Are you planning to be in Siem Reap this summer and wonder how to maximize time, budget, discoveries and fun?
Find out how to enjoy 110% of your journey by giving a shot at one of those amazing activities offering a balance between the freedom to explore and close contact in tours with locals in Siem Reap area.
After arriving in Cambodia, you will probably figure out that it is a stress free zone (except when attempting to cross the street with cars and tuk-tuks coming from every direction!) If you are trying to see and do everything in the shortest time span on a budget, you might fall in the trap of flash visits of temples you won't even remember the name by the end of the day... but here is an alternative!
My first mistake in visiting Angkor was to believe that there would be inscriptions to tell tourists more about the history, so that I wouldn't need a guide to visit. Bad Mistake! I wish I would have meet Noy Muny, a young and passionate certified guide who knows how to set up a smooth pace to really communicate his knowledge to travelers and share his passion for the history and culture.
You might have seen a pleathora of pictures of the sunrise on Angkor Wat's main temple but did you know that one the the best spot is actually by an ancient gigantic reservoir build by the Khmer era, also known as the King's pool or Srah srong? This is Where our friend Chansip can take you before heading out to the fields for an uncommon experience.
In my life I rode a horses, an elephants, a dromedary but water buffalo, that my friends is a different deal! Their beautiful big eyes look at you inoffensively, contrasting with the threat of the huge horns on on top of their heads! But do not fear they are such sweet mammals! If you took a 3 days pass to Angkor Wat, this could be a great idea to use your entrance ticket to the maximum and then move on to other areas surrounding Siem reap for an authentic experience and exchanges with local communities.
This one is for the early birds! If you don't mind be ready to go by 6:30AM braving the jungle and possibly get a little wet, your should sign up for a visit of Beng Mealea the wild version of Angkor Wat, remained essentially untouched for centuries. Nature has made it its fortress and you may feel the same emotions as early European explorer might have felt by stumbling on Angkor Wat when it was still burried in the jungle.
Later on, you may rest your legs by riding a boat to the biggest fresh water resource in South East Asia, the Tonle Sap Lake. In Kampong Khleang, the biggest community living on a floating village in Cambodia, you can witness fishermen actively earn their lives and collaborating for successful catches for the most fish!
Offered by Monicharya a dynamic young woman, let her show you her passion for the area!
Some sightseeing spots in Cambodia are so famous you cannot go there without stopping by, if you have more than a day to spend, you should definitely give a try to an escapade in Battambang province who is always grateful to show with pride their iconic bamboo train to travelers. You can even take a ride but since there is only on rail, if you become face to face to another wagon coming they other way around, you'll have to give a hand and dismantle the ride to allow others to pass by (the heaviest load wins the right to remain on the tracks!)
Our GUiDDiES member Senghuat has a lot to teach guests about lesser known facts and events in the area including French colonial history and the war of the Khmer Rouge. Message him directly about Amazing Adventure Beyong Angkor (2days) to know more!
If all your friends are tired on the third day of your pass to Angkor archaeological park, but that you still have some energy left, sign up for my suggestion of a half-day escapade!
It will start at a site built prior to the construction of Angkor : the medieval city of Harihakrolay. It was an early capital of the Khmer Empire located about 14 kilometers North of today's Siem Reap. It is a group of temples, among which two are still actively venerated today called the Roluos group ( Preah Ko, Lolei & Bakong) . Their color is what distinguishes their style from later constructions such as Bayon or Ta Phrom since they are made of bright orange bricks, as well partially made of laterite or sandstone.
Later, your local guide takes you to Kampong Phluk which is a cluster of three villages made of stilted house. It is surrounded by flooded mangrove forest surround the area. The home are build soaring stilts of about 10m high. Kamkong Phluk is about 20km south east of Siem reap and located about 7km from south of Roluos group.
So wither you have only 4, 10, 24 or 48 hours to keep yourself busy, there is always something to explore in Siem Reap! It is really worth trusting professionals to avoid wasting your time or get ripped negotiating tuktuk driving fees... Time to get out there now, so I hope you enjoy your stay!