Although Mother Nature did not deem me worthy to witness the glory of Angkor Wat against a backdrop of sunrise, my entire trip had not been in vain. I was able to gather some precious insight on going to Siem Reap in Cambodia, particularly when visiting during the monsoon season. Here is my recommended 3D2N Siem Reap itinerary, as well as a copy of my own trip budget and some travel tips.
3D2N Siem Reap Itinerary
14:30 ETA Siem Reap. Hotel’s tuktuk airport transfer.
15:10 ETA Bayon Boutique Hotel.
16:00 Walking city tour: Wat Preah Prohm Roath, Siem Reap River, Phsar Chas (Old Market), Pub Street.
18:00 Dinner at The Red Tomato
19:00 Angkor Night Market. Night life at the Pub Street.
~00:40 Midnight Snack at Cafe Latino at Pub Street
6:40 Start of the temple tours
6:55 Angkor Wat
10:20 Angkor Thom
11:10 Bayon Temple
12:20 Lunch at the Palmboo Restaurant
13:40 Banteay Srei
15:00 Ta Phrom
18:30 Dinner at Koulen II Restaurant with Apsara Dance
Note: Original itinerary dictated that we witness the sunrise at Angkor Wat and the sunset from Phnom Bakheng.
8:45 Breakfast at the Hotel (toast, scrambled egg with bacon, with fruit yogurt, coffee and passionfruit juice)
9:35 ETD Departure from Hotel to Tonle Sap
10:10 Boat payment at the Meanchey-Kampongplouk Tourist Transportation Community
10:15 Start of boat ride to the Floating Village
11:15 Start of Floating Forest Tour
11:45 Lunch at Riverside Restaurant in Kompong Plouk
13:35 Tour of the Floating Village
15:20 Stopover at the Post Office to send out postcards
22:10 ETD Siem Reap (to Manila)
3D2N Siem Reap Budget
172.52 USD (div. 5) 2 nights stay at Bayon Boutique Hotel
1 USD tuktuk ride from Pub Street to the hotel (it rained!)
7 USD Dinner at The Red Tomato (Chicken Saté 4.5$ and Chocolate milk shake 2.5$)
20.50 USD (div. 5) Midnight Snack at Cafe Latino (Pizza Italia Bianca, Calzone, Lemonade, Coke, Cambodia beer)
40 USD (div. 5) per car (from the hotel) for the ride to the temples.
2 USD tuktuk ride from the Koulen II Restaurant to the hotel (it rained!)
35 USD (div. 5) Lunch at Palmboo Restaurant (Amok fish, Curry chicken, Stir-fried veggies, Watermelon shake)
71.50 USD Buffet dinner with Apsara Dance (12 USD dinner + 2 1L Water (div. 5) + tax)
20 USD Non-transferrable, Angkor Day Pass
10.75 USD For shopping
25 USD (div. 5) per car (from the hotel) for the ride to the Kompong Phluk
1 USD tuktuk ride from Le Grand Café to the Hotel (it
25 USD(div. 5) Lunch at Riverside Restaurant (Cambodia Loc Lac, Fish and chips, Fried rice, Morning glory with oyster sauce)
3.95 American-Style Breakfast (for dinner) at Le Grand Café (two eggs, bacon, chicken sausage, pancake, tomato, toast and free coffee)
20 USD for boat ride around Kompong Phluk fishing village
5 USD for boat ride around the Floating Forest
Total* 3D2N Siem Reap Expenses (accommodations, transportation, food, activities and shopping): 148.60 USD
*Note: My airfare had been Manila-Singapore-Yangon then Siem Reap-Manila for: 14,857.64 PHP or 330 USD (at 1 USD to 45 PHP)
3D2N Siem Reap Travel Tips
- Currency: Surprise! (Almost) Everything is in USD! Restaurants, groceries, even the smallest shops would quote prices in USD and not in the local currency (the Cambodian riel or KHR), which is basically used for change at 1 USD = 4 KHR.
- Transportation: Getting around Siem Reap, can be done in various ways. In downtown Siem Reap, walking would be the most practical choice. But if walking seems to be too much for temple-hopping-weary legs, there are always the tuktuks to turn to. They populate the streets but as prices are not standardized, the drivers have a free rein on quoting prices. For the tours, there are always taxi cabs available for private hiring. For their part, they quote prices depending on the scope of the tour and might ask for additional fees for temples that are located further away.
- Communication: Another tourist central, tourists number locals 2 to 1. And for that, almost everything is in English. However, communicating with the locals is a different story as they still have a weak grasp of the traveler lingua franca. However, I did (over)hear some local guides speak good Spanish and French during our tour of the Angkor Wat.
- Money Exchange: With the US dollar being the preferred currency, one need not change any money to the local money. Should the need still arise, ask the hotel where a trustworthy money changer can be found. The usual ones go together with jewelry shops. Once there, don’t be surprised to find locals changing their money from KHR to USD.
- Entrance fees: Compared with the pagodas of Yangon, there is the Angkor Pass that tourists need to avail before being able to see the famous temples. The Angkor Pass costs 20 USD and is good for one day only. Because of this, be sure to make the most out of your day and cover as many temples as humanly possible.
- Temple behavior: Unlike in most temples, or probably since we are talking about ruins here, the dress code did not seem to be strictly enforced. I could not be really sure, though, as I visited during the monsoon and there was plenty of rain. However, a great boon is that there is no need to take off any footwear.
- Eating in Siem Reap: As I mentioned in my previous post, Khmer food really did not cut it for me. I am still baffled by the rave reviews I found when it comes to eating in Siem Reap but for me, meh. Every other restaurant would boast of fusion cuisine: Italian-Khmer food, French-Khmer food… but they all have the same feature: overly bland and oily or overly salty and oily. Tip: When asking for the bill, call the server’s attention then make a motion like you are writing a letter ‘z’ in the air.
- Weather in August: Touring Siem Reap in August is a real hit or miss deal. It could be super sunny and hot one minute, then pouring the next. I had the misfortune of having the Angkor tour on a rainy morning and it basically ruined everything for me. But come noontime, it was suddenly very hot and humid. It was really crazy. Anyway, make sure to hydrate and slather on sunblock as the sun can be strong in Siem Reap.
- Shopping: When in downtown Siem Reap, one can check out the Phsar Chas or Old Market for souvenir and pasalubong items. They have a wide variety of choices and there must be something for everybody. There is also the Angkor Night Market, across the Old Market (on the other side of the Siem Reap River), which boasts of a unique selection of Cambodian handicrafts. While I was there, I just loved watching the painters paint the glorious sunrise at Angkor Wat. Tip: Wanna buy some postcards? Those 1 USD postcards sold by the kids at the temples are actually a steal as the postcards at the Post Office cost .5 USD each. Tip 2: The Post Office has free wi-fi.
- Running in Siem Reap: An ideal place to run in downtown Siem Reap would be along the banks of River Siem Reap during the early hours of the morning. There would be less activity around, so less dust particles floating in the air.
August 25-27, 2015
***photos were taken using iPhone 6 and GoPro Hero 4 Silver