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After my adventurous stay at the Khao Sok National Park in Thailand, my travels took me to another Buddhist destination – Cambodia. I exchanged my bungalow for a deluxe hotel for exactly one week and set out to get to know the city of Siem Reap.

Cambodia on your own: Siem Reap – The city of temples, or is it something more?

Martina Šmalclová
20.May 2018
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3 minutes
Pub Street

Czechs are in very short supply in Cambodia!

Cambodia is still not a frequently visited destination and you will encounter many people here who do not speak English, not even in the biggest cities such as Siem Reap or Sihanoukville. Hotel employees, shop sellers or taxi drivers do speak English, but try asking a random passer-by and he will most probably stare at you without comprehension. There are very few Czechs here because they don’t travel to Cambodia very often and I was unable to come up with a reasonable response when a smiling local Cambodian woman asked me why. So I wonder: Why don’t you visit Cambodia?! Because Cambodia, including Siem Reap, has a lot to offer!

Are you going to Siem Reap? Then you are probably going to see the temples…

The city of Siem Reap was my destination. This city is becoming a popular destination for a lot of tourists thanks to the very popular Angkor Wat – a temple you can find not only on souvenirs, but also on the paper for visa documents permitting you to enter the country or on the state flag, because Cambodians adore it so much. If you arrive at Siem Reap it is assumed that you will reserve one day for visiting the temples. You can purchase a ticket depending on how enthusiastic you are about this activity– one-day, three-day and seven-day tickets are available.

Do you want to see the sun rise by Angkor Wat? Then set your alarm to 4 a.m. and grit your teeth

You can take either the Small Tour or Big Tour route. As the names indicate, the first is a smaller circuit than the second. The easiest way to explore the temples is by scooter or tuk tuk. I honestly don’t recommend cycling due to the high temperatures. If you want to see Angkor Wat in all its beauty, set out early in the morning before the sun rises or as it sets. I decided to visit when the sun rose.

I set my alarm for 4 a.m., got on a tuk tuk and set out in the direction of the Small Tour. I saw Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Prohm, Ta Keo and Bateay Kdei, and I thought that Ta Prohm was the best. Why? You have to experience it yourself.

Prodej exkluzivní vily, Praha 4 - Kunratice
Prodej exkluzivní vily, Praha 4 - Kunratice, Praha 4

The Centre? A Night market, PUB STREET and one bar after another

After my cultural experience it was time to explore the city, which is why I met up with a friend who moved to Siem Reap and who was an excellent guide. He took me to the legendary local PUB STREET, which certainly does not sleep at night and where you can find one bar after another. We ended the tour de bar at the X Bar, which offers a wonderful view of the entire city centre. And what do people drink here? Czechs probably won’t be surprised that beer is the most popular drink – Angkor or Cambodia!

What else should you see? The countryside or Phnom Krom! 

As well as the temples and the city centre you should also visit the countryside. You have most probably visited Cambodia to get to know the local culture, the inhabitants and the way of life here. And this is where you will discover the real face of Cambodia, without embellishments. The reality is still very sad, but this is why it is worth seeing. After visiting the country we set off in the direction of Phnom Krom, a tall hill about 11.5 km from the centre, with a temple (of the same name) at its peak. The hill affords a deluxe view of the city and is most easily reached by scooter.

Eating meat in South-East Asia is like betting on the lottery, or is it?

As is usual, the local market where locals go shopping is full of beautiful vegetables and also unfortunately meat. This product is naturally not very suited to the thirty-degree temperatures, which is why I felt very lucky that I don’t eat meat. Eating meat in South East Asia is a little like betting on the lottery. And what else can you buy at the market? Everything! Spices, tea, coffee, souvenirs, food, clothing, accessories, jewellery and many other things. Since we’re talking about shopping, remember that there are two equal currencies in Cambodia, the dollar and the Cambodian Riel and 1 dollar is 4,000 Riel.

Cambodia? A country with a smiling people, which you have to love as it is....

I consider Cambodians to be a friendly and smiling nation, with a very painful recent history, which many people unfortunately have no idea about. But this doesn’t stop Cambodians from smiling and living life with ease. Siem Reap is a city with crazy traffic, where there are no rules, but I still “only” witnessed one accident, which is a very low number indeed with regard to how crazy things are, believe me!

Cambodia is also a country with excellent food and shakes. They put ice in practically everything and when I asked for juice I was met with an uncomprehending stare. So I asked for a shake with less ice. The result? The Cambodian served me a shake with a heap of ice along with a small cup of ice. This is when I realised that I cannot change some things and I have to love Cambodia as it is.....

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