Siem Reap and the Temples of Ankor
After Myanmar, Mike and I flew back to Bangkok and went our separate ways. He was headed back to SF and I decided to go visit Cambodia for the first time. Siem Reap is just a short 1 hour flight away from Bangkok and there are many budget airlines that will take you for around $100. Alternatively you can take an 8 hour bus ride from Bangkok as well.
As a staple of the SE Asia backpacking route, Siem Reap has a variety of budget friendly hostels and affordable hotels, many of them with their own pools which will help you gain some respite from the heat. Definitely stay within walking distance of the center of the city, as most of the restaurants and cafes are all clustered around there. Siem Reap has a ton of variety and convenient cafes to post up in for the afternoon. Most places were pretty vegetarian friendly and the restaurants near the archeological zone cater to tourists with English menus, etc.
Excited to start exploring, I opted for the 3 day pass as Angkor Wat is actually a large temple complex with several noteworthy sites in addition to the main attraction. I also almost got the local price! The cashier at the ticket booth asked my guide if I was Cambodian. (Depending on how much sun I get, I can try and blend in with the locals in SE Asia). Angkor is massive and spans several hundred square km and encompasses scores of temples, water structures (reservoirs and canals), and several key sites which I've listed below. I'd recommend hiring a guide and sharing a tuk-tuk arranged by your hotel/hostel.
On many of the pamphlet guides or maps they'll mention the Little Circuit or the Big Circuit which are just established groupings of sites you can focus on for each day. Ask your guide for his/her recommendations, as they may be able to help mitigate any forecasted weather.
- Angkor Wat: Too much to explain here and I don't remember it all. But I definitely recommend reading up on this structure before visiting and to take your time.
- Bayon Temple: A site filled with giant stone faces lining a cluster of towers throughout the site.
- Ta Prohm: Best known as the temple covered with trees and roots.
- Banteay Srei: A red colored temple that's a little further out but worth the visit.
- Kbal Spean: Submerged carvings on a rocky riverbed.
- Prasat Bakong: A stepped pyrmiad temple.
- Sugar Plum