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Jan 29

January 2017 – Siem Reap Trip Report

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Day 1:

We arrived at Siem Reap International Airport at around noon. We took an Airport taxi (although you can opt for a tuk-tuk but there were 3 of us with cabin baggage so we went with a  taxi)  to the hotel (Le Meridien Angkor). After freshening up, I got notified by the front desk that our tuk-tuk driver for the day was in the lobby. I had contacted Angkor Wat Driver Private Tours (after reading Tripadvisor Reviews) and had booked the following itinerary.

  • Day 1: Tuk-Tuk transportation for the day (Lunch, Made in Cambodia Market and Night Market) – $12 USD
  • Day 2: Angkor Wat Complex tour with driver + guide (Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Elephant Terrace, Ta Prohm) – $60
  • Day 3:  Grand Circle Tour (Preah Khan Temple, Bantreay Srei Temple) with driver only, and included drop-off at airport – $35

You do not need to book everything beforehand as you will encounter more than fair share of tuk-tuk and car drivers as well as guides but I prefer to arrange some of the transportation and guide beforehand.

Spoons Restaurant, Siem Reap

We told our tuk-tuk driver to take us to Spoons Cafe (again selected based on Tripadvisor reviews)

Appetizer: Num Krok (crispy dumpling) @ Spoons Restaurant, Siem Reap

Entree: Coconut Chicken & Prawn Curry @ Spoons Restaurant, Siem Reap

The chicken was well cooked and flavorful however the shrimp was just sauteed and lacking much flavor.

After lunch we came back to the hotel for rest as we were a little bit tired from all the flying. In early evening, we took the tuk-tuk to the Made in Cambodia market .

Made In Cambodia Market – Siem Reap

Made In Cambodia Market, Siem Reap

It was a very small market and did not have much foot traffic. The items displayed in various stalls were priced a bit higher than what you would expect in other markets in Siem Reap. We quickly toured around this market and went to the Angkor Night Market next.

Fish Massage, Night Market – Siem Reap

The Angkor Night market is huge with rows and rows of shops across the street by a canal. There are lots of souvenir shopping options along with quite a few massage shops. We saw a massage shop offering fish pedicure (very common sight in Thailand) and my dad wanted to try it out. It was only $3 USD for 1 hour!!

Night Market – Siem Reap

After walking around the market and doing some souvenir shopping (small bags mostly) we took the tuk-tuk back to the hotel.


Day 2:

The most popular attraction in Siem Reap is the Angkor Wat temple where a large number of tourists gather around the complex to catch the sunrise. The Angkor Wat tickets are sold at a different location than the temple and the ticket office opens at 5 AM. We woke up early and made our way to the ticket office just 10 minutes before opening. By that time there were over 500 people already lined up (there were over 20 counters). There are 3 ticket options.

  • 1 day pass ($37 USD), 3 day pass ($62 USD) , 7 day pass ($72 USD)

We bought a 3 day pass and then took our car to the Angkor Wat complex. Our guide guided us in the dark with his cellphone flashlight through the street to a seating area by the moat around the Angkor Wat temple. According to our guide, this was a better spot to catch the sunrise than the regular spots in the temple grounds.

Sunrise @ Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

And thus began a 1.5 hour wait for sunrise. We did see the sky change its color right before the sunrise but I was still a bit underwhelmed by this whole exercise.

Sunrise @ Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

Sunrise @ Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

After sunrise, we crossed the moat and walked inside the Angkor Wat complex.

Lord Vishnu @ Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

We walked around the complex for over 3 hours. I was glad to have booked our tour guide because we were able to see quite a few things that we would have otherwise missed if we went there by ourselves.

Depiction of Fall of Bhisma by Arjuna episode from The Mahabharata @ Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

Depiction of “Churning of the Ocean” episode @ Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

The inner most area of the Angkor Wat temple was for the Kings and to get to that level (by walking up steep staircase) there was over an hour wait. We walked around the center area and then exited the temple complex over the temporary floating bridge over the moat.

Temporary Floating Bridge @ Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

After having breakfast at a small restaurant near the temple complex we made our way to Bayon Temple which is located in the center of Angkor Thom. The most famous feature of this temple is the smiling faces of Buddha (or Brahma for those who follow Hinduism) on the rocks.

Angkor Thom (Bayon Temple), Siem Reap

Shiva Linga @ Angkor Thom, Siem Reap

Angkor Thom, Siem Reap

Bayon Temple, Siem Reap

Bayon Temple, Siem Reap

Bayon Temple, Siem Reap

On the way from Bayon Temple to Elephant Terrace, Siem Reap

From the Bayon Temple, we walked across the street to the “Terrace of the Elephants”.

Elephant Terrace, Siem Reap

Phimeanakas, Siem Reap

After walking around Elephant Terrace and Phimeanakas (“Celestial Temple”) for a couple of hours we went back to the hotel.

Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider Temple), Siem Reap

In late afternoon, we had our driver take us to Ta Prohm Temple. This temple was made famous for on-location shoot of some scenes from Tomb Raider and hence is now commonly referred as the “Tom Raider Temple”.

Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider Temple), Siem Reap

The Ta Prohm temple embodies the spirit of nature reclaiming superiority over human achievements over the passage of time.

Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider Temple), Siem Reap

Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider Temple), Siem Reap

Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider Temple), Siem Reap

Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider Temple), Siem Reap

Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider Temple), Siem Reap

After spending a couple of hours in Ta Prohm temple, we went back to the hotel. Later in the evening we arranged a tuk tuk to take us to Genevieve’s Restaurant.

Entree: Fish Amok @ Genevieve’s Restaurant, Siem Reap


Day 3:

This was our last day in Siem Reap and we wanted to make the most of our limited time here. We had booked a driver to take us to 2 farther temples – Preah Khan Temple and Bantreay Srei Temple.

Preah Khan Temple, Siem Reap

Preah Khan Temple is about 7 km from Angkor Wat. Too much of this temple was in ruins although there were certain parts inside that were well preserved. After spending an hour wandering the ruins of the temples (lots of uneven steps) we had our driver take us to Banteay Srei Temple. This temple is about 35 km from Preah Khan Temple and takes about 45 mins by car to get there (about an hour from Angkor Wat).

Bantreay Srei Temple, Siem Reap

This is a Khmer temple made with red sandstone is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Bantreay Srei Temple, Siem Reap

A lot of Hindu mythology events are depicted on the walls of the temple in outer and inner enclosures including the two main epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata.

After spending some time at the temple we made our way back to the hotel. For lunch, we went back to the Spoons Cafe. This time I ordered the Whole Mackerel, while mom ordered the Prawn Curry and dad the Tuk Kroueng (Traditional Khmer gravy with local river fish and roasted boneless chicken leg)

Prawn Curry and Whole Mackerel

Tuk Kroueng (Traditional Khmer gravy with local river fish and roasted boneless chicken leg)

After lunch we checked out of our hotel and our driver dropped us off at Siem Reap International Airport for our flight to Hanoi.

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