After 56 days of beaches,ferries, busses,trains and airplanes. The expected and unexpected. Big city dreams on a backpacker budget. From beaching out, watching sunrises and sunsets, to partying the night away. Thailand you have been a pretty wild experience. Not for the faint of heart.
Now we set out to do our first overland crossing into Cambodia. What is interesting about Cambodia is that uses USD. Perfect.We use Chime bank which is a great bank, because you only pay one fee of 2.50$USD wherever you take out cash. No exchange fee or any other atm fee. Not to mention everything is extremely cheap. About a dollar for local beer and most local dishes.
Ahead of time we booked our bus ticket with Giant Ibis.http://bit.ly/2TYeq8M They take care of everything for you. We boarded our bus leaving Bangkok, and were given coffee and blue pumpkin to snack on. It will take you about 8-9 hours to reach Siem Reap and the cost was about 32$ USD per person. We already purchased our E Visa online for another 32$ USD per person.
When you get to the Thailand border everyone is asked to get off. You then wait in the line and get your passport stamped out of the country. After that the driver takes everyones passports through the Cambodia immigration. They get your stamps into Cambodia for you, while you wait in the bus. You are in and back on the bus to Siem Reap within 30 minutes. Easy and painless.
Once you get to the Giant Ibis bus station in Siem Reap you will see tons of tuk tuk and cab drivers asking if you would like a ride. However our accommodation booked us their tuk tuk driver KoKo Loko. He quickly became not only a driver but a great friend.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Hub: 896 Angkor Night Market St, Krong Siem Reap 17252, Cambodia http://bit.ly/2OoSo97
About The Accommodation:
- Pick up is included with the best tuk tuk driver in town. Koko Loko. He is not just a tuk tuk driver he knows so much about the history of Cambodia.
- This space was a coworking space. High speed internet upload and downloads. Router was located outside our room.
- Room was simple but had everything you need. We had a private room but they also had shared rooms.
- Environmentally friendly. Refilled water glasses and jugs. No plastic and really conscious of items that will harm our environment. The best coffee is also provided.
- About a 15 minute walk to pub street.
- The staff and coworkers really take you in and you all become friends quickly. They frequently go for dinners and drinks.
- Sim card and bicycles are included in the cost.
- Indoor and outdoor comfy spaces set up for working.
- About 32$USD per night for the both of us. About 284$ USD per week for two. 925$ USD per month for two. With the peace of mind that you have extremely good wifi, unlimited coffee,water and friends it is really worth the cost.
What To Do In Siem Reap
- Temples, Temples, Temples. Book with Koko through Angkor Hub. He took myself, Ray and another coworker on the sunrise tour of Angkor Wat. We had to be up 4:45 am and we were off. Ray loves temples and we saw 5 temples ruins in one day. A few were really off the tourist path. Koko also took us to get local food and some local liquor which really brightened the day. Considering it poured on us the whole day. Koko knew every story about every temple we went to. It was really a unique experience.
Temple scams: While we were at one of the more hidden temples a man dressed as police came up to us and asked if we wanted our picture taken. We said ok sure. When the photo was over he asked us for money, because we were in a secluded part of the temple which was in a forest we gave it to him. He was very intimidating.
- The Night Market was pretty cool, but in my opinion nothing different than any other night market in Asia. Sellers selling tons of clothes and other items of the sort. Not my thing I prefer more food markets.
- Of course Pub Street. It is a great place to get lots of drinks and dance the night away. What is unique about this pub street there is a good mix of locals and tourists. Bars we liked were: The Angkor What?, Miss Wong,Yolo Bar,Blue Bar for their cheap happy hour and swimming pool and Temple Club. When the night is over stroll down to the cart bars before heading home.
What To Watch Out For:
In Siem Reap there is many beggar children. There are services in Siem Reap to help these children. They even have social workers. However most are exploited and taken out of school to sell things at the temples and on the streets. Often taken to warehouses and dirtied up then sent to the streets. Every child you see that is begging or selling items has been taken out of the classroom to do so. The way to help these children is to go to the local NGO’s and help by serving food or providing English classes or other services. NEVER GIVE MONEY ON THE STREET OR BUY THINGS FROM STREET CHILDREN.
