The Tropical Breeze Guesthouse is conveniently located 2mins walk away from the river in Siem Reap. It is clean and calm with a spacious room, a desk, en suite bathroom, hot water, cable TV and WiFi for $8 per night per room. We were thrilled about the bargain!
Siem Reap is a lovely and quaint town. You will just love walking around, amidst the hot weather, and wandering down all the little streets. There are no skyscrapers or tall buildings. Angkor Wat is just 7km away from the town. While in Siem Reap, we walked around town, got a sense of the atmosphere, browsed the different choices of local cuisines and surprisingly we did not find that many street vendors, though more come out at night. The local beers are Angkor or Cambodia, draft beers cost around $0.50 and dishes range from $1.50-$7 at the restaurants on Pub Street (pricier than what we are used to). I was personally looking for that lok lak beef (sautéed beef with rice, tomatoes and cucumbers and a fried egg on top, served with a lemon pepper sauce) and was lucky to find it for my first Cambodian meal for $3. I was fully satisfied
Pub street and the night market are popular destinations as well, for tourists. You will find anything and everything at the night market, while bars and restaurants are on Pub street where Western and Khmer dishes are available.
You will also find lots of vendors selling insects: fried/ sautéed crickets, dragonflies, and beetles. J and I figured we would try it since we did not have the chance in Bangkok, though he was more enthused than me. We finally tried it the day we went to Angkor Wat, and though I probably would not seek it again, it was not bad: crunchy and salty. ” It reminded me of kale chips” said J, I was not of the same opinion. At least now, I can check it off my list. 1 point for bravery.
Angkor Wat was a bit of a challenge to plan. The archeological park is huge and many questions arose. Should we take a one/two/three-day pass? Should we go to Angkor Wat for sunset/sunrise? (Here’s another link to decide on sunset/sunrise at Angkor Wat) How should we proceed to avoid the crowds? Will it rain? Which temples do we want to see? Do we want to go to Preah Kahn (north of Angkor)? And many more questions. We decided on the one day pass for $20 and purchase the ticket at 5pm the previous day, so we could enjoy the sunset and have the entire following day to visit. We decided on the following main sites: Angkor Wat (of course), Bayon, and Ta Phrom (where Lara Croft- Tomb Raider was filmed). Other sites would be decided as we go and depending on the time we have. We hired a tuk tuk driver for $15 for the first sunset+entire following day.
Hotel pickup at 4:45am and we depart for the day. Bayon sunrise was a no go as the gates open at 5:30, at that time the sun would have already risen so back to Angkor Wat we go. Luckily, there weren’t too many people yet by the lotus pond and we get a spot right by the water to capture the reflection of the temple. Beautiful sunrise! Good thing we came early to pick a good spot because there were a LOT of people.
We headed to Bayon by 6:30 to avoid the crowds, who usually start with Angkor Wat – which we had the chance to visit at sunset the day before. Bayon was my favorite, it felt so serene and peaceful. Most likely because it was one of the spots where we could actually visit without loads of other tourists around. We roam around the Bayon park and meet our driver by the opposite entrance. From there, he took us to Ta Phrom, where we decided to have our lunch. We had brought in our own food – two baguettes and paté de campagne bought at the supermarket in Siem Reap – and enjoyed it by the gigantic tree roots hugging the temple. I did feel a bit like Lara Croft, with a sense of spirituality. The trees and roots were really impressive sights. Beautiful temple.
We headed to Preah Kahn, Ta Keo, Banteay Kdei, Pre Rup and East Mebon and then the rain happened. It had not rained in two days so it poured, hard. We were close to sunset and the rain didn’t seem like it was going to clear out so we decided to not wait for the sunset.We had a beautiful day walking along the archeological park and understand why some people would take a three-day pass.
We did a lot of walking so bring good walking shoes, rain coat, mosquito repellent, sunscreen and lots of water to quench your thirst and keep you hydrated. There are lots of food vendors in the park so you will be able to find food and drinks if you decide to not bring your own. Enjoy the beauty!