Monday, October 13, 2014

Siem Reap - Cambodia Trip 4Day Itinerary

Last October 7, 2014... I together with friends traveled to Siem Reap Cambodia for 4 full days. We were all in all 8 people and the number was just perfect. We booked last year August 2013 during Cebu Pacific's piso fare and were able to book 2 way trip for only P4K. It was such a bargain. Got a 15kg checkin so that we have a place for toiletries and other fragile items. Just for background purposes, Cambodia's capital city is Phnom Penh...but we decided to go to Siem Reap instead since Angkor Wat is there. Overall cost was P22K per head including airfare and taxes.   

FYI: Cambodia has its own local money but prefers USD for ease of use. Be careful when accepting change as they might be counterfeit. Inspect the front and the back, make sure it looks authentic and does not have any marks or tear. Stores here are particular especially with bills like $100. They do not accept coins, only bills.   

Recommendations on what to wear and bring: Since we went on October and its their rainy season, make sure to bring footwear you are ready to get dirty. Essentials would be umbrella, hat, shades since its too hot there. Comfortable clothes like shorts and shirts. Small body bag since it has to be near you all the time and there are bag snatching instances especially at night. Wet ones, sunblock, and tissues are a must. Some snacks like biscuits or granola bars are always handy. A bag with handy pockets are good to contain temple passes and passport. 

Our flight was scheduled at 7:30 PM and arrival was 9:30 PM Cambodia Time. Siem Reap is an hour late compared to Manila time. 3 hours flight time. Once we got to Siem Reap International Airport, we were soon out on the airport gates and there was Mr. Thom to bring us to our booked hostel. We booked at The Siem Reap Hostel as it is only the best hostel in Siem Reap. I will tell you in awhile later. Thom had a van pick us up so it was comfortable for all 8 of us, he was very polite and cheerful that he kept on engaging us in a very nice conversation. We got to our hostel around 30 minutes upon the FREE pick up. Upon singing some hostel forms, we were given our room keys and were left to rest. Unpacked, washed up, and slept at around 11PM.

The Siem Reap Hostel

We booked 3 private rooms (with private toilets and free breakfast), 2 triple rooms ($39 per room/night) and 1 double room ($30 per room/night). They are very strict in terms of the number of head count, so please book accordingly. For the more adventurous and cost efficient ones, you can opt to book their shared dorm rooms with shared public toilets for ($8-10 a night). Its location is so convenient since its just 10 minutes away from the OLD MARKET (where you can buy souvenirs and local food) and PUB STREET (where you can dine), plus its near a supermarket, pharmacy, restaurants, hospital, and even the lake. More than that, it offers everything you will need as a tourist such as transportation around (tuktuk or private van for $10-$90 per trip depending on the location), bus to Bangkok and other provinces, pool, bar, free bike rental, airport pickup and drop off, tours, cinema (yes they have daily movie screenings), yoga room (yes a meditation room), game room, and spa. Good wifi everywhere. They also serve good food, check out their SPRING ROLL. Everyone can also speak english well. I highly recommend this hostel.

FYI: Everything in cambodia comes with a price even water refill. Refill for small water bottles will cost $.25 while a big bottle is $.50 whereas a new 500mL bottled water is $.50 and a 1.5L bottle is $1. So budget even your water consumption. 

Tip: Suggest you book all your tours and transportation with the hostel. Its already the best price. My only regret was not being able to book a cooking class since I was just informed when I got there. 

Tip: Iced coffee is heaven in Siem Reap's climate. You can get it for $1-$3. The restaurant beside the hostel serves yummy iced coffee for just $1! Cambodia takes pride in their AMOK FISH dish. It is heavenly curry.

Going back to our itinerary, we woke up at 4:30 AM to prepare since we reserved our tuktuk driver to bring us to Angkor Wat to see the sunrise. It was just 15-30 mins away, we purchased a 3day temple pass for $40 since we planned to visit temples for the first 3 days. Once you get to Angkor Wat, we were given about 2 hours to roam around by ourselves. I was surprised that there were a lot of people at that early of an hour. Everyone was taking photos of the sunrise at Angkor Wat. It was really beautiful and we took a lot of photos. Soon after everyone left the "pond" and we were able to take as much photos as we want. Then we went to the temple center and took more photos of the inside. Angkor Wat is massive and we got tired of roaming around that we picked certain spots and took photos there. One area that I would really recommend is the one on top of the temple with lots of green. Its very pretty there. Do not focus on the stones, look for this place and take your photos here. We were next brought to Bayon and Ta Prom. Both were magnificent especially Ta Prom. Loved how the trees synced so well with the temples. Next was lunch. We were bought to an overpriced local canteen. I suggest you opt to bring your own snacks or purchase lunch from the hostel. We got to the hostel by 1:30 PM. We rested/napped/washed up until 3:30PM since we were then picked up by the QUAD adventure and POTTERY class we booked for $48 per head. Our QUAD adventure was awesome, we did an hour route by the rice fields and we passed a lot of puddles and off road which made it fun. We were given plastics to protect our shoes and face masks. After we were given wet towels and bottled water to freshen up before we were brought to Khmer Ceramics for our pottery class. We were asked to choose 3 clay designs and we can "fire" one of them to bring home. We were taught by instructors there on the proper way to handle clay and achieve the desired shape. IT WAS AWESOME. It was too awesome that we decided to purchase all of the pots we created, for every additional pot its $5. It will be delivered to your hostel 2 days after. Upon getting back at the hostel, we ate dinner at the hostel. washed up and slept.
Day 1
Day 2! We woke up around 7 AM and ate the free breakfast. YUMMY TOAST. (no rice, just cereals, fruits and toast) Then we were fetched by our hired van driver Mr Thom for our Phnom Kulen adventure ($35 with lunch from the hostel). It was about 2 hour drive to the Sacred Mountain, sadly since it was rainy season we were not able to see the 1000 lingas carvings that well. It also wasn't the nature hike I was expecting. It was too short and too easy. We also saw a fresh spring where the water from the river comes from. This is cool. Then we did a short climb to see the reclining Buddha. And stopped at the waterfall area to eat before some of us swam. That was the end of our Phnom Kulen adventure. Certainly was not what I was expecting but it was good to see something else other than temples for a change. After that we decided to go to Banteay Srei too for $20 additional. Another amazing temple that cannot be described by words. You really just have to see it yourself. After hours of walking about, we went back to the hostel. Washed up and walked to PUB STREET to have dinner at the famous RED PIANO. It was where Angelina Jolie had a cocktail in the Tomb Raider movie. Anyway for $6 you can get a very decent meal. I loved their Panang Chicken and home-made chocolate mousse. I love this place. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Grabbed some gelato at the nearby Blue Pumpkin, loved their dark chocolate ice cream to death. A scoop costs $1.60. Sleeping time.
Day 2
Day 3. Woke up 7 AM and ate the free breakfast. Fetched by our hired van driver Mr Thom for our Bang Mealea (additional $5 per head) and Roulous Group tour for $90. We had our lunch before we went to the Roulous Group, we were brought to a costly restaurant that charges $6 for a not filling meal. Bang Mealea did not disappoint so did the 2nd roulous temple. All the rest of the roulous temple were under construction. But it was still awesome seeing all the carvings and how such wonders were made even before Angkor Wat. For dinner we were brought to Koulen Restaurant for a dinner buffet and Aspara dance show which costs $12. The $12 did not come with drinks but the food selection were amazing, and the Aspara dance show did not disappoint. It is a good experience to try. After the meal, we went back to the hostel to rest. 
Day 3
Day 4. Woke up 5:00 AM since our pickup was 5:30 AM. We had reservations at AERO CAMBODIA at 6 AM. We booked with them a 20 minute microflight tour for $75 per flight. I suggest you go for the red route over the yellow route. I loved the temple views. Make sure that your recording devices like cameras have neck straps and go pros have mounts, they do not allow smartphones. We started 6 AM and ended around 9 AM. We were able to get back at the hostel at 9:45 AM and still have time before the bar closes it complementary breakfast buffet at 10 AM. We rushed and was able to fill ourselves with carbs before our next activity. After brunch, we went to the old market to buy souvenirs. Got back to the hostel to rest for 1 hour. Just in time for our food walk at 2PM ($7 per head). We were brought to the Old Market and was given different street food to try like processed meat, intestine noodles, desserts, sundried shells, fruits, roasted bananas, and sugar cane juice. We went back to the hostel to eat the remaining food and have some complementary beer. We played some board games before heading out to ride bikes around the city. Then we went to pub street to eat some mexican dishes at Latino. It was okay. nothing memorable or recommendable. Headed over to blue pumpkin for desserts and chill out before finally heading back to the hostel to meet our driver to bring us to the airport for $10. Flight was delayed for an hour but it was okay since there were stores to look at in the airport. Before we know it, we boarded the plane and back to Manila.

Day 4
Hope this helps. Have fun on your next trip.

2 comments:

Tricia Pascua said...

Hi! Im going to Cambodia next week and i really want to try the Aero Cambodia. I just want to ask how you guys booked because I've been searching online and i cant find a booking site. Im worried that if I won't book as early as now I wont be able to fly anymore.

Thanks for this post btw, i will use this as guide next week. :D

Jeatte Go said...

Hi Tricia,

I am sorry. I just saw your comment now. Basically we just sent them an email and told them of the time we prefer. We paid them after the flight.

Hope you are having fun in Cambodia. :)

Jeatte