Renowned as the tourist hub in Cambodia, Siem Reap is the getaway place to be if you want to just take a step back from your everyday hectic life. I hope you find peace there as did I.
1.Exchange US dollars
Although the country has its own currency ‘Cambodian Riel’, it is very common to pay in US dollars. Expect to get change in Riel when the price is not rounded up to a dollar. If you don’t have enough cash, you can still withdraw more from local ATMs. Note that the counter which sells Angkor passes do not accept credit cards so it’s better to carry sufficient money with you.
2.Get a tour guide when visiting Angkor
Angkor is a very large complex of ancient temples and cities and the main attraction in Siem Reap. Exploring it by yourself has a benefit of being able to control the pace of the visit but also means that you may miss out certain information and interesting features of a temple. In my recent trip, we had Kamsan from bestangkorguide.com as my guide. His funny and informative commentaries meant that our group never felt bored. Another great quality of his is his great photographic skill. He knows how to take good photos and can suggest several creative poses and angles with the use of Angkor as a backdrop.
If you decide to visit Angkor by yourself, I’d strongly recommend that you start early in the morning with a sunrise at Angkor Wat. After that, you can choose to visit either Ta Prohm (the temple with trees inside and featured in Tomb Raider) or Bayon (the one with a lot of Buddha heads at the top of the towers). Both temples are major places of interest which should not be missed. If you have more energy, you can browse some other temples in the area and can wait for a sunset at Phnom Bakheng.
3.Buy a local SIM card at the airport
I got mine from Smart Axiata. It cost USD 6 and came with 2.5 GB of data valid for 7 days. After you get out of the Siem Reap International airport, you can see a number of shops on the right hand ride selling SIM cards from different companies. Use local SIM cards so you can save from international roaming fees.
4. Dress properly for the visit to Angkor
Siem Reap is essentially all about religion, inner peace and cultural heritage. It is fine to wear shorts/Bermudas but they have to be long enough to cover your knees. A strict rule though; Both ladies and gentlemen are required to cover shoulders as a form of respect when entering the religious places so that means no tank tops.
5. Drink a lot of water
If you decide to do a full-day visit to different temples, remember to hydrate yourself. Afternoons in Siem Reap can be scorching hot. It’s advisable to start your day early when the weather is still cool and when it’s getting really hot in the afternoon, you can go back to rest at your hotel, in a swimming pool or a massage parlor.