Cambodia: An Angkor Photo Diary Plus Helpful Tips
I have recently come across my old laptop and hard drive from my round the world trip and found a handful of photos from when I was in Cambodia. I was only in Siem Reap for a few days to visit the temples so I only have photos of my time at Angkor Wat. I thought I would share a photo diary as well the memories I can recall from my time in Cambodia.
By the time I was in Cambodia I was experiencing a mix of exhaustion and grief from my round the world trip. Traveling is often considered a vacation but it is not always restorative and relaxing when you’re on the road for an extended period of time. It’s not that I am grateful, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to travel the way I did. It’s just that it can be overwhelming constantly moving from place to place.
If you’re traveling in Vietnam or Thailand, I recommend adding a visit to the temples in Siem Reap to your itinerary. It’s not far. I took a bus from Bangkok although if I were to return again, I would take a flight over. My bus experience from Bangkok to Poipet, the town on the border of Cambodia, was one that I don’t recommend to any travelers. It was cheap but it was annoying. When you get off the bus, they drop you off far away from the border. Tuk tuk drivers swarm and try to scam you into believing you need to get your visa before the border. Whatever you do, don’t fall for it and get them to take you to the border. Do not take no for an answer. Do not pay them. You do not need a visa before the border, you will get your Cambodia entry visa at the border. Make sure you’re at the proper border!!
When you finally get to the Cambodian border, you pay a bribe on top of your entry visa. The cost depends on the mood of the border agent. Once you cross over you wait for a taxi to take you to Siem Reap where the temples are. When a taxi driver shows up, you think you’re on your way. You’re not. He is not going to leave until his taxi is full so unless you have four people, you will be sitting at the border for a while. Bring a book!!! Luckily for me, I befriended a French girl and so we waited together. Two guys showed up and we pooled together and finally got the driver to bring us to Siem Reap.
When you arrive in Siem Reap, the taxi driver has his tuk tuk driver friends who work for different accommodations meet him and try to hustle you into staying with them. A disgruntled tuk tuk driver took me to the Golden Mango Inn, a simple hotel that I booked prior to my arrival. After I checked in, the hotel recommended I hire one of their tuk tuk drivers to be my driver for the entirety of my time visiting the temples. After I settled in, I went to Angkor Wat to buy my temple pass to avoid dealing with lineups the next day. When you do buy a pass in the afternoon you get a complimentary entry right then.
Angkor Wat is mind-blowing. When you are there and you see it for yourself, you are awestruck. I wondered how something like that was built several centuries ago without heavy machinery. It truly is amazing. Seeing the temples in Angkor was definitely one of the many highlights of my round the world trip and time in Asia.
Photos from my time touring Angkor Wat
Sunrise at Angkor Wat! A must when visiting the temples
Post sunrise tourist
This temple was closed off but I went up to see the view. I know! Bad!
These guys let me me in. Shh!
A local cycling beside my tuk tuk
Overgrown tree at Ta Prohm
Maybe one of the sweatiest days on my round the world trip
During my time in Siem Reap, the temperature was around 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 Celsius and very humid. It was insanely hot! On top of the heat, I was having stomach issues and my ATM card was stolen after my first day. I’m not sure if it was bad food that I ate at the temple or ill-washed fruit. And because I feared having my ATM card stolen, I had a backup card for another account. It was after these situations then I decided to cut my visit short and call it quits in Cambodia. These things may put you off traveling to Cambodia, but this can happen anywhere. I’ve gotten food poisoning in Canada and in the USA. I’ve been pick-pocketed in my hometown in Canada on the bus. I was having a stroke of bad luck, but I would never let that stop me from a return visit or have negative thoughts about Cambodia. Every place has its positive and negative and sometimes another visit can redeem a destination.
Some helpful tips for Cambodia:
- If you can, fly to Siem Reap rather than take the bus
- If you do take the bus from Bangkok to Poipet on the border of Cambodia, be sure to have all of your valuables on you. I have heard that people sneak into the undercarriage of the bus and ransack luggage.
- When you do arrive at Poipet, do not pay for a visa until you are at the border. A tuk tuk driver may pick you up and try to bring you to a visa office. Those are fake. Only pay for a visa at the official border.
- If you are traveling alone, befriend other solo travelers because you will need to be a group of 4 in order for the taxi driver to take you to Siem Reap
- When you arrive in Siem Reap, some tuk tuk drivers from different accommodations will try to hustle you into staying at their place of business. I had pre-booked much to their dismay
- Book the same driver to take you to the temples
- Buy your pass at the main entrance on the road to Angkor Wat the afternoon before. The lines are shorter and you get a complimentary entrance for the rest of that day.
- You can buy 1-day($20), 3-day ($40), or 7-day (60) passes. Your photo will be taken for your pass.
- You can visit from 5 am to 6 pm.
- Do the sunrise at the temple. It’s busy and touristy but absolutely gorgeous.