Siem Reap, Cambodia
Must Do Activities:
- Zip lining with Flight of the Gibbon
- Sunrise over Angkor Wat
Why 2 Days in Siem Reap is Enough
I have been struggling to put pen to paper, figuratively, about Siem Reap because I didn’t really enjoy my time there. My experience in Cambodia was resoundingly negative and because I only spent two days there, I don’t feel like I should share my opinion with y’all and put a bad taste in your mouths. However, for the sake of the site and being honest with my readers, I will.
After spending the first 5 days of my trip in Thailand and falling in love with the country, I had high hopes that every other country would capture my heart the way the Land of Smiles had. Rushing through the airport to make our flight to Siem Reap, I forget to take my GoPro out of my checked bag. Big mistake. Somewhere between Bangkok DMK and Siem Reap airport, my GoPro was stolen. When I arrived in Cambodia at the baggage claim, you can imagine how pissed I was to find it missing. Immediately, my mood changed and I blamed Cambodia for my mistake.
Blood boiling, from losing my GoPro and the INTENSE heat in Siem Reap, we jumped in a cab heading towards our hotel. Driving down the Main Street from the airport into town felt a bit like driving through the Las Vegas Strip. There were huge mega-hotels lining both sides of the street. The main difference being that these hotels all seemed to be deserted. I don’t know if it was because it was the start of rainy season or what, but every hotel seemed desolate.
Once we arrived at our hotel, we found that the AirCon room we had paid for, didn’t in fact have AirCon. Well… It did, but it only worked when the key was inserted into the wall. We had ran into this situation previously and never had an issue with it, as the AirCon units usually “warmed up” pretty quickly and cooled the room down within a few minutes. After sitting in our boiling hot room for an hour, we went downstairs to tell the front desk that the AirCon unit was broken. The attendant came upstairs and messed with the controls for a minute, and told us that it wasn’t broken, it just took an “hour or so” to begin cooling down the room. Lovely.
Since we weren’t going to get relief from the heat in our hotel room, we decided to head out to explore the streets of Siem Reap. We wandered around Hospital street until we found a bar that was offering a 2 for 1 happy hour special on Mojitos (which happen to be one of my favorite cocktails). We stopped in and had a couple rounds since it was cooler in the bar than outside and they had semi-reliable wifi. After that, we decided it was time to try out the Happy Pizza.
After doing a bit of research, we found that the best Happy Pizza comes from Ecstatic Pizza on Hospital Street, which happened to be just down the road from the bar we were at, so we decided to try it out. We ordered a Spanakopita pizza, extra happy. As with most edibles, it took awhile for the effects to kick in, and I don’t know that it was really worth the cost. Since Cambodia uses US dollars, everything seemed to be slightly more expensive and the pizza was no exception.
Because I was still in a foul mood from losing my GoPro, Chris suggested that we head to a spa. We found a “honeymoon package” that included a massage, foot scrub and facial for entirely too much money, but we opted to splurge a bit in hopes that it would cheer me up, which it did.
After our spa treatments, we decided it was time to seek out some traditional Cambodia food. After wandering for probably 1km, we didn’t find anything that looked appetizing and thus settled for a Korean BBQ place that was swarming with locals. If I can give you one tip about eating anywhere in SE Asia, it is to eat where the locals are eating. I had never had Korean BBQ, much to the dismay of my Korean travel partner, so he was excited for me to try it out. In my opinion, the novelty of cooking the food yourself was more exciting than eating the food, but I will give it a chance to redeem itself once I get back to the states.
The next day, we had scheduled a zip line experience with Flight of the Gibbon – Angkor Wat because they touted the fact that they were the only zip line company in the world to have lines inside a UNESCO World Heritage site. Being that I am a slave to UNESCO, I had to check it out. I had never been zip lining before and it was a really cool experience. I thought I would be terrified because my fear of heights has been an issue in the past (Chiang Mai Grand Canyon cliff jumping), but it didn’t bother me in the slightest. Okay…walking across the 3 sky bridges bothered me, but the actual flying on the zip lines didn’t. I was a little bummed that we didn’t get to see any of the temples during the tour, but I would still recommend the company since we had a great time, the safety levels were impeccable and the guides were really friendly and knowledgable. Plus, lunch in included in the $99 price and it was some of the best food we had in Cambodia.
That night, we decided that we wanted to treat ourselves to a fancy meal since we had been eating street food for the past 6 days. The restaurant we chose was called Madam Butterfly. It was a a fusion of Cambodian and French cuisine and it was impeccable and expensive. The only issue I had is that I was looking for some spice, after coming from Thailand where the heat is overwhelming, and I couldn’t find any anywhere in Cambodia. Most places didn’t even have chili sauce on the table. The one dish that I recommend you don’t leave Cambodia without trying is the Banana Flower Salad. I don’t know exactly what is in it, but it was the best thing I ate while I was there.
On our second full day, we hired a driver to take us to watch the sunrise over Ankor Wat. This was definitely the highlight of our time in Cambodia. Watching as the temple was illuminated by the sun was a once in a lifetime experience. We spend the next few hours exploring the temples around Ankor Wat including Bayon and Ta Prohm, the latter being my favorite of the three. I don’t think I could have spent more than 4 hours looking at the temples. They were really cool, don’t get me wrong, but I was so templed out by the end that we made a pact not to visit another temple for at least a week.
After concluding our temple tour, we headed back to the airport to make an emergency stop in Bangkok to replace my GoPro. Thank God for travel insurance. Don’t leave home without it.