Angkor Temples, Cambodia: photos

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The Angkor Temples are a must for any visit to Cambodia. This is a photo post, but first, I would like to share two tips I would have liked to have been given before I went:

1.Wear sturdy shoes!

For some ridiculous reason, I chose to wear flip flops. Climbing up steep stone steps in monsoon rain + flip flops = bad idea. Trainers on the second day was much better.

2. Spend at least two days visiting the temples

It is not just Angkor Wat. Each temple is unique. We did two days, but would have done them differently in hindsight. Instead of getting a tuk tuk to see the main sights, hire a bike – it is much cheaper! Hire a tuk tuk to allow you to see many of the temples more further afield that are just as impressive.

We cycled the larger route instead (30km) which was long and painful. Whenever people in the tuk tuks raced past, they looking back at us in horror. We were mad! The heat, humidity, monsoon and cheap and uncomfortable bikes all made it for an unpleasant experience. We sank into chairs at the first restaurant we spotted on return to Siem Reap and devoured the best burgers we had ever eaten.

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Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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Cambodia: we see it as the land of impressive Angkor temples, a turbulent history and the tuk-tuk (the most we had seen in our entire trip!).

It is such a beautiful country but undoubtedly more impoverished compared to neighboring Vietnam and Thailand. We arrived in Phnom Penh, the capital, with low expectations.

Immediately the air pollution and dust hit us – it was the worst we experienced during our trip. We took a short tuk-tuk ride to the hotel. We had booked a 5* hotel for our stay – only 18$ a night, and at that price, I am so glad we did it! It turned out we were staying in a more up-and-coming residential area of the city, near good restaurants too.

After checking in, we immediately set off for some food and a walk around the city. We could see a lot of new development taking place and we were excited to see that Phnom Penh was so much more than what we had previously thought. As Cambodia uses the US$, we did notice that it was much more expensive in comparison to Vietnam which had been dirt cheap. The monsoon hit when we turned back into the hotel’s road. We returned, soaked, flip flops barely staying on our feet!

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We visited the S20 Prison and the Killing Fields – this is the main reason travelers come to the city in order to get some context for Cambodia’s history. Although it was unpleasant, these sites really are key if you intend to get some scope of what Cambodia has faced and the consequences which are still on-going. We booked a tuk-tuk driver for the day through our hotel for 15$, who took us to the Killing Fields, to S20 and back to our hotel. Unfortunately, the tuk-tuk broke down along the way. Luckily we broke down next to a garage – what are the odds?! In 10 minutes, the driver fixed the tuk-tuk with a mechanic while we were in it (James and I looking at each other a bit worried and weighing up whether we should escape or not). It was not long until we were back on the road.

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We only spent two days in Phnom Penh and actually, it was not enough! Other than walking around, taking the tour to S20 and the Killing Fields and eating at some lovely restaurants, we didn’t do anything else. I would recommend at least 3 days in order to fully appreciate the city. We did not manage to see the Royal Palace which was a real shame. The monsoon hit every afternoon so it was impossible to do sightseeing for several hours as the downpour was so heavy! A good excuse for an afternoon nap.

All in all, a brilliant start to our travels in Cambodia.

Hotel: Balconitel Boutique Hotel

Must visit: S20 Prison and Killing Fields

Robyn

South East Asia: June-July 2016

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Preparation

Since booking this trip in November 2015, knowing that I will be backpacking around South East Asia for four weeks between my final university exams and Graduation with my boyfriend, has been the thing getting me through the cold Yorkshire winter and university assignments. Technically I have already been to Asia (Israel 2014), but I am looking forward to scratching off a completely new part of the world on my wall travel map this summer.

We have Qatar flights and accommodation booked in advance; although we will be backpacking, we have booked comfortable hotels which still only range between £5-12 pp/night. We decided we would rather do that than stay in some questionable lodgings. We booked them all through Booking.com, which has some good deals and also allows us to pay on arrival and get free last-minute cancellation if necessary. We also have a rough idea of what activities we are interested in doing while out there, thanks to so many hours of research.

The trip will last 29 days in total: 11 days in Vietnam, 7 days in Cambodia and 11 days in Thailand.

We were initially tempted by spending just 2 weeks in Vietnam, especially because until 1st July 2016, Vietnam has given a VISA waiver for British Nationals who stay 14 days or less – very tempting indeed. After Vietnam had been decided, since we were going to be in the region anyway and with more free time before we had to return to the UK, we thought why not add on Cambodia and Thailand as well – I particularly wanted to visit Angkor Wat and it is doubtful we will be able to return to the region soon after.

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Hanoi-Bangkok, planned route!

We will be working our way down from Hanoi in North Vietnam to Ho Chi Minh City in the South, with stops including Halong Bay, Ninh Binh (possibly) and Hoi An in between. We will then cross over the border to Cambodia and spend a few days in Phom Penh the capital, before catching a day bus to Siem Reap (Angkor Wat). We will then be flying to Northern Thailand to Chiang Mai (the overland border crossing looks a complete nightmare), before finally heading south to Kanchanaburi and finishing in Bangkok. Although we are visiting quite a few places, we have made sure to spend at least 3 days in each place – we have no intention of rushing about unnecessarily but still want to make the most of the trip.

Apart from splashing out on a flight between Siem Reap (Cambodia) and Chiang Mai (Thailand) to save travel time, we will doing the entire trip overland in sleeper trains, day buses and tuk tuk!

The things I am looking forward to the most are:

  • 3 Day 2 Night cruise in Halong Bay, North Vietnam
  • All the food!
  • Spending a few days visiting Angkor Wat, Cambodia
  • Elephant encounter with a reputable, cruelty free Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand (walk with elephants and wash them, no riding)

This week I managed to purchase a very affordable and practical 40Litre rucksack to take with me which has got me all excited about going. Minimalist skills will be in full force when I have to start packing!

Photo credits: [Featured image] [2]

 


Do you have any tips/suggestions for our trip?

I’m looking forward to taking lots of photos when I’m out there. Four months and counting!

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