Scratched one more off the bucket list! The family and I took a little holiday last week and really, four days in Seam Reap isn’t enough. I now understand why my friends keep coming back.
I never got around to really blog about my Nepal trip two years ago, and I’m determined to it properly this time. Travel blogs pretty much saved me a lot of heartache when I was planning our itenirary and budget so hopefully, I can pass on the good vibes and help someone else. 🙂
There’s no need to change your bills to Riel; almost everyone accepts US Dollars but you get your change in Riel if it’s less than 1 USD. It’s about 4000 Riel to 1 USD.
PRO TIP: Bring new Dollars!
One of our bills were printed in the late 90’s, and no one would take it. I had to go to the bank to have it changed to a newer bill.
We stayed at the the Mandalay Inn, which Pallon suggested. It’s a cozy little hostel that’s rated well on TripAdvisor and they offer free airport pick-up if you’re staying for more than 2 nights. Since it’s cooler in Siem Reap in November, we opted for fan rooms which were just 10USD a room per night for twin sharing. They have free-wifi and the hostel restaurant’s decent and cheaper than a lot of the places outside. It’s also just a few minutes walk from Pub Street, the Old Market, and the Night Market.
They’re a little disorganised so ask for receipts whenever you pay for something and double check! When we paid for our room, the receptionist mistakenly wrote down 2 nights instead of 3. I had to show them my reservation e-mail to fix it. Other than that, the staff was really friendly and made us feel right at home.
Oh, and they turn off the electricity in your room when you’re out, so if you plan on leaving food in the fridge, you should let the front desk know.
We hired one tuktuk driver during our whole stay. Raksa was the hostel driver who picked us up from the airport and he was so nice to us (even after waiting for us for 2 hours a the airport because our flight was delayed) that we stuck with him for the next four days.
Tuktuks are around 12 USD for two people and 15 USD for four, for a day at the Angkor Complex. 25 USD for 4 people to Banteay Srei, which is about an hour away from the city. 35 USD to Beng Mealea which is about 2 hours away. 7 USD to airport from the hostel.
You could also rent a car instead, which is about a little over twice the price of a tuktuk, but what fun would that be? 😛
Also, if you’re nice to your tuktuk driver, you won’t need a tour guide. We deviated from our original IT because Raksa suggested other temples to visit. He also brought us to some really awesome restaurants. Try the Khmer Culture Club inside the Angkor Temple Complex, btw. Their food’s amazing.
You’ll spend around 5 USD average per meal. You can get cheaper food at street stalls, but when you’ve spent 5-7 hours temple hopping, you just can’t be bothered to go around looking for cheap eats. The restaurants inside the temple complexes are a little more expensive by a couple of dollars. Their servings are generous though. We often shared an order between two people or 3 orders for the four of us.
Our hostel had a dispenser at the lobby so we just brought water bottles to refill for our temple visits, but you can get a 1.5 litre bottle for 0.75 to 1 USD.
November is the start of the cooler season (and it was during the evenings) but it still gets brutally hot when the sun’s out.
Stick to stuff made from light, airy fabric. Shorts and tank tops are great, except for some temples where you’re required to either cover your legs and/or your shoulders.
Bring a scarf or light shawl for modesty, when needed, and for the occasional afternoon rain.
Also, mountaineering sandals are your best friend. You get great traction for precarious temple steps without heat-torturing your feet in closed shoes.
So everyone talks about the Night Market, but I read somewhere that the stuff you find there is the same as what you’d find at the Old Market, but more expensive so we didn’t really check it out. We did spend an hour so before dinner every night looking around the Old Market which was great.
Shopping in Seam Reap is a little stressful though. It’s impossible to just look at or inquire about an item because the vendors are extremely persistent.
Also: Never, ever take the first price; haggle! Haggle all the things!