I’m back to bring you the review of destination 2 of my 3 country trip recently. I had the opportunity to travel to Seim Reap, Cambodia after leaving Kuala Lumpur.
Now I will admit, Siem Reap was not somewhere initially on my radar. After speaking to a fellow travel enthusiast, she convinced me it was somewhere that I had to see.
I flew into Siem Reap airport from Kuala Lumpur. The flight was super short, less than 2 hours. Once I arrived into Cambodia, I had to apply for the on-the-spot visa. The visa is $30 for tourists and an additional $2 if you don’t bring a passport sized photo too. The visa is required and you can pay for it online in advance. (Most people just get it on arrival) The process took maybe 30 minutes total and I was out to meet the driver from my guesthouse. Also, although they have their own currency American currency is preferred most everywhere in Siem Reap so keep that in mind.
Most, if not all, accommodations in Siem Reap come to the airport to pick you up for free. Just make sure you communicate the times ahead of your arrival. My driver had a sign waiting for me and off we went to the guesthouses’s Tuk Tuk. (a carriage like cart powered my motorcycle or scooter.) The ride from the airport to my guesthouse was only about 20 minutes. There is lots of dust in Siem Reap so keep this in mind and pack either a mask or scarf to cover your mouth or eyes while in a Tuk Tuk.
I was staying at the Blossoming Romduol Lodge just off the main road in Siem Reap. I booked a private double room through booking.com and my total was $54 for 3 nights. (Yes $18 per night!) It was a nice sized room with a large (and SUPER comfortable) double bed. It had a TV, wardrobe, and small table too. I also had a private bathroom. The bathroom was a little outdated and was more so of a traditional Asian bathroom. (Meaning no separate shower. It’s a shower room so there’s a shower head on the wall next to the sink and the water drains in the middle of the floor. My apartment is the same here in Korea so I’m actually used to it. It dries pretty fast too) The property provided free breakfast daily and had a really cute pool and pool bar as well. (The picture shows the fish spa in the front of the property. They were cleaning it during my stay.)
I was welcomed with a cool towel and some refreshing tea. I headed to my room to settle in for a while and rest. A few hours later, I decided to head out to the main area where the markets and restaurants were located. It was a short 7-10 minute walk to the main area so I didn’t see the need to pay for a tuk tuk. I was surprised at how cheap things were there. My first meal was fried noodles with chicken and vegetables, a fresh banana shake, and bottled water. The total for that was $3.50. There were souvenir shops that had T-shirts for $1!! ( I got a few actually) After eating my meal, I walked around the markets and explored Pub Street before the crowds came out. (It’s a famous road full of bars that comes alive at night) I also stopped by one of the local travel stands to book my transportation for the Angkor Wat temple tour. It was $13 for all day transportation around the “small tour.” (mostly the four main temples that people know of) My last stop for the night was to get a foot and leg massage. ( I told you in my last post I got one literally every night after that first one. I was serious.) In Siem Reap, the 30 minute massages were anywhere from $3-$4!!!! After an oh so relaxing massage, I headed in for the night since my tour would start early the next day.
I woke up to have breakfast before I was picked up for my tour. I had a plain omelet, baked bread, fruit (dragonfruit and watermelon), and hot tea. (It’s very easy to be a vegan or vegetarian here. The fruits are in abundance and sooo fresh. They have so many things that we don’t have in the states.)
I packed up my backpack and then headed out with my guide. The first stop was to the main building for the Angkor Wat temple tours. You have to first purchase an ID card to enter the various temples. You have the option of a 1-day, 3-day, or 7-day pass. The prices were $37, $62, or $72 respectively. I only wanted to do the one-day tour. You can pay by cash or credit card and they also take your photo for your ID.
After I received my ID, I loaded up into a different van to start my tour. Our first stop was to the infamous Angkor Wat temple. This is the temple that is the symbol of Cambodia as evidenced from the country’s flag. Our guide allowed us to follow him or to freely explore for two hours. I started with him to get the general history and then took off on my own to get in some pictures. It was pretty crowded and super hot! Yet, we still had a long day ahead.
Our second stop of the tour was to the temple where the movie Tomb Raider was filmed. Most of the temple was being repaired but you could still see the most famous part where the movie was shot. By this point I was super sweaty and pretty hungry. Luckily, lunch was our next stop.
