Three Days in Siem Reap
Three days in Siem Reap are some of the best on our whole 23 day trip to Southeast Asia. Seeing temples, swimming in the hotel pool, cooking lessons, and riding bikes. Oh, and eating some of the most delicious food! Like really delicious food.
Three days in Siem Reap is enough time, yet don’t spend much less time here. In all honesty, I could have spent 5 days here riding my bike and eating fried rice with a fried egg for breakfast every day. Simply perfection.
Siem Reap is the third stop on our trip – Hong Kong first, then Bangkok and now in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Travelling one way from Thailand to Cambodia is a bit tricky and we wanted the process to be as smooth as possible so we took a bus from the Mochit Bus Station to a random spot on the north side of Siem Reap. We were lucky in that as soon as we got off the bus we found a ‘corner store’ that sold SMART SIM cards for my phone, so we google mapped the hotel and it was only an 8 minute walk. Score.
The tricky part is the border. You’ll take the bus from BKK and then you’ll stop about 10 minutes from the Cambodian border. This ‘guide’ will get on and try and tell you that everyone on the bus needs to have their entry visas to Cambodia processed together.
This is so FALSE! Don’t fall for the scam at all, yet don’t get too vocal with the rest of the passengers or the ‘guide’ since you do need to catch this same bus once you walk across the border.
So, you get to the border – think of it like a modern, yet run down western town with a main street. It’s littered with trash and power cords while lacking signs or any clear indication that you’re at the border (minus the huge sign below). Once there, you’ll get off the bus. The driver and his assistant will tell you that things on the bus are safe (I doubt it).
We were lucky in that we packed so light we took our bags on the bus (not stored under it) and carried them (and everything we brought) across the border.
Get processed and stamped out of Thailand. This takes place in a building to the left – the bus driver will point you down a street, walk down it and turn right about 1/2 a standard block down. Then, take a narrow walk way and head up the stairs. It’ll feel like you’re in an old post office.
You need your visa. We got our visas online, so we skipped this step mainly to avoid the scam mentioned above. If you need your visa you’ll exit the old post office like building and cross the street and get your visa.
Time to enter Cambodia. The security checkpoint to get stamped into Cambodia is down the street to the left once you exit being stamped out of Thailand. It’s on the same side of the street (the right side) as the visa office. Now, here’s the tricky part – once you’re stamped in, you need to walk back…yes, back down the street to the bus. We made a mistake and walked forward looking around for the bus and sort of got a little lost.
The logic to walk back only clued in when I told Bryce I saw the bus driver’s assistant walk back to where we came from. Once you’ve got your Cambodian stamp the driver will check your passport and you’ll be allowed to get back on the bus. Easy-peasy, right? Sure. The whole process took about 1 hour since we had to wait for everyone to get back on the bus.
This little boutique hotel is adorable. The staff are the best part being so friendly and helpful. We opted to get our visas for Vietnam while in Cambodia and the staff at Hima did most of the work – dropped off our passports on their way home from work and stopped to pick them up early on their way to work the next day. Seems shady, I know, but I’m a firm believer in following your instincts, and here it worked.
Our room is clean and the food is delicious. Fried rice for breakfast? Yes, please.
Made in Cambodia Night Market
Pass on this market if you’re tight on time. Over priced and minimal selection. Some of the artwork is stunning and original.
We hit up Pub Street for dinner each night of our three days in Siem Reap. Pub street is a lively place and just full of action. Sitting at a restaurant right on the street is perfect for people watching.
Time for temples. I don’t want to share too much here, since I’ll be doing an in-depth post on the 3 temples we did.
What I will share, however, is that if you’re into history and want to know what you’re looking at, get a guide. A good certified guide who will fill you in on the stories.
Ta Prohm is the site of Tomb Raider and that famous tree. We spent about 2 hours at this temple.
This temple is my favourite. I hated that they have elephants whom are poorly cared for walking around, yet the beauty of the temple is remarkable. All the face carvings and the back story, simply awesome.
Oh, and the monkey – such a cute story there, too.
The most recognizable temple in Cambodia. It’s on the border sign and there is even a small mock-up at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. So many people and so many umbrellas. The best part – we got to walk up to the very top (something that might not be continuing for too much longer due to the weakening structure).
Arts Center Night Market
This market is pretty standard and I got a few things here, a pair of purple elephant pants for a friend at work. Purple is the best colour.
Remember how I said our hotel is awesome? Well, they got us bikes for 2$. They came with locks and lights. We rode all around and about half way to the lake, checked out a pottery studio and took some pictures of some cows. Oh, and check out the picture with me…see the kid that’s smushed between his parents on the moped? That’s normal! It’s actually above average since the parents are wearing helmets.
The best part about the bikes, we saved money on tuk-tuks. We never took a single tuk-tuk while in Siem Reap. For our temple tour we had our certified guide pick us up in his air-conditioned car. And pub street was only about a 9 minute walk.
Three days in Siem Reap is not complete without a cooking class. We had our very own class because we were silly enough to take it in the middle of the afternoon! I can’t even tell you how many things I learned. Our instructor is looking at me like I’m going to cut my fingers off. I made her nervous cutting so quickly, it was quite funny.
All in all, our three days in Siem Reap was so enjoyable that both of us wish it was closer. Give us a week vacation and tell us to pick anywhere to go, it would be Siem Reap. The bummer part, it would take 2 days to get there and 2 days to get home. Perhaps we’ll have to move closer…haha.
Overall, if you’re in Southeast Asia or in Cambodia, you need to visit Siem Reap and eat at the ‘Try Me’ restaurant across the street from Hima Boutique, you won’t regret trying it.