Siem Reap Travel Blog› entry 10 of 19 › view all entries
As Siem Reap is the gateway town for the temples of Angkor Wat I am sure it is unlike anywhere else in Cambodia. It reminds me of Luxor, a cluster of 5-star hotels in the middle of nowhere as, like Luxor, the only reason to come here is to see Angkor Wat, and plenty of people do.
We almost miss the Mekong Express (VIP Limousine) bus due to a small mis-understanding as to the precise location of our passports but luckily the agent called ahead and the bus waited for us to arrive. For an extra $2 over the standard bus (and to earn the VIP Limousine tag) the Mekong Express offers an impressive number of extras: running commentary in Cambodian and English, on-board toilet, a free bottle of water, breakfast cake, tagged luggage and their own terminal at Siem Reap.
We have plenty of time and expect this to be one of the high-points of our trip, so opt for the 3 day Ankgor Wat pass. This is personalised with a photo and is all arranged (including taking your picture) with incredible efficiency at the computerised ticket office between the town and the temples. The main temple area is only about 8km north of the town so for the first day we decide to hire bikes.
The second day we take a different approach and hire a tuk-tuk for the day. We first ask him to take us to the 3 temples in the Rolous group about 15km East of Siem Reap and then complete the "large circuit" around Angkor, finishing with sunset from the Bakheng hill (along with several hundred other tourists).
We don't hire a guide for any of the days, despite advise to the contrary, and though we may miss out on some of the finer points of the temples I feel for us this is the best way. For me the Angkor sights work at two levels; first the overall architecture/location and second the detailed carvings and reliefs. To learn more I buy a Angkor history book but this is really for later as there is just too much to digest in one visit. I will read it properly when we return home and maybe one day we will come here again. I take plenty of pictues but doubt they can really convey the unique feel of this place.