Travel to Siem Reap and the sunset at Angkor Archaeological Park

Siem Reap Travel Blog

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the very cute and small airport
The Vietnam Airlines flight from Luang Prabang was a quick hour and a half, so just as I was getting comfortable and had filled out the three forms I was given on the plane, we were touching down.

The visa on arrival process is pretty painless. I was through immigration and had my bags within 15 minutes of touching down. I had arranged to be picked up at the airport through my guesthouse to save on the hassle of getting a driver once I left the airport (and it was free through the guesthouse). My driver was waiting for me and a minute later I was on his remork on the way to Siem Reap Rooms Guesthouse. A remork is basically a motorbike with a chariot-looking thing attached to the back. It's covered (well appreciated in this heat!) and more comfortable than I was expecting.
people are very creative when driving in Asia. Here a woman holds her baby in one arm she uses to drive and the other to carry a bag
What I wasn't expecting is the traffic. I think the rules of the road include one rule, being there are no rules. Although for the most part drivers stay to the right, there were a few times today when a driver on a motorbike wanted to make a left hand turn and turned into right hand land the WRONG WAY. Also, by saying "the right hand lane", there is one lane, but this can effectively be used as 3 lanes, one for motorbikes, cars in the middle and remorks and bicycles on the right most part of the lane.

Similar to the rest of SE Asia, many more people than the "Recommended" number are able to fit on a motorbike. From what I can tell, the way a family of four gets around is to have the largest child (say 5 years old) stand between the dad and the steering wheel, then the dad, then the smallest child, then the mom.
inside the fruit and veggies section of the Old Market
Sometimes the mom will also carry a baby as well. It's amazing how they are all able to fit on the bike and no one falls off.

It was very hot in the afternoon so while walking around near my guesthouse, I stopped and sat in the shade on a patch of grass. This happened to be next to a busy intersection that had neither traffic lights nor stop signs. Drivers just make it up as they go and somehow there were no accidents and very little honking. Don't even get me started about roundabouts.

For being a city with more than a million visitors a year, I was expecting Siem Reap to be a bit more metropolitan. There are several luxurious-looking hotels scattered throughout the city and "Pub Street", a short street lined with restaurants for foreigners, but a lot of the town looks run down and dirty.
The road where my guesthouse is located
For instance, my guesthouse is only about a 5 minute walk from Pub Street but the road is 1/3 pavement, 1/3 dirt and 1/3 rock. Although unlike Laos, there are less roosters and cows. Saying that, on my way into town from the airport, there was a very high end looking hotel with a half dozen cows chewing on grass in the front.

I decided that I'd see as much as I can of the park in one day. If you buy a one day pass, you can purchase it after 5pm the day before and go in to see the sunset. I figured I might as well and hired a driver to take me there and back for US$5. I had originally planned to cycle to the park and back but it was too hot. Seeing how cheap hiring a driver is, it makes a lot of sense. Especially when I saw people cycling back into town in the dark after the sunset.
View of Angkor Wat from Phnom Bakheng

There are a couple places popular with sunset viewing. The driver gave me some options and I chose to go to the temple on a hill. I thought this meant I'd be able to see Angkor Wat from a hill, which I was able, but from about 1.5 km away. Instead, the sunset from Phnom Bakheng looks in the opposite direction, with the sun setting off in the distance over the countryside. It was ok, but after seeing the sun setting over the Mekong River in Luang Prabang, I was not overly impressed. There were sooooo many people there and the mass exodus after the sun set took forever. The steps leading to the top of the temple are very narrow and steep so it takes a long time for the hordes to make their way down.

I've bought some snacks and plenty of water for my full day of temple hopping tomorrow, starting with the sunrise at 6am!
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the very cute and small airport
the very cute and small airport
people are very creative when driv…
people are very creative when dri…
inside the fruit and veggies secti…
inside the fruit and veggies sect…
The road where my guesthouse is lo…
The road where my guesthouse is l…
View of Angkor Wat from Phnom Bakh…
View of Angkor Wat from Phnom Bak…
You can ride an elephant up here i…
You can ride an elephant up here …
View of the sunset
View of the sunset
Siem Reap Hotels & Accommodations review
Budget accommodation with a very helpful owner
I stayed here from February 13 - 15th, 2010. I booked the hostel using and selected a standard room for about A$8.50 per night. … read entire review
Siem Reap General Tips & Advice review
Quick and easy process through immigration
When I arrived at Siem Reap airport, I was on a Vietnam Airlines flight from Luang Prabang, arriving around 12pm, with no other flights arriving at th… read entire review
Siem Reap
photo by: genetravelling