Top 10 Tips in Traveling to Siem Reap/Angkor Wat

We were at Siem Reap last weekend for my birthday. Here are some takeaways from our trip:

1. The flight and temple tickets were expensive. The rest were not.

We booked a direct flight from Manila to Siem Reap via Cebu Pacific. The flight was 3 hours long and we left on Saturday at 7:30pm, arriving in Siem Reap International Airport at 9:30 pm. We then departed Siem Reap back to Manila at 10:30pm arriving Manila at 2:30am on Wednesday, missing only 2 days of work for a 3-day vacation.

The airfare was expensive given a budget airport. We paid Php 18,000 net per pax. I understand we can find another place cheaper than Siem Reap, but hey, since Bali’s Mt. Agung volcano was rumored to erupt soon, we had to change plans and settle for Cambodia instead.

Ticket for a 3-day temple tour is at USD 62.00 a pax. However, aside from these large ticket items, visiting Cambodia is still relatively cheap.

2. Do NOT exchange USD to the local currency at the airport or anywhere else!

In Siem Reap International Airport, you can exchange USD to Cambodian Reals at 3,850 Reals to 1 USD. Outside, the exchange rate in MOST restaurants is 4,000 Reals to 1 USD. Truth be told, the currency exchange in Siem Reap is making a lot of money.

Everyone in Siem Reap accepts USD. Actually, they prefer it. You will also get Cambodian reals as change when you purchase/buy something. Do NOT exchange USD to the local currency.

3. Hotel rates in Siem Reap are relatively cheaper. Book a hotel with free breakfast. 

We stayed in the Suorkear Villa & Resort in a 2-storey villa with private pool, paying USD 420.00 (Php 20,000) for 3 nights and 5 adults. This is still cheaper than a 4- or 5-star hotel in Manila.

Suorkear.jpgsuorkear 2.jpgsuorkear 3.jpgsuor.jpg

The bedroom is nicer in the photo, but the service is warm and attentive, and the public pool is as beautiful as the photo. It’s a bit out of the way and requires a USD 3 tuktuk ride to town (Note: The resort does provide free tuktuk rides to town up until 10pm), but if you would like to stay in a relaxing place, Suorkear Villa & Resort is a nice reasonably priced hotel to book.

We really enjoyed our breakfast and free coffee refill. They served a variety of Asian and Western dishes which include Asian fried rice, Khmer curry noodles, Asian stir fried noodles, Cambodian noodle soup, pancakes, french toast, American breakfast, among others.

Suggest you try out their Asian fare than their Western’s. It’s more sulit!

4. Shopping in Cambodia is cheap.

Even inside the temples, shopping in Cambodia is cheap if you bargain carefully.

shopping.jpg

We bought 3 pcs of t-shirts for USD 5. Pants were only USD 2 a piece. A drum that was marketed as USD 15 was let go for USD 6. To be fair, shopping is a joy in Siem Reap if you like their loose backpacker style.

Personally, I appreciated the products available.

Cambodia is VERY HOT and we went through at least 2 changes of clothes per day. We brought enough clothes to last us our 3 days but went through them by the first day of tour. Being able to shop for a cheap change of clothes was a godsend, and the products weren’t bad for the price you paid for!

5. That said, the weather in Cambodia was HOT!

We were sweating like pigs the whole time.

sweat.gif

I sh*t you not — my husband changed clothes 3x. He usually doesn’t do that in Manila.

Siem Reap weather is a lot like Manila’s — hot, humid but less air circulation. So you feel like you’re in a hot oven with nowhere to cool off.

Restaurants are open air and not a lot of establishments have aircon. We ate at several establishments but none of them were airconditioned. I guess, they take saving electricity seriously.

If you go to Cambodia, bring a change of clothes. Better yet, buy clothes in Cambodia!

