SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA – Tripadvisor has recently named Angkor Wat as one of the best landmarks in the world for 2015. This is for a very good reason.
Before, if you are coming from the Philippines, you do not have much choice in getting to Siem Reap via a direct flight. Most of the time, Filipino backpackers will include Siem Reap in their Indochina trip passing Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam or in reverse order.
Now, Cebu Pacific has a direct flight from Manila to Siem Reap. Flights are still quite limited but I guess it is a start. If you are lucky you can get 2,000-3,000 pesos one-way per person during their regular airfare promos. Cheaper if you are really really lucky.
I used to be awed by Siem Reap International Airport. But the last time I was there, they are still renovating certain parts of the airport. The security checks and immigration lines are too long and crowded.
Most hotels will offer free airport pick-up. If not, this should not be more than 5 USD.
Where to stay in Siem Reap
What I am sure of is that you will be bombarded with options. Accommodations in many forms, styles, sizes and prices are everywhere.
I stayed in Mandalay Inn before. It was 5 years ago. I recently referred it to a friend and was informed that the quality of the place has deteriorated. But despite all that, this is where I have met a Burmese friend. Hopefully I can go write about my Myanmar trip soon.
More recently, I have stayed in Bayon Boutique Hotel. Near the Pub Street and near almost every where.
The staffs were really amazing. They even made someone’s birthday really special.
Their rooms are big and clean. The sheets smell and look fresh and not worn out. I understand that the whole hotel has just been opened for business for just a couple of years hence the pristine status.
My concern was the setup of the bathroom/toilet and the shower room. You literally have to step out of one and cross the room to get to the other one.
The set breakfast is okay. We were not able to try the swimming pool though. It is just a small pool but it looks inviting.
Siem Reap hotels/accommodations options worth checking out::
The Angkor Wat Complex
The price of the 1-day Angkor Pass is 20 USD per person. If you are planning to stay in Siem Reap longer and visit the temples a couple of times, would suggest for you to get the 3-day pass which will be valid for one week duration.
A lot of people will say that if you want to experience Angkor Wat with less tourist/people, go really early for the sunrise. However, that line is repeated to almost every one. So early or not, there will be a lot of people. Come on, it is a tourist destination. Expect people everywhere.
What I always do when I visit any monument such as this is to imagine what it feels like to be on the same spot during the heyday of that particular landmark.
Just look at the carved walls with beautiful bas reliefs of Apsara dancers and other mythic creatures.
If you want to take a picture of Angkor Wat with no people in sight, go on the other end of the complex.
Ta Prohm aka Tomb Raider Temple
There are two entry and exit points for this temple, would suggest that you go with the entrance nearest the temple so that you will exit on the long walk on the other end. There is a dirt road with some thick forest on this exit.
Ta Prohm is not as organize in terms of navigation inside the temple. But once inside it, you will be amazed how nature, specifically the trees have managed to reclaim the landscape of the temple. This will give you a good perspective that the temple has been abandoned for hundreds if not thousands of years ago.
Angkor Thom and Prasat Bayon
My personal favorite. This complex is the reason why it is worth the trip going to a Siem Reap one day tour.
We have selfies today but Jayavarman VII has the Bayon Temple. 2nd time in Siem Reap, still my favorite part of a tuktuk tour.
Going to the complex, do not miss the chance to drop by the Bayon gates.
Again, how wonderful it would have been during the time this temple complex is still being used then as a place of worship by Khmer kings.
The complex can be crowded though. There are designated entries and exits but some tourists fail to follow.
A lot of trick photography can be applied during your visit of the Prasat Bayon. Use that creativity well.
There are other temples you can visit in Siem Reap. Get ready to get “stoned.”
Sunset viewing is usually done in Phnom Bakheng
The Pub Street of Siem Reap
I guess this is the tourist commercial center of Siem Reap with their tourist price of course.
A foot massage is a must after those hours of walking I’m telling you.
The end of Siem Reap one day tour
I always tell friends that if they want to have their first out of the country experience but on a budget, Siem Reap is the place to visit.
It is almost hassle-free. Everything is available in one area. Siem Reap is complete with history, nature and adventure.