Beggar children on Pub Street: Remember these children are being exploited by an adult to be out there and often are high on glue. I have seen a tourist women pick up a 8 year old beggar child, please don’t be that tourist.Holding him like a baby and kissing him on the cheek. While he bats his sad little eyes on her. Then I go to give him food and he is completely rude and yelling at me for money.They are not cute teddy bears or animals in a zoo. They are not there for you to love on and touch. They are there because someone has forced them to be out all hours of the night and beg. They are playing on your emotions. Plus some are high and could try to rob or hurt you. The only way to help children is by volunteering at appropriate organizations. They do not get to keep the money or food you are giving them. It is best just to ignore them and not get too attached(as I have done) it is going to make things just worse in the end.
I have seen many children who would just watch the tv’s at the bars and not beg. Next week they were high on glue and aggressively pulling on tourists. I have seen a teenage girl massaging men at the bar no matter how much the man said no. I have seen a very young maybe 14 year old boy on date with man in his 60’s. You have to have a bit of a tough heart in Cambodia. Report what you see and help with the organizations.
Milk Scam: Women will come up with their “baby” telling you their baby needs milk. You may think buying them the milk is better than giving them money. Well nope, the will go and return the milk for money.
Other Scams: Motorcycle and tuk tuk drivers: They will come up to you follow you around asking you if you want to try any drug under the sun. They will also ask you if you want to shoot anything under the sun. If you buy drugs from them most likely you will take your money or turn you into the cops. If you get a driver off the street chances are they will drive you everywhere you don’t want to go and then overcharge you. I suggest walking, grab or asking your accommodation for a tuk tuk driver.
What To Do In Siem Reap, Cambodia:
- I took the Angkorhub bikes to a local community on the Tonle Sap lake . It was interesting to see but as well a bit sad. They did not have much and the lake and their living conditions were very polluted. Garbage everywhere. Tons of stalls set up cutting, sorting and cleaning fish.
Most people come over here to take the boats to the floating village. We decided to not do this after hearing about all the scams. For instance; they will tell you the children need money for school supplies, but then they just take your money. There is also services to get school supplies to children. I have spoken with a local NGO women on many of these topics, which is why I am letting know as well. In addition I do not like to treat people like animals at a zoo. These people are not there for our viewing they are there because this is their way of life. I’d rather talk to the locals meet them, engage with them and not view them like a zoo animal.
Another point, before all the tourists buses and boats came the children in the community were so happy to see us smiling, waving and saying hello. The second the tourist buses and boats came the older people were forcing them to beg. Pushing them aggressively to the buses, some kids were even crying. On our way out we had children swinging bike chains at us because we would not give them a dollar.
When I go back to Siem Reap I will spend more of my time with local NGO’s and helping out the communities and children. It is really an issue that I am passionate about.
- Another thing we did was learn about making traditional Khmer herbal cocktails. This class was really fun and one of the most interesting things we did, while in Siem Reap. http://bit.ly/2UeWh5K
- It may not sound like it but I loved Siem Reap. There was ample amounts of delicious street food, coffee shops and bars. Temples for days and the people are truly amazing. The school children will run and follow you everywhere you go wanting to say hello and give you high fives. You can find extremely cheap beer and hang out and swim at Blue Bar everyday. You can take walks for hours around and try local and non local food.
Like anywhere when you are aware of what’s going on you are prepared. Being prepared makes everything a lot easier. Go to places where prices are labeled and pay upfront. Don’t give to people on the street and help out at schools and the NGO’s. Please be a responsible tourist when heading to Cambodia. Think about how these are people too. Get out of your fancy resort and spend time in the local communities. Siem Reap I love you; you are a very unique place and I will see you very soon.
The temples are your biggest cost here. Other than that street food and local beers are very cheap. You could easily get away with 30$USD for two people. Not including the temple price.
We head off on Giant Ibis again to our next stop Phnom Penh Cambodia.