6. Our 3-day itinerary:

USD Price
Saturday
7:35 PM 5J 257 Cebu Pacific Departure from Manila T3 to Siem Reap
9:30 PM Arrival at Siem Reap International Airport
Hotel: Suorkear Villa & Resort        410.40
Angkor High School Road, Sangkat Sala Kamreuk, Siem Reap Cambodia
Tel: +855 60 999 882
Check in: Oct 21, Check out: Oct 24 (1pm)
Sunday
Breakfast Hotel: Suorkear Villa & Resort
Can swim a little bit and enjoy private pool
Lunch Lilypop Restaurant (10am to 10pm) 717 Reviews
#20 Taphul Road, Siem Reap 17259 Chicken amok, spring rolls, lok lak, khmer curry,
Tel: +855 86 879 255 papaya salad, smoothie
Try Me (8:30am to 10:30 pm) 292 Reviews
Taphul Road. It’s the road beside Caltex Station Amok fish, Lok Lak, Cambodia Curry, pesto pasta
Tel: +855 17 419 343
After Lunch Meal Fresh Fruit Factory Fruits on french toast, ice mountains (mango+passion fruit)
#155, Taphul Road, Siem Reap
Tel: +855 81 313 900
Afternoon Cool Sense Spa
60 Street, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Magic Four-Hand Massage With Warm Herbal Linen USD 25 for 90 mins
Traditional Khmer Massage (60 mins) USD 10, USD 14 for 90 mins
2-Hour Specialized Package USD 25
http://www.coolsense-spa.com/
Free Pickup from Tuktuk
Dinner Spoons (11:30am to 10:00 pm) 521 Reviews
#142, Group 5 Pave Road, Wat Damnak Village, Mackarel, coconut chicken, beef skewers
Salakomreouk Commune, Siem Reap
Tel: +855 76 277 6667
Old Market Area
Between Street 9, Street 11, 2 Thmou Street and Pokombor Avenue
Pub Street
Red Piano to order Tomb Raider Drink
Angkor Night Market (**If asking price is $10, ask for $3)
Can eat fried banana kebabs, roasted corn on cob, banana chocolate pancakes (from corner
closest to Warehouse)
Can try Baray Spa for affordable foot reflexology for only $2 n 1 hour
Monday
8:30 AM Happy Angkor Tour Pickup. Have breakfast already.        180.00
Tel: Mony (Tel: +855-92-900 000)
**Ticket to Temples at USD 62 per pax        310.00
Morning Angkor Thom Elephant & Leper King Terrace
Bayon Ta Prohm
Baphoun
Royal Enclosure
12:30 PM Lunch at Local Restaurant (Palmboo)
2:00 PM Angkor Wat
Phnom Bakheng to watch sunset view
6:00 PM Back at Hotel
Dinner Aspara Show: Koulen Restaurant
Includes Buffet dinner and show at USD 12 per pax excluding drinks          60.00
Tuesday
5:00 AM Watch Sunrise at Angkor Wat
Back to Hotel for Breakfast
Banteay Srei or Ladies Temple Banteay Samre
Sugar Palm Villages or Landmine Museum Pre Rup Temple
12:30 PM Lunch at Local Restaurant (The Hut)
Off Route #6 | Steung Village, Prasat Bakong District, Siem Reap 00000, Cambodia
Tel: +855 12 926 391
1:30 pm or 2:00 pm Tonle Sap Lake at Kampong Pluk Village OR
Grand Circuit Road: Prah Khan, Neak Poan, Ta Som, East Mebon
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Genevieve’s Restaurant 3968 Reviews
Bamboo Street Sala Kamreuk Commune, Siem Reap 3058
Tel: +855 81 410 783
10:30 PM 5J 258 Departure from Siem Reap to T3 NAIA
2:25 AM Arrival in NAIA Terminal 3

Downloadable Excel File: FINAL Itinerary – Angkor Wat Trip

7. Must Do in Cambodia!

For restaurants, must try dining areas are the following:

The Fresh Fruit Factory (Rated #1 in Trip Advisor)

Fresh Fruit2.png

Fresh Fruit

Order their lovely ice mountains and french toasts. We thoroughly enjoyed our Mango Ice Mountain (USD 5) and Alcoholic Coffee Ice Mountain (USD 6.5).

Worth every penny!

