After arriving in Siem Reap at the ungodly hour of 1 a.m. we were absolutely spent. We flagged a tuk-tuk and directed him straight to our accommodation, Dechasey Residence. We had no choice but to wake up the staff for a seriously late check-in. Luckily they were understanding and kind. Our room was large and comfortable. We also had a great balcony overlooking the pool. We showered off the sweat from the past 17 hours of travel and went straight to bed.
The next day we decided to take it easy and have a day of exploring Siem Reap. Since our accommodation was a bit of a distance from the city center, they provide one free tuk-tuk ride a day. So we used that to get into the city. Our first order of business was to withdraw cash and buy a SIM card for Cambodia.
🏦Tip: Canadia bank ATM will allow you to withdraw about 500USD for around 4-5USD. Other ATMs have a much smaller withdraw limit and/or higher fees.
After we had our cash and mobile access sorted we set out for a Cambodian lunch and 50 cent draft beer. We then began making our way to the old market.
On the way, we found a plethora of adorable coffee shops. We are absolute suckers for a cute coffee shop! We stopped in Noir Coffee and were not disappointed! Their iced coffee with condensed milk hit the spot. We also absolutely loved the rustic interior.
As soon as we made it into the old market area we found ourselves weaving through the small alleyways. We loved this part of Siem Reap! So many cute shops, cafes, restaurants and vendors.
We popped into the Gelato Lab. Oh man! Do not miss out on this little parlor if you are in Siem Reap. We shared a cup of the chocolate and cafe caramellato. It was proper, rich gooey gelato. So good!
The shopping in Siem Reap is really fantastic. We found great spa shops selling wonderful lotions and face products. Our favorite was Senteurs d’Angkor. We also could not get enough of the small vendors. Throughout all of our travels, through all the countries we had been, Siem Reap had the best souvenirs and accessories. We could have gone crazy buying bowls, purses, homeware, cosmetics and knickknacks.
We ended our day with some happy hour cocktails on pub street and some cheap eats.
🚕Tip: For ease of getting around Siem Reap and Cambodia use these two apps- Grab and Pass App. They will save you the hassle of negotiating the correct tuk-tuk fare.
The next day we planned on exploring Angkor Wat.
Now, we went into this a bit deaf, dumb and blind. To be honest, we were preparing a day of walking. Meaning, we thought we could just get a tuk-tuk to the entrance and then walk around Angkor Wat on our own. Well, after a brief discussion with our guest house concierge and a few quick google searches we realized that would be impossible. We also thought we could do the grand tour of Angkor Wat in one day. That idea was also put to rest.
Now when doing Angkor Wat, you have 3 choices.
1 day pass – 37USD
3 day pass – 62USD
7 day pass – 72USD
Looking at this, it was a no-brainer… 1 day pass. We are budget travelers and these prices are pretty steep! A 3 day or 7 day was not even an option.
After seeing how large Siem Reap was we could understand why you would want to stretch your time. Especially since it gets so unbelievably hot. A lot of people will go early in the morning and head back to their hotel to swim and rest during the afternoon.
Not us! We decided to do the small tour and utilize the entire day. We hired the tuk-tuk from our hotel for 18USD. He had a cooler stocked with ice waters and cold towelettes. It was actually amazing that he provided those.
We left at 09:30am, the first stop was at the ticketing building where they issue you a ticket with your photo on it, which they take there. From the ticketing building to the entrance of Angkor Wat is quite a stretch! We chuckled to ourselves that we even thought this would be remotely walkable. It’s not.
👕Tip: Make sure to wear light pants or a long skirt. Also, you must cover your shoulders, t-shirts are acceptable.
Once we got into Angkor Wat Archaeological Park, our first temple ruin visit was Angkor Wat itself. It was massive! We started our walk with the sun beating down, the sweat was drenching our backs in a matter of a minutes. It took about an hour and a half to walk the premises. Afterwards, we grabbed a couple coconut milkshakes to cool us down and headed to meet our tuk-tuk driver. He also had some ice waters and cold towelettes to wipe the sweat from our necks and faces.
Stop number two was Bayon, which provided an incredibly steep staircase for a magnificent view. The Bayon grounds were fairly large with tons of ruins to explore.
This was followed up by Angkor Thom which was on the same Bayon grounds. We loved this temple. It was so different, with magnificent face carvings. This was also an incredibly popular temple. We definitely had to fight through the herds of Chinese tourists for some decent pictures.
Our tuk-tuk driver had more water and towelettes awaiting.
We moved on to our fourth temple, Ta Nei. Most of it was fairly crumbled to the ground and overtaken by the trees. It was beautiful and quiet. There were just a handful of tourists there.
Our fifth and final stop was Ta Prohm. Which was also the location for the Laura Croft film. For that very reason, Ta Prohm was the busiest and most obnoxious. I think we also arrived at the same time as the Chinese tour buses. Everyone was fighting for their perfect instagrammable shots. Not us, we took a few snaps and decided to get out as fast as possible.
Our guy was waiting for us with last set of waters and towelettes. We refreshed ourselves for the last time and headed back to the hotel.
We got back to the hotel at around 4pm. Just in time for a refreshing dip in the pool. We were spent. We took our showers, ordered a pizza and poured ourselves some cocktails.
After a 1 day exploration of temples we had serious temple fatigue. Honestly, we could not even imagine doing a 3 day or 7 day tour. But, different strokes for different folks.
Tip: Don’t feel pressured to buy a 3 day or 7 day Angkor Wat pass. You can do a large chunk of it in 1 day and save some money in the process.
We loved Siem Reap so much, we decided to spend one extra day there to relax. We spent almost the entire day lounging by the pool. With a few brief intervals to grab coffee and lunch. In the evening we headed to town for some cheap 6USD massages, happy hour cocktails and dinner.
The next day we had planned on going to Battambang.
Tip: Use Camboticket.com to find a reputable bus. You can either book directly with the site using a credit card or you can scout your company with the best reviews and book directly at their office. Since we pay everything in cash, to avoid fees we pick the best reviewed and just go to the store front.
We knew we wanted to take a bus with Mekong Express, but before making a trip to town to book tickets we asked our hotel if they could book for us. Which they did! They also did not even take a commission for their service. We paid 6USD per person for our tickets to Battambang.
The next day our hotel gave us our free tuk-tuk ride to the Mekong Express office where we awaited our bus.
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