October 24, 2013

1 Day, 1 Night in Siem Reap, Cambodia is Enough

After a 5-6 hour bus ride from Phnom Penh, we were welcomed by our tuk tuk driver, Sokra. The hotel we wanted, also the most popular (Golden Temple Villa) was booked. We had no one to pick us up but thankfully the gentleman at the bus waiting area knew Sokra, and told him to pick us up. We hired him for the next day, from 5am to 8pm for $25. He drove us everywhere we wanted, including the Angkor Archaelogical Park. We stayed at the Siem Reap Center Hostel, which was located across the street from Golden Temple. The hostels, guesthouses, and hotels are endless in Siem Reap. We paid $15 a night (includes a/c which you MUST have, I can't stress this enough). 

We wanted to go early for the sunrise. Some people suggest to buy your ticket before they close because you can enter the same day along with a whole day tomorrow. But, it was too much planning, and I would not spend more than half a day exploring the temples. It was $20 for a one day pass. After you pay, they take a photo of you, and give you a printed paper, which you will show when you enter. It is crazy as all the tuk tuk drivers and tourists are rushing to Angkor Wat to catch the sunrise. Note: don't buy the coffee outside the entrance. It was overcharged (2-3 dollars) and it tastes horrible. Also, you don't want to be holding a hot cup of coffee and your camera! Being at the  site should give you the morning energy you need.

When you walk down the long walkway, turn left and walk down the stairs. That's where you'll get the picture of the reflection of Angkor Wat. I was surprised at how not majestic the actual site was. As you can see in the picture, there's water and mud, and a lot of people. However, everyone just zooms in and compose it so it looks beautiful. It is, it really is! Just not that surrounding area.

My favorite couple.

We started talking to him. We asked every imaginable question. Every one except what is your name.

For a majority of the temples, there is no dress code. You can walk around Angkor Wat in a strapless dress and you won't get kicked out. However, once you enter one of the main temples (it's a lot of stairs), you have to be covered up. Having a shawl or sarong to cover your shoulders won't do. One lady wasn't able to enter because she wore a sleeveless dress and used a sarong to cover her arms. 

Look at who we ran into!

After spending two hours taking photos at Angkor Wat, we spent about 15 minutes at the two other popular temples. It gets old, at least for me. 

After getting massages (not worth the $10), Sokra reserved tickets for a dinner and show. It was a buffet for $12 (not including drinks) with five traditional dance performances. I thought this was a great deal because we didn't eat much Cambodian food (if you want really good food, you need to find a local).

After the performance and dinner, we decided to walk back because it simple was walking ten minutes down the road. We stopped and experienced some doctor fish. Boy, it was ticklish! It was $1 for 15 minutes, but lucky for us, we sat there for thirty minutes. The guy who was watching over the shop for his friend thought we were cute girls (exactly what he said), and we hopped on his motorbike and explored the local side of Siem Reap. It was not at all creepy! Seriously! One of the highlights of the day.
Quick tips:
- don't buy the three day pass, one day is enough ($20)
- you can visit the temples from 5am to 1pm. We left at 11am. (it gets super hot, and they all begin to look the same)
- hire a driver for a day ($25)
- when you exit a temple, there will be a lot of street vendors. Ignore them, but if you want to buy something, bargain for half the price because they will sell it to you.
- book a room with air conditioning

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