Lunch at The Hut Natural

Address: Off Route #6 | Steung Village, Prasat Bakong DistrictSiem Reap 00000, Cambodia
Tel: +855 12 926 391
Website: http://thehutnatural.com/
The hut.png
We ordered the fish with lime sauce and it was DELICIOUS! Very fresh, fat, and succulent and priced at only USD12 a fish.
We also ordered the other dishes — fish amok, lok lak, etc. but nothing was as good as the fish. What’s more, the fact that the restaurant consists of several nipa hut tents with cool air and usable relaxing hammocks as part of the decor helped aplenty!
Please please please add this restaurant to your itinerary! We did this restaurant when we were temple visiting. You won’t regret it.
It seems that Genevieve’s is an institution in Siem Reap. Managed by a friendly Aussie who dedicated the restaurant to his long gone wife, the food was above average, the price still reasonable and the service great!
genevieve.png
We were glad that we managed to squeeze Genevieve’s on our last meal.
The meats were tender and nicely cooked. We enjoyed every dish except for the beef in betel nut appetizer. Please skip this dish.
Yes, there were a LOT of tourists.
Yes, the food is not as much as the other restaurants.
But at USD 12 per pax, what do you expect?
koulen.png
We found the show to be impressive and well done, and we left the restaurant happy and fulfilled.
8. Overrated Restaurants
We didn’t like Lilypop Restaurant which was well-ranked in TripAdvisor.
lilypop
They didn’t have any stock of Khmer Curry and Fish Amok. The service was sloooooww. The price was average (not cheap), and the food was just okay.
As to why this restaurant was well ranked, I don’t even know.
TripAdvisor ranks it at #39 out of Siem Reap restaurants.
Over priced dishes with small servings.
Spoons.png
Relatively slow service with more arrogant waiters (compared to friendlier waiters elsewhere).
The food selection was limited and the taste merely okay.
We did not enjoy Spoons at all.
Given, the restaurant had a good ambiance but that’s the only thing it had going for it. To be honest, it’s a restaurant most Westerners will love, but there are other better restaurants elsewhere.
Please save your money and go elsewhere instead. Spoons is ranked #5 restaurant in Siem Reap.
Most tours will offer a tour of the Tonle Sap lake for USD 15 per person.
Tonle.png
The fee comes with a private boat and a tour of the stilted village at Tonle Sap.
The only great thing we saw was a small crocodile farm where you can feed it a small sized goose for USD 10. Not impressive at all.
Please skip this tour!
It’s not that it’s expensive. It’s more of, there’s really nothing special of huts on top of stilts. You came to Cambodia for the temples, so if I had to do it all over again, I would just do the Grand Circuit tour and visit Prah Khan, Neak Poan, Ta Som, East Mebon.
Preah Khan Temple
prah kean.png
Neak Poan
second
Ta Som
Ta som
East Mebon
east mebon.jpg
9. The best time to go to Angkor Wat is when you are single and childless.
We had a senior and a toddler in tow. So climbing up the temples of Angkor Wat was not as easy for us. I think we would have had a grander time if there were no kids around.
survive siem.jpg
10. If you haven’t been, just GO!
This is my second time to Siem Reap and the place is as magical as it was before. The tourist industry is more mature and there are less annoying children trying to sell you useless trinkets for USD 1.
I hope that my commentary of Siem Reap will entice you to go. Despite the relatively expensive airfare, Siem Reap is a wonderful haven if you’re into culture and temples, delicious food and cheap items.
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About Bonita

I'm a forgetful person. But I think a lot. Every day, a lot of thoughts enter my head. That's why this blog came to be: first, to keep my memories alive through the years, and two, to actually see how I and my thoughts have changed. Please note that I seldom draft or edit my posts. Sometimes, if I'm not careful, I offend some of you, my readers. And while I apologize for making you feel uncomfortable, I am not sorry for being honest or for making well-intentioned mistakes. I will however be the first to admit if I change my mind. Hence, do read and proceed with caution. My life is as colorful and as boring as you make it. I complain many days, but offer some encouragement in others. Life is fluid, it changes. So keep the positives and throw away the negatives, and I do hope that at the end of the day, you will enjoy reading the blog and leaving comments here and there if my posts touches you. Happy reading!
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