Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Weekend Trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia (4 days 3 nights)



Travel Destination: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Duration: 4 days 3 nights
Dates: 12 May - 16 May, 2016
Who am I travelling with: 2 of my good female friends
My spending: Less than USD450

Accommodation: Viroth's Hotel (http://www.viroth-hotel.com/) - Booked through Agoda
Currency: Highly recommended NOT TO change any local money because USD is accepted everywhere. It is also more difficult to bargain in local money. If you bring local money back to your home country, it is not easy to change them back to other currencies

It is always especially exciting to travel to a completely new country that I have never set foot on. Cambodia had been on top of my travel watch list for quite a while already, which was why when I saw the flights promotion on http://www.hkexpress.com/ I immediately asked if my friends would like to go with me. We had the flights and accommodations booked within 2 days! :D 


Accommodation


Most of the hotels are relatively cheap in Siem Reap, and it was not easy to narrow down our choices. We ended up picking Viroth's Hotel because of the convenient location (it is right at the downtown centre, walkable distance to the pub street area where most restaurants / stores / night activities are at), and also of all the great reviews it has from previous travellers. Of course, the place looks amazing and seems like a great spot to take photos (instagram-friendly is always important!;p)






Price: Around USD100 per night for 3 persons (3 beds), inclusive of breakfast






The hotel ended up to be even better than we expected. The service was perfect, breakfast included was delicious and healthy, massage was one of the best that I have had, they even had a vintage Mercedes for only USD10 to take us to the airport! (normal taxi was USD7)  - plus, there were photo opportunities everywhere we looked because the whole place was absolutely breathtaking! 



Transportation

Common form of transport for tourists within the city is tuk-tuk (an auto rickshaw) and it normally costs very little (only USD2-3 for us to go from hotel to dinners / other spots in downtown). It is also a very fun way to see the city! 
As we had luggages with us from the airport, we took taxi instead to go to the hotel which was USD7 for one way, and on the way back to the airport we had decided to spoil ourselves a little bit and reserved a vintage Mercedes from the hotel (it only costed USD10, 3 dollars more than normal taxi!)




We also saw many tourists riding bicycles around town (even to the temples), unfortunately I am not good at biking (fell down and ended up in Hospital twice in recent years..) and therefore did not choose that as a way of commute.




Things to do

As all 3 of us were pretty busy with work prior to this trip and therefore we did not make any tours booking in advance. We only made online bookings as we were chilling at the hotel pool on the first day we arrived.

1. One Day Temples Tour Package Without Sunrise But With Sunset  (sunrise tours all start at around 4 am and we are not exactly morning persons :p)
http://www.happyangkortour.com/


Price: Around USD20 per person, including English tour guide, full transportation (Mini Van with AC - pick up and return to Hotel), cold water and towels (extremely important with the high temperature), excluding lunch at a touristy restaurant and temple pass


We visited various temples sites, including the Angkor Wat, Phnom Bakheng, Elephant Terrace, Bayon temple, and also the Ta Prohm. The whole experience was simply magical.





2. Half day Pottery Class + Quad Bike adventure
http://www.quad-adventure-cambodia.com/

Price: Around USD55 per person, 2 hours of Pottery at the Ceramics Fine Arts Center and 2-3 hours of Quad Bike around local villages. Prices include tuk-tuk / car transportation in between hotel and destinations. You can either take your own pottery (make 3, choose your favorite piece to be fired and take it back home the day after) / choose one (under USD10) from the souvenir shop 


                        


It was my first time making pottery and it was surprisingly fun! I would not be able to make mine without the help of the local teachers but it was a great experience to interact with them and to make pottery together. One reminder - if you would like to bring your own pottery back home, do not do this on your last day as it will take a day to fire the clay and they can only send your final work to your hotel the next day evening. 

For me, quad biking around different local villages was probably the most previous experience of the trip. We each had a local guide riding with us and we spent hours exploring villages and farmlands, and having a glimpse of how lives are for the local inhabitants and animals in these villages. 

I had an especially inspiring talk with my guide - who is an orphan and has always worked hard towards his goals in his whole life. He spent years washing quad bikes as his full time job. He taught himself English by interacting with tourists and 2 years ago he finally got this job as a quad bike tour guide which he enjoys very much as he gets the chance to talk to people from all over the world and he learns a lot from each person he meets. Apart from long hours of hard work everyday, he is also studying and hoping to get his degree soon in order to further his career as a tourist guide. 

His story is such an inspiration to me because I have always believed that hard work and determination are keys to success for anyone, no matter who you are and where you are from. I hope he will achieve his goals and make a great life for himself! 


Food 
I have always been a fan of South East Asian food, and Cambodia definitely did not disappoint!

Local Street Stalls: Interesting experience to try different local food. We got skewers (our favorite!), fried rice cakes in sauce, and baguette with pork (mostly fat) and veggies on top. USD1 for each dish
A must-try of the street stalls on the pub street is the pancakes! Our favorite is banana - they are sold everywhere and they taste HEAVENLY (cheat-meal for sure though). Photo is in the collage under Restaurant Lilypop

Hotel Breakfast and Pool Food: Breakfasts are included in our hotel room rates - and they are absolutely amazing! Wide selection of fresh and healthy food. Pool food is overpriced comparing to what you can get in the city.

Restaurant - LilyPop
My favorite restaurant in Siem Reap! Very very cheap. Around USD5 per person and we had the best food! Must order: Fried Noodles, Curry and also Mango Sticky Rice


Restaurant - Sister Srey Cafe
Great cafe, love the vibe! Had great juice and shakes, but we were a bit disappointed with the food. Quite expensive as well comparing to local restaurants.


Restaurant - Genevieve
https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Restaurant_Review-g297390-d4037530-Reviews-Genevieve_s_Restaurant-Siem_Reap_Siem_Reap_Province.html
No. 1 restaurant on Tripadvisor - must make booking in advance! Great fusion food and the owner is simply the best.


Hope you enjoy reading about my trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia! Subscribe to my blog and stay tuned for more travelling stories! #StayFitandTravel

Emi xx
Instagram: @stayfitandtravel
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Snapchat: stayfitntravel
Email: emi.stayfitandtravel@gmail.com


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