And now, here are my tips for you all.
1) Seeing Angkor Wat at sunrise is supposedly beautiful. We wouldn’t know, we were about 20 minutes late. Honestly, I don’t think there’d be much of a difference. But if you really do want to get up at 5AM…
2) Don’t wear heels to temple visits. Each temple requires hours of walking on rocks, uneven steps and more rocks. Don’t wear kitten heels even if they are boots. Just don’t.
3) Visit temples at your own pace. We only had two days in Cambodia so we packed temple visits in one morning. To me they all look sort of the same. Again, rocks, rocks and more rocks. The three most famous though, acco. to our tuktuk driver, Kim, are the Angkor Wat (which is actually in my very short bucket list), Tapram (the temple featured in Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider with the trees coming out), and the Bayon, with the multiple heads of their gods (or aliens acco. to the conspiracy theories on History Channel.) They are breathtakingly beautiful but again, each temple requires TONS of walking. Be warned.
4) Ride the elephant. I wouldn’t know what it’s like though. We wanted to but we only had a day’s pass ($20) for the temples and were too tired to go back after that morning and too frugal to spend another $20 for entrance.
5) If the driver tells you he’ll meet you on the opposite end of the temple, he means he’ll meet you on the opposite end of the temple. Don’t be fooled by confusing signs and even more confusing passersby. Else you end up going back the way you came in just. like. us. Not cool.
6) If you want to learn about the history, buy the Siem Reap book (sold at the temples) or hire a tour guide. We did neither and ended up guessing stuff and trying to eavesdrop on the other tour groups. We didn’t get very far.
7) Always bring a bikini (applicable to all trips). Pools are always so enticing and my friends are easily enticed. And if you see a pool, swim and have a few drinks. Because, why not?
8) If you bring dare cards/games, make sure they work. The only dare we were able to scratch out was to walk like we were drunk – which, for some reason, we’ve been doing the whole time anyway.
9) Get a massage and pray you get a good masseuse. We got ours for $5 at a sketchy place but it turned out real good. Rewarding risk. Also, don’t laugh when you see your friends in deep massage momentum.
10) The night market is WAY MORE expensive than the Old Market. So if you do end up buying stuff at the night market, don’t ask for their prices the following day at the Old Market to avoid heartbreaks.
11) Book a nice hotel. That goes without saying, but props to ours – Memoire d’Angkor. The hotel was lovely, service amazing and the people -oh the people!- were the nicest! Although to be honest, everybody in Cambodia seemed very nice and very mellow. Gotta love them.
Also, a few other gentle reminders. 1) a mosquito repellent is a must, 2) wear sunglasses. The places, especially the temples, are very dusty, and 3) haggle like a madwoman.
A couple more Cambodia posts in the next few days. Not sure if my trip was vicarious enough for you to live through but I do hope it stirs some sort of desire to pack your bags and book the next trip to Siem Reap. or the next seat sale, at least.