbolisms of the temples. Photography is not allowed though, so you will be asked to leave your phone and camera at the counter.

Angkor National Museum

No.968 Vithei  De Gaulle, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
http://www.angkornationalmuseum.com
8:30AM–6:30PM
+855 63 966 601

Entrance Fee - 12 USD


KAMPONG KHLEANG: SIEM REAP'S FLOATING VILLAGE






Checking out the floating village is also worth the visit. For some reason, the water was brown, murky and looked filthy but there was no smell at all. Due to not enough lands and resources, some of the local people were forced to build their villages on stilts. They had almost everything they needed to make up an entire community - a school, church, grocery, etc.





If you want to pay it forward, you may also up to buy some groceries to donate to the school. We also had the chance to meet some of the children who studied there. 



I would recommend doing this tour for sunset whilst you sip on your coconut juice or beer.


PAYING IT FORWARD WITH COFFEE


One of the coffee shops I truly enjoyed in Siem Reap was a place called Sister Srey. "Srey" in Khmer means "Sister". It's a social enterprise owned by two sister whose philosophy was to support Khmer students who struggle to keep a balance between study and supporting their family. They don't only serve good food and coffee, but they also aim to make an impact to the community one cup of coffee at a time.


Sister Srey 

200 Pokambor St, Riverside - Old Market Area, Siem Reap
http://www.sistersreycafe.com/
+855 (0) 97723800
sistersreycafe@gmail.com




If you haven't visited Siem Reap, Cambodia, I must say now is the time to do so!
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