Cambodia: An Angkor Photo Diary Plus Helpful Tips

Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Recently I came across my old laptop and hard drive from my round the world trip and found a handful of the photos I took from when I was in Angkor Wat. I thought I would share photos, memories, andhttps://www.rtwgirl.com/tam-coc-vietnam/ some helpful tips from my experience in visiting the temples.

If you’re travelling around 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 at the end of my time in Thailand. Although if I were to return to Cambodia again, I would fly to Siem Reap. Please note that you cannot fly to Siem Reap just for a day. Recently, my brother and sister-in-law were turned away at the airport when they were trying to do a day trip from Thailand. 

My Experience Travelling to Siem Reap from Bangkok

My bus experience from Bangkok to Poipet, the town on the border of Cambodia, was one that I don’t recommend to any travellers. It was cheap but it was frustrating. I went to the bus station in Bangkok and took an overnight bus that would take me to the border of Thailand and Cambodia. The city is called Poipet. 

When you get off the bus in Poipet, the bus driver drops you off far away from the border. It’s a scheme. Then Tuk-tuk drivers come and swarm you so they can try to scam you into thinking you need a Cambodia visa before the border.

Whatever you do, do not fall for their trick and get them to drive 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 actual border. Make sure you’re at the proper border!!

When you finally get to the Cambodian border, you might pay a bribe on top of your entry visa. The cost depends on the mood of the border agent. It is helpful to have extra passport photos (I got a bunch at Costco before I left on my trip). Once you cross over, you will be waiting for a taxi to take you to Siem Reap where the temples are.

You can now arrange for e-visas ahead of time by clicking this link

When a taxi driver shows up, you think you’re on your way to Siem Reap. You are not. The taxi driver is not going to leave until his taxi is full. 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 Forest King Hotel (previously called Golden Mango Inn), a simple hotel with breakfast included that I booked prior to my arrival.

Read customer reviews for the Forest King Hotel

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.

Even though all of the above sounds horrible, 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.

By the time I was in Cambodia on my round the world trip, I was experiencing a mix of exhaustion and grief. Travelling 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 may not sound like 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 like guided tours, here are some popular ones from Viator

 

Sunrise at Angkor Wat - Cambodia | www.rtwgirl.com

Sunrise at Angkor Wat! A must when visiting the temples

Angkor Wat - Cambodia | www.rtwgirl.com

Post sunrise tourist

Angkor Wat | www.rtwgirl.com

Angkor Wat | www.rtwgirl.com

 

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This temple was closed off but I went up to see the view. I know! Bad!

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These guys let me in. Shh!

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Angkor Wat - Cambodia | www.rtwgirl.com
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Angkor Wat - Cambodia | www.rtwgirl.com

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Local cycling beside my tuk-tuk

Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Thom

Overgrown tree at Angkor Wat
 

Overgrown tree at Ta Prohm

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Bayon Temple

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Maybe one of the sweatiest days on my round the world trip

During my time in Siem Reap, the temperature was around 104 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 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 one of the temples or ill-washed fruit. And because I feared having my ATM card stolen, I had a backup card for another account. Thank goodness! It was after these situations then I decided to call it quits in Cambodia.

These things may put you off travelling 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 of Vancouver 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 pros and cons and sometimes another visit can redeem a destination.

Some helpful tips for Cambodia:
  • Fly to Siem Reap if you are able to instead of taking the bus
  • I recommend that you do not take the bus from Bangkok to Poipet on the border of Cambodia. If you do, have all of your valuables on you. I have heard that people sneak into the undercarriage of the bus and ransack luggage
  • When you arrive at Poipet on the border of Thailand and Cambodia, 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 your visa at the official border.
  • If you are travelling alone, befriend other solo travellers 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 entry 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.

TRIP PLANNING STARTS HERE

HELPFUL GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS

  • Flights: Find a cheap flight using Skyscanner or Momondo. I like these two booking sites because they both search all websites and airlines around the globe including budget airlines.
  • Accommodations: I use Booking.com or Tripadvisor to find the best rates on hotels. Hotels.com offers a free night after booking 10 nights
  • Get up to $40 off your first Air Bnb stay by using this code!
  • Travel Insurance: Having gotten sick on my travels in the past, I never travel without being insured. You never know when something may happen. For my round the world trip and extended long-term travel, I use World Nomads. For other trips, I have used Roam Right and they cover activities like extreme sports.

 

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Visiting the temples of Angkor Wat | #travel #cambodia #rtwgirl
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