Outpost Phnom Penh: Yellow Tower 191 Tonle Sap Street, Phnom Penh, Cambodia http://bit.ly/2Oyvix3
About The Accommodation:
- The location is set up on the other side of the river. It is set in a local fishing river community. That lives on boats. You will have your own long boat driver to take you back and forth. However keep in mind you have to call him beforehand and sometimes he was sleeping late night when we called. Tuk Tuk drivers will charge insane prices late night. Just something to keep in mind.
- The Outpost however is simply breathtaking. This coworking/coliving space is top notch.Only photos can truly explain how amazing this place is. 360 rooftop views,art areas, music areas, tv areas ,hammocks, tons of outdoor and indoor spaces, huge kitchen,bikes. Offices, Skyperooms, Hot desks. I honestly think in all of my travels this was the best place I have ever stayed.
- We had a private room which was rather small but in a cute way. We enjoyed our stay there very much. They also have hostels.
- It is 210$ USD for a week for two people. 840$USD for two people for the month.
- I would not recommend eating or going to the bar on our side of the river. We went one night after teaching late and it was a disaster. Told the with fingers and showing 1 frog they gave 3. Asked for 4 skewers they gave us 8. Asked for 2 beers they brought 4. Price was around 15$USD which is more than anywhere in Cambodia for local eats. Then we went to the bar, where some locals were buying us drinks we asked the bartender 20 times if they paid he said yes. Then they tried to charge us more than listed for the a shot but the local girl told him not to do that. When we left they told us to pay for the drinks that the other people already paid for. Total mess.
Something we learned that is a good tip for everywhere you go is pay ahead. I rather eat local food any day of the week. Not only is it cheaper but you can really try some unique and authentic dishes and get to know locals. However this doesn’t always work out in your favor. There is always a tourist and local price. What we have learned is go where there is clear prices on the menu or cart, don’t take anything that you did not order, not even the wet nap, if something is too much and not what you ordered tell them right when they bring it, do not eat anything you did not order, they will always bring you an extra beer whether you want it or not. Unless you want to pay for it do not open it. The biggest one is pay upfront, you can always say local price. You never know they may give it to you.
What To Do In Phnom Penh.
People say Phnom Penh night market isn’t safe at night, but I did not feel unsafe at Phnom Penh at all. If you aren’t looking for trouble and keep to yourself no is going to bother you.
- You should for sure check out the night market. You will be there many times getting picked up on the waterfront. There was also a lot of local food here too. If you like markets for shopping then you will spend time here. As I do not, it wasn’t where I spent my time. However I did eat at some of the local stalls.
- Food and Drinks: Blue Pumpkin makes the most tasty pastries, Pink Elephant Pub the shakes are very tasty,Oh MY BURGER, because sometimes all you need is a good burger, or two also get the burger at Garage, Bread Talk,Brooklyn Pizza, Eric Kayser Paris,Cerevisia craft brewhouse, Bassac Lane is a hipster area with tons of bars. Street food is available everywhere and it’s tasty.
- Need to cool off? Head over to Eighty8 Backpackers buy some drinks and use their pool.
- The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, Wat Phnom, Wat Ounalom,Ta Prohm,Wat Langka , Russian Market( Clothing etc), Independence Monument.
- Most of the time we biked around the city so we were able to see so many things. I highly recommend you bike over the bridge from the Outpost.
Cambodia is cheap! If you know to pay upfront and know pay attention to your prices you could walk away spending 30-40$ USD a day for two easily.
Cambodia was a great place to spend a couple of weeks. We loved the affordable prices, nightlife, bike rides, local people and the wonderful coworking spaces. Which provided us much needed stability for our jobs. Plus everything is a little happier in Cambodia. The only regret is that I did not work with more local people especially in Siem Reap, but I will be back. The people of Cambodia are so kind, the food is good, the beer is cheap, there is so much history, beautiful landscapes everywhere you go,the nightlife wants you coming back for more. See you soon Cambodia. Off to Vietnam next. Stay tuned. Make sure to comment below about your experiences in Cambodia. Subscribe so you never miss a post.
-Thank you Vanessa.