Siem Reap On A Budget: Part 2 – Checklist Before Your Flight

Collage of the different temples we visited at the Angkor Archaelogical Site (July, 2014)

Collage of the different temples we visited at the Angkor Archaeological Site (July, 2013)

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 

Homepage of Cambodia's Meteorological Site.  Click here to access it

Homepage of Cambodia’s Meteorological Site. Click here to access it

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 

Ta Keo Temple - my favorite temple.  One of the venues where Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movie was shot

Ta Keo: my favorite temple. One of the venues where the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was shot

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.

Tree grew ontop of one of the temples at Ta Phrom - another place made famous by Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

An ancient tree grew on top of one of the temples at Ta Phrom – another place made famous by Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Tidbit:  The setting of the popular game “Temple Run” was inspired by the temples here at Siem Reap.

B doing his own version of the game "Temple Run" at Neak Pean (taken from his Blackberry Phone)

B doing his own version of the game “Temple Run” at Neak Pean (taken from his Blackberry Phone)

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.

Say hello to Benjamin Franklin at US$ 100 bill

Say hello to Benjamin Franklin in US$ 100 bill

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

Second day get-up: “Faith” loose cropped top from Cotton On. Baggy batik pants from Siem Reap flee market

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

The sandals that I wore during my Pinatubo Trekking is also one of the best footwear to use in touring the temples at Angkor

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

My trusty fedora hat with my skin slathered with sunblock to keep me protected during my first day at Angkor Wat

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

Ticketing office of Angkor Archaeological Site

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.

My 3-day Ticket to the Temples

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.

B and me inside Ta Phrom

B and me inside Ta Phrom

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!

-Tinakits-

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8 thoughts on “Siem Reap On A Budget: Part 2 – Checklist Before Your Flight

  1. Hi.

    This is really helpful. I just have a question though. How much do u spend in a day in siem reap? Just for food. Transpo. Etc.

    Thanks.

    • Hi Mikko! Thanks for reading and appreciating my post. Will you visit Siem Reap soon? I am sure that you will be amazed with the place. To answer your queries: For our transportation, we hired a Tuktuk for US$ 12/day to tour us at the temple site. The rate is good for one whole day of tour. As for roaming around the area to eat and shop, we just walk since our hotel is just walking distance to key places at Siem Reap. Basic transpo fee is US$ 1 and can increase depending on the distance on where you want to go. For food, we spent around US$ 10-15 per meal depending where you will eat. A small bottled water and a can or bottle of soda costs US$ 1.

      ADDITIONAL NOTE: To maximize your money and if you don’t have any dollar account, I suggest that you exchange your money before your flight either on your bank where you have your account or at any money exchange. Though there are money changes inside all Philippine Airports, I noticed that their selling rate were higher.

      Hope this helps. 🙂

      • Thanks a lot. Very helpful. I was actually considering on getting into Cambodia sometime this year. Thanks a lot. I still have a BKK trip on feb 26 so I gotta focus on thay first. Haha.. thanks a lot!

  2. Hello!

    Thanks for your blog, I was dying to find informations on how will it be for a Filipino tourist like me in siem Reap. I will going to Siem Reap on Nov 29 and will stay there until 4th of December this year. Cambodia have been my long dream vacation place and thanks to Cebu Pacific’s Piso fare promo for making it more possible for me. Though I have already read your blog, I still have one question to ask you, hoping that you can give me an advice or idea about it. I really would like to know if how hard it is to pass the immigration process during exit from the Philippines and entrance to Cambodia? Do you guys have to show money to the officers to prove that you can support your stay? Because it happened to me twice when I travelled to Germany in 2011 and 2012 they almost hold me back and won’t let go but then they’d let me go after of all interrogations.

    Thank you,

    Manu

    • Hi Manu! Thanks for reading. During our trip at Siem Reap, I have never encountered any problem with the immigration. I understand your point since you don’t want to experience the same inconvenience that you have had before. The key there is to make sure that you have printed your roundtrip airplane tickets, have a copy of your hotel voucher or email confirmation from the hotel you intend to stay in, your passport will not expire within 6 months, and it does not have any fold or any unnecessary marks.

      Enjoy your dream destination! 🙂

  3. Hello. Thanks for this very informative blog. I will be traveling to Siem Reap next week (May 4-8). Could you please give me an idea of how much pocket money should I bring in dollars (excluding hotel accommodation, breakfast and tour package because that’s already been taken care of)? Kindly give me an estimate. Thank you in advance. =)

    • Hi Jonah! Thanks for reading. As for your budget, it really depends on the activities you will do. But I can give you an idea. For food, we spent an estimate of US$ 20-60 dollars a meal. It really depends where you will eat. We just splurge at The Blue Pumpkin cause we love them A LOT! If you will buy from the street vendors like colas, bottled water, drinks or snacks; they all have a standard price of US$ 1 a piece.

      As for keepsakes, a shirt costs at US$10-20 depending on its print and cloth. A bundle of Keychain is at US$ 15-20, Krama is at US$ 10-15 a piece. The reason for the price range is because it really depends on how many you will buy and the skills you have in haggling.

      Hope I helped you with your question. I know you will enjoy Siem Reap. TC! 🙂

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