Day 1: Bangkok – Siem Reap (by train)
Traveled with a friend from Bangkok to Siem Reap on August 2015. Looking back, it was a shame we stayed only for barely 2 days in a such a beautiful place. We planned ahead the travel and agreed to just swing by Siem Reap from Bangkok for a short visit to the Angkor Wat. Man! I was wrong. We should have stayed longer. The place was very warm to travelers – cheap and laid back – you could afford to go lazying around and forget that you would come back to work after your very short vacation. I would definitely go back to this place and see the sunset, and this time I hope to bring someone dear to me.
Getting there. Now, back to the drill. Crossing border from Bangkok to Siem Reap was a breeze. The cheapest way to get to the land of wats is going by train. From the Hualamphong railway station in Bangkok, take a third class (and the only one) train going to Aranyaprathet – the last station at the Thailand border. There are two daily trips for this route, the first one leaves at 5:55AM and the last one at 1:05 PM. Tickets are bought on the same day of your travel so you need to come early to make sure you will get your ticket if you want to catch the early morning trip. Ticket price was incredibly cheap at 48 baht. If you go in the morning, I would recommend that you take a seat at the left side of the train to avoid the morning sun. Going by train will give you a breezy view of the countryside from the windows. Breakfast can be had inside the station in Hualamphong or you can pre-buy snacks at the nearby 7-Eleven store just across the station. Local snacks and delicacies can also be bought onboard from boarding vendors at different stations.
4:30 AM. We checked-out from Krungkasem Hotel and crossed the creek towards the Hualamphong station. Krungkasem Srikrung hotel was barely a 5-minute walk to the station. We took the early 5:55 AM trip from Bangkok and arrived in Aranyaprathet past 12 noon. Outside the station of Aranyaprathet, we took a tuktuk to Poipet, the border town at the Cambodian side. Right at the Aranyaprathet side, we climbed towards the Immigration building for the necessary departure stamp from Thailand. After getting through the Thailand Immigration, we came down towards the uncovered alley which was at the Cambodian side already and passed through the Cambodian quarantine area, filled up some health record form and then proceeded towards Cambodian Immigration office. You will process your Visa on Arrival at this office in Poipet border. For nationals from ASEAN-member countries like the Philippines, you don’t need to pay anything to get your passport stamped. Just right outside the Immigration, there was free bus ride to the Poipet integrated terminal where you can choose whether to take a bus, minivan or taxi for your onward journey. Funny thing was that, an Immigration official in Aranyaprathet “jokingly” asked for a tip when he released my passport. I never heard him the first time, so I asked him again if I had problem with my passport or the departure card. He then asked me again if I would like to give him a tip. I smiled and told him all my Bahts were spent in Bangkok. LOL.
Poipet – Siem Reap. 2:30 PM. We took the mini-bus ride from the Poipet terminal to Siem Reap. Travel time was around 2 hours and reached Siem Reap proper at around 4:30 PM. Besides two Japanese guys, we are the only Asians inside a rather jampacked mini-bus full of European tourists. It indeed was a buzzing trip like having to sit through some French class. Most of Siem Reap hotels offer free pick-up from the bus station. However, drivers often offer to help you which hotel to check in depending on your preference and budget if you have no pre-booked hotel. Though we have a pre-booked room at the King Boutique Hotel but we failed to inform beforehand of our arrival so we took a tuktuk ride to take us there. Check-in was fast but our room was at the top floor where you need to take the stairs since the hotel has no elevator ride. It was sure a budget hotel but the cold towel and the refreshing drink during check-in were more than a warm gesture of welcome – the experience was cathartic. The indoor pool was an excellent plus to freshen up after a gruelling 9-hour travel and a popular can of beer can be had at $1 – it was all you need in a far away wonderland. Food at the nearby food huts were incredibly cheap and delicious. The hotel is a short walking distance to Pub Street – the popular hub for tourists for night activities.
DAY 2: Religious Awakening in the Angkor Temples
I am in no way religious but there was something in looking into other nation’s religious devotion that left me with striking awe-ness. To each his own, is more apt for this lingering feeling. It made you realize that prayers do come in different forms, so as our gods. Pray whomever you want to offer it, just as long as it does not harm your neighbor – that is the ultimate purpose of having one’s religion.
9:00 AM. Call time for the whole day tour of the Angkor temples. We contracted a tuktuk for a whole day tour around the Angkor archaeological complex for $35. A whole day pass to the complex was at $20 where your ticket will get your instant photo taken from the ticketing building in the main Angkor gateway.
9:30 AM – Angkor Wat
It was a breezy tuktuk ride to the Angkor temples on a hot and humid day in Siem Reap. You would pass by few monkeys on the sides of the road towards the moat of the Angkor Wat. The main alleyway was cut through the surrounding moat that leads towards the central archway of the Angkor Wat. The whole Angkor experience was just so oh-effin-beautiful!
11:30 PM – Bayon Temple
The Bayon Temple is located at the central part of the Angkor Thom complex. It is distinct from other temples around the Angkor for its stone-carved faces that form the temples towers.
1:00 PM – Ta Phrom Temple
Your trip to Siem Reap will not be complete if you do not visit the Ta Phrom temple. Who could forget the Tomb Raider movie of Angelina Jolie?
Summary of Expenses: