I promise myself to not cloud this post with my negativity that regards tuk tuks in Siem Reap 🙂 Actually this is by far the toughest job with posting about places. Because Angkor Wat is impressive, all the temple complex covers immense area, is absolutely picturesque and can suit for a nice stroll by bike for a day or even a week (don’t trust me on my word, just see the photo gallery). Even if you are not into archeology, you can still find the remains of the old civilisation curious. And considering the archeological park is that huge and pretty well maintained 40 USD for 3-day personal pass to be used within a week’s time is reasonable price.
Hmm, so much for reason with pricing in Siem Reap and surrounds.
Cambodian currency is riel but (at leat in SR and Angkor) dollar is THE money. And nothing will cost you less than one. While there are heaps of things and activities that require more than a few dollars. Because in certain ways Siem Reap is like Vegas – luxurious hotels and casinos on a desert. Still you need to remember this Vegas is in the poor country with a very painful past. Well, you will be reminded not once but hundreds of times each day by kids and grown ups selling books about genocide, orphanages on both sides of the road to Angkor and tuk tuk drivers explaining you they arrange with bus operator to scam you on money because they don’t want to be beggars. So don’t worry this will never skip your mind.
One of the world’s wonders it may be, Angkor Wat is not a cheap excursion to make by backpackers, though some still do it (how many surprised visitors we’ve met in European Guesthouse, where we stayed, well, good to know it’s not just our Polish “cheap-thinking”, the guesthouse is top notch by the way, highly recommended if you don’t mind crocs from the farm next door waking you up in the morning with occasional roar :D). Both Siem Reap with its hotels and fancy restaurants, spas and newish boutique like airport and Angkor full of A/C buses, baloon and helicopter’s trips prove one thing – you’re never too old and too rich to see the Cambodian ancient wonderland. If you have it in your bucket list, keep it there, for later.
To be honest Cambodia may just not win us over with its cuisine. Several tries of Khmer specialties left us with recovering stomachs for the next few days. What is odd as after our Malaysian experiences and Thai food adventures (one day, I promise to write ’bout them). All in all – we’ve been there, cycled the temples, tried the food, sweat a lot, ate a lot of red dirt and decided to escape the tourist trap, as the Brits next door called it. Hence we bought our approval letter from myvietnamvisa.com and booked the flight to Ho Chi Minh aka Saigon. Over the week we’ve stayed at the European Guesthouse in SR, the owner and staff helped us multiple times, solving our problem with flight tickets to top them all (you can’t pay for tickets by virtual card or Vietnam Airlines won’t let you in for boarding…so the staff contacted the travel agent early morning and we paid even less than online with tickets the next day, happy ending everyone :))
45 minutes and a lot of fantastic views through the window later we landed in Vietnam. Got our pre-arranged visa and took taxi to the hostel we booked for the previous night and had to cancel via hostelworld. After all the money talk and aggressive Khmer attitude for the past week we expected trouble, boy were we taken by surprise, yes we were!