Sometimes you just want to get away from things. You need an escape plan from your miserable day to day life. You just want it to be a very short gateway which will not affect your annual leave. If you are that person, you are on the right page and Siem Reap is perfect for you.
In my case, I only stayed for 2 days but still have more than enough time to spend in Siem Reap. I flew with Airasia early Saturday morning from Kuala Lumpur and return to KLIA late afternoon. Let me tell you about the secret. It is actually possible to get cheap ticket at the last minute too. You just need to have some luck and patience. There are also offers on cheap flights to Siem Reap too. You just need to become the member of Airasia BIG and you will receive the updates. And don’t you worry if you don’t have anyone to go with you because Siem Reap is totally safe for solo traveller. The people are generally nice and tuk tuk is everywhere. It is very easy to move around places in Siem Reap with tuk tuk. Just be wary and extra cautious with your surrounding.
In order to enter Angkor Archeological Park, you need to purchase the ticket at the counter and pick 1-day tour or if you want to see sunrise or still want to see the huge estate, opt for 2-day tour instead. Ask your tuk tuk driver to stop at Angkor National Museum to buy the ticke. In my case, one day is already enough. It depends on your preference. I do not mind skipping the sunrise photo because to see the Angkor Wat itself is satisfying already. Here is the pass fees. Please be mindful that the park opens at 5.30am and closes at 7pm. Go and chase sunrise at Angkor Wat and wait for sunset at Phnom Bakheng.
- 1-day pass – US$ 37;
- 3-day pass – US$ 62;
- 7-day pass – US$ 72
I did not expect Angkor Archeological Park to be that huge. So, taking tuk tuk is definitely a must (at least for me). My tuk tuk was hired at muslim restaurant and the driver is a muslim. He could speak Malay very well too. (share contact). With tuk tuk I could visit the main temples such as Phnom Bakheng, Ta Phrom, Bayom and most importantly Angkor Wat. Prepare yourself for extra walking in the scorching heat and humidity. If you begin the journey late, it is better to bring umbrella or at least hat with you and also enough fluid to hydrate yourself.
This is the business card of Zaky. He is a muslim and can speak Malay fluently. He was very helpful too and knows where to go for Halal food. Let’s help the tuktuk driver at Siem Reap.
Avoid going to Angkor Wat first to avoid crowd. You might also lose interest to visit other temple if you go to Angkor Wat first. My suggestion is to go to Ta Phrom or most popular known as Lara Croft Temple.
You need to climb the steep stairs at Phnom Bakheng to reach the top. It is not easy though. You need stamina to do it. If you wear sandal, I think it is better to take them off due to the uneven and steep stairs.
By the time I reached Bayon, I already felt the struggle. It was so hot and I was sweaty as hell. Really uncomfortable. Please wear loose clothing or else you will get blisters around crotch.
Baphuon Temple is close to Bayon. The tuk tuk driver might ask you to cover both temple on foot. He will drop at one temple and pick up at the other. So brace yourself for another long walk.
At Angkor Wat, you need to walk around the temple and observe the features. But first thing first, you need to walk across the bridge to cross the reservoir. It was a long bridge. By this time, you will feel your energy draining. That is why it is crucial to bring snack and water along.
All the temple mentioned could be completed within 3 to 4 hours. If you take cycling as your option you may need the whole day to complete all.
I had lunch at town and then rest for a bit at the hotel. In the late afternoon, I went to Floating Market at Tonle Sap. The journey from town to Tonle Sap took about 40 minutes with tuk tuk. The warm breeze while riding tuk tuk will make you sleep so be wary of your safety. Don’t fall down on the road from tuk tuk.
Tonle Sap is my most favorite place to visit. The lake is so huge it looks like an ocean. The water plants dominate the river which goes into the lake. Luckily for us, we only paid 25 dollar to get a boat ride and only us on that boat. I am actually surprise by how few foreign tourists (namely European) came to this area. They really missed a lot.
We visited during dry season and the lake still looks so huge. The water is yellowish murky. In the wet season, the water rise significantly because additional water from Mekong River enter this lake. According to my tuk tuk driver, the water becomes bluish when the water rises. The lake will increase in size and flooded all the paddy field about 1 km inland which is awesome.
That night, we went to Pub Street and got a foot massage after a long day of walking and climbing. There were not many people in comparison to Bangla Street but I prefer Pub Street. Bangla Street in Phuket was too loud for my taste and also not age appropriate for youngsters. You can also try strange and unique dishes like fried scorpion and tarantula. Though, I was not that adventurous to try them.
Usually most of my acquaintances would only visit the temple. Well, apparently Siem Reap is not just about temple and fried scorpion. On the second day, since I am done enjoying a tiring walking journey at the temples, we went to visit war museum, silk factory and killing field.
War Museum: This is an outdoor museum and located not far from the city center. At this museum, there were many war machinaries such as tank, M16, bombs etc. However, the things that caught my interest is the photographs and explanations regarding the situation during Khmer Regime. The scenes from Killing Fields movie suddenly rushed through my mind. It was depressing. I would recommend you all to watch First They Killed My Father on Netflix. The movie which was directed by Angelina Jolie followed a young girl memoir throughout the war time.
Angkor Silk Farm: This farm/factory is located quite far from the town. It took us about 1 hour by tuk tuk to reach this factory. At this factory, you will see how the silk is made fresh from the trees. I mean not the trees but the silk worm. This was the first time I saw the manufacturing of the silk thread. First they killed the worm with yellow cocoon by boiling in hot water. Then they thread it to make a batch of threads before dying them. I don’t know for you guys but I find it depressing to see the worms got killed just for the silk. In this factory, you can buy the fabric with Khmer color.
Wat Thmey Killing Field: This is probably the most depressing site on this trip. Here is where many people were killed by Khmer Rouge regime. Due to extreme ideologies by certain irresponsible people, 25% of total population of Cambodia demised. The Killing Fields will be a reminder to people today the cost of extreme ideologies.
There you go. Just skip that boring weekend and explore Siem Reap now! Fly to Siem Reap on Friday night or Saturday morning and return home on Sunday late afternoon. It is possible.