Deep in the forests of Siem Reap, Cambodia lies Angkor Archaeological Park, an ancient stone city, soars skyward above its sprawling complex temples that offer tourists a window into the Khmer Empire's precious past. Angkor is beyond amazing. Trust me, you'll be impressed. It wouldn't be considered a UNESCO world heritage if it isn't.

If, like me, you're only to spend a day in Siem Reap, I hope you're willing to wake up early in the morning to capture the quintessence photo of the sunrise in Angkor. In able to do so, you'll need to pass on staying up all night from grabbing drinks in Pub Street to get a good spot. Come a little late, here's what to expect:

So what's your safest (cheat) bet? Fly a little early.

Angkor temples close between 5-5:30PM. If you arrive in Siem Reap at least just before the sunset, you can buy your Angkor pass for the next day and you'll earn a "free" pass for the sunset on the day you bought the ticket (I arrived in Siem Reap at around 11PM that's why I didn't get to enjoy this simple hack.). Though I heard that you buy the ticket a little after 5PM.

The hostel I stayed in Siem Reap offers a cheap 8-hour small circuit Angkor tour that includes visit in Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm for only $15. Talking about luck, I shared my Angkor tuktuk tour expenses with a friend I met on the airport who happened to stay in the same hostel.
(If you haven't seen my breakdown of expenses, you may take a peek here)

Be advised that there was a recent hike in the Angkor Pass price. From its 1-day pass for only $20, it is now $37; 3-day pass from $40 to $62; and a week-long visit pass from $60, now costs $72!! Yeah I know, the nearly doubling of ticket price is not a good idea and it hurts a little bit. According to some locals, their government said that it's for the improvement of the site and the current tourism service.

Here are some photos and what to see in a small circuit Angkor tour:

Photo taken by Trisha Gato 

Photo taken by Trisha Gato 

Photo taken by Trisha Gato 

Photo taken by Trisha Gato 

All photos are taken by me unless otherwise stated

The tuktuk tour will probably end by 12 noon and you're most likely be templed out by then. My original plan was to visit Wat Bo and Wat Preah Prom Rath that are just walking distance from our hostel. But I just cannot go on and ended up going back in our hostel to rest before I fly to Bangkok.

We got back in our hostel at around 12:30PM and the receptionist informed me that I should  be checking out already. Wait, what? I haven't gotten any decent sleep yet, so I tried asking the receptionist guy if I could extend my stay, he suggested I better talk to the manager. We went out on the other side of the river to grab something to eat and when we got back, I asked the hostel manager if I can stay until 5PM since my flight to Bangkok is at 9PM and I *badly* need a rest. He told me he have to check the dorm first. After a minute or so... Voila! He agreed to extend my stay until 7PM. ☺

E-mail: info@thesiemreaphostel.com
Phone: +855 63 964 660

I'm sorry for the long-overdue blog post, hehe.



Warning: If you travel for leisure, this post is not for you.

If you're planning to go on a budget solo trip, you'd want it smooth and worry-free as much as possible, right? The Internet is filled with tips and tricks for first-time solo travelers. You might have even been reading forums on Lonely Planet to reassure all your plans will work accordingly.

 Recently, I made my first out of country backpacking trip to Cambodia and Bangkok with only $220 (PHP 11,000) in my pocket. No extras. "Oh my god! How is that even possible?", "Damn, do you still eat? Where do you sleep?". Hold your horses! I'll show you that there's no need to splash cash to have amazing experiences. You just have to play your cards right.

I only spent $149 from my pocket money. So, here's how I did it:

You have to keep in mind that "sacrifices" are to be made in order to achieve your goal of traveling within budget: 

First is comfort. Hotels will rack up your expenses. If you're not particular in having a room shared with complete strangers, hostels are great option for accommodation. Many hostels in Siem Reap and Bangkok offer different dormitory types: all-female, all-male, and a mixed dorm (an all-female dorm will cost you few more bucks, hehe). 

Second would be food. Aside from hotel, foods can add up quickly. I will not be a faker but here in Philippines, I tend to splurge on munchies. During my trip, I stayed away from fancy restaurants and fast-food chains. Find local gems-- do as the locals do. There are many "can't miss" affordable food destinations, you just have to ask them where to go. 

Third (on my list) is local attractions and tours with tour guides. Some attractions tend to charge you expensive entrance fees. Well, you gotta decide if you're willing to cash out on it. Arranged tours with (or without) tour guides? Ditch 'em! Do things on your own. Walk. Steer clear of taxis and tuktuks. Make use of a map. Research and inquire. Spending less will lower the barrier that separates you and the culture you've traveled to experience. Honestly, when done well, budget travel has a little to do with sacrifice but has a lot to do with inventiveness and flexibility!

"Wait. PHP 1,800 for Manila-Siem Reap-Bangkok-Manila ticket? You're kidding, right?" No, I ain't. I booked as early as 11 months to get cheaper flight. I'm a night owl and I regularly check local airline sites for seat sales. Mind you, booking a seat sale is not an easy task. It is an ultimate test of patience.

Watch out for my Siem Reap-Bangkok-Ayutthaya travel tips and photos to be published soon! ☺