The best things happen often when you least expect it. When you travel, it’s often spontaneous decisions, unexpected surprises and unforeseen detours that make the best memories. Our last trip to the heart of Southeast Asia does not escape this logic. We had planned our trip to Thailand for a long time, but it was our last minute stop at Siem Reap, in Cambodia, that amazed us the most. In only 72 hours, we have literally fallen in love with this mysterious city and its generous and hospitable citizens. It was another proof that to follow our intuition and our feeling of the moment is always a winning combination!
Much less touristy than other parts of Southeast Asia, Cambodia is rich in culture as well as in history and is full of fascinating timeless treasures. If you’re looking for some peace of mind, know that Siem Reap is also less crowded than the Thai metropolis. Rural landscapes are much more soothing than urban frenzy found in Bangkok or Phuket.
The 8th wonder of the world ?
Of course, you can’t go through Cambodia without visiting the temples of Angkor. It is the lost city of the Khmers where history, spirituality and mystery wander between the walls of these gigantic architectural works of art. A place that makes us feel so small and lucky at the same time. This is the kind of place where you’ll be transported in a world completely different from everything you already know and where the little problems of your daily life seem far away.
The archaeological site of Angkor counts more than 200 monuments, vestiges of the 9th to the 15th century where the Khmers were at their peak. It’s therefore impossible to visit them all in a single trip. We also suggest you to vary your activities a little to avoid becoming jaded by the multitude of structures and forget their enchanting side. Anyway, with all the wonders that there is to discover, it will give you a great reason to come back to Cambodia.
Considering we only had 72 hours, we decided to focus on visiting Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm. Although they all have their charm and uniqueness, Bayon Temple, located in the Angkor Thom section, is by far one of the most impressive and magical places we have ever visited! You will feel as if you are looking for a lost treasure where every turn is full of surprises. Literally feeling like an Indiana Jones movie! There are also hundreds of Buddha faces carved in stone, forming a design more than particular. No matter where you turn, you fall face to face with the deity.
Bayon Temple is an incredible labyrinth, where you’ll be completely hypnotized by its mythical atmosphere! You could walk there for hours and still be amazed by its uniqueness. However, the intense heat and the humid temperature of the region are not to be taken lightly during your expedition. Bring an umbrella to protect you from the sun (yes, yes), a cap or a hat and plenty of water to be sure to enjoy your getaway! Anyway, by losing yourself in the heart of Angkor Thom, even under the hot sun, you will feel at peace, that’s for sure!
A few practical tips
Even though the distance between the temples is only a few kilometers, I recommend you rent a tuktuk for your temples exploration. The hot and humid climate can get heavy quickly and locals literally laughed at us when we said we were going by foot. For only $ 20 a day, you’ll have access to a tuktuk driver who can help you avoid sunstroke or burn out too quickly. Ours even provided us a very interesting book about the temples to facilitate the visit.
You can also buy your tickets at only one place, the Angkor Ticket Office, located a short drive from the historic site. There is no online or on-site sale at Angkor Wat, so it’s a mandatory stop. You can pay in US $ or Riels, just like everywhere in the city of Siem Reap.
A royal treatment, without equal
After your days filled with thrilling adventures, you’ll need a restful place to continue your journey. For ultimate comfort and enchanting scenery, we highly recommend staying at the sumptuous Sarai Resort & Spa during your Cambodian getaway. For the same price as a nice apartment on Airbnb ($ 80 per night), you’ll live in a heaven of luxury and incomparable peace! Indulge yourself, you’ll not regret it! Exquisite food, impeccable service and grand facilities make Sarai Resort & Spa a charming and inviting place to truly disconnect and relax.
Let yourself be tempted by one of their delicious cocktails both feet in the crystal clear water of their infinity pool. For fiancés, newlyweds or simply lovers of life, you can even reserve a romantic dinner under the large white dome near the beautiful swimming pool of the establishment at no extra cost and without any unwelcome visitor. A true oasis of relaxation, to discover absolutely!
- You’ll definitely need a visa to travel to Cambodia, even if you are a Canadian citizen and your stay is short-term. You can apply online without any problem from the following link: www.evisa.gov.kh/. Otherwise, you can do it directly at the airport, the process is very simple and fast. The airport is rather quiet, so you don’t have to worry.
- Remember to update your vaccines for hepatitis A, tetanus and typhoid before you leave for Cambodia. Unlike other Asian countries like Thailand, doctors usually recommend getting malaria pills as there are traces in the temples area. This remains at your discretion, but we suggest you to visit a medical clinic before your trip to Southeast Asia, especially if it’s the first time you visit this region.
- There are many small lizards that come out at night, skirting the walls of the buildings. They are not dangerous, but they emit a particular scream, don’t be surprised.
- Siem Reap is an ideal city for digital nomads looking for authentic cafes where the wi-fi is as excellent as the company.
- The Angkor Night Market is a must, but the real local market is rather Psar Chaa, where Cambodians get the essential ingredients for their gourmet curry and their finest clothes.
Cambodia is definitely a place that deserves a spot on your bucket list! Whether it’s for its friendly citizens, its amazing cuisine, its captivating culture or its intriguing history, this is a magical land that will probably become the highlight of your next trip to Southeast Asia!
Have a nice trip!