Remember all the Tomb Raider games/movies that we played and watched in our childhood? They were inspired by Angkor in Cambodia. Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia is the single biggest reason people visit the country. We were no different and intended to spend 2 days in Siem Reap Cambodia.
Depending on your level of interest you can even spend weeks/months in the city. But working people seldom have the luxury of so many leaves. So, we decided to make the best of our 2 days in Siem Reap Cambodia.
Day 1 of 2 days in Siem Reap Cambodia
Getting to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh
We took the Mekong Express bus from Phnom Penh. The bus company picked us up early in the morning around 7:30 AM from the Envoy hostel and then took us to the main bus stand of Phnom Penh. The bus journey takes around 3-4 hours and we arrived at the Siem Reap bus stand by 1pm.
Pick a good tuk-tuk driver and stick with him
After getting down at the bus stand, you can either select among plenty of tuk tuk drivers or you can get one through your hotel. I would generally advise on picking up an easy going guy that speaks and understands English. Your driver will also double up as your guide for basic information while visiting temples of Angkor. Our driver proved to be the best investment we made for our 2 days in Siem Reap Cambodia.
Our hotel provided free pick up from the bus stand and when we arrived, we already had Sam waiting to pick us up. Once we started the ride I spoke to him trying to understand him as a person and also to ascertain if he can speak basic English. During the short ride of few km’s I made up my mind to hire Sam as our tuk tuk driver.
Finalising the route and the price
Depending on the number of days you plan to be in Angkor you can finalise a suitable route. There are 2 main circuits:
- Small Circuit – Red route
- Grand Circuit – Orange route
But we only had 2 days including today, but yet we wanted to see as much as we could. Since both of us are strong walkers we agreed on the longer route. Just to give you an idea, I walked 26 kms that day from Sunrise to Sunset.
Unless you are very fit I will not recommend the longer route to be covered in just a day.
Next we had to negotiate the price with Sam. Just to give you an idea normal prices are:
- Small Circuit – $25-30 (Depending on where you book the tuk-tuk from). It includes 1 day tour of all temples on the small circuit.
- Grand Circuit – $35-50. Includes the grand circuit and in some cases, the guide might include the Sunset trip a day in advance as well.
We finalised Sam for $55 which included [1st day trip to Pre Rup temple for the sunset + Grand circuit on the second day (sunrise to sunset) + Drop to the airport on the last day]. You might find a cheaper driver as well, but do remember that these are genuinely poor folks who have families to feed, so don’t negotiate too hard.
If you are in Siem Reap or planning a trip and need a Tuk-tuk driver, you can contact Sam on his WhatsApp No +855 87 807 468. I can personally vouch for his service and we were so happy with his service that we gave him an extra $5 at the airport.
TIP – Try to deal directly with your driver, because going through a hotel pushes up the cost and leaves less in the pockets of these tuk-tuk drivers.
We purposely booked a hotel instead of the usual norm of booking a hostel as this was the last stop of of our 15 day long trip. We wanted our 2 days in Siem Reap Cambodia to be fun and a little luxurious, without breaking the bank. Also, swimming pool was a big requirement. So, we booked this resort because it fit most of our criteria and the budget.
Can you guess what was the first thing I did on check-in? Jumped into the pool. It was such a refreshing and soothing experience. After backpacking all these days, the swimming pool felt like Jannat (Heaven). After that we took a quick nap of few hours. We had to go to Angkor ticket center in the evening to get our tickets for tomorrow.
You can book the hotel from Agoda with free cancellation.
Angkor Wat Pass
Angkor Wat is one of the greatest wonders of the world and that reflects in the pass prices. There are 3 main passes:
- 1 Day pass – $37
- 3 Day pass – $62
- 7 Day pass – $72
The Angkor Pass is also valid for some other monuments in the Siem Reap area, like Phnom Krom, Wat Athvea, Kbal Spean, Beng Mealea and the Roluos Group.
These prices are for foreigners. For locals the entry is free. We opted for the 1 day pass because we had only 1.5 days in Siem Reap. One thing to note is that all passes allow you an entry a day in advance post 5PM to watch the sunset.
Note – The pass can’t be brought online or through other 3rd parties, so don’t fall for any such trap.
Getting the pass
We went to the official ticket counter around 4 kms from Siem Reap around 5:00 PM. The counter remains open till 5:30 PM. We paid $37 each for the day pass. A photo is clicked and printed on your pass to prevent fakes. Don’t loose the pass as its checked on various points in the park.
As I mentioned earlier, the pass allows you to enter the Angkor Archaeological Park a day earlier post 5 PM. This feature is used by most tourists to witness the sunset from Pre Rup temple.
Sunset at Pre Rup
We reached this temple around 5:30 PM, it wasn’t super crowded. Most of the people had come here with the same intentions as ours, to witness the sunset. We clicked a few photos of the beautiful temple and then just picked a spot and sat down in anticipation of the sunset.
I clicked some of these pictures in absolute darkness using the Night mode on my Samsung Galaxy S10. It was my first time using this feature and the performance was pleasantly surprising. I’ll let the pictures do the talking now.
We waited till 7 PM, after which I asked our Tuk-tuk driver Sam to drop us at the Pub Street instead of the hotel.
Dinner at Pub Street
The happening area of Siem Reap. It has plenty of shops, restaurants and even a night market but the best thing is cheap alcohol. It costs $1-2 for a glass of beer and most other drinks even in a proper fancy restaurant. Food is definitely cheaper compared to Phnom Penh and a good dinner with drinks would cost around $15-20 for 2.
We had an early dinner and then walked back to our hotel, around 1.5 kms from the Pub Street. Tomorrow was a big day – LITERALLY. The wake up call was 3:45 AM and the plan was to leave the hotel by 4:30 AM max to watch the coveted sunset over Angkor Wat.
Day 1 in Siem Reap Cambodia – Video
Day 2 of 2 days in Siem Reap Cambodia
Well, I was planning to add the details in the same post, but it would make for a very long and boring read. Besides, the temples of Angkor deserver a post of their own.
Read about Day 2 – Grand Circuit of Angkor.