Last updated on June 17th, 2021 at 12:05 am
My experience in Cambodia was nothing like I pictured it would be, and I’m thankful for that.
I was hesitant to go because of he said, she said nonsense. The world loves to paint countries with BIPOC as violent and dangerous. Nothing about my visit there made me feel unsafe.
But I will say, I’ve been intrigued with Cambodia since 2012. I think it was the food and fascination with Buddhism, that piqued my interest.
Originally, I wanted to check out Phnom Penh but instead I chose to go to Siem Reap for Angkor Wat.
The cool thing about South East Asia is the rich history surrounding Buddhist and Hindu temples. My friend and I wanted to see the largest religious site in the world, so we made a weekend trip from Chiang Mai.
If you’re interested in Siem Reap all you need 3 days to experience it. Many people only come to see Angkor Wat, but there are other touristy sites you can check out too.
What’s interesting is that in Cambodia they mostly use USD, because the UN thought it would help their economy. Most things will be paid for in dollars, unless it less than $1 then they will use the Cambodian Riel (they don’t use coins).
So if you’re going here is what you need to know for a three-day trip to Siem Reap:
The Visa Process
The visa process was super easy and took about 10 mins! You can also apply for the e-visa online, but you must pay a service fee.
I did it in person and it costs $30. But make sure you have exact change and two 4cm by 6cm passport photos. The visa requires one blank page too, so make sure you have enough pages.
After you pay, you go to another line to pick up your passport — it’s fast and efficient.
Similar to many other southeast Asian countries, you can use Grab (like Uber). I always suggest using this, so you get the best price. The cool thing is you’ll still get the local transportation experience.
Tuk Tuk: Is a common mode of transportation in Asia (also known as a rickshaw). This is a three-wheel motorcycle and is the most affordable option as well! (cost about $1 to get around)
Motodup: Similar to the tuk-tuk except it’s a motorcycle, with a two-wheel carrier attached to the back; another affordable option. For a 10-minute ride you shouldn’t pay more than $2.
Walk around: Many of the restaurants and markets are within walking distance in the city. Siem Reap is fairly small and could be compared to the size of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Every place we went to was 15 mins or less to walk to (besides Angkor Wat and the Floating Village)
What to see and do
If you’re in Siem Reap you should check out Angkor Wat. More than likely your accommodation will offer a tour starting at $13+. Since it spreads across 400 acres, it might be worth the investment to have a guide because it’ll take a full day.
My friend and I didn’t want to spend 9 hours there so, we just purchased the entrance tickets at the office for $37 — well worth it.
If you’re not going through a tour, I suggest getting there earlier in the day. We arrived around 3 pm and it closes at 6 pm , so not a lot of time. We could only see the main temple — Angkor Wat itself.
This beautiful temple was built in the 12th century for the Hindu God Vishnu. And is very picturesque. So I definitely recommend going. The other temples are far so hire a tuk-tuk driver or rent a bike to get to them, unless you’re on a tour.
Wasn’t sure what to expect with this tour, but it was dope! Our hostel had a tour package for $15, which lasted 5 hours. We took a boat around this village, got off and interacted with the locals. The village Kampong Phluk is full of houses on stilts that are 8 meters tall.
The reason is that during the rainy season, the water level gets high and people have to use boats as their only mode of transportation. I think it’s worth checking out.
If you want to see the flooded forest, you can spend an extra $5 for a tour.
Pub Street — A touristy area with plenty of restaurants, currency exchange, and places to party. It’s also centrally located. You can get your food, massage, and party on all at once!
Night market — Right by Pub Street, is a night market for food, clothing, souvenirs, and an art market, with plenty of handcrafted pieces.
Get a massage– OMG! MASSAGES ARE EVERYWHERE AND HEAVENLY! I preferred getting the $4 foot massage. I mean, the pressure was just right! But I didn’t care for the Khmer massage— it felt too fast and tense.
Options for day 3:
The landmine museum ($5) – This museum has remnants from the Vietnam war and educates people about the process of clearing landmines that are still in Cambodia.
It’s crazy there are still millions of them on the ground, but you likely wouldn’t see one.
Khmer cooking class (from $16-$50 USD) – learn how to make traditional Cambodia food—trust me it is very yummy! We didn’t do this since we had limited time, but if you enjoy curry, I highly suggest you check it out.
Food Tour ($5- 48 USD) – Again the food was incredible and in many ways similar to Thai food. Khmer cuisine consists of sweet, sour, and savory tastes. But we had trouble finding vegans and vegetarians friendly tours, so we decided to pass. The cool thing is we didn’t have trouble finding vegan-friendly restaurants.
Where to stay
Cost-savvy accommodations is everywhere—from hostels to resort to guesthouses.We stayed in a backpacker area at the Funky Flashpacker hostel—it ended up being about $4/night. If you like party hostels, they have events going on every night.
They also offer different affordable tour packages, which is very helpful!
I highly recommend coming to Cambodia, even if it’s just for 3 days. I would go back and explore the other cities for sure.
Overall, I spent about $180 including lodging, food, transportation, the visa, excursions, and massage. What a steal!
Have you been to Cambodia? If not, would you check it out?