Monday, March 5, 2018

Cambodia (Siem Reap & Phnom Penh) Feb 2018

Public transport from Siem Reap > Phenom Penh, Cambodia

" Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow-ripening fruit " 

" Friends come & go, like the waves of the ocean. But true ones stay, like an octopus on your face "

" Our mobile phones fall, we panic. Our good friends fall, we laugh. Have fun in travelling "

" My 8 days free & easy visit to Siem Reap & Phnom Penh, Cambodia with my Klang buddies from 26/2 - 5/3/2018 - my last visit to Siem Reap was in 2006 & for Phenom Penh it was 2014 "

Total expenses incurred (8 days): Rm319 + US$253 = Rm1,305 (US$334)
Air Asia ticket (promo): Rm319 (KL>Siem Reap return)
Hostels (7 nights): US$57
- The Siem Reap Hostel (4 nights): US$9 x 4 = US$36
- Billabong Hostel, Phenom Penh (3 nights): US$7 x 3 = US$21
Tuk tuk (total): US$15
- Day tour (Angkor Wat) = US$10 per pax (2 sharing)
- Day tour (Killing Field, Toul Sieng Museum etc, Phenom Penh) = US$5 (4 sharing)
Entrance fees (total): US$60
- Angkor Wat = US$37 (1 day)
- Killing Field = US$8
- Toul Sieng Museum = US$5
- Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda = US$10
Food & groceries: US$100 (cost sharing per pax)
Long distance bus (total): US$16 
- Siem Reap > Phenom Penh - US$7
- Phenom Penh > Siem Reap - US$9
Tuk tuk (down town): US$6

Travel itinerary: Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) > Siem Reap (Cambodia) > Phenom Penh (Cambodia) > Siem Reap > Kuala Lumpur

Image result for Map of Cambodia
Map of Cambodia

Old Map of Khmer Empire

Currency exchange: US$1=4,000Riel (US dollars are widely accepted by hostels, eatery & retail outlets in Cambodia, but expect any loose change to be in local Riels); US$1=Rm3.90

My Klang buddies (Wong, Tee & Chim) were keen to visit Cambodia so in August 2017, I made an online Air Asia booking (Rm319 excluding travel insurance) for 4 people flying from Kuala Lumpur to Siem Reap, Cambodia & return (flight time is 2hrs 15mins). Wong's younger brother (Boon) also joined us for this trip after making his own air ticket purchase.  

Due to unforeseen circumstances, one of my Klang buddies was not able to make it for this trip. So our group was reduced to 4 !

This was the 4th overseas trip for my Klang buddies travelling along with me to South East Asian countries. The previous 3 visits covered major cities of Thailand & Laos were:

1) 11-22 Jan 2016 (12 days)  KL > Bangkok > Sukhothai >  Chiangmai > Chiang Rai, Thailand
2) 9-22 Feb 2017 (15 days) KL > Hua Hin > Bangkok > Bridge of the River Kwai > Ayutthaya > Vientiane > Vang Vieng > Lua Prabang, Laos  
3)  21-27 August 2017 (7 days) KL > Hua Hin > Hatyai > Songkhla, Thailand

The weather in Siem Reap & Phenom Penh in late February & early March was warm & dry - around 27 - 31c. So it was a major challenge walking around the Angkor Archaeological Park & downtown areas - our faces & arms were sun tanned and turned darker after this fabulous trip ! But taking a tuk tuk ride around the Angkor Archaeological Park enjoying the fresh country side air was a great fun ! 

Our choice of hostels in Siem Reap & Phenom Penh was excellent as both these hostels are located within walking distance from major tourist attractions in downtown areas. As for outlying areas ie Angkor Wat (Siem Reap) & Killing Field (Phenom Penh), our group relied on tuk tuk hire either on a full day or half day basis. A dorm bed for a 6-8 beds room costs US$7-9 dollars

Our group enjoyed eating the local Khmer food which costs around US$4-5 dollars per dish. So for a group of 4, our lunch or dinner meals  plus drinks cost around US$25-35 (US$7-9 per pax) ! Local beer is reasonably cheap so if you are a beer drinker, drink the whole jar ! Our group opted for tonic drink or fruit juice instead.

Our group stayed in Siem Reap for 4 nights & in Phenom Penh for 3 nights. The 7-8 days were just ideal for us to visit the major tourist sites in these 2 cities. Other places of interest you could consider to visit are Battambang, Kampong Som & Cham, Sihanoukville etc. In Siem Reap, there are long distance bus services which take you to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam & Bangkok, Thailand ! So it is possible to do overland bus trips to these 3-4 countries if time permits. 

