We continue with the second part of the 23-day travel guide to Vietnam and Cambodia. On this occasion, we tell you everything We visited in Cambodia in seven days.
Day 16: Hanoi and flight to Siem Reap (Siem Reap)
Day 17: Helicopter flight and «Big Circuit» (Siem Reap)
Day 18: Beng Mealea, Banteay Srei and Tonlé Sap Lake (Siem Reap)
Day 19: Angkor Wat and «Small Circuit» (Siem Reap)
Day 20: Relax in Siem Reap
Day 21: Nom Pen
Day 22: Nom Pen and bus to Ho Chi Minh (Ho Chi Minh)
Day 23: I return to spain
The distance is considerable, so the best option is to go by plane. Vietnam Airlines and Cambodia Angkor Air connect the capital of Vietnam with Siem Reap, the airport through which we enter Cambodia. The flights are not exactly cheap, the flight with Vietnam Airlines cost us VND 5,344,000.00 (€ 185), but it saves time.
Ta Prohn Temple
The Cambodian visa can be obtained at the airport, but before traveling it is necessary to have $ 20 in cash and a passport photo. On the plane they will give you two forms: the customs one (customs) and the output card (departure card). Once at the airport, you have to take another form, fill it out and go to the "Visa Aplication" counter. There you give the passport, the photo, the three completed forms and you pay the $ 20. Then, you go to the next counter, "Visa Passport Collection" and there they will return your passport with the departure card stapled The next step is to pick up the suitcase and, before leaving, you have to leave the "customs card" on a tray if you have nothing to declare.
You can also get the visa online before traveling. So it costs $ 25, but in reality the Siem Reap airport does not receive many flights and, in addition, they have everything so organized that it takes just a few minutes to issue the visa. So, why pay 5 extra dollars?
The official currency of Cambodia is the rail, but the one that is used most is the US dollar. In fact, all prices are in dollars and ATMs only dispense this currency. When prices have dollar cents, the change is returned to you on rails. For your information, in May 2014, 1 $ was equivalent to 4100 rails.
One of our wedding gifts was five nights at Golden Temple hotel, located in the oldest part of Siem Reap. The hotel is built next to a pool and the rooms are spacious and very colorful. If you stay more than two nights and Book directly with the hotel, they will give you a VIP treatment consisting of a free 60-minute massage, a lunch or dinner, a picnic to take away and a full breakfast to go if you are going to watch the sun rise from Angkor Wat and, in addition, Transportation to the airport or bus station.
The price of the double room with breakfast starts at $ 63. We also take advantage of the stay to do a Khmer cooking course for $ 10 and give us a few massages in the spa of the hotel. The 60-minute Khmer massage costs $ 10 and the 90-minute $ 15 massage.
Hotel cooking course
Siem Reap is the Disney World particular to lovers of archeology and ancient civilizations. The ancient capital of the Khmer kingdom is full of vestiges of this civilization that had its maximum splendor during the twelfth century.
Bayon in Angor Thom
Angkor Wat tickets can be purchased at special ticket offices from three different locations: on the road that goes from Siem Reap to Angkor Wat (about three kilometers from the entrance to the temples), at the checkpoint at the road that goes from the airport to Angkor Wat and at the control point of Banteay Srei. Attention because you can't buy tickets in temples. If you buy the 3 or 7 day pass you have to go in person, because they are one-person tickets that include a photo of the buyer and they make it to you at the time of purchasing the tickets. There are three types of fertilizer that allow access to all temples except Beng Mealea ($ 5). The one-day ticket costs $ 20, the three-day $ 40 and the 7-day $ 60. The three-day and the seven-day can be used on non-consecutive days. From five in the afternoon you can buy tickets to use from the next day. You can only buy tickets at the official points mentioned.
The easiest and cheapest way is the tuk-tuk. There are many drivers swarming through Siem Reap and in addition, they can also be hired with the hotel. The price will vary depending on what you want to see and the time you are. To move around the nearest Angkor temples, the price is usually $ 15 a day for tuk-tuk, plus $ 5 if you want to see the sunrise. Another cheaper option is to go by bicycle. Many hotels offer them for free or can be rented for a very low price, but prepare your legs and get ready to sweat the beauty, because between April and September it is very hot. Although it is a good option to walk through the center of Siem Reap and to travel short distances.
In addition, at the end of the day many kilometers are added to the legs. If you do not dare to rent a motorcycle (we discard it due the pineapple we suffer in Bali), you can rent an electric bicycle. The most comfortable option is to rent a car with a driver, in addition to being faster, the air conditioning is appreciated, but it is also the most expensive. A car to visit Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples will cost you about $ 30 and the more distance, the more expensive.
The real Batman: the best driver of tuk-tuk from Siem Reap
On the recommendation of Matthew and Kolme (the couple we met on the Halong Bay cruise), we contacted Ritty, also known as "The Batman" because his tuk-tuk It is decorated with the bat man symbol. Ritty is very nice and, unlike other drivers, it is very fast. That is because the tuk-tuk It is not pulled by a moped, but by a good motorcycle. The first day, for the visit of the «Big Circuit» he charged us $ 15 (or $ 25 if the group of temples of Roulos is included). The second day we went with his car to see the temples of Beng Mealea, Banteay Srei and Lake Tonlé Sap for $ 90 (distances are considerable). The last day we dedicate to see Angkor Wat at dawn and the temples of the «Small Circuit» for $ 20. If you want to contact him, you can do it through his website: angkorbatmandriver.com. Attention because there are fake Batmans circulating in Siem Reap, do not accept imitations.
With Ritty and her batmobile
If you have three days, you can visit most important sites. One of the biggest headaches you will have is to organize the endless list of temples to visit. Which ones are worth it? Should we follow a certain order? We We advise you to visit the temples in order of construction date, because that way you will see the evolution of the Khmer Empire architecture step by step. And as the last ones are more spectacular, making the route more spectacular unless the last temples visited lose interest.
What is that about the "Big Circuit" and the "Small Circuit"? They are the names of two classic itineraries to visit the ruins and archaeological remains around Angkor Wat. They are classics because they were planned this way from the first days of tourism in that area, back in the twenties, when the rich of the west visited the ruins on the back of an elephant.
Even today they are still used to organize the visit and all tuk-tuk drivers know them perfectly. He «Big Circuit» It includes the temples that rise east of the Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat enclosure. They are as follows:The three temples of Roluos, then Preah Khan, Neak Poan, Pre Rup, Ta Keo, Ta Prohm (the one with tree roots), Banteay Kdei and Mrs. Srang's pond. There are other smaller ones along the way, but these are the most important.
Angkor itinerary of the second day: Beng Maelea and Banteay Srei
Two very interesting temples away from the archaeological complex of Siem Reap: Beng Maelea and Banteay Srei. In addition, we visited the museum of mines. Beng Mealea It is especially recommended for Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider fans. Admission is $ 5 (not included in the temples pass) and it is better to be there at 7 to see the temple without anyone else. With groups of tourists we assure you that you lose a lot.
Banteay Srei It is recommended because it has very beautiful and well preserved bas-reliefs. In addition, the entrance includes a very modern exhibition on Khmer architecture. Finally, the museum of mines founded by Aki Ra, a former combatant of the Cambodian wars, is another must-see to discover the tragic past of the country.