Touch Down …… Cambodia (Siem Reap)

After a 17-days fulfilling journey in Vietnam, it was time for us to head to our second country in our list …. Cambodia!!

Our e-visa required us to enter Cambodia from the land port of “Bavet“, so we had to take the bus to Cambodia from Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon.

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1) The buses

The buses from Saigon to Phnom Penh (Cambodian capital) are every hour, the prices range from 6-10$ , and the bus takes approx 6 hours to reach.

(Hint: The morning buses are cheaper than the afternoon and night buses)

We decided to head for Siem Reap first -which is further north – , since our flight back to Malaysia was from Phnom Penh.

The bus from Saigon to Siem Reap costed us 18$.

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2) The Boarder & Phnom Penh

Passing from the boarders was fairly easy, the e-visa DOES work!! 😀

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Google Image

The currency in Cambodia is called Reil, 1$ = 4000 Riel , however absolutely everyone deals in dollars, you only get Riel when it’s a change (less than a dollar), even the ATM dispense Dollars.

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Google Image

(Hint: For people with Malaysian banks (CIMB/Maybank), The rate of withdrawal from ATM in Cambodia is quite AMAZING, while the rate of withdrawal in Vietnam is HORRIBLE, so take a note of this)

After we reached Phnom Penh, we stopped by a travel agency where we waited for half an hour till we took the tuk-tuk to the place of our next bus to Siem Reap. (this tuk-tuk didn’t charge us, the 18$ is inclusive of everything)

In the travel agency, they will try to sell you reservation in a hotel in Siem Reap, since you’ll be arriving “Late at night”, they will also try to sell you tuk tuk services for when you reach over there, the hotel price go for 5-6$ per person per night and the tuk-tuk is for 3$ for the whole tuk-tuk, so we ONLY bought the tuk tuk service and chose to look for the hotels by ourselves.

The bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap was another 6 hours.

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3) Arrival at Siem Reap

When we reached Siem Reap we were picked up by the tuk tuk driver, we told him to go to the area with the most choices of cheap hotels (Pub Street), instead he took us to the hotel that was advertised by the tour agency earlier, apparently they got some sort of commission thing going, so you have to STICK TO YOUR GUNS and keep at it till you reach the hotel of YOUR CHOICE!!

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(Hint: when you leave the bus, you’ll find plenty of tuk-tuk drivers waiting so you don’t really have to pre-book, and the MAX you should pay is 3$)

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4) Hotel in Siem Reap

The price of 1 night in Siem Reap range from 3-6$ (3 = room with fan / 6 = room with AC ).

Since we checked the hotels in Booking.com app, we would find hotels that offer rooms for 3$ or 4$ per person INCLUDING breakfast, but when we go to the place and ask, they would charge 5$ without breakfast and they tell us some bulls*** like (” oh, this is only for online booking, and not for face to face booking”) and when we tell them that we’ll just book online then, they would say (” oh no you can’t , i see you now,  i know you are here already, you can’t book online).

Sooo yah, later we got to know that actually most of those “breakfasts” offered are quite lousy and not worth it, and they are just offered online to get you to come to the hotel and rip you off.

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We ended up in a fairly nice hostel called “I win Hostel” , which is very close to pub street and the city center, we took a room with AC for 4$ per person per night which was a sweet deal.

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5) Food

Let me just say that the food in Siem Reap -and Cambodia in general –  is mind-blowingly AWESOME, the Cambodian cuisine is phenomenal, when you walk around in Siem Reap, you’ll find many street restaurants that offer some HEAVENLY food that range in price from 2-3$ per PLATE

you can actually indulge and eat like a KING for 5-6$, and most of these restaurants offer free green tea (which taste f****** horrible tho 😀 )

Here is the MUST-TRY Famous Cambodian cuisine dishes:

I) A-Mok : Which comes in Chicken / Beef  /Fish (Recommended)

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II) Red / Green Curry : Comes in Chicken / Beef /Fish (Recommended)

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III) Lok Lak

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IV) Pineapple Fried rice

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Google Image

V) Shrimp Spring Rolls

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Google Image

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6) Cultural Performances

In Siem Reap, there is a lot of restaurants that offer “free cultural performances” at dinner, so you just need to book a table for dinner, then go and order something and enjoy the show.

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One of the best places that does this is Temple Club!!

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Google Image

This place is super fancy, the food is great AND CHEAP (i got fish curry with rice for 3.75$), and the shows are really decent and enjoyable and they do like 10 different dances on the span of 2-3 hours, sooo yah … all the culture we needed 😀

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7) The Market

Siem Reap has a lot of markets in it, i can’t really recommend a certain market for you, since all of them are quite similar and in your first day/night walking in the city, you’ll get to see a lot of markets around selling many interesting stuff, i’d recommend you get most of your souvenirs from Cambodia, the prices there are crazy cheap (don’t forget to Bargain) and the merchandise there have a good quality and nice appearance, and the sellers are REALLY friendly!!

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Also most of the markets close quite early (6-7 pm ), so do reserve the afternoon of any day to go around and explore the shops.

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8) Canby publications

In most decent hotels, you will find free magazine issues by “Canby Publications“, they will have the name of the city on the magazine (i.e Siem Reap , Phnom Penh, … etc) , If you see this magazine …. GRAB IT !!! , It’s EXTREMELY helpful and just so awesome in so many ways and it’ll be basically all the guide you’ll ever need to the city.

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And in their website, there is an e-version of the magazines, so you can check them and also download them ….. So Awesome!! 😀

Here are the links:

Canby Publications

Siem Reap

Phnom Penh

Sihanouk Ville

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9) Angkor

It’s a no brainer that the most spectacular thing about Siem Reap is the Legendary Marvelous “Angkor“.

However, I’m not gonna talk about “Angkor” in this post …. or the next one, as i find it worthy of it’s own post, in fact 10 posts won’t be enough for it, so anyway … in my next post, i will skip “Angkor“, and talk about Phnom Penh and then the following post will be about our adventures in “Angkor“.

Till then …

Basel ….. OUT

(All pictures are captured with Samsung Galaxy Note I & Note II phone cameras)

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