As I had visited Siem Reap in 2006 & Phenom Penh in 2014, this was a down the memory lane visit to Cambodia - as always experienced in my previous trips with my Klang buddies, we were in good company, enjoying good food & good fun too ! Thus another cheery end to our Cambodian trip and looking forward for another SEA trip in the near future ! 

After arriving home, guessed what, there is water rationing in the Klang Valley area so for the next few days, home cooking & bathing become a nightmare ! A new anxiety begins, overnight water becomes so precious ! LIFE is not always a bed of roses ! 

My 3 travel buddies from Klang - Wong, Tee & Boon

KM & Klang buddies - Boon & Tee
KM & my Klang buddy - Wong

Siem Reap, Cambodia

1) Pub Street, Siem Reap

2) Night Market, Siem Reap

3) Wat Damnak Temple, Siem Reap

4) Preah Promreath Pagoda, Siem Reap

5) Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

6) Bayon, Siem Reap

7) Ta Prohm, Siem Reap

8) Prasat Neak Pean, Siem Reap

9) South Gate of Angkor, Siem Reap

10) Pre Prerup, Siem Reap

Phnom Penh

1) Killing Field, Phnom Penh

2) Toul Sieng Museum

3) Central Market, Phenom Penh

4) Sorya Center Point, Phenom Penh

5) Tonle Sap River, Phenom Penh

6) Riverside Walkway, Phenom Penh

7) Royal Palace, Phenom Penh

8) Silver Pagoda, Phenom Penh

9) Wat Phnom, Phenom Penh

10) King Sihanouk Monument, Phenom Penh

I1) Independence Monument, Phenom Penh

12) Cambodian Vietnam Friendship Monument, Phenom Penh

13) National Museum, Phenom Penh

14) Monvong Boulevard / Street 86, Phenom Penh

15) National Cultural & Handicraft Center, Phenom Penh

D-1 Kuala Lumpur / Siem Reap, Cambodia - Feb 2018

D-1 Monday 26th Feb 2018 (11th Day of the Chinese Lunar New Year) 

1) Rapid KL LRT train ride from SS15, Subang Jaya to KL Sentral (Rm1.90 senior 50% off)

2) Sky bus ride from KL Sentral to KLIA2 (Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2)

3) Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2), Sepang & Chinese New Year d├ęcor & lion dance in KLIA2 - Flight AK 540 departing KLIA2 at 13.20 arriving Siem Reap 14.20. Chinese New Year celebration mood is still very much in my mind and hopefully I still feel the same when I arrive in Siem Reap ! 

4) Eating Time - early lunch at a Food Court in KLIA2 (fried rice, Thai style) 

5) Arriving Siem Reap International Airport - my 2nd visit ! Looking forward for an interesting & productive sightseeing visit ! 

6) Free tuk tuk airport pick-up arranged by The Siem Reap Hostel - who say there is no free meal if you travel smart ! 

7) Hostel Check-in Time- First 2 nights accommodation at The Siem Reap Hostel, 7 Makara Street (High School Road), Wat Damnak - US$9 dorm bed per night (6-beds room bathroom attached) + swimming pool, billiard table & a bar counter to chill etc. Another free meal for Boon who spent hours playing at the billiard table ! 

8) Evening walk at Pub Street & Art Center Night Market, Siem Reap. Both these places were packed with Europeans & China tourists - the Europeans enjoying a cool beer at a pub and the China tourists scouting for souvenirs & Khmer food & ice cream rolls to taste ! So bring a fistful of US dollars and the evening is yours ! 

9) Eating Time - Dinner at a local restaurant in Siem Reap - US$28 (4 Khmer food dishes + fruit juice drink + rice - a balance diet ! )

10) Planning your trip beyond Siem Reap ? - public transport is pretty efficient in Siem Reap if you book through your hostel. Free pick up from hostel to bus terminal ! Bus, minivan, taxi or boat ? Your choice ! 

Siem Reap > Phenom Penh - Bus or Taxi or Boat ? Your choice ! 
Siem Reap > Bangkok; Siem Reap > Pattaya; Siem Reap > Poipet 
Siem Reap > Ho Chi Minh; Siem Reap > Kampot / Kep
 Siem Reap > Battambang