Travellers tips for Siem Reap
While planning our trip to Asia, Cambodia was on the ‘maybe’ list, along with Vietnam.
We would loved to have seen both, but to do Thailand, Hong Kong, Phuket, Dubai, Cambodia AND Vietnam in two weeks seemed a little crazy. So we settled on Cambodia, mainly because of the attraction of Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world.
We had a one night stay in Siem Reap, which was just enough time to absorb the three main temples and explore a little of the locality.
It was also great to explore a place which was much more relaxed and serene than the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, I can see why Cambodia is known as a gentle community.
But before my lowdown, I’ve thrown in some tips for if you’re planning to visit the city.
Travellers tips for Siem Reap #1 – Allow time for immigration
When arriving at immigration in Cambodia, we were greeted with a rather lengthy procedure. We visited at the time of the Ebola scare, so we had an additional health form to boot, but even without this, there was a three line whip for your paperwork. So be prepared for a lot of stamping and checking. In all, I’d say we were spent about an hour going through the various checks.
Travellers tips for Siem Reap #2 – Take a passport photo with you
At immigration, we were told we needed to provide a passport photo to accompany our documentation, or pay $5 USD for them to take one. So obviously it’s worth taking a pick with you, as $5 could go towards a meal in the city. Which brings me to my next point…
Travellers tips for Siem Reap #3 – They deal in dollars
That’s US Dollars. Believe it or not, Siem Reap prefers US Dollars over their currency – the Riel. Even in the market stalls they prefer dollars. The Riel itself is inflated insanely – I think it was 2,000 Riels to the pound. So you feel like you’re something of a millionaire when exchanging.
Dealing in dollars is more convenient, especially if you’re from the US, or are planning a trip there. It’s also easier figuring out if you’re getting a good deal on your buys. However, when giving change smaller than a dollar, shops and restaurants tend to hand you back some Riels, so it’s best to use them on small buys during your stay.
Travellers tips for Siem Reap #4 – Invest in a tuk tuk driver
Having had our fill of bartering with tuk tuk drivers in Bangkok, I didn’t fancy doing the same thing in Cambodia.
However, that was until I realised that in Siem Reap it was the norm to book a tuk tuk driver for the whole day for a fixed rate, and they’d wait for you as you visit all the sights.
We paid $15, the going rate for a tuk tuk driver, for the whole day. He was polite, courteous, and patient. And he even offered to drop us off at the airport for our flight back.
With the same driver, you get a sense of comfort and security, and it turns out much better to pay a tuk tuk driver to take you around, rather than one of the commission driven airport cabbies. But that’s another story for another article.
Travellers tips for Siem Reap #5 – Be ready for pushy salespeople
Whether it was a market stall or a store, we were sold at in Angkor Wat like no other place.
Oh my, you pick up one item and four people come up to you, with a basket in hand, ready to fill it with items. We were stalked around a handicraft store, nagged to buy in the marketplace. By the end, we didn’t dare look at anything in any shops. I thought the souks of Marrakech were pushy. This was a whole new level.
Travellers tips for Siem Reap #6 – One temple tickets gets you three sites, and a night view
Hubby and I paid $20 each to visit Angkor Wat, and we’re pleased to hear that we got to see the other two main temples, Angkor Pho and Angkor Thom, with the same ticket.
Also, a tip our driver gave was that if we visit Angkor Wat the night before after 4.45pm, it’s free to enter if you buy a ticket for the next day. So essentially, you can get the sunset view from the hills, and then visit the sites the next day all with the same ticket.
So those are my travellers tips for Siem Reap, I’ll next be posting my things to do.