Here are 5 useful tips when you travel to Siem Reap, Cambodia. I thought of sharing this post as you may find them handy when you visit Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. I got these tips from friends I met during Labor Day in Siem Reap. In case you are on your way to the city of Angkors to enjoy your Angkor Wat Tour, decide to live in Siem Reap or go on a long-term backpacking trip starting off with this city, read on as you might find these 5 useful tips when you visit Siem Reap handy.
# 1. Be careful of the fishes and other seafoods in Siem Reap.
one of the floating houses in the Floating Village; photo credits: senyorita.net
Siem Reap has this Tonle Sap Lake where you can find a floating village. (You can book a tour to visit the Floating Village as this is one of the tourist attractions in Siem Reap aside from visiting Angkor Wat and the other temples.) Ma’am Sally, a new friend we met, told us that the people who lived in the floating villages also flush their poop in the lake where fishes and other sea creatures live. These fishes end up being sold in the market. Get the point?
Hearing that story gave me the creeps!
If you want to eat fish while in Siem Reap, only buy fresh water fishes.
Knowing how to identify which among those fishes are fresh water fishes is a whole new story. Otherwise, stick to beef, pork and chicken.
# 2. Tell the guards at the gates of the Angkor Archaeological Park that you are headed to the Angkor Café to avoid paying the $20 fee.
Tourists are asked to pay a $20 fee for a 1-day pass to get inside the Angkor Archaeological Park where all the other temples can be found including Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple, Ta Prohm, and more. If you want to lurk around the area but couldn’t afford to pay $20 each time, simply tell the guards manning the entrance to the Archaeological Park that you are going to the Angkor Café to eat!
across this entrance to Angkor Wat is where you’ll find Angkor Cafe; photo credits: soloflighted.com
You can also get inside the Angkor Archaeological Park at 5:30pm for free.
If you insist on entering the temples, you’ll have to spare $20 and you have to go back at the main entrance to buy your tickets since the ticket booth is very far from the temples. You can also get away with paying $20 to get inside the temples. How? Check out Tip # 3.
# 3. Dress like a local Khmer to avoid paying for the entrance fees to the temples.
I guess this tip only applies to those who have physical features that resemble the Asian race, in particular, Khmers. I guess I don’t have to explain further on that aspect. But if you are Caucasian and want to try out this tip, then go ahead.
Locals are not required to pay the $20 fee to get inside any of the numerous temples in Angkor. So if you dress like a local, zip your mouth and make a run for it on each temple gate, you’ll save $20 off your Siem Reap budget!
care to spot the locals? hehe
How to dress like a local Khmer? Wear long sleeved shirts, black trousers, jeans or long skirts. Khmers tend to cover up their entire body even if it’s too hot. Am thinking that aside from protecting their skin from the harmful rays of the sun, they also want to protect themselves from mosquitos and other insect bites. Plus, the traditional Khmers are very conservative.
made me think for a second if I should buy a similar wardrobe photo credits: soloflighted.com
# 4. If you want to learn the basic Khmer language, constantly talk to the locals.
Constantly talking with a Khmer could speed up the process of learning their language. Write down each word you learn and be sure to remember it and use it often. It is also important to learn to speak numbers in Khmer. You will find this useful when dealing with the locals in buying goods as some of them can’t speak English well.
# 5. Opening a bank account is not that difficult.
ANZ Bank lets you open a credit card account with a minimum of $500 time deposit. The Canadia Bank lets you open a debit card with a $150 maintaining balance.
Why do you need to know this information?
If you plan to go on a long-term backpacking trip and you choose Siem Reap, Cambodia as your home base, this comes in handy as owning a credit card with a VISA logo (not sure with a Mastercard) also serves as proof of money since some immigration officers demands a ‘show money’ when you constantly go on a visa run at the Poipet border (not sure with the other borders though).
I could no longer remember the other useful tips that were shared to me last May 1st. I’ll just update this post if I remember any.
More Useful Tips!
I’ve been living in Siem Reap for two months now in my attempt to lead a location independent lifestyle. I chose Siem Reap since the cost of living in this city is cheap. Here are also a few useful tips I’d like to share after spending the last 2 months in this quaint city.
tuk-tuk, the main mode of transportation in Siem Reap
- The regular fare for a tuk tuk to take you on a one-way trip within the city is only $1. If they ask for more, politely decline the offer, walk away and find someone else. When it is already late at night, a $1.50 fare is a reasonable price. There are also motorcycles that can bring you to any destination within the city for only 3000 Cambodian Riel ($0.75).
