Sunset at Wat Knang Phnom Krom temple

Siem Reap, Cambodia

I’ve always had a strong fascination for ancient structures, or more specifically megastructures. And Angkor Wat has always been on my list of places to visit at least once in my life. Thanks to the long weekend due to the Chinese New Year holiday, I was finally able to book a short trip to Cambodia for 3 days/2 nights. This is my 4th time as a solitary traveler.

My first impression of the town is that it’s a bit toned down compared to the lively Bangkok. What surprises me the most is that while it is a heavy tourist destination, the town is too underdeveloped. Meaning, you won’t likely find the conveniences you’re used to back home, say a decent mall. And to my utter shock, locals don’t know what McDonald’s is.

There aren’t many cars around but you will see a good number of motorbikes, bikes and of course tuk-tuks. Roads are small and the town is also extremely hot and humid and very, very dusty. People are nice but not as warm and friendly as Filipinos I would say. Almost all of them speak at least a bit of English. And every thing in Siem Reap is quoted in US dollars.

I arrived late at night and after I checked in at the hotel, I went to the famous Pub Street to grab some dinner. During my first official day, I did what is expected of every first time visitor of the town: do the temple visits. I probably made a mistake of starting my tour at 9 am. The weather was scorching to the point of almost draining all my energy even before lunchtime. It was that hot and humid I was too weak to visit all the temples and had to cut it short to only seeing three.

But Angkor Wat is truly a site to behold. It was impossibly huge though but one must take his time appreciating this megastructure and just wonder how the hell did our ancestors build this thing.

Angkor Wat in the horizon
Angkor Wat in the horizon
AngKor Wat temple
AngKor Wat temple
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat temple
Angkor Wat temple
Monks and visitors alike ascending/descending the Angkor Wat temple
Monks and visitors alike ascending/descending the Angkor Wat temple
Young monks at Angkor Wat
Young monks at Angkor Wat
Ta Prohm temple
Ta Prohm temple
Ta Prohm temple overrun by tree roots
Ta Prohm temple overrun by tree roots
A corridor at Ta Prohm temple
A corridor at Ta Prohm temple
Terrace of the Elephants at Angkor Thom
Terrace of the Elephants at Angkor Thom
Elephant carvings at the Terrace of the Elephants
Elephant carvings at the Terrace of the Elephants
Stone figures near the Terrace of the Elephants
Stone figures near the Terrace of the Elephants
Row of Buddhas at the entrance of Angkor Thom
Row of Buddhas at the entrance of Angkor Thom
A passageway at Bayon Temple
A passageway at Bayon Temple
Hieroglyphs of Angkor Wat
Hieroglyphs of Angkor Wat
Stone carvings at Angkor Wat
Stone carvings at Angkor Wat
Bayon temple
Bayon temple
Just a few out of the 216 stone faces at Bayon temple
Just a few out of the 216 stone faces at Bayon temple
The ruins of Bayon temple
The ruins of Bayon temple
Gigantic stone face at Bayon temple
Gigantic stone face at Bayon temple
Hieroglyphs at Bayon Temple
Hieroglyphs at Bayon Temple
Stone carvings at Bayon temple
Stone carvings at Bayon temple
Buddha riding a dog chariot?
Buddha riding a dog chariot?
A carving of someone dancing on top of what seems to be a flower
A carving of someone dancing on top of what seems to be a flower
Half-man, half animal stone carving at Angkor Wat
Half-man, half animal stone carving at Angkor Wat

After the temple visits and some lunch, I headed out to see the floating village at Tonle Sap. The terminal is chaotic but once you embark on the boat, things will start to mellow down and you will soon realize that in this huge lake, people live like how they would on land. They have everything in this floating village from markets, to schools and churches.

Floating village of Tonle Sap
Floating village of Tonle Sap
A small family asking for "donations" at Tonle Sap floating village
A small family asking for “donations” at Tonle Sap floating village
Church at the floating village in Tonle Sap
Church at the floating village in Tonle Sap
House at the floating village of Tonle Sap
House at the floating village of Tonle Sap
Young girl rowing at the floating village of Tonle Sap
Young girl rowing at the floating village of Tonle Sap
Cambodian flag taken atop a market shop at the floating village in Tonle Sap
Cambodian flag taken atop a market shop at the floating village in Tonle Sap

The last activity for the day was hiking to a temple on top of a hill overlooking the Tonle Sap Town and endless rice fields. I stayed there until sunset. And by the time I got to the hotel, I was already extremely exhausted and went to sleep as early as 9 pm.

The hiking trail going up Wat Knang Phnom Krom
The hiking trail going up Wat Knang Phnom Krom
Sunset at Wat Knang Phnom Krom temple
Sunset at Wat Knang Phnom Krom temple
The highest point in Siem Reap to witness a sunset
The highest point in Siem Reap to witness a sunset
Green rice fields of Tonle Sap
Green rice fields of Tonle Sap
Sunset view on top of Wat Knang Phnom Krom overlooking rice fields
Sunset view on top of Wat Knang Phnom Krom overlooking rice fields

The following day, I spent half of it shopping souvenirs at the Old Market. And by 3 pm, I did quad-biking at the countryside of Siem Reap until sunset.

Rows of shops at the Old Market in Siem Reap town proper
Rows of shops at the Old Market in Siem Reap town proper
One-stop shop: dry meat, bags and bike rentals all in one place!
One-stop shop: dry meat, bags and motorbike rentals all in one place!
Buddha masks being sold at the Old Market in Siem Reap
Buddha masks being sold at the Old Market in Siem Reap
Quad-biking around Siem Reap's countryside
Quad-biking around Siem Reap’s countryside
Countryside of Siem Reap
Countryside of Siem Reap

After this, I went straight to the hotel, had a quick dinner, took a brief swim at the pool then at 10 pm I was already off to the airport! My vacation felt a bit rushed but at least I was able to experience the Khmer life even for just a little bit.

Sunrise view from my hotel room
Sunrise view from my hotel room
Buddha fountain and some white flowers by the poolside
Buddha fountain and some white flowers by the poolside
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6 thoughts on “Siem Reap, Cambodia

    1. Thanks man! I’m happy my phone didn’t disappoint me and was still able to capture nice shots. Ta Prohm temple is my favorite indeed. I’m going to Hanoi in April. When do we expect your first trip of the year?

  1. Awesome! Angkor Wat is on my list, maybe next year 🙂 I’m off at the end of March, first stop Amman, Jordan. I can’t wait man. Swimming in the dead sea and Petra! Looking forward to your info on Hanoi. Keep the great photos coming.

  2. This is very helpful. Thank you. I’m currently writing a story and its setting is on Siem Reap. I’ve never been to Cambodia though but I wish I could get the chance to visit it someday, specifically Siem Reap.

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