My friend, are you planning to go to Siem Reap in the future? I hope you read my first post to help you plan your itinerary. I am 100% sure that you will love that side of Cambodia.
Let say you booked your flight, chose a hotel and created your itinerary for your trip. You still have a few checklist to do a week or a few days before your flight. To help you, here are some things to consider before you head to the Kingdom of Cambodia:
1. Check the weather
This tropical country has 2 seasons like in the Philippines (rainy and dry). They said, the best time to visit this place is during dry season (November to April) and it will be a challenge to visit Cambodia during rainy season (May to October). But B and I visited last July and the weather was so cooperative. It was cold at early morning and quite humid during late morning till afternoon. We were confident that the sun will shine during our visit. Thanks to Cambodia’s Meteorological website for giving us a 3-day weather forecast.
2. Research on the background history of the temples
This is to know their story and appreciate the temples more. You may also buy or get leaflets at the sites ticketing office. But if you want a guided tour, prepare to shell out $25/day to hire a tour guide. We did not avail of this for Rah told us the name of the temple before we go down our tuktuk and I read some facts at home about the history of Angkor Wat.
Tidbit: The setting of the popular game “Temple Run” was inspired by the temples here at Siem Reap.
3. Prepare your US Dollars
Though their official currency is Cambodian Riel (KHR), you can use US dollars to pay for anything since their prices were quoted in dollars, too. You will notice that when I posted the price of our room and transpo option. I also noticed that the money changers there accept our Philippine Pesos but the value of it is lower.
My tip before you go to any country: Buy dollars here in the Philippines to maximize the value of your PHP. If you pay in dollars at Cambodia, they will give your change in dollars, too. But do note that they only accept US Dollar bills and not coins. If you will be given change, the “cents” will be in Cambodian Riel. Remember, you cannot exchange your riels to pesos when you go back here in the Philippines.
4. Wear comfortable but discreet clothes
Some temples at Angkor Wat strictly follows a conservative dress code. If you are wearing sleeveless, tube top for girls, above-the-knee length shorts or skirt; you will not be allowed to enter their temple. It happened to me on our first day at Angkor Wat. I was wearing a sleeveless shirt and short skirt and was not allowed to enter the Temple of the Leper King because of my attire. So I bought their hippie batik trousers that I intend to wear on our next days’ tour and wore a maxi dress a day after when I visited other temples and tour the streets of Siem Reap. Anyway, printed pants are in this season.
5. Choose comfortable but sturdy footwear during your tour at Angkor Wat
Your stilletos or wedges are not the best footwear here. Hiking shoes or sandals are better since most of the temple floors are not even because they were ruined already. Your regular slippers may not be sturdy enough to withstand the bumps and rocks along the way.
6. Bring flashlight
Angkor Wat is the best place to watch the sunrise, for sunset head to Phnom Bakheng. So if you are planning to go there, bring a flashlight with you. There is no electric light post at all temples so if you’ll go there early morning, you will not see the bumpy paths along the way. Pack a small flashlight that will fit your pocket or your small bag when touring so you can light your way to the temple.
7. Protect yourself from the sun or rain
Always protect your skin by wearing suncreen. This is the best venue to wear your fedora hat, caps or the Krama you bought at the flee market. If the weatherman said it might rain, bring an umbrella or raincoat.
8. Buy tickets at Angkor Archaeological Site in the afternoon, a day before you go there
Of course, the main reason people go to Siem Reap is because of Angkor Wat. Unfortunately, you cannot buy tickets in advance online unless you seek land arrangements from any travel agencies. If you arrived at Siem Reap in the afternoon or early evening and you plan to tour the site tomorrow, buy tickets specifically at 5:00PM. Why? Although you pay for the ticket you will use the next day, you can already enter the site for free till it closes at 6:00PM.
How much is the ticket? It depends how many days you want to tour the site. Passes are sold for one-day tour ($20), three days ($40), or seven days ($60) blocks. The three day pass is valid for one week, i.e. 3 days to be used within the week, not necessarily consecutively. The seven day pass is valid for one month, i.e. 7 days to be used within the month again, not necessarily consecutively.
What time do they open/close? Visiting hours are from 5:00 AM till 6:00 PM daily.
How was my trip? It was memorable. The temples were breathtaking that I can’t believe I fullfilled my dream of becoming Lara Croft for a day! (Sans the shorts, sandos, boots and over-sized boobies. HAHA!) I also want to go back not only for the temples but for their food, their clean fresh air in the morning and the warm hospitality of its people.
That’s it! Hope I helped you plan and budget your money on your future Siem Reap tour. As usual my friend, you can always leave a comment for any questions you may have on my experience or to plan for your trip. Enjoy!