We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Our 5-day trip to Siem Reap

West Yorkshire...
Level Contributor
43 posts
55 reviews
Save Topic
Our 5-day trip to Siem Reap

First of all, I want to thank the Destination Experts on this Forum. Their combined information was enormously useful in our planning for this trip. So, all of you, Ian/Angkor Lad, Baddles and others - thank you for taking the trouble and effort to post regularly. It really is appreciated. I urge all readers to take note of these folk - they know what they're talking about!

We are a couple of middle-aged, young-at-heart, early-retired "SKI-ers " ( Spending the Kids Inheritance), who enjoy "good value luxury". We wouldn't call ourselves seasoned travelers, but we've travelled a fair bit to lots of different countries. Apart from short stop-overs to Hong Kong, China and Singapore with hubby's work in Higher Ed, this was our first holiday in South East Asia. It will not be our last!!! We had 3 weeks in Thailand and then flew into Siem Reap. I think I had fallen in love with the country on the tuk-tuk ride from the airport:) Cambodia has captured my heart in a big, big way.

So, I humbly share here what we did in Siem Reap and our experiences; there may be others, like us, who might find a novice's experience useful when thinking about what they might do themselves.

I am not offering any recommendations on here, by the way, "other restaurants, tour guides, bars, spas, hotels, trips are available..", as they say!

We flew in from BKK. It's true - the VIsa On Application is dead simple! Our flight was delayed so the attendants actually gave the appropriate forms out in the departure lounge. All filled by time of boarding. On Arrivals, you follow the very clear signs to the queue for Visa Applications - it's all very easy and painless, and I was in awe of how they process everything so quickly. Then you stand in the collection q, and a guy holds up the passports one by one, you get your own and you're there. We had our pics all ready, but even those who had no photos didn't have to wait too much longer. Then everyone waits for baggage together. We were outside the airport at exactly the same time as those who had the online, more expensive version.

Hotel, Apsara Residence, sent free tuk-tuk. He made sure we knew his name! It was turned 6pm when we'd got unpacked. Went to a cute little restaurant on Street 27, away from centre, run by a collective of ex-uni students on a NGO loan. Super food and fab people. A great intro to the city. Wandered to Pub Street after - a bit mind blowing,not really our scene, but we needed to see it. Crazy place. Found a good bar for a couple of G and Ts.

Sunday - nothing planned. We mapped out a walk taking in Wats, coffee shops, riverside etc. Nearly collapsed in the heat, but enjoyed it, nonetheless. There are plenty of 'off-the-track' cafes - we used TA reviews to help map out a walk taking a couple in, used that as a guide, but often saw others down alleys etc as we were strolling. Always worth having a nosy down the alleys! Found SR a very safe place to walk round. Just the broken pavements need decent footwear. I bought some Skelotene citronella bug spray and have only been bitten twice since then in past 10 days:)

Went on a Street Food Tour - other couple didn't show so it was like a private tour. Brilliant fun! Well worth doing and helped us get bearings in city too.

Monday/ Tuesday - I'd booked a 2-day tour of Angkor temples with driver and registered guide. We paid $155, excluding ticket price. First day was Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Ta Nei, Ta Keo, Banteay Kdei, Angkor Thom gates, Palace walls, terraces, Bayon; Baphuon, Chao Sav Tevoda and Thommanon. On 2nd day, we started with a visit to the Floating Villages, did Banteay Srei, Samre and the Landmines Museum, Preah Khan and Pre Rup.

There's always lots of chat on forums about whether to hav guides versus tuk-tuk drivers etc. We felt this price was fair, having shopped for different kinds of tours, with and without guides. Our driver was courteous, polite, had cold cloths and ice cold water ready after every temple. It was a massive relief to get in the a/c car each time. Our guide was a delight and made the whole experience meaningful. We can read guide books etc, but he opened up each place for us, by taking us right to particular carvings, telling us the stories and legends, explaining the cultural history and far more. If you want the name, tap on my profile and look at my reviews.

We enjoyed our trip to the floating village, but was very moved by the poverty clearly experienced by so many people. By then, we'd had lots of conversations with local people about how life is in general. I have learned that this a nation of proud people who yet are gentle, generous and gracious. After all the country has been through, and is still recovering from, and the political uncertainty of the future, they have a remarkable resilience which is humbling. And the smiles!! Oh my word, they are incredible.