- Different bus companies offer different rates when you book your bus tickets once you leave the city. If you want to save on your travel fare when you exit Siem Reap by bus, be sure to scout for the cheapest bus fare before booking your bus ticket. You can find their offices a block across Pub Street. If you want to save yourself from the trouble of finding the cheapest bus tickets from Siem Reap to Bangkok, Phnom Penh or other destinations, you can book for your bus tickets at your Siem Reap accommodation but you might end up paying $2-$10 more.
a ticket booth on the corner of the Angkor Night Market & Old Market sells $8.50 bus tickets from Siem Reap to Bangkok; others sell the same tickets for $9 up to $17
- There are day buses and night buses travelling in and out of Siem Reap. However, night buses cost twice than the regular fare of day buses. So unless you budget is not a problem, better travel during the day. Travelling at night also poses the risks of getting involved in road accidents. Another issue is the safety of your things. When boarding night buses, make it a point to keep your bags with you. If it’s too big, be sure to have a small bag handy where you could stash all your valuables and cash and never let them out of your sight.
- Don’t travel with a big amount of money. Only bring enough and use your ATM when you run out of funds. Don’t place all of your money on a single wallet/pouch. Spread it out on different hiding places in belongings. In case you end up losing your bag or wallet, you’ll have money waiting for you in your secret pockets (bag, jeans, shoes, etc.)
- Visit Lucky Mall’s bakeshop at 8:00pm and get a 50% discount on all of their cakes, pastries and selected breads. Arrive 15-30 minutes before 8pm, grab a tray and secure your breads before someone else does.
- Sokha Hotel sells cakes at 50% off when the clock strikes at 6pm. However, they charge a 10% VAT and a 5% service charge on your purchase.
small cakes priced at $2.50 and big cakes priced at ~$11.00 up to $23.00 are sold 50% off after 6pm
- Make at least 2 copies of your passport. Leave them somewhere safe and leave a copy in your home before you travel.
- Do not drink the tap water in Siem Reap! Always drink from bottled water but be sure to read the labels too.
- When you fly out of the Siem Reap International Airport, you will be required to pay a $25 fee (You can also ask your airline beforehand if the fee is included in your plane fare). This practice is the same in Phnom Penh. Better spare enough budget for this one.
Angkor Wat Temple photo taken at 8:00 am
- Visit Angkor Wat at noon time to capture great images since the entrance to the temple is on the west side. You can also visit the temple before sunrise but never visit the temple in the morning if you don’t want to end up getting bad photos of the Angkor Wat structure. You can instead start your Angkor Wat tour by visiting the other temples first and head back to Angkor Wat by noon time or after lunch. Check out the photo on top and the one below to see the difference.
Angkor Wat Temple; photo captured at 4:00 pm
- Most of the guesthouses do not have a safety deposit box so better get a money belt, a hip pack or something comfortable that you can carry with you wherever you go
my passport fits in this waist bag from Delsey and I love it!
- When buying souvenir items from Siem Reap’s numerous night markets, always haggle. Sometimes those items are marked up 100% of the original price. If they don’t agree to your price, walk away. If they don’t give in to your price, that means your price is too low. Try to find another store. Most likely, you will find the same item sold on every stall. Haggle again, this time raising the amount you haggled prior. You will know they’ll give in when they’ll call you and agree to your rate after you try to walk away
Just a caution when haggling though. Know that these people are poor and are also trying hard to make money to make ends meet. So when you haggle, be sure to take in mind the worth of the item too.
You can also ask for a discount from your Siem Reap guesthouse if you will stay more than 3 days
- If you want to know where to hang out in Siem Reap, you can start by going to Pub Street. There are many food establishments in there where you can dine then there’s also bars and clubs where you can party all night long.
- For an eat-all-you-can buffet, head over to the Lucky Shabu House for an affordable eat-all-you-can meal in Siem Reap the shabu shabu way.
- Be friendly. Khmers are very friendly and kind and it doesn’t hurt to flash a smile at them every time you pass by a local.
So there you have it. Those are some of the helpful and useful tips if you want to know how to create your Bangkok to Siem Reap itinerary when you travel to Bangkok and Siem Reap, Cambodia. Enjoy visiting the temples and enjoy Pub Street!
Do you have more useful travel tips in mind? Do share them by leaving a comment