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DISCOVERING SIEM REAP AND THE TEMPLES OF ANGKOR WAT, CAMBODIA

January 25, 2017
Bit by Wanderlust in Cambodia: Angkor Wat

It took nine trips to Asia for me to finally find my way to Cambodia. I’d experienced Tomb Raider-esque ruins in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia over the years, but glorious Angkor has somehow always eluded me.

Discovering Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Maybe the exploitation of the historic wonder had numbed my desire to visit. In recent years, I’d been overwhelmed with photos of the UNESCO World Heritage Site appearing in magazines, travel books, and on social media feeds. It was starting to feel like everyone had experienced the place (except me), so I decided this year, it was now or never.

Discovering Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor was epic. It’s a tourist magnet for good reason. The place oozed with mystique, secrets and adventure, especially in the early hours before the crowds arrived. Several historic sites made up the region, and the ruins were surprisingly spread out, making it pretty much impossible to walk from Siem Reap to Angkor Wat to Ta Prohm to Preah Khan, etc. Most tourists hired a tuk tuk or taxi for the day, and moved from one set of ruins to the next.Discovering Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

I opted for a little more thrill and rented a bicycle in town. What an adventure bicycling to ruins, monkeys and jungle on my own, and at my own speed. Yes, it was exhausting to ride 30 km a day in Cambodia’s stifling heat, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

Discovering Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

A few days in Siem Reap was enough time to explore Angkor at a semi-leisurely pace. I found that the 7 AM to 9 AM window was the best time to visit with minimal crowds. My favorite spots were a better experience without other people around – the 200 sandstone faces of Bayon; the grandeur of Angkor Wat; the crumbling galleries of Preah Khanh; the soaring gates of Angkor Thom; and the rooted wonders of Ta Prohm.

Discovering Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Adventures through Angkor each day were amazing, but exhausting. Thankfully, I had plush digs to retire to every afternoon at Shinta Mani Club where I could unwind in a poolside oasis with drink in hand before heading into town at night.

Discovering Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

My stay at Shinta Mani Club was lovely, a must for anyone looking for a luxury retreat post Angkor. The boutique property designed by architect Bill Bensley, home to just 39 rooms, was intimate, elegant and completely tranquil.

Discovering Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

For anyone visiting the tourist hub, it’s the perfect escape from the chaotic craziness of Pub Street (I say that with complete affection). And in a city where everyone was trying to sell us tuk tuk rides, tours and trinkets, it was so nice to return each evening to warm greetings and kind smiles. From the hotel, it was a short stroll to the heart of town where I spent evenings soaking in the energy of Pub Street and its surroundings.

Discovering Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Nights were a blur of outdoor markets and street food (usually passion fruit shakes & Nutella crepes) with gelato stops, bargain shopping and tuk tuk rides in between.

Discovering Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Thanks for the love Cambodia!

Share you own tips and recommendations for Cambodia with our readers in the comments below.

By We Are Travel Girls Contributor Shelbi Okumura of BucketListBums.com
Connect with Shelbi  InstagramTwitter

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8 Comments

  • Reply Jennifer January 25, 2017 at 11:44 pm

    Cambodia is definitely on my “must travel” list. Glad to have read this post and read all of the great recommendations! 🙂

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls January 26, 2017 at 12:14 am

      Thanks for reading Jennifer! You should definitely go, I visited 13 years and definitely want to go back x

  • Reply Ramani January 26, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    Cambodia was my dream and was on my bucket list even before I knew what a bucket list was 🙂 I started dreaming about visiting Cambodia when I was in my 6th grade in school as it was then I learnt about the temples in history class 🙂 Finally I made it to Cambodia this Christmas and I must say that lived up to my dreams 🙂 I have also written about my trip and a few tips here https://ramanisruminations.wordpress.com/category/cambodia/…. Hopefully I will return one day and spend more time in this beautiful country 🙂

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls January 27, 2017 at 2:07 am

      Thanks for reading and commenting Ramani. Cambodia is a beautiful country and I am so glad you got to go!

  • Reply Rachel March 2, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    I will definitely be visiting Cambodia next year! This is great information to have. I am inspired!!

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls April 27, 2017 at 6:56 am

      Thanks for reading and commenting Rachel! Cambodia is absolutely beautiful and I highly recommend visiting. I will be sharing more posts here and on BeckyvanDijk.com about the country over the coming weeks. XO, Becky

  • Reply A GIRLS DAY OUT A THE PARK HYATT, SIEM REAP | We Are Travel Girls April 24, 2017 at 9:17 am

    […] I hope you enjoyed this post and are inspired to visit Siem Reap and drop by the Park Hyatt for the day, or a few days! Read Next > Discovering Siem Reap & The Temples Of Angkor Wat […]

  • Reply A GIRLS DAY OUT AT THE PARK HYATT, SIEM REAP | We Are Travel Girls April 24, 2017 at 9:39 am

    […] I hope you enjoyed this post and are inspired to visit Siem Reap and drop by the Park Hyatt for the day, or a few days! Read Next > Discovering Siem Reap & The Temples Of Angkor Wat […]

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