Siem Reap was our second destination in our Indochina trip, from which we traveled via bus. With reference to bus company that has a direct trip going to Siem Reap, we would recommend Mekong Express. Their buses have toilets, which I believe a must have for a long trip. They even offer free pick up from your accommodation. During our time we were picked up from Hong Han Hotel at around 7:15AM. By the way, you can also book your bus tickets from your accommodation. Ours were all coordinated with Ms. Hue from Hong Han Hotel.
Tip #1: If you want a less hassle bus ride going to Siem Reap, choose Mekong Express. They also offer free snacks! 😉
Traveling to Siem Reap by land requires lots of patience. You need to brace yourself for a long and tiring bus ride. In fact, we spent about 12 hours on the road, not counting the stops en route. Our first stop was in Vietnam – Cambodia border to get our passport stamped and to get a pass, which was valid for 15 days. Please do note that Filipino travelers do NOT need a visa to visit Cambodia. So all you need to do is to pay attention to what your bus conductor is telling or instructing you during the whole border crossing process.
Tip #2: Beware of fixers! If someone approaches you and offers any arrangement to get you a visa and to get your passport stamped with a charge, do not ever buy it!
Tip #3: For other passport holders, check this helpful link: http://www.howtogotocambodia.com/visa-for-cambodia/ for the list of countries that are NOT required to have a visa to enter Cambodia and for the updated price of Cambodian Tourist Visa for those who are required to have one.
The next bus stops we had were for lunch and other short breaks. When we arrived in Phom Pehn, which is the capital of Cambodia, we were transferred to another Mekong Express bus going to Siem Reap. We finally arrived to our destination at around 9:00PM.
We stayed in Golden Butterfly Villa Hotel, which is located one street away from the famous Pub Street and Old Market. This hotel was accidentally discovered via agoda.com. After reviewing the hotel’s location, amenities and photos, I decided to give this hotel a try.
We didn’t have any awful experiences staying in this hotel. We really enjoyed our 2 days and 2 nights stay with them. From their location, warm welcome greetings and delish cuisines and drinks, to their friendly and accommodating staff, to their beautiful rooms, and to their relaxing free massage – All thumbs up! Their hospitality was truly commendable.
Golden Butterfly Villa Hotel also offers pretty good tour packages. We availed their Angkor Tour – “Major Temples” via Tuktuk at $12. No tour guide included. But since we wanted this trip to be substantial and to learn more about their culture and histories, we asked for an English speaking tour guide to whom we paid $30.
Tip #4: If you are looking for a cozy stay and excellent service for a great value in Siem Reap, we personally recommend Golden Butterfly Villa.
Tip #5: In Cambodia, locals prefer paying them in US dollars. Hence, no more need to exchange money to their local currency, which is Cambodian riel.
We started our tour at around 5:00AM in the morning. Yes, that early because we wanted to witness the famous sunrise in Angkor Wat. And we were convinced, watching the sunrise in Angor Wat was beyond amazing. It was magical! Waking up early was worth it.
We spent 4 hours exploring the beauty of Angkor Wat. We were fascinated by the exquisite details of every temple we visited. And take note they were all handmade. According to our tour guide, the estimated construction time of the temple is 30 years. Just to share, Wat (in Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos) means a Buddhist monastery or temple.
Tip #6. Wear a hat/cap and comfortable pair of shoes throughout the tour. Brace yourself for a hot weather and long walk.
Tip #7. Wear appropriate attire in visiting Angkor Wat and other temples. Appropriate attire is long pants (covering the knee) and shirts that cover shoulders. Skirts, small shorts, tank tops, and other items of revealing clothing are NOT allowed within temple grounds.
By the way, in line with the image above, we were told that at that exact point we were at the center of the universe. 😉
After visiting Angkor Wat, we went to Ta Prohm temple, famously known as “The Tomb Raider Temple“. This is where the most thrilling scenes in the blockbuster Lara Croft: Tomb Raider were filmed.
Then we had lunch before heading to Bayon Temple.
Bayon temple is known for its huge stone faces. While in the tour, we noticed that one huge face was seemed to be smiling. Maybe that’s why it has been dubbed by some as the “Mona Lisa of Southeast Asia.”
We also passed through other temples, but due to our already hurting legs, we decided to not explore them anymore.
We arrived back to the hotel at around 5:30PM. We rested for a while and freshened up before we went to explore Pub Street and Old Market and try their local dishes.
The next day, before leaving Siem Reap and going to our next destination, which was Bangkok, Thailand, we visited Artisans Angkor. It was just 5 minutes walk from Golden Butterfly Villa.
“Artisans Angkor is a Cambodian company which was originally created to help young rural people find work near their home village. As the offshoot of an educational project called Chantiers-Ecoles de Formation Professionnelle, aiming at providing professional skills to communities with limited educational opportunities, Artisans Angkor has maintained its commitment to education by developing its own training program.” – www.artisansdangkor.com
Looking back at what we did in Siem Reap for 2 days, twominutesafter… we just thought that Siem Reap was not only about Angkor Wat. In fact, we believe it is a city filled with beautiful histories. It is definitely worth-visiting and truly a Kingdom of Wander.
Below is our detailed itinerary with EXCLUSIVE notes, tips, recommendations and contact persons.
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