Siem Reap in Cambodia is home of the great Khmer empire. Having the chance to see the much celebrated “Angkor Wat” and other ancient temples is a privilege for keep.
From Bangkok, there are a lot of options to travel going to Siem Reap. If you chose to go by land, prepare yourself for long hours of trip. Bangkok to Aranyaprathet District in Sa Kaeo Province (Thai border) is 5 hours; Poipet (Cambodian border) to Siem Reap is 3 hours. Remember that the immigrations in both borders close at 20:00 hours (8:00PM Thailand-Cambodia time). Bangkok is behind by 1 hour from Manila, Hong Kong and Singapore time.
ASEAN nationals do not need visa in going to Cambodia for a short while. Filipino citizens are not required of it if you plan to stay for as long as 21 days. Contrary to what most of the blogs are saying, the road to Siem Reap is now well paved. Though when we went there, a stretch of 5 kilometres of ruined road greets you as you approached the province due to a recent flooding the area experienced. Other than that, the travel is smooth.
I couldn’t say more of how to get there, so here are the links to very informative blog entries from getsetandgo:
An alternative, you can try below:
Before you go, or as soon as you arrive in Siem Reap, if you do not have the luxury of time, booking for tour guide services is a must. They will be responsible for the tuk-tuk you will use to tour the scenic spots, book you a ticket going back to Bangkok, etc.
They will help you get passes to enter various Angkor temples too. One day visit pass is worth USD 20.00.
This will give you peace of mind while enjoying the scenes. All you need to do is present yourself in the agreed time and location.
The Tanei Guesthouse
This is where we stayed for 3 days and 2 nights. For a very huge room for two, we got it for USD 59.00 only with free Wi-Fi and breakfast. I would recommend this to anyone planning to go to Siem Reap. It is near to night markets as well as the pub street. The only drawback I could see is the poor lighting. It’s always a dim light scenario anywhere you go; in the rooms, in the reception/lobby area including the restaurant. I don’t like it very much because I don’t have a very clear vision. Though over-all, Tanei is good. They have friendly, accommodating and English speaking staffs.
Angkor Night Market
This market is like your typical souvenir market. The place is lined by various shops selling goods ranging from shirts, shorts, key chains, scarfs, delicacies and street foods. It’s just a 3-minute walk from Tanei.
Angkor literally means city while wat means temple. Angkor Wat is part of the Angkor World Heritage Site awarded by UNESCO in 1992. It is the largest religious monument in the world today. It used to be the capital of the Khmer Empire, state temple and eventually a mausoleum of the king who founded the site. Witnessing either the sunrise or sunset in this area is priceless. You need to be at the temple before 6:00AM to see its grandeur. The complex is huge. You will need at least 2 hours to wander around. Every side are perfect for taking photographs. Though the temple structures are built symmetrically, what you can see on the other side can also be seen on the opposite side. All temples in the Angkor region are built this way.
Phnom Bakheng at Angkor
This is a Hindu temple in the form of a temple mountain. You will need to climb the hill via the elephant trail to reach the temple. Foot print of Buddha can also be found here. Nothing much I can say about the temple since it was offlimits for tourists during that time because it’s undergoing restoration. The hill top is a good site for sunset viewing.
This literally means great city. The site is built near the Siem Reap River. This city is known to be the last capital of the Khmer Empire before its fall. It’s a very huge complex housing a lot of temples including the royal palace. Unfortunately, no remains of the palace can be seen today as they are believed to be constructed out of perishable materials such as wood.
Bayon Temple of Angkor Thom
The Bayon is a large stone temple decorated by massive faces in all its towers. It is located at the centre of Angkor Thom.
The temple stands at 34 metres without its tower. Including its tower, roughly it can go as high as 50 metres. Visitors are now permitted to tour the temple but not in its inner structure after the massive effort of restoration and renovation.
Going up the temple can prove as a challenge when you have fear of heights. Though reaching the top is fulfilling, your next challenge is going down. The stairs are too steep. These wooden and metal made stairs were placed to protect the temple stone structures from further damage. The royal palace is just near its location where a river separates them.
The temple has a statue of reclining Buddha on its west side.
Terrace of the Elephants
This 350-metres long stone terrace is used by the king for public ceremonies. It got it’s name due to numerous elephant carvings that decorated its walls. Too bad I forgot to take a photo on the façade of the terrace.
Ta Phrom Complex (Tomb Raider Temple)
This temple complex has been built to serve as a monastery and university for Mahayana Buddhist. This has also been placed in the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Site in 1992. By far, it is the most visited temple in the area due to its scenic view. Huge tress growing above the temple ruins. Adding to the popularity of this temple, it was once used by Hollywood and London film makers as one of the locations for the movie Tomb Raider staring Angelina Jolie.
There are a lot more temples that you can visit in Siem Reap. (Magsasawa ka! Literal!) They look almost the same but each exhibits their own quality. Again, if you are with time constraints, just put Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and the Ta Phrom Complex in your itinerary.
In visiting those ancient temples, you will be astonished how ancient civilization was able to manage and build huge stone structures marvelled with delicate carvings and wonderful designs during their time. It is indeed a once in a lifetime experience. Their architectural ingenuity is at its best!