Siem Reap (for me) is synonymous to Cambodia. One can spend a few hours, to days and even weeks to soak into the beauty of numerous temples of the Khmer Empire. If you have a time crunch, you can visit all the temples in one day. Although a minimum of 2 days is preferable. And many more days, if you like to relax and ponder over every single carving and corner! ????
Phnom Penh : 1 day and 1 nightStayed at : One stop hostel
Siem Reap 3 days and 3 nightsStayed at : Happy Guest house, Wat Bo village, Siem Reap
Travelers: Two female backpackers
Phnom Penh: One stop hostel is a good backpacker place to stay at. They have day trip options too, the most popular one is to the Killing fields. Short review: Typical city, crowded place. There is a night market and day trip option to Killing fields. You can skip Phnom Penh if you have a tight itinerary.
Travel to Siem Reap
2 Best option is to take the night sleeper bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, you will save a day more to see around Siem Reap. I went by Giant ibis (16$ for sleeper) which has very good reviews in many of the traveler blogs. I would say it was average, the seats were torn and the in-house toilet that they advertise about was in the worst condition. It was rather a thrill ride, being thrown off inches above, from the torn sleeper seat. I spent the night tossing from side to side failing to get even a wink of sleep. I think it was partly due to the condition of the bus and partly due to the road or should I rather say, a lack of a road! ???? But I do not have any alternate suggestion, not sure how the other bus companies are/were relative to Giant ibis. It would be best to check at your hotel for the newest and best bus service.
Accommodation in Siem Reap:
Happy Guest house, Wat Bo village, Siem Reap, CambodiaShort review: Living area is great to hangout and has Wi-Fi. Lot of choices in food from western to local, its tasty and cheap! There were a lot of travelers who stayed elsewhere but came to this hotel for its good food. Rooms are average looking but clean. Toilets are manageable. All rooms do not have wi-fi as the router is in the common area alone. So ask for rooms which catch Wi-Fi. (if you are particular).
Transport and Visa options:
- You can rent an electric bike which cannot ride beyond a 30 to 40 kmph or go for geared bikes. The other option is tuk tuks. Electric bikes were at 10 dollars per day, geared bikes and tuk tuks were at $ 15 a day.
- Happy guest house had a tie up with a vendor for the bikes, who asked to leave our passports and sign a long agreement which said that even if the bike breaks down its our responsibility and that we may be charged for a puncture too. We were not comfortable leaving our passport due to our experiences in Vietnam. So we rented the tuk-tuk on all 3 days.
It shielded us (just a little bit) from the summer heat and dust and let us relax and nap in between the temple hops ????
- How to enter Cambodia? - You can enter through land borders from Vietnam or Thailand. Ensure to check that the land borders provide visa on arrival / accepts e-visa before you make your travel bookings. You can directly fly into Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. I entered Cambodia via land border (Bavet) from Vietnam (as it a was more economical). Check the latest on the border checkpoints on the official Cambodian Embassy page
- E-visa option is also available. I got my e-visa in less than 3 days of application. You can directly apply on their official site.
Temple pass and guide:
- In Siem Reap you need a permit/ticket for the temples. It's a single day or 3 day pass. If you are staying for more than a day take the 3 day pass. They also have a week-long pass (7 days) if you are staying longer. Cost is 20, 40 and 60 $ for 1, 3 and 7 days respectively.
- You can buy the passes at the Ticket booth at Angkor conservation area from 5 am to 5 30 pm. If you reserve a tuk-tuk, they normally take you to the ticket booth first. Ensure to carry this around to all temples as they check this at the entrance. If you lose it, am not sure of the options. I guess you did have to buy it again ????
- You don't have to pay admission ticket for guide or tuk tuk drivers as its free entry for Cambodian citizens.
A tour guide will cost you about 40$, and that's for the whole group. So the bigger your group is the lesser it ends up costing you.
- If you are an Indian and have read some mythology and if you have already taken temple tours with parents acting as your guide, then I would recommend to opt out of a guide. They might in fact not know as much as you do. As for the names of the places, you will have that in the map. And anyways the local tuk-tuk guy would also know the names and that will suffice.