|at Pub Alley, just outside our hotel|
I had a fun quick vacation last month in Siem Reap with a dear friend. Aside from this little hitch (our flight to Siem Reap was moved a day late), everything went smoothly as planned.
Siem Reap is located in Cambodia, an hour late from Manila time. As of the moment, Cebu Pacific is the only airline that flies directly from Manila to Siem Reap. Though it is not the capital of Cambodia, Siem Reap is the main destination of travelers visiting Cambodia. The official currency is Cambodian Riel, but all exchanges in Siem Reap are in US Dollars. However, they'll still give you some Riels for change. 4000 Cambodian Riel = 1 US Dollar.
|outside Siem Reap airport|
Siem Reap International Airport looked quite simple as we landed, but we were surprised that it was actually very modern. Our hotel had a free pickup (as most accommodations, actually), and our tuktuk driver was already waiting for us in the arrival area.
|inside Siem Reap airport|
It was 9:30pm (Cambodia time) when we arrived and our tuktuk ride to the hotel to us around 30 minutes. Our hotel was the newly-opened Purple Mangosteen Hotel, located at the Pub Alley, near Pub Street, the most popular area for nightlife and dining at Siem Reap. Since we weren't hungry, we had a 30-minute foot massage at the nearby spa for 3 USD (Php 135). We also bought some bottled water and other necessities at the convenience store a few steps from our hotel.
For the temple tour, we booked a licensed tour guide, Kim Rieng. I first have read about Kim Rieng at Chyng Reyes' blog.
We booked Kim and his tuktuk driver friend for 35 USD (Php 1575) a day (20 USD for tour guide + 15 USD for tuktuk). He also has a suggested itinerary depending on how many days you want to tour around.
All tourists doing a temple tour need to pay for the Angkor Pass to be able to visit the temples. Since we planned on doing a 2-day tour, we had to pay 40 USD (Php 1800) per person. You should bring this pass with you as they will be checked before you enter the temple. The pass also has a picture of you so it is non-transferable.
Other rates are 20 USD for a 1-day tour, 40 USD for a 2-3 days tour, and 60 USD for a 7-day tour.
Here are some of the things you need to know if you're doing a temple run in Siem Reap
1. Most temples are still being used for worship, so it would be respectful to wear something decent (bottoms should be below the knee). It is quite humid in Cambodia than the Philippines, pero tiis-tiis na lang.
2. Given that most temples are still being used for worship, incense is everywhere. I know some people can't stand it, or some are even allergic. Let your tour guide know about it.
3. The steps to the temples are very, very steep. Wear comfortable footwear: slippers, sandals, rubber shoes.
4. Be ready to present your Angkor Pass at all times.
5. Bring water and towels, or even extra shirts if you can.
6. There are lots of souvenir vendors around. Be polite enough to say no.
7. Some temples are undergoing restoration works.
Temple Run Day 1
1. Prasat Kravan
The smallest temple we visited. In here, Kim Rieng explained that all temples are surrounded by a body of water called moats, and have one or more towers.
Prasat Kravan was built during the 12th century and was dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu.
2. Srah Srang
Srah Srang or "The Royal Bathing Pool" is a man-made pool built around the year 1200. It was suggested that a temple stands in the middle of the pool because of the bricks found underwater.
3. Banteay Kdei
Located across Srah Srang, Banteay Kdei means "Citadel of Chambers". Most of the chambers are still used for worship although some parts of the structure need restoration.
More of our Temple Run at Siem Reap on Part 2! :)
Note: 1 USD = Php 45