New Years day and arrived in Siem Reap Cambodia. Left Kunming freezing weather, and 2 hours later landed to 90 degree sunshine. Upon entering customs, the agents are jumping up and yelling to the Chinese tourists to come to their booth. It’s payday at the customs entry! They ask the passengers to pay them to stamp their entry visas, which the passengers do, or otherwise endure long “delays” getting through customs. But when they see western passengers, they do not ask for “tea money”. Since Mia was with me, they dare not ask her either.
Once bags in hand, it’s off to our hotel, Sonalong Village Resort. We were picked up by tuk tuk from the hotel. Twenty minutes later we checked into our room. Mr. Hak, who is the owner, welcomed us and made you feel like an old friend returning for a visit. The resort location is just perfect in Siem Reap. It is on 27th st. About 5 blocks from the town center’s Pub Street. Therefore the resort is quiet and peaceful while being a quick 10 minute walk to the Siem Reap happenings area. The room is large with a big private balcony.
I think minimum time to see the important temples would be 3 days. If you want to study them in detail, go for the 7 day ticket. Hiring a driver is a must. The temples are far apart from each other.
Everyone and their dog comes to these temples. Expect tremendous crowds everywhere. I hope you can appreciate my photos, sans people, which was a time consuming challenge. Also timing is key. Get up a O’dark 30 and have a game plan worked out to focus on a temple. Surf around the net to get suggestions and strategies for this.
In any case, Angkor Wat is a “must see before you die” thing. I have done a fair bit of traveling, and Angkor Wat is on the top of my list. I will be going back again.
Siem Reap is base camp for the temples. Pub Street is the happening area for eating, drinking and shopping. There are a lot of foreign owned bars and restaurants all about. Good food is plentiful and the drink prices are amazingly cheap. Angkor Beer is a must try, it is a very good brew. Native food can best be described as “Thai” cooking, without the zip. A bit dull for my taste without the spicy element. Food prices are normal. Maybe a little on the high side, but otherwise ok.
Shopping is just an assortment of junk that can be found anywhere. Surprisingly, items are priced on the high side. I suppose it has to do with the fact Angkor Wat is such a tourist draw. I did buy the Buddha head carving, It is hand carved from old temple wood and is a true art piece. It is 18″ high and 13″ across . When I decided I wanted one, I found them in several shops for sale. They all were priced at about $180. I offered $50 and no one would even consider it. Eventually I did settle at $90. It took a long time and really was more than I wanted to pay. But it is a great piece of art. I would suggest you plan on taking numerous photos as a fitting memento. You won’t run out of photo ops around this place!
All in all, hotels and drinks are a bargain. Food, tickets, souvenirs, hawkers are a bit over the top. At any rate, this place shouldn’t be missed.