I had this unplanned trip to Cambodia last July of 2013. My friends happened to get a discounted ticket from Singapore to Cambodia that is way cheaper than the usual fare, so they booked a ticket and planned to explore Cambodia for 5 days and 4nights. It was a non peak season at work that’s why I’ve decided to apply for a leave and join them. We were on a budget trip so we were on a lookout for something that is cheaper without compromising our comfort of course.
Cambodia is a 2hours and 15 minutes away from Singapore and usually the roundtrip ticket will cost you around $350-$480. We were so lucky then to get our roundtrip ticket for only $250 but it was a non direct flight. We had a stopover in Phnom Penh for a couple of minutes before be head to Siem Reap. Not bad though, much better than waiting for hours. Accommodation in Cambodia is quite cheap too.
Hostels are ranging for as low as $4-$5 for a simple double room with fan, Double air-conditioned room is from $6 to $10 per night and a hotel room is from $15-$35 per night.
We stayed at Somadevi Angkor Hotel and Spa in a quad-sharing room for 5days and 4nights. It cost us $100 ($25 per night) for the entire stay. Breakfast is included. Somadevi Angkor Hotel and Spa is located at the heart of Siem Reap. It is few minutes away walk to the Night Market, 15 minutes away from Siem Reap International Airport and 10 minutes away from the famous Angkor afe which offers a wide array of cuisine, a 40 m pool, a jacuzzi and health club center which offer different kinds of massage and spa services. Business wise, they also have conference rooms available as well as transit services.
When it comes to mode of transportation in Cambodia, there are Motorcycle taxis available that costs $1 for a 5-10km ride. Motorcycle Tuktuks (same as the Tuktuk ride in Bangkok) that costs $2 per way, Buses ($5 – $10) and also there are Bicycles for rent that costs $12 – $20 per day depending on the type of bicycle you want to rent.
We arrived almost 5 in the afternoon in Cambodia, we decided to call it out early so that we can have enough time to rest and prepare for our temple hopping the following day. We spent our first day by having a quick dip on the pool, we had some local Khmer Curry and of course we tried Angkor, Cambodia’s local beer .
We booked a 3days tour to explore Cambodia at the hotel lobby. It costs us $50 each transportation and refreshments are included. I would suggest that if you are travelling in a big group, it is better to book a tour because it will cut so much cost on your budget. In our case, with the amount that we paid, our service was a big van that could fit 12 people. Just imagine how much it would cost if we were 12 in a group. Ours is just a small group of 4.
Our driver also served as our Historian, Tour Guide and Personal Assistant.
We had to stop for a few minutes when we were on our way to Bayon Temple to appreciate and take a photo of this beauty.
Bayon Temple was built during 1190 AD by King Jayavarman VII. This temple serves as a Buddhist temple with elements of Hindu cosmology. It represents the intersection of heaven and earth. Inside the temple you can see lots of stone carvings on the wall that depicts the scenario during those time.
This temple is well known for its huge stone faces of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (the God of Infinite Compassion). This has been dubbed by some as the “Mona Lisa of Southeast Asia”.
Baphuon Temple is one of the poorly constructed temple built by Udayadityaravnam II. Going to the summit is quite difficult because of the steep steps but the view on tops is breathtaking.
Ta Prohm was built mid of 12th century by King Jayavarman VII and dedicated it to the mother of the king. Sanskrit inscriptions on the walls gives details of the temple.
Angkor Wat is considered as one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. It is considered as one of the 7 Wonders of the World. It contains the magnificent remains of the Khmer Empire. It exemplifies cultural, religious and symbolic values as well as high architectural, archaeological and artistic significance.
More than 3 million of population inhabited round the lake and 90% of them earn a living by catching fish and agriculture. This lake is the largest fresh water in South-East Asia. Over 300 species of fishes, snakes, crocodiles, tortoise , turtles and otters are present on this lake as well as 100 varieties of birds.
Foods in Cambodia
Food is quite cheap in Cambodia if you look to where the locals eat.You can have a full meal for about $10- $15. Nice restaurants are also present wherein they offer a wide range of Cuisine from Mexican to Wester cuisine and that would be about $20-$30. One of the food that you shouldn’t miss when visiting Cambodia is the Beef Lok Lak. Lok Lak is a glorious hot salad with a bed of crisp whole lettuce leaves, juicy tomatoes, cool cucumbers and sharp raw onions; all of it topped with quickly stir-fried beef and it’s juices.
We spent the rest of our days by exposing ourselves on their culture, pampering ourselves by having a Traditional massage ( $5-$18), having fish spa ($1/hr), shopping and enjoying the foods and drinks. Night life is also present at Pub Street.
A must try in Cambodia is the Blue Pumpkin. If you want some cozy place to spend your afternoon with pastries, tea or even a cup of ice cream. Blue Pumpkin is the place to be.
Cambodia is one of my all time favorite destination. A country full of substance, delicious food and most importantly, this place is filled with some of the most amazing people that I’ve ever met. The locals were hospitable and humble.
By the way aside from their local currency of Cambodian Riel, USD is widely accepted on this country. ATM Machine is not much though so make sure to plan your budget and bring enough cash because not all establishment accepts credit cards.