Oh, We didn't do the AW sunrise. Weather forecast both days was cloudy - no one saw anything either day, so we felt vindicated staying in bed till 6.30am!! I don't think folk should automatically think it's a 'must-do'.

Both days, we ate in the ANgkor Park - reasonable prices for great food. (We need to remember that electricity is expensive out there as the providers charge a premium; many restaurants don't have running water - have to bring it in, hence prices are higher than in town, but still cheap).

Wednesday- had the morning relaxing. Had a massage and late breakfast in one of the cafes by the river. A healthy, vegan type place with yummy pancakes etc and delicious smoothies. In th afternoon we did a Cookery Clas with 'Beyond Unique Escapes' - great experience and fun to meet others and visit a local community and see how cooking happens in their homes. After returning to hotel, we had a wander round Made In Cambodia- a lovely little market in a pretty, calm setting with stalls selling lots of unique products, most for various good causes, with back stories. Bought lots of lovely things and had lots of great conversations with the stall holders.

Evening- the Phare Circus- not to be missed! This an amazing company and the young people, as well as being super talented, are delightful. Grabbed a pizza for late dinner at the Brothers Bar across from the hotel - very cheap cocktails there and okay food. Lots of local young folk hang out there and it's a good opportunity to chat, they like to practice English and it's fun for us 'oldies' and interesting to find out about their hopes and dreams.

Thursday- sadly, and far too soon, it was time to pack up and leave. We'd had a pile of washing done and beautifully folded at $2 for 1kg, collected and delivered to hotel, so plenty of clean clothes! We've decided we can cut down our packing for future trips - I live in a couple of pair of white/ navy blue linen trousers and loose cotton tops, plus a few vest tops when I fancy catching a bit of sun. So easy to get laundry done and so cheap!

We took the Giant Ibis bus to PP. it took 6 hours, including 3 short rest stops, one longer one for lunch. Comfy enough but not much fun. You get water and a pastry when you set off. All for $15! So good value, if you have the time.

As I said, we've fallen in love with Cambodia and its people. Our time in PP had deepened that further, but that's another story. We are already planning our return. Hope this has been of some value to someone.

Have a wonderful trip whenever you go and whatever you do:)

Bev/greenclifflady

Mentioned in this post
angkor
angkor
19 Reviews
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Singapore
Singapore
Singapore
Siem Reap
Siem Reap
Siem Reap Province, Cambodia
Apsara Residence Hotel
Apsara Residence Hotel
266 Reviews
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Pub Street
Pub Street
7,765 Reviews
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
40,435 Reviews
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm
16,540 Reviews
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Ta Keo
Ta Keo
390 Reviews
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Banteay Kdei
Banteay Kdei
589 Reviews
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Thom
Angkor Thom
7,861 Reviews
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
6,490 Reviews
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Preah Khan
Preah Khan
1,914 Reviews
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Pre Rup
Pre Rup
1,103 Reviews
Siem Reap, Cambodia
22 replies to this topic
West Yorkshire...
Level Contributor
43 posts
55 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Our 5-day trip to Siem Reap

Sorry, hubby has pointed out that I missed something good out. We went to a Storytelling evening above the Red Tomato restaurant- it was brilliant. A Cambodian, he told stories (of the legends of Cambodia) in English - it was totally enthralling and very different. We ate later at same restaurant. BBQ there is excellent. Then wandered up Son Sak Rd to a blues place. Great evening

Mentioned in this post
Level Contributor
161 posts
77 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Our 5-day trip to Siem Reap

I would love to hear your trip report of Phnom Penh. Thank you for a fantastic read.

Mentioned in this post
Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh
Cambodia
Perth, Australia
Destination Expert
for Cambodia
Level Contributor
22,317 posts
177 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Our 5-day trip to Siem Reap

Thank you for taking the time to write your trip report. I enjoyed reading it.

Not surprised that you fell in love with this wonderful country. Many of us have done so over the years which keeps us returning time and time again.

Sunshine Coast...
Level Contributor
1,897 posts
24 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Our 5-day trip to Siem Reap

Great read, it sounds like you really enjoyed yourselves.

We recently had a 3 month trip to SE Asia and decided to spend 1 month in this fantastic country and I agree totally with what you say, friendly and resilient people and just a great vibe. We also loved Siem Reap and will return. i have to disagree with you, sunrise at AW was amazing, a total highlight out of 4 countries. It was a lovely cloudy morning which gave us the best photography and incredible colour, just wonderful.

