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siem reap

The journey from Don Det to Siem Reap via minivan totalled to 13 hours given that we had to cross over to the main land in boat, wait for an hour at the border for our visas and drive 7hours in mini van from Stang Trung to Siem Reap. During this drive we saw two scooters transported by minivan on two different occasions and it is the typical thing you see in these counties, where there’s a will there’s a way. The first one was strapped behind a minivan with an open back door, half the bike hanging out, the second time the scooter was strapped on perpendicularly to the minivan with the man sitting on top of the bike! 

Organising transport to Siem Reap was pretty straight forward, you buy your bus ticket on the island and everything is done for you, however we are positive most of us got conned into paying $40 instead of $25 for the visa because there was a well dressed man standing a few hundred metres before the bus station and ushered us all to ‘sort’ out visas etc. So be warned, it is very easy to get led in the wrong direction. You live and you learn I guess. 


Once we arrived at the bus station in Siem Reap it was dark and we haggled the tuk tuk driver to take us to a guesthouse centrally, although we also had problems here as we agreed for the tuk tuk driver to take four of us and after dropping the first girl off he told us the other two guesthouses were in the opposite direction (which were not in fact) and insisted we paid more so we refused and didn’t even pay a penny and hailed down another tuk tuk. This is the bad thing about counties like these, they will take advantage of foreigners unless you place your foot down and insist or show you are not a push over, which unfortunately there are many tourists who don’t who we have come across. 

 

We stayed at a guesthouse for only $8, just a 2 minute walk to the busy main area. Pub Street is full of restaurants, bars and shops and is buzzing at night. If you’re not into the exotic cuisine (fried tarantulas, scorpions and snakes) available at stalls there are plenty of decent priced restaurants around and we found a delicious cheap restaurant, Angkor Famous Restaurant, in an alley adjacent to Pub Street which served free popcorn and 50 cent draft Angkor beer. The pizza here was lovely! There are a few night markets in the area selling very good cheap counterfeits, souvenirs and art shops with unique paintings on display. If the constant harassment of shop assistants doesn’t bother you it’s a great way to spend your evening. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angkor Wat

 

The first morning we hired a tuk tuk for the entire day just for $13 for the and visited Angkor Wat, the main attraction of Cambodia. Cycling to the grounds is a much cheaper option ($2 each) but it is quite a journey and as I had visited Angkor Wat this way last time we opted for the easier option. Paying $20 entrance fee makes it the most expensive attraction we have seen to date but it is definitely worth every cent. Angkor Wat temple was the first we visited and is the largest. Every stone comprising this temple is sculptured and the detail is impeccable. 

It was a long enjoyable day which ended back at Angkor Wat temple watching the sun go down with a beer in our hands. 

We managed to visit the six main temples. After Angkor Wat we were driven to Ta Prohm and Banteay kdei, the former being our favourite. Ta Prohm, although having being destroyed heavily by bombings it had a natural beauty like no other due to the intertwined trees and roots which have grown to be part of the temples.

Parts of the temple have been reconstructed using the original fallen blocks and certain areas were still under construction and were cornered off to the public.

It was a long enjoyable day which ended back at Angkor Wat temple watching the sun go down with a beer in our hands. 

Young boys walked around collecting cans, which must be a way of earning some money and a good way to keep the premises clean. 

 

 

 

Floating Village

 

On our second day we hired a tuk tuk again and visited the Floating Village by boat. Regrettably we realised we should have taken a private tour for $16 pp as a ticket was $20 pp alone so we would have I fact saved money with a tour which is not usually the case. We refused to pay the $20 and after a while managed to lower it to $17. Previously tourists could share a boat for $10 but this had been cancelled. Being forced to get a private boat we had a guide all to ourselves who explained about the locals and way of living. It took us about 20 minutes to reach the vast cluster of floating settlements kept afloat by bamboo, all closely congregated. 

 

Among the hundreds of houses is an orphanage, restaurants, shops, a school and crocodile/fish farms. It was amazing at how big Tonle Sap Lake is as we could only see water in the distant horizon. 

We had been previously warned by a couple that they try to guilt trip you into buying a large bag of rice for around $30 for the orphans so we decided not to visit the orphanage and we could tell by the way the guide was talking from the very beginning about ‘having a good heart’ and ‘not giving money but food’ that this was a ploy with every tour. Even though it was nice to see the village we both agree that $20 per person is a bit much for an hour and a half boat ride considering the country we are in. 

 

On the third evening we hopped on a 11:30pm night bus to Phnom Penn which took approximately 8 hours. The bus was quite comfortable with completely horizontal beds which made it very easy to sleep and relax. 

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