We were taken to a pretty touristy restaurant where the prices are more than double what they would be in the main area. It’s like this because tours brings loads of people here daily and it’s one of the only options to people on the tours, so you either eat or starve. For lunch I had Cambodian curry with chicken and a banana shake. The total was $10!
We loaded back up and went to our third temple, Bayon. (which was my favorite) This temple is known for the many carvings of the face of the King who built it. His face is literally everywhere. It was pretty cool and very detailed.
After Bayon, we went to one last temple where we would stay to watch the sunset. There wasn’t much to do around this temple so most people literally sat on the ground for two hours to wait for sunset. After watching the sunset I headed back down the mountain (we had to climb a mountain for about 10 minutes to reach the peak to watch the sunset) and toward my van. Around the parking area was many food vendors and souvenir carts. A big thing in Cambodia is young kids hustling tourists instead of going to school. Our guide warned us early so I knew not to give in. They want to encourage the kids to not beg and to hopefully enroll in school instead.
It was a super LONG day and I was so ready to head back to shower. I did just that and then headed back out to the main road for another cheap dinner (chicken lok lak) and my daily massage. (it was soooo needed on this day)
This day I decided to sleep in. I didn’t have any real plans and I was perfectly fine with that. Siem Reap is a super laid-back place anyway so it’s very easy to just chill out. Just like Day 2, I had my breakfast of eggs, bread, fruit, and tea. I decided to then go check out the pool for a little while too.
Around noon, I finally decided to get dressed and explore for the day. The guesthouse has free bicycles for guests to use, so I checked one out. It was the cutest old school bike with a basket on the front. Before I left I also asked about cooking classes offered in the area. I decided to book one for later that afternoon.
I took off on my bike and it was one of the most carefree feelings I have had in a very long time. It was so fun and I felt like a kid again.
My cooking class was scheduled for late afternoon, so I went back to my guesthouse to take the Tuk Tuk there. The class took place in a cozy cottage tucked behind Pub Street. Once everyone arrived, we walked over to a local market where our instructor explained some of the main ingredients used in Cambodian dishes. We spent about 30 minutes at the market then went back to the cooking cottage.
We had three courses to make and we also got to eat them all. Our starter was veggie spring rolls. We went step by step including cutting our vegetables and wetting our rice paper to make the casing. Once we made them we were able to eat them and talk about them with the other people in class.
Next up was our main dish: fish amok. (It’s another native dish of Cambodia). It was very delicious. I was amazed that I was able to actually create something that good. Our final dish was dessert which was a fried banana and passion fruit dish. (YUUUUUMMMMM) The cooking class was really fun and I was able to sit and talk with people from all over the world too. (so that was a double win) As part of the class we were given certificates, sample spices to take home, and a recipe book as well. It was well worth the $27. (I’ll add more pictures of my dishes later)
Since the class was so close to the action, I decided to head out and explore more and of course get my $3 massage. Pub street and the surrounding markets really come alive once the sun sets. I decided to even try a fish spa. They are everywhere and are also pretty cheap. It felt really weird at first but after I while I didn’t mind it since I was in deep convo with a guy from Greece who was also at the spa. (This is why I love traveling, you meet so many different people)
It was pretty packed around the markets so I just took in the sites and sounds for a few hours before heading in for the night. It was my last official night in Siem Reap and I would fly out the next evening.
On my last day, I slept in, had breakfast, and sat by the pool to read most of the day. The guesthouse allowed me to store my luggage after the check out time and I was able to still hang around the property. I even went back out on bike to just kill time. I stumbled upon a really cool Buddhist shrine. The day honestly flew by. My tuk tuk driver promptly took me to the airport to catch my flight. Next stop…Bangkok, Thailand.
Siem Reap was such a laid back and carefree place. I literally wore no makeup, workout leggings, and $1 Cambodia t-shirts the entire trip. Siem Reap is known as a hippy town and is very popular for backpackers. (people who travel with only a large back pack for extended periods) Everything was so cheap and I loved it. I would recommend maybe two-nights stay unless you plan to see more of the temples while there. It is very safe and aside from the kids who hustle, you don’t find too many beggars.
As always, thanks for reading and happy traveling!