Crossing Cambodia from HCMC by bus is all worth the trip especially if you are taking the day trip. Lots of scenic places to see while traveling. We left HCMC at 8:30am with one of those big tourist buses with 2:1 ratio. Lots of legroom and a reclining features for both back and feet.
Upon reaching the border, the conductor collected all our passports and we were asked to get off the bus for the exit at immigration. At first, the idea of a stranger holding on to your passport while undergoing immigration checks is terrible. You are supposed to be holding your passport at all times. It turns out, this is the way it’s supposed to be. After exiting at Vietnam Immigration, we boarded the bus for a while and then got off again for the Cambodia Immigration entry. The same procedure, conductor holds on to our passports and pass thru immigration checks. We were then asked to board the bus and our driver started driving away from the border which made it more suspicious as we don’t have our passports with us. Until we reached the supposed stopover area for lunch, still we don’t have our passports yet. When the conductor arrived, one by one, he handed to us our passports and that’s the only time I felt relieved. I started to look for exchange so we can buy our lunch. We had the money but the food is…I just got us some bananas and have a decent meal in Phnom Penh instead.
When we reached Phnom Penh, we got off and stayed a bit at the bus station and had to be taken to another terminal to where we are supposed to be riding a different bus. This is where the disappointment started as the bus became uncomfortable and we had to travel for another 6 hours. With no decent dinner, few bucks left, survived with just mere water, the ride was no longer enjoyable. I just want to reach Siem Reap ASAP and sleep properly.
We reached Siem Reap at around 11pm. A tuktuk was already waiting for us and took us to our hotel which was far off from the center. Though I am pretty sure that when I searched for this hotel, it was near the city center. I was wrong. Though to my surprise, the hotel upgraded our room from Deluxe to Family room and it was a pleasant surprise. Thank you Le Chantou Boutique Hotel!
We also asked our tuktuk to take us to somewhere we can eat decently. The driver took us to Pub Street and it was only that time that we had our dinner!
Retired for the night for a big day the next day.
Day 5 – We started our visit to the infamous Angkor Temples a bit late as we have our own tuktuk ride which I rented for US$45 for the entire day to which it also includes our tuktuk ride from last night from the bus station to our hotel. We agreed that he take us to 3 temples for the day, take us to local night market, have dinner and take us back to our hotel afterwards. Angkor is a vast temple. You will need at least 2 days to explore all the temples and we don’t have that much time. Besides, the ticket price to see the temple is around US$37 per head! So steep to see the famous ruins.
Our first Temple – Ta Prohm Temple
The temple is a square-shaped temple with 5 enclosures but basically a flat structure. This temple is the shooting location of the movie Tomb Raider by Angelina Jolie. This is where the famous tree is growing in one of the enclosures which gives the place an eerie feel. Each of the walls of this temple is carved with different shapes and images. The place was undergoing massive restoration during our visit but there are areas where you are allowed to visit. There are 4 entrances to the temple but only 2 Gopura (entrance) are working during that time. You can enter 1 gate and end up in another temple when you exit the other gate.
Temple 2 – Bayon Temple
This temple features the smiling stone faces on the top of each towers surounded with ruins. You are actually allowed to climb some towers to get closer to the stone faces but you’d need to brave the heights and the tourists coming from all directions.
This temple has an amazing entrance.
And some good spots for capturing the sun and the smiling stone faces!
After exploring Bayon Temple, our guide already instructed us to wrap it up so we can catch the sunset in Angkor Wat – our 3rd Temple.
Temple 3 – Angkor Wat
This is the Angkor’s entrance.
Walking all the way to that stairs is the temple’s enclosure (which I initially thought is the main temple already). Took some photos from this area.
As we moved towards the inner part of the enclosure, this is what lies after it.
From here, you can see one of the 3 towers which is the signature structure of Angkor.
A closer look of the main temple.
The place is just amazing. Minus the people roaming around, you can actually get a more intimate viewing of the temple from its side. Here is what it’s like inside the temple.
All our time visiting the 3 temples were enough for us. Though we only get to see 3 of the many temples, we are fortunate enough to visit the most famous ones. We saw the sunset from the temple as well which was all serene and beautiful. The ancient ruins gives that peaceful feel that makes you wonder how the place looks like during its days of glory. At this point, I can only imagine.
As we are about to leave the temple, we happen to see these locals in their traditional costume. Another photo opportunity of course!
Ended the day with window shopping at the city and dinner. Took at dip at our hotel’s warm pool until we dream away towards our last day.
Day 6 – It’s our last day and I have not set any itinerary for today. Just roam around the city, kill time while waiting for our flight schedule. We went for a massage and relaxing time at the center. Tried street food, went to dine in a local restaurant and had coffee.
Went back to our hotel, took our luggages and headed to the airport. And back to reality!
Siem Reap is ideal for 1-2 days trip. If you are doing the IndoChina backpacking, you can schedule Siem Reap for 1 day and head towards Bangkok. It would have been lovely if I considered Bangkok as the third destination for this trip however, we’ve visited Bangkok separately.
Book your Siem Reap trip soon!