Throwback: Backpacking to Vietnam-Cambodia Pt. 03
First things first:
Our first morning in Siem Reap was so touristy. We would not want to miss temple hopping so we started with the most iconic site, The Angkor Wat. Just to give you a brief information on temples in Siem Reap, it is one of the major places that attract tons of visitors each year. Angkor Wat is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992, while there are around 50 Hindu & other Buddhist temples still standing within the whole area. Most structures have already been collapsed, others covered in moss and large tree roots but they try to preserve as much to rekindle or at least have a slight preview of how the Khmer Empire’s culture has been so rich.
The temples are far from Siem Reap’s downtown and it is recommended that if you want to explore a lot more than the popular temples on most lists, a whole day of touring is not enough. We started at around 5AM and only got to visit around 5, if I am not mistaken as the tour ended around 4 or 5 o’clock in the afternoon. If you’re more of a history buff, spending the whole day there is worth it with all the walking and temple running because while going from one to another, you’ll also get to see the humble countryside vibe of Siem Reap.
Visitors are required to purchase an Angkor Pass, which costs US$20 for a one-day pass, US$40 for a three-day pass, and US$60 for a seven-day pass. Before planning to go on the temple hopping tour, make sure you’ve had heavy breakfast! Since we had to leave the hotel super early, we requested the hotel to prepare our breakfast “to-go” so we can just eat while on the road. Our tuk-tuk driver also advised us to stop by a convenience store to buy all the snacks and water we might need during the tour and so we did. Every time we we’re on route to another temple, we hydrate and eat.
Ankor Wat at dawn and tourists are starting to pile up at the entrance already.
This is the spot where people take photos of the famous Angkor Wat on a sunrise with its reflection on the lake. I never got to take the iconic shot, you can see why. This photo was taken around 5:30 in the morning!
The natural light coming through adds drama to all of our photos walking on these corridors!
I can’t believe I wore gym outfit for this! I guess I wanted to be as comfortable as possible. Haha! Also, it was super humid and I couldn’t stop sweating so…
On to the next temple. You will be passing along a lot of statues also believed to be as temple guards like these before entering another one.
This is The Bayon Temple. It is relatively smaller than the Angkor Wat and it is famous for the intricate stone faces carved on most of its towers. It’s quite easy to get lost roaming on the inside because it’s a bit dark on most areas. Strolling around the rubble is best to appreciate more of its details.
This is The Ba Phuon Temple. There is not much to explore on this one but it requires a lot of leg work due to its steep staircases which are all accessible. If you’re keen with climbing stairs, you can witness a good of view of the Angkor Thom, it’s what this ancient city is called where these temples are a part of.
Close to the last temple is this one behind me called the Phimenakas Temple. It is not as huge as the Ba Phuon but they kind of have the same design structure aswell. It also has steep staircases but getting around it is best to enjoy how it looks like which we did not do anymore. For now, a photo in front of it will do.
The entrance of one of the most popular temple, Ta Phrom. It is were they filmed Tomb Raider. The temple also looks really picturesque on the inside as you’ll be able to see huge tree roots consuming over all the temple rubble. Because of that, they had a hard time restoring the place but I think it is quite nice to see or at least imagine how long the place has been there. Brace yourself for long walks though because that’s what’s going to happen before you reach Ta Phrom.
Uhhh, someone did not bring extra clothes! My gym outfit did help me move a lot easier though. 🙂
Our last one was Bantay Kdei. It is a lot smaller but has similarities with Ta Phrom. This temple though looked more restored than the last one as they were able to recover some structures and maintained them with bar holdings and ropes.
Going out super late in the evening is not a problem in Siem Reap. The locals are nice and the place is safe, I even had my camera dangling on my shoulder while walking from our hotel to the night market at 3AM. Also, the Pub Street is always alive! Get yourself some seats on some neat bars and restaurants. It’s a tourist’s haven but with cheap thrills!
Exactly! Haha! These kind of thrill usually costs only a dollar for 30minutes.
You know we wouldn’t say we enjoyed a place without having local street food, right!
Stir fried noodles are called Mi Cha. I had this every time we went back to this food stall just in front of a convenience store close to the night market while Eric had his non-stop fill of Vietnamese Pho. Yes, even in Cambodia all he craved for was Pho!
Pancakes so they say but they seemed like crepes to us. 🙂 This was also a favorite!
We actually went back to this in the morning for some fish spa just because we wanted to make sure that we were the first customers which means the water is still clean. We paid immediately before dipping but when we were sitting there having our feet nibbled, the owner just left us for an hour and a half. Haha!
Then we had a quick mexican chimichanga and vegetable fried rice after that feet nibbling experience!
That’s all for a our exploration of temples, (incomplete) food finds, and late night strolling along the Pub Street. This ain’t the last of my Cambodia post. 🙂 The last one’s (Part 4) coming up next!