To move, to breathe, to fly, to float
To gain all while you give
To roam the roads of land remote
To travel is to live
– Hans Christian Anderson
If you have to go backpacking around Southeast Asia, a trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia is a MUST-GO. While not the country’s capital (FYI Phnom Penh is the capital city of Cambodia), Siem Reap is an absolute gem. If I have to describe it in a couple of phrases, the city is a: food haven, temple run paradise, watering hole, club and pub central, chillax spot, melting pot of lovely people, tourist-friendly and everything else in between. It’s rustic and and relaxed. It’s the perfect mix of just a little bit of modern and Western with the best (and some not-so desirable aspects) of Khmer culture and tradition.
Siem Reap should be on everyone’s travel bucket list, if not for the magnificent temples of the Angkor Archeological Park, which is a UNESCO heritage site, but for the magnificent experience of immersing yourself in the different sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the city and its people.
I am not really a travel blogger in the full sense since I don’t usually give useful tourist tips about the places I go to but in this case, I’m making a list of helpful how-to’s and where-to-go’s. So for all my readers, here are some things that will make your trip easier or for those who haven’t decided to go, some things that will speed up your decision-making process
Flights: If you’re coming from the Philippines, Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines has regular flights to Siem Reap from NAIA 3 in Metro Manila. So far, Cebu Pacific is the most affordable. Travel time is about 3 hours. Check the website here: http://www.cebupacificair.com
Accommodation: While there are a lot of affordable hostels and even 5-star hotels in Siem Reap, Golden Butterfly Villas is high up on the list for several reasons:
- Location – The hotel is about 2 blocks away from Pub Street and the Old Market at the end of Artisan St. along Sivatha Boulevard. Everything is within walking distance. For those who don’t want to walk, a TukTuk ride only costs about $1-2 (good for 4 people max). You can ask the hotel front desk to call you one. Check the website here: http://www.goldenbutterflyvilla.com/
- Affordability – A triple sharing room is about $20 while a double sharing is $18 per night for an air-conditioned room with hot and cold shower, toiletries, unlimited bottled water, and towels. The beds are super comfy too!
- Guest Freebies – Once you check-in, you get: welcome drinks (the most heavenly and refreshing fresh lemon juice), welcome snacks (sticky rice with jackfruit, banana chips and salted nuts), cold towels, a FREE 1-hour body massage, a picnic (cakes and pastries) for your trip to the temples, unlimited coffee and tea and unlimited bananas (really small and sweet). Mind you, the welcome drink, snacks and cold towels is ready for you every time you return to the hotel. After a hot day of trekking, walking and climbing temples, this special welcome is the icing on the cake. Plus, everything is always served with a smile.
- Airport Transfer – The hotel will also arrange for complimentary pick-up at the Siem Reap airport upon arrival. You can also ask for a car/van service going back to the airport upon check-out for only $8.
- Customer Service – Among all the freebies and advantages of the hotel, it was the hospitality and courtesy of the staff that really amazed me. They were very friendly and kind and very helpful in directions. At the beginning and end of the day, they always made sure to greet us and ask about our well-being and how we were and if we needed anything. They even arranged the tours for us, called the drivers and tour guides and gave us maps, guidebooks and everything we needed to make our trip perfect. For them, I would gladly go back. As they say in Cambodia, “Or Kun!”
Transportation: Siem Reap is really easy to get around, you can walk to just about anywhere. For the temple tours, you can opt to go on TukTuk which costs about $11 without tip. It’s a great way to see the sites around the temples but on a hot day, it can be excruciating. Coming from an equally hot city (Cebu City represent!) my friends and I knew better than to suffer the sweltering heat so we opted to rent a van. Since a TukTuk can only accommodate 4 people and there were 5 of us in the group, we shelled out $22 for a comfortable van with free bottled water and an English-speaking driver. If you are planning ahead and would want to make tour arrangements, contact Mr. Keo Sojiet (or Jiet for short) at 095 939 993 or 088 846 6199, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now that we’ve got the necessary info and details out of the way, let me entice you to visit Siem Reap and click this link for some personal recommendations, photos and anecdotes from my awesome trip. Check this out: