A couple of months ago, we stumble upon a trending article on Facebook that the archaeologists have recently found out a vast medieval cities hidden beneath the jungle in Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Knowing that this is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, we wanted to pay a visit, we checked on the cheapest flight on Air Asia and it is only RM300 per person for to and fro! Immediately, we went on to Booking.com and Agoda.com to find a comfortable hotel. Here we are, Siam Reap.
After visiting the temples, there are few things that I personally think it is important to understand Cambodian’s culture.
The more you adapt, the more interesting it is.
Things You Must Know In Siam Reap
- USD is the de facto currency in Cambodia, you can use it everywhere. The only time that you will be seeing Cambodian Riel is when you receive small change from USD transaction.
- Arrange tuk tuk ride from your hotel. Most of the time, you will see tuk tuk driver along the streets aggressively pulling you over to hire them and you might get ripped off by some of them too. To avoid this, you can arrange with your hotel. For a ride from our hotel to old market (about 400m-600m) costs USD1 (We stayed in Viroth’s Hotel, booked from Booking.com).
- Do not be afraid of the overly friendly people here. Most of the Cambodian practice Buddhism and Hinduism. They will always smile and greet you, smile back and greet them. Please do not just stare at them, they will think that you rude.
- Be careful of some scammer in the temples. Of course there is always a rotten apple in every society. We got cheated by a man in the first temple who offered to help us to take photos. After 5 minutes of walking, he asked for USD30!! We were furious and paid him USD10, he refused and insisted on USD30. In the end, we made a deal and gave him USD20. Lesson learned, not to get close to anyone in the temples.
- Please be prepare for the scorching heat during dry season. We visited Siam Reap during their dry season in July. There was rain in the early morning and late evening everyday. Although it was not sunny in the afternoon, the weather is still hot and stuffy. Unlike in Malaysia, you don’t feel sticky even you are hot.
- To beat over crowded tourists, we go against the normal route where the tour bus go. You do not want your trip to be spoilt by flooding tourist. Normal route: Angkor Wat > Bayon > Ta Phrom > Bantey Strei. Most of the temples are near to each others (10 to 30 minutes ride). We customised our route to Bantey Srei, Bayon and Angkor Wat. We skipped Ta Prohm (after the first temple scam, we were quite moody) not knowing that it is where Tomb Rider movie was shot. Tuk tuk costs USD15 to and fro (arranged by the hotel, hotel – temples – hotel).
- Get a tour guide before visiting the temples. Each temple tells a different story, albeit the interior looks almost the same. A tour guide with English speaking costs USD35 a day from 7.00am – 5.30pm. We did not get a tour guide from the beginning but ended up spending for total of USD20 for just an hour or two tour guide in Angkor Wat. We offer an extra USD5 as a gratitude as he did a very good job and being honest.
Our temple visit is only one day, cost USD20 per person. If you wish to visit more temples more than 2-3 days, it is USD40 per person. I personally think 1 day is sufficient for the temple visit. You can plan other activities besides temples for the next day. Here is the temple fee guide given by the Viroth’s hotel, the fee are pretty much similar offered by other hotels after comparison.
Siam Reap is an inexpensive and affordable country to travel in. This is an amazing place full of culture and history. It is believed to be one of the oldest city in the Cambodia, known for site of trading and pilgrimage. It is best known for its distinctive sandstone towers, wall carving depicting the Buddhist and Hindu deities. If you are looking to get out of bustling cities full of skyscrapers and concrete jungle, this is it. The trip was way beyond our expectation, I could say that we truly enjoyed this short trip.