Next time you return, spend some time with the lovely ladies at Rehash Trash, we had so much fun and we did a class with them which was another highlight.

Thank you again, hope you get back soon.

Mentioned in this post
Siem Reap
Siem Reap
Siem Reap Province, Cambodia
Arlington, Virginia
Level Contributor
274 posts
67 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Our 5-day trip to Siem Reap

Thank you so much for your excellent trip report! Perfect timing as we just arrived in Siem Reap and have 6 days ahead. I know you did 2 days with a guide - but do you think one day with a guide might be sufficient- then wander on our own. The cost of a guide and car seems really expensive for SEA. Thank you again! We’ll definitely take your advice on circus and cooking class! Can’t wait!

Mentioned in this post
Siem Reap
Siem Reap
Siem Reap Province, Cambodia
West Yorkshire...
Level Contributor
43 posts
55 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Our 5-day trip to Siem Reap

Hi ButterflyB, it really depends on you as regards the Guide. Plenty of people 'go-it-alone' and are perfectly happy. If you have a guide for a day and a good tuk-tuk driver for the rest, I'm sure you'll be fine. Negotiate for him to do the ones you want to see, agree price up front and he'll be there as you come out of the temple looking out for you. The difference with a guide is that they're allowed round the temple buildings with you and cars are air-conditioned which is such a bonus! The tt drivers know a fair bit, some more than others, but they are nowhere near as knowledgeable as a registered guide. That said, there is plenty of information about al, the temples in good books and on-line.

Enjoy your time! I feel jealous you're there now:))

West Yorkshire...
Level Contributor
43 posts
55 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Our 5-day trip to Siem Reap

Hi MelbourneCountrygirl

Glad you got a brilliant sunrise at AW. Maybe I'll do it in the future. My husband is not the greatest of temple tourers and it's a bit of a challenge to get him to do any at all, two days was pushing it and the 4.00am rise might have had him exploding!! We both are living our trip so much I just didn't want anything to get in the way of that. It was very cloudy the day we could have gone and a couple we met in the Cookery clas had gone that morning and were really disappointed, so that was why I felt I'd made the right decision that day. I could just imagine, having dragged my grumpy husband out of bed, for us to end up seeing nothing but dark clouds might have spoiled the whole day. And then, everyone has different things that become highlights, don't they? Mine will be meeting two lovely young men, Sophoarn and Visal, in Phnom Penh and hearing all about their lives and their ambitions.

I did meet one of the young women at Rehash for Trash, she was lovely. I'll certainly do a workshop in the future- thanks for the tip

Mentioned in this post
Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh
Cambodia
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
14,705 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Our 5-day trip to Siem Reap

Thank you, Greenclifflady

Cambodia is addictive and I've yet to find a cure - not that I'm trying that hard.

Thank you also for a very good read from a tourist's perspective.

Very best regards. Ian/Angkorlad

Mentioned in this post
Perth, Australia
Destination Expert
for Cambodia
Level Contributor
22,317 posts
177 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Our 5-day trip to Siem Reap

Hi Butterfly

Just a couple of random thoughts - about a guide, it really is very much a personal choice. It’s been a very long time since i’ve used a guide anywhere as too often I found myself being rushed through a place when I would have preferred to take more time. It’s also difficult to remember the enormous amount of information and history they talk about.

I recommend an excellent book which is available from Monument books in Siem Reap which is Ancient Angkor by Michael Freeman and Claude Jacques. Beautiful photos and easy to read information without being heavy going.

About transport, again it’s a personal choice, but I much prefer visiting the archeological Park by tuk tuk rather than air conditioned car. The natural breeze as you trundle along seems to cool the body quicker and more naturally. Of course it’s also a good deal cheap.

Mentioned in this post
Siem Reap
Siem Reap
Siem Reap Province, Cambodia
angkor
angkor
19 Reviews
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Arlington, Virginia
Level Contributor
274 posts
67 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Our 5-day trip to Siem Reap

Thank you so much! We rarely use guides as well - but are thinking of using a guide for one day out of 3 to help give us some grounding. We also went to the Angkor National Museum today, which was great for background!

Mentioned in this post
Angkor National Museum
Angkor National Museum
2,853 Reviews
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Reply to: Our 5-day trip to Siem Reap
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted
;