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Siem Reap, City of the Khmer Empire

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In Siem Reap, the famous The Ancient City of Angkor stays as the main focus as one of tourists spots and packed during the day-time. But at night, the Pub Street, Old Market and the Night Market areas are the liveliest. You can find almost everything here, from local Khmer to Western food, souvenirs, pubs and bars to body massage shops.

Siem is a small town after all. The easiest way to go around is to get on a tuk-tuk (A two-wheeled carriages pulled behind a motor). This unique transportation is everywhere across the country and are marginally safer than motorbikes. The locals here are more friendly compared to Phnom Penh. It is safer for ladies travelers to explore Siem than Phnom Penh.

I had glimpses of Boracay and Phuket while exploring Siem Reap, especially the Pub Street. The night life here is not as vibrant as Thailand. But I would appreciate a quiet cocktail session more than loud music, particularly after walking the whole day exploring the temples under the hot sun. Sipping the local brand “Angkor” beer and people-watching, perhaps?

Although Pub Street is alive the whole night long, doesn’t mean it is a zombie town on the daytime. There are still shops and restaurants open during the day. I did not get much things at the Night Market and as I walked around the Old Market, I found another small markets selling souvenirs and local goods. Traditional handicrafts it’s definitely a one-of-a-kind souvenir.

What else you can do here? MASSAGE! My holiday will not be complete without a massage session. Heaven!

Currency: USD (is mainly used) or Cambodian Riel

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Ta Phrom, my favourite temple among the other sites in Angkor. This beautiful temple is bound by massive roots of huge trees, complimenting the mysterious feel for everyone who steps into this magnificent temple site.

It was not originally built bound by the trees. Just like the other temples, it used to serve its function as a monastery of the king, modelled on the King Jayavarman VII’s mother image of wisdom. After the fall of the Khmer Kingdom, it was abandoned and was found by French in the condition of the temple had been bound by the giant trees. This human-made temple eventually was overtaken by the nature.

The temple became well-known after the filming of Tomb Raider movie was conducted here. In fact, Ta Phrom is also well-known as the “Tomb Raider Temple”.

We made the best decision to visit Ta Phrom after Angkor and Bayon. By the time we reached Ta Phrom, it was already afternoon when the sun was the hottest. Unless you have the intention to sun-bake, sun block is a YES. There are a few ways to explore the temple sites; by bicycles or by cars. I booked a guided tour which had provided the transport service, a certified local guide and unlimited bottles of mineral water! I was certainly satisfied with my nice and knowledgeable guide. I learnt so much about Angkor from him.

Ta Phrom was the last site of my one-day tour. The whole journey was amazing and unforgettable. I’ve heard stories of those who visit The Angkor will get templed out, nope, I did not get templed out :p

 

Dress code: Shirt with covered shoulders, long trousers or skirt (below the knees)
You’ll need: SUN BLOCK, bottles of water,hat, sunglasses, umbrella

 

The Bayon

The Bayon

After our visit to the magnificent Angkor Temple (read my post about Angkor Temple here), we continued to the next site. The Bayon Temple is another amazing site of Angkor Wat that I would say worth the journey. Once we arrived at The Bayon, it was already almost noon and the day was getting hotter.

Stepping into the temple complex, I was welcomed by many massive stones with smiling faces looking to four directions. Each statue features a smile and each smiling face represents the charming smile, sad smile, glad smile and the beautiful smile. It is believed that they are images of The King Jayavarman VII.

I left, wondering how the temple was built. The wall carvings were so beautifully made and detailed. Each of them depict stories of of The Khmer Kingdom and Buddhism.

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The face with most beautiful smile

The face with most beautiful smile.

The detailed stone carvings

The detailed stone carvings

I would suggest if you are planning to explore the temples, go with the order of The Angkor Temple for its spectacular sunrise experience, followed by The Bayon Temple and The Ta Phrom. There are more shades in Angkor and the Ta Phrom temples, but not The Bayon. The afternoon sun in Cambodia can be scorching, especially during the summer season. Unless if you are into sunbathing 🙂

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Sunrise at the Ankor Wat

Sunrise at the Ankor Wat

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The carvings telling stories about Hinduism

The carvings telling stories about Hinduism

Mini rock piles. The locals believe they are to bring good lucks.

Mini rock piles. The locals believe they are to bring good lucks.

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I’ve been to quite a number of cities in South East Asia but there is no where more exotic than Siem Reap. The city is famous for its massive Angkor Wat Temple, one of the most important archaeological sites of Southeast Asia and which is also one of the UNESCO World of Heritage Sites. Angkor Wat is not the only temple in the Angkor itself consists of magnificent temples, such as Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm.

The largest temple is called The Angkor Wat. It has the tallest pagoda among the temples. Apparently, it is also the tallest point in Siem. The locals are not allowed to build anything higher than The Angkor Wat.

I’ve heard that to explore the whole complex of Angkor can take about 3 days or longer. Some even get templed out from exploring the whole complex. As I only stayed in Siem for 2 days before moving forward to Phnom Penh, I just booked a one-day tour. The tour starts from dawn, to chase for the sunrise. It was a so much inspiring trip. I was awed by the detailed carvings on the temples walls and have learned so much about the Hinduism and Khmer Kingdom. Indeed Cambodia is the Kingdom of Cultures.

One-Day Tour: Angkor Tour Guide
Siem Reap Accommodation: Lotus Blanc Resort

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