A weekend in Siem Reap

February 9, 2017

This past weekend, we took a trip to visit Siem Reap in Cambodia. It was two short flights from Penang, and yet an entire world away. We were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed our time there.

Some things to be prepared for:

Cambodia requires a Visa on Arrival ($30 USD/person) as well as an arrival card. For Canadians (and most countries), you need to complete both. If you go, make sure that you have USD ready to pay for your Visa. My advice is to get the arrival cards on the plane and fill those in before you get there (to cut down on the paperwork you have to do at the airport). The paperwork is repetitive… and excessive…

We were surprised at how prevalent USD were in Siem Reap. Prices are all in USD. If you go to a bank machine, and it detects that you have a foreign card – you will receive USD. The only way that we could actually get cash from the bank machine though, was to use the “Fast Cash” option. When you pay in USD though, your change (cents) will be paid in Cambodian Riel.

Angkor

The primary tourist draw of Siem Reap is the Angkor region, which is made up of a number of ruins of temples from the Khmer kingdoms. The temples of Angkor are undergoing restoration. In this picture, the statue on the left has undergone restoration – while the one on the right has not. As you can see, the difference is significant.IMG_20170204_115426580

Angkor actually means “Capital City” in Khmer. The Angkor region is made up of several different “Capital City” sites from different kings that were built over the course of several centuries. We visited three different sites over two days. IMG_20170206_102214828_HDR

The first site that we visited was Angkor Wat. This was the temple that we were most familiar with before coming to Siem Reap. It has the highest towers, and is an absolute marvel to look at both from a distance…IMG_20170204_122228942

…and up close.IMG_20170206_101635216_HDR

We saw many monks in their beautiful saffron robes while we were at Angkor Wat.IMG_20170204_124135157_HDR

The next site that we visited was Angkor Thom, which includes the Bayon Temple.16586858_10154879176105450_575059384_o

Of the three sites that we visited, Angkor Thom had the most “city” feel to it, which was a neat thing to experience. It is hard to look at the carvings in these sites and not feel absolutely humbled by the work that went into them. IMG_20170206_114052567

Finally, we visited Ta Prohm which you may remember from the Tomb Raider movie.16667341_10154879185250450_724443152_o

The ruins and the trees here have a symbiotic relationship. You can’t remove the buildings without hurting the tree – and you can’t remove the trees without hurting the buildings. 16667125_10154879185350450_1132818618_o

Because these are tourist sites, there are many (MANY) tourist shops just outside of them… and more than a few vendors who will approach you to buy souvenirs.IMG_20170206_095108426_HDR

We took a lot of photos while we were touring the temples, and we’ll put up another post that is just temple photos.

Pub Street and the Night Market

I think that one of our favourite things about South East Asia has been the night markets. The electric mix of food, music, art, shopping and more food make them such a neat thing to experience.IMG_20170203_213110846

Siem Reap has a fairly large night market area with plenty of stalls for buying souvenirs from Cambodia. IMG_20170203_212823538

Khmer Food

We weren’t familiar with Khmer food before, and we were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed it. We tried different dishes during our visit, but had an all out Khmer Food Feast on our last night in Siem Reap. We ate our fill of Beef Loc Lac, Amok, Khmer Curry and Fried Cashew Nuts. IMG_20170206_192250888

Our Hotel

We stayed at La Residence Blanc D’Angkor while we were in Siem Reap. The staff were wonderful, and the grounds of the hotel were absolutely gorgeous. I particularly loved the outdoor pond/patio area (so much so that I think that I will need to re-create it again in the future).IMG_20170207_114204442

As much as we enjoyed our time in Siem Reap, it is VERY touristy there. So, it was a nice place to go for a short trip, but it is not a place that I have any desire to stay for any length of time.

Kay Green

About the Author

Kay Green

Professionally, I am an e-learning instructional designer who breaks down the barriers of space and time in learning. Personally, I'm the Mom in the Little-Green Family, and co-planner in